2022 Korean Studies Lecture Series (Lecture 2) - Presumed Co-Ethnics: Invisible Boundaries between North and South Koreans in Multi-Ethnic Britain

Date Wednesday 21 September 2022
Time 6pm
Where University of Waikato - Room S.G.01
Presenter Jihye Kim
Admission Cost Free

Presumed Co-Ethnics: Invisible Boundaries between North and South Koreans in Multi-Ethnic Britain

According to official data, the UK has received over 1,000 North Korean refugees, thus holding the largest North Korean community outside East Asia. Most North Korean immigrants have settled in London’s New Malden, so called “Korea Town” and the place with the highest concentration of South Korean immigrants in Europe, and work mainly for South Korean businesses. This ongoing research aims to examine the relationships that North Korean immigrants have established with their South Korean counterparts in Multi-ethnic Britain, with a particular focus on the settlement patterns deployed by North and South Korean immigrants around New Malden. Drawing from ethnographic research (interviews and participant observations) conducted with North Korean migrants in London, the presentation addresses the following questions:

(1) why have most North Koreans settled within the South Korean community in New Malden?;
(2) what kinds of relationships have North Korean immigrants established with South Korean immigrants?; and
(3) how has the change from an asymmetric, majority–minority relation between the two in South Korean society to a more symmetric, minority–minority relation within the larger British society influenced the relationship between the two groups?

In particular, the presentation will identify the factors underlying the “invisible boundaries” that have hindered the building of close relationships beyond labour bonds between North and South Korean immigrants in London.

Jihye Kim is a Lecturer in Korean Studies at the University of Central Lancashire (UK) and a teaching and research fellow in International Language and Cultures at University of Waikato (New Zealand). A specialist in the migration and settlement experiences of diasporic Koreans, she has published a number of articles on Korean migration to Argentina and Brazil. Her current research has expanded to include Korean migration to Latin America and Europe and, in particular, Korean migration to Brazil and Germany and North Korean migration to the United Kingdom.

*This event is supported by the Academy of Korean Studies.