“Understanding the South Korean Diaspora and its influence on Modern Korea” SUBMITTED TO
“Understanding the South Korean Diaspora and its influence on Modern Korea”
SUBMITTED TO: KAUSHAL KUMAR ASSISTANT PROFESSOR CENTRE FOR KOREAN STUDIES, SLL&CS
JAWAHARLAL NEHRU UNIVERSITY
On:18th September 2018
SUBMITTED BY:? ALVEERA KHAN
MA 2nd year
CENTRE FOR KOREAN STUDIES, SLL&CS JAWAHARLAL NEHRU UNIVERSITY
Day by day the world is evidencing a tremendous increase in the number of Korean migrants and the rapid valuation in their behavioural structures, along with this the Korean State is also putting a great amount of capital and power in the name of cultural projection outside Korea and also for cultural glorification within Korea. Today’s Korea can be best known for their economic growth, technology, and global recognition. From 1860 onwards, history has seen Koreans migrating and settling across the world. And according to a 2005 statistics provided by Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, an approximate value of 6.6 million of Koreans were seen to be living in some 160 different countries across the world. However, mainly concentrated in countries such as China, the United States, Japan, and Commonwealth Of Independent States(CIS), the Korean migrants roughly made a total of 9% of the total combined population of the Korean peninsula, i.e of both North and South Korea.
Through history, one can easily perceive that the Korean diaspora has always played a key role not only in diplomatic exchanges but also in strengthening their country’s economy and cultural projection in the foreign land. 1990 and onwards, South Korea has been facing issues of an ageing population and also of falling fertility rate. In order to reduce the possible negative effects due to these issues, the Korean State has been working on turning the Korean diaspora into a long-term positive force.Thus, in this term paper, we will be discussing about the role of the Korean diaspora in South Korea’s modern cultural projection strategies and about the role played by this diaspora when it comes to the Korean economy. We will study these possibilities focusing mainly on nations such as the US,Japan,China,Russia etc . We will also talk about the possible challenges regarding the diaspora’s engagement.
Keywords: Korean Diaspora, Identity Politics,Cultural crisis, Overseas policies, Hallyu
TABLE OF CONTENTS
II. Korean diaspora’s brief history……………………………………………5
III. Modern Korea’s Identity Politics and the Korean Diaspora………………6
IV. Korean Diaspora and its impact on the Korean Economy………………..7
V. Korean Diaspora and its relationship with Hallyu………………………..8
VI. The limitations, and the pros and cons……………………………………9
In the late nineteenth century, the world witnessed capital and labour exchange beyond national frontiers, it also witnessed convergence of cultures or rather we can say the interdependence of cultures. The world also saw interdependence of other natures, namely interdependence of economy, politics and society. And as preferential economic distribution may negatively effect the environment in some cases we can say that the world has seen interdependence of environmental outcomes as well. All this is a part of the phenomenon of globalisation. Globalisation simultaneously involves an expansion of international investment and trade, the integration of social, cultural and economic activities, and the acceleration of international communications, travel, and personal interaction. 1 Globalisation results in transnational interactions and thus, leads to a continuing cultural integration. In the twenty-first century, as a spectator of cultural paradigm shifts, and multiculturalism, we must clearly understand the role diaspora of a country plays, thus, acknowledging their importance.
When trying to understand the role of the Korean migrants, we must understand the concept of the term “diaspora”. A diaspora is a migrant community retaining its ethnic group consciousness over prolonged periods (Cohen, 1997). The most ancient diaspora is the Jewish diaspora( 8th century BCE), which refers to the jewish or Israelites moving out their homeland Israel and settling around other parts of the world. Korean diaspora relatively has a shorter history, as it emerged around mid nineteenth century.The Korean Diaspora was an unintended consequence of the unfortunate events of modern Korean history. However, due to this diaspora, Korea now has an invaluable pool of worldwide human capital, and thus a competitive edge over other countries with respect to globalisation. 2 The Koreans living abroad has created more exports than imports and thus have had a positive impact on economy through trade. They have also been Korea’s cultural ambassadors, by creating bridges between their homeland and the country they have moved into. Thus, through this paper we will be talking about how the diaspora of Korea came into existence, the impacts they have on the economy and cultural policies of Korea whether positive or negative, and we will also talk about the identity polities of the modern South Korean society.
1 Robert Paehlke, Introduction to sustainable development – Globalization, Interdependence, and Sustainability, Pp-1 2 In-Jin Yoon, Understanding the Korean diaspora from comparative perspectives, Pp-1
Korean Diaspora’s brief history:
Korea diaspora came into existence in the 1860s, and this phenomenon of Korean dispersion extends into 4 periods from 1860 to 1910, 1910 to 1945, 1945 to 1962 and 1962 till present.
I. 1860 to 1910 – During the Joseon dynasty in the year 1860 farmers and labourers were
subjected to famine, poverty and oppression by the Yangbans who were the ruling class.In order to escape this forced hardship, the farmers and labourers started to emigrate to other parts of the world, namely, to China, Russia and Hawaii. Korean illegal migrants in Manchuria and Far East of Russia earned their living by cultivation lands of restricted areas( Lee 1994). In the year 1903 Koreans started moving to Hawaii as sugar plantation workers and the year 1905, there were some 7,226 migrants, out of which most were single males in their 20s, and by 1924 there were another 1000 Korean women in Hawaii for marrying these single migrants(Patterson 1988).
II. 1910 to 1945 – During the Japanese colonisation period, Farmers and labourers migrated to Manchuria and Japan. Activists and political refugees migrated to Russia, China and to the Unites States in order to lead the independence movement. For the development of Manchuria and the establishment of Manchukuo in the years 1931 and 1932 respectively, Japan forcefully migrates Koreans as workers. So, by the late 1930s the Korean migrants went up to 500,000 in the region(T. Kwon 1996). The Korean male workers were also enlisted to work in coal mines of Japan and also on the battlefronts during the onset of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937 and the Pacific War of 1941(Han 2002: 107).
III. 1945 to 1962 – During this period the South Korean government with the establishment of its first migration policy brought along many changes. This policy allowed the adoption of war orphans, it allowed the unification of the US military officers and their Korean wives and it also enabled Koreans students to study abroad. During this period, about 6,000 Korean women immigrated to the US, and about 5,000 children were also adopted by American families(Yuh 2002).
IV. 1962 till present – Koreans have migrated to different parts of the world both as permanent and temporary settlers during this period. After the 1997 financial crisis, Koreans migrated to the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. We have also witnessed Koreans immigrating to other nations such as China, Japan, the CIS for various purposes such as for employment, to fill business positions and for studies.
Modern Korea’s Identity Politics and the Korean Diaspora:
When we talk about Modern Korea’s Identity Politics, we are taking about the time period 1992-till present, i.e the last 26 years. During the nineties, Kim Young Sam announced Segyewha policy(globalisation policy) during his regime(1993-98). The number of South Korean conglomerates overseas, changes in the labour market, diplomatic relations establishment with the Soviet Union and the PRC, could have led to his interest in ‘globalisation’ , and through the overseas Korean Policy, we could have thought that Korean Diaspora will play in the ‘Korean way of globalisation’ process.3 During Kim’s regime the Korean Diaspora was seen as a contributor to Korean economy and was also considered to carry an image of a developed nation abroad.
In South Korea Confucian values, kinship system, are still the traits to keep ethnic succession alive throughout the society. The notion of identity, through the concept of ‘gukmin’ reinforces a sense of attachment towards the nation. This notion of being a homogeneous nation was strengthened during the Japanese colonial rule. This ‘bloodline consciousness’ deems the Korean diaspora as members of the nation by most Koreans. Apart, from this emotional aspect, the Korean diaspora is evaluated in terms of both economic or political interests.
As mentioned above, the overseas Korean policy came up during the 1997 national economic crisis.The Korean diaspora then was seen as important human resource to help the nation externally and even internally. However, they were discriminated on basis of income and education level. Kim Young Sam’s regime legalised the Joseonjok(ethnic Koreans living in China) and Goryoyin(ethnic Koreans living in post-Soviet states) staying in Korea to enable them to be hired in business. During Kim Dae Jung’s regime Joseonjok and Goryoyin were excluded for business work and only the Jemigyopo(Korean Americans) and that to the high waged and educated workers were included. The Joseonjok were used for small businesses domestic manpower shortage. The same went for Lee Myung Bak’s regime. Here We see that the ones with high income and with high level of education and that too coming from developed allied states such as the US and Japan, were considered over others, then what happens to notion of ‘homogenous identity’? We have seen figures like Jung Dae Se (Korean descendants in Japan) and Hines E. Ward (mixed blood Korean, holding USA
3 Park, Eunjung. Korean Culture and Transformation of National Identity, Pp-22
citizenship) receiving strong pubic attention due to their Korean bloodline, however it will not be wrong to say that everything about this economic dichotomy is linked to political benefits.
Korean Diaspora and its impact on the Korean Economy:
A diaspora can impact the economy of their homeland through trade and investment, fund transfers and labour market. Gravity model is used to estimate the diaspora’s impact on Korea’s bilateral trade. 4 The estimation uses Korea’s bilateral trade with its 171 trading partner countries and number of ethnic Koreans residing in those countries, between 1999 and 2001. It shows that the estimated coefficient on the number of overseas Koreans is positive (+0.18) and highly significant in total trade volume equation. 5 This finding shows that trade for South Korea with countries with more number of ethnic Koreans is much better when compared to other countries. And also when the export and import estimates are taken separately, export equation comes up to (+0.16) for countries with most number of ethnic Koreans, and similarly for import it is again positive of (+0.14). Here we should note that export elasticity is more than import.As an example of Foreign direct investment by overseas Korean is Kyuk-ho Shin the chairman of Lotte Group. He had accumulate wealth in Japan which he invested in his homeland.
Another way of maintaining ties with families and relatives in the homeland is fund transfer. Overseas Koreans sending money to their homes is very common. In case of current transfers, for 2001, inflow was $6,548 million and outflow was $6,911, inflows as a ratio of GDP came up to be 1.55%. This may be due to higher income in South Korea, and mostly the money is sent to Korean students studying abroad.
During the 1950s and 1960s, South Korea faced the problem of brain-drain, when a lot of educated people left the country for higher studies in the US. However, during 1970s, Korea was able to attract many of them back. Korea recruited many ethnic Korean scientists in institutions such as Korea Institute of Science and Technology. This way ethnic overseas Koreans maybe said to contribute in the nations development. Cheap labour was imported mainly from Southeast and
5 Choi InBom, Korean diaspora in the making:Its current status and impact on the Korean Economy, Pp-21
The gravity model suggests that relative economic size attracts countries to trade with each other while greater distances weaken the attractiveness. ln(Tij/GDPi) a0 + aIln Dij + a2ln Si + a3ln Sj+ eij where Tij is bilateral trade between countries i and j (measured as exports plus imports), Di1 is the distance between them, and Si and S3 are measures of their sizes.(Jeffrey Frankel, Does trade cause growth? 1997)
South Asia, but they were limited to the “3-D” jobs. Cheap labor for service industries was mainly ethnic Koreans in China. Seeing this, we can say the overseas Korean was contributed to Korean economy through the labour market.
Korean Diaspora and its relationship with Hallyu:
In this contemporary world, Korea it not just an economically flourishing nation but has also risen in other areas, be it in arts, i.e, the music industry, film industry, television industry, or in sports. Hallyu(the Korean wave) referring to the rise of popularity of South Korea’s culture, especially through pop culture, entertainment, music, dramas and movies, was a government funded effort. For many people across nations, specially amongst most Americans and other westerners, the Korean Wave started with PSY. According to the KCIS(Korean Culture and Information Service), Hallyu became a global phenomenon with the drama Jewel in the Palace(Dae Jang Geum). Dae Jang Geum aired across 91 countries including asian countries such as China,Malaysia,India,Vietnam etc.
YG Entertainment’s BIGBANG,SM Entertainment’s Girls’Generation, has had more than 40 million views on Youtube.PSY’s “Gangnam Style” was the most viewed video on Youtube for 5 years from its release.Big Hit Entertainment’s BTS was gained tremendous recognition globally, becoming the first K-pop group to perform at the American Music Awards. They also won the Billboard Music Award. Hallyu is South Korea’s soft power tool, with has benefited Korea both economically and
Hallyu today is a possession with has helped the overseas Koreans, especially the youth who have struggled with identity crisis. Their identity is no more what Bruce Cumings said, “A Spanish American teacher will assume that a student named John Kim sitting in her class is Japanese; an African American or Jewish American student sitting next to him will say he’s Chinese; the response that he is Korean is not quite right, either, because John Kim thinks of himself as an American” 6
Hallyu has helped the overseas Korean experience a sense of belonging. This has helped the Korean diaspora in forming ethnic Korean community associations.(Choi. 16).
6 Cumings, Bruce. Korea’s Place in the Sun: A Modern History. updated ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 2005, quoted in:Kang, Min Sung.(2015) “The Korean Wave: Korean American Identities and Diaspora Engagement Policies”Pp-21
The limitations, and the pros and cons:
When compared to the diasporas of countries like India, Mexico or China, Korean diaspora is relatively small at 7 million, however, it is the more scattered as it spreads around 176 countries of the world. Therefore, Korea’s diaspora engagement policy is effected by lack of systematic statistical data. Even the difficulty in quantifying the effects of the engagement policy in areas such as economy, politics and culture are a challenge to data analysis.
When talking about the Pros and Cons, we can take in consideration the key findings of Changzoo Song, who mentioned about the Korean diasporas growth, today the diaspora exceeds 7.2 million. And as its effect the South Korean government is trying to strengthen its ties with the Korean diaspora through various policies. As mentioned earlier, this started back in the 1990s when the Korean Diaspora positively effected the Korean economy and gained the title of being a valuable asset. With the return of migrants such as ethnic Korean scientists and engineers, South Korea is experiencing brain gain.
On the other side of the story, as overseas Koreans do not fulfil civic duties like paying taxes ore going for the military services, the Korean living in their homeland oppose the engagement of the overseas Koreans. South Korea has a strong nationalist tradition, which resists the dual citizenship which these overseas Koreans hold. There engagement policy is seen as fundamentally ethno- nationalistic. (Song.14)
In the current times, Asia is driven by its unacknowledged boundless potential being a locomotive for the growth of the world economy. Korea, an Asian country which opened itself to globalisation achieved success through an open economy and an open society. The phenomena of globalisation, is said to start in the late 15th century with the discovery of America, however, in true sense it began only in the late 19th century when labour exchange, political and economic initiatives were seen to take place beyond borders, and since then the world has witnessed exchange of cultural nature as well.
In the late 90s, with the onset of financial crisis, the role which the Diaspora of a country can play as a human resource, lead to the formation of the overseas Korean policy(Overseas Koreans Foundation Act,1997) by the Kim Young Sam government, as a succeeding measure to his Segyewha Policy. Kim Young Sam through his Segyewha Policy, worked on South Korea’s identity politics, and thus the role of Korean Diaspora in terms of economy, and image projection was acknowledged. The migration of Koreans had started in the 1860s, when the farmers and labourers emigrated to other parts of the world, namely, to China, Russia and Hawaii, in order to escape forced hardship. However, as mentioned their importance was realised only in the late 19th century. Even then, they Korean Diaspora was discriminated based on their level of income and education, for instance the example of the Joseonjok and Goryoin.
Today, the Korean diaspora is about 7 million, and spread across 176 countries (South Korea: Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 2017). This Korean diaspora is hard to be statistically analysed due to its worldwide extensiveness. The natives of South Korea often complain about the Diaspora policies, since they feel unjust, as the ethnic Koreans don’t pay taxes neither do they have to go for the compulsory military service. However, the Korean Diaspora has played a major role in terms of economy and trade, and have also formed a strong sense of belongingness towards Korea through the Korean wave.
And so we can deduce that, since the 1860s, the Korean Diaspora has been a positive force for the Korean Government, and has contributed in terms of economy and overseas cultural and image projection.
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