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"Female Immigrants by Cross-Border Marriage: A New Political Issue in South Korean Society"

Abstract : The number of cross-border marriages in South Korea has been on the rise since 1990. Unlike previous years, where the dominant model was that of cross-border marriage between Korean women and foreign men, for the first time in South Korean history this phenomenon –especially concerning Korean men– has raised questions about immigrant women and has promoted public debate mobilising various social actors such as the press, civil associations, and the scientific community. This debate challenged the dominant identity rhetoric that was previously based on the homogeneity of the “Korean nation”, suggesting an opening to “multiculturalism” in the Korean family institution. Facing this new social situation, the South Korean government successively implemented an immigration policy in 2006 and 2008. By targeting only the category called “multicultural family” (tamunhwa kajok), and therefore excluding other immigrant and social groups, this policy aims to provide social action programmes to integrate female immigrants into South Korean society. Thus, the group of foreign women married to Korean men was placed in the center of the South Korean integration policy. To better support this policy, a Multicultural Family Support Act (Tamunhwa kajok chiwŏnpŏp) was established in 2008 and Multicultural Family Supports Centres (Tamunhwa kajok chiwŏn sent'ŏ) have been set up since 2006. In 2015 there were 217 Centres throughout all the Korean provinces. All these social and political processes that created the legal and administrative category “multicultural family” suggest that the Korean family institution is being redefined through a situation of contact with foreigners. From the appearance of a new social issue to the resulting policies, this paper examines how an immigration policy in South Korean society has developed involving various social actors, and highlights the emergence of a new national political issue through a discourse analysis of the social actors and political actions taken by the South Korean government.
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Submitted on : Monday, July 5, 2021 - 8:27:02 PM
Last modification on : Friday, July 16, 2021 - 4:30:28 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Wednesday, October 6, 2021 - 9:30:48 PM

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  • HAL Id : hal-03278746, version 1

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Kyung-Mi Kim. "Female Immigrants by Cross-Border Marriage: A New Political Issue in South Korean Society". in Youngmi Kim (dir.), Korea’s Quest for Economic Democratization:Globalization, Polarization and Contention, Palgrave Macmillan, 2018, p. 233-255., 2018. ⟨hal-03278746⟩

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