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Sung, Cholong (2021) The music and culture of the Korean diaspora In London. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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The Korean diaspora in London was first widely recognised in the latter decades of the twentieth century, and there are currently an estimated 20,000 (South) Koreans residing in London. In addition, since the beginning of the authorised admission of North Koreans as refugees in 2004, many (North) Koreans have come to the UK in search of better lives – their number is now estimated at 620 with more than half living in London. These Koreans from the two distinctive Koreas live as one, forming a minority community in today’s Britain. Utilising Slobin’s concept of a trio terms, superculture, subculture, and interculture, I investigate multiple cultural layers of the community. Furthermore, I contextualise the spatial features and the purpose of their activities, describing modes of musical presentation, transmission, and participation, as well as how each subgroup expresses in addition to cultivating their sense of identity through music. By citing the vivid stories of professional and amateur musicians, different viewpoints and personal significance of the music reflect individual contrasting diasporic experiences. Broadening its scope to the Chinese and Japanese diasporas in London, this thesis compares the different East Asian perspectives on cultural promotion and preservation, and how these result in distinctive cultural activities in London and its environs. Comprehensively considering the complexities of music and migration, this thesis concludes with a discussion on dominant culture in the community, multiple cultural identity, and music as a medium of healing with particular reference to social cohesion. Negotiating multiple cultural identities, the actors in this thesis demonstrate that embracing and respecting diversity results in insightful understanding of ourselves and others, and makes us able to better adapt while holding on to our own ethnic heritage. Through their activities, Koreans in London have become a ‘cultural cohort’ (Turino 2008), creating an ‘imagined community’ (Anderson 2016[1983]) of a unified Korea in a foreign land.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Keith Howard
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 May 2022 14:01

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