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Hough, Jennifer (2022) 'The contradictory effects of South Korean resettlement policy on North Koreans in South Korea.' Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 48 (20). pp. 4922-4940.

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This paper analyses the intersection of government policy and social status in a forced migration context. Specifically, I evaluate the influence of state policies on the social status of North Koreans in South Korea (t’albungmin). In positively discriminating in their favour while simultaneously treating them as welfare beneficiaries, I propose that South Korea’s resettlement policy contributes to their social exclusion. T’albungmin receive greater benefits than other low-income earners, raising their fears of public backlash against their perceived privilege in a limited welfare environment. Resettlement policy also reinforces the image of t’albungmin as uneducated and low-skilled, contributing to discrimination they face when seeking skilled work. Although this policy suggests t’albungmin are homogeneously low class, I argue that t’albungmin retain elements of pre-migration class privilege after migration, with forms of capital associated with higher relative status in North Korea facilitating integration into South Korean society. However, in masking their class variation, and thus concealing the correlation between socio-economic background and ease of integration, resettlement support contributes to a perception that integration is a matter of personal effort. This case sheds new light on the role of state policies in inadvertently perpetuating social exclusion of the migrants it aims to support.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: North Korean defectors/refugees, government policy, integration, social class, exclusion
SOAS Departments & Centres: Regional Centres and Institutes > Centre of Korean Studies
Departments and Subunits > Department of East Asian Languages & Cultures
ISSN: 1369183X
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
SWORD Depositor: JISC Publications Router
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2022 13:23
Funders: Other, Economic and Social Research Council, Other, Other

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