The Integration Experience of Co-Ethnic Migrants in their New Homeland: The Socio-Economic Integration of North Korean Refugees into South Korean Society
It is argued that the socio-economic integration of co-ethnic migrants would be easier than that of other types of migrants in their new homeland because of the common ethnicity/nationality shared by these migrants and the local population. Not only do co-ethnic migrants share cultural heritage and speak the same language, but they also receive a wide range of generous assistance from the state, such as the immediate granting of citizenship rights, which distinguishes them from other types of migrants. However, the influx of co-ethnic migrants gives rise to the conflict between these migrants and the local population. In this case, the fact that both groups share ethnicity and cultural heritage, and speak the same language does not make the conflict easier. Consequently, this conflict might lead to the formation of separate identity for co-ethnic migrants, thereby aggravating ethnic segregation between co-ethnic migrants and the local co-ethnic population. My study is derived from my own fieldwork among North Korean refugees, who, in the aftermath of the North Korean economic crisis and political instability in the late 1990s, have continuously migrated from North Korea to South Korea. I attempt to analyze the integration experience of North Korean refugees in South Korean society.
Keywords: Integration of Co-Ethnic Migrant Immigration, Ethnicity, Identity, Conflict, North Korea, South Korea
Gae Hee Song
Ph.D student, Social Science Department, The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University