It was a Filipina marriage migrant, Jasmine Lee, who in 2012 became the first naturalized Korean citizen to join the Korean national assembly. Even though she was not directly elected in electoral districts but by proportional representation, she became one of the few (15.6%) women of the total assembly in the patriarchal Korean society where the myth of “one-blood nation” for 5000 years has been believed. Does this event show that monocultural South Korea has been transformed into a ‘multicultural society’? Furthermore, does it show that foreign born Korean housewives could politically represent ‘multicultural’ sectors in Korea? At the least, it presents the situation that multicultural society has been politically and socially a crucial issue in Korea. In this presentation I will discuss: How “multicultural Korea” began, why marriage-migrant women are highlighted among other groups, the characteristics of Filipina migrants in Korea, and the effect of “multicultural family policies” on the position of marriage migrants, other foreign residents, and ethnic nationalism in Korea.
Minjung Kim received her PhD in Anthropology from Seoul National University in 2002, MA and BA in Sociology from Sogang University in S. Korea in 1992 and in 1990. She is a Professor in the Department of Cultural Anthropology at Kangwon National University, S. Korea. Her research interests include the Anthropology of Gender, Philippine Studies, and Gender and International Migration. She has been the Editor-in-Chief of Issues in Feminism (Korea Women’s Studies Institute) in 2013-2014, and she served on the Editorial Board of Korean Cultural Anthropology (The Korean Society for Cultural Anthropology) in 2013-2017. She is now in charge of the “A Study on Korean Women’s Experiences in International Migration: Focusing on Transborder Nationalism and Politics of Belonging” project, sponsored by Korean Research Foundation.