Gender, Migration and Civil Activism in South Korea


Lee, Hye-Kyung. 2003. "Gender, Migration and Civil Activism in South Korea." Asian and Pacific Migration Journal 12: 127-53.

Author: Hye-Kyung Lee


Since the late 1980s, Korea has experienced an influx of migrant workers from neighboring Asian countries. The total number of migrant workers in 1990 was less than 20,000, but rose to 340,000 in 2002. International migration in South Korea shows less extensive feminization than in comparable receiving countries in East Asia. This paper examines why female migration, which accounts for only 30-35 percent of all migrant workers, is less extensive in South Korea, and why domestic work, the major occupation which has accelerated female migration in the region, is not popular in South Korea. It also assesses the current state of migrant and civil society movements providing assistance to migrant women in South Korea. Although the number of these NGOs is small, their activities have highlighted the problems and issues in international marriages and the entry of foreign female entertainers in the sex industry. The paper argues that civil movements for migrant women have contributed to reconsiderations of notions of nationality and citizenship in Korea.

Keywords: immigration, migrant workers

Topics: Citizenship, Civil Society, Displacement & Migration, Migration, Gender, Women, Livelihoods, Sexual Livelihoods, Nationalism, NGOs Regions: Asia, East Asia Countries: South Korea

Year: 2003

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