UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Registered (un)belonging : negotiating South Korea's institutionalized boundaries of belonging for migrants Shin, Kara Hee-won


South Korea, a country once mired in the myth of national identity based on hyultong (혈통, bloodline), in 2006 officially declared its efforts to invest in building a damunhwa sahoe (다문화사회, multi-ethnic and multicultural society). Yet, despite various efforts South Korea has not been able to avoid discrepancies between its migrant integration policy objectives and their outcomes. In this thesis, I propose that both a problem and a solution lie in the boundaries of belonging embedded in South Korea's mainstream policies. I build my conceptual framework through reviewing literature written in English and Korean by migration and policy scholars and build my analytical framework on comparative policy analysis. This is a primarily theoretical thesis that makes use of real-world citations when possible, aiming to be a building block for subsequent empirical studies. I highlight South Korea’s resident registration policy as an example that illustrates how the policy practice of “fringing” (as opposed to mainstreaming) migrant issues and integration has contributed to the integration gap in South Korea. I then suggest how South Korea's history in negotiating institutionalized gender boundaries to reform its family registration system can be used to evolve the exclusionary boundaries of belonging within its resident registration system and similar mainstream policies.

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