Transnational Korean Families

Several researchers from institutions across Southern Ontario are studying transnational Korean families (including those referred to as "kirogi" or "gireogi" families, education migrants and international students, among others).
Ann H. Kim, Sociology, York University
Min-Jung Kwak, Geography, York University
Eunjung Lee, Social Work, University of Toronto
Samuel Noh, Psychiatry/CAMH, University of Toronto
Wansoo Park, Social Work, University of Windsor
Sung Hyun Yun, Social Work, University of Windsor

Studies in Canada

Development, migration strategies and prospects for integration: Understanding contemporary transnationalism among South Korean families
Ann Kim, Sociology, York University
York Centre for Asian Research

Education migration and its impact on children, parents and schools: A pilot study on the Korean migrant children in Toronto, Canada
Eunjung Lee, Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto


Outward and Upward Mobilities: Families from South Korea in a Transnational Era
International Workshop 27-28 September 2012
YCAR, York University

The rise in contemporary transnationalism among families in South Korea has been attributed to the vicissitudes of the global economy, in particular to events in Korea’s recent economic history, such as the globalization (segyewha) policy, formally adopted by the South Korean government in 1994, the Asian financial crisis and the ensuing International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout (Cho 2005). The contemporary transnational family made its public appearance during this period as the English language and its associated cultural capital have come to be perceived as essential for entry to professional occupations and upward mobility within Korea (Lee and Koo 2006; Orellana, Thorne, Chee and Lam 2001). To understand how South Korean family migration strategies and their experiences within Canada are shaped by the global social and economic order, we have been engaged in two research studies, each funded by a SSHRC Standard Research Grant; one is held at YCAR (PI: Ann Kim, 2009-2012) and the second is at the University of Toronto (PI: Eunjung Lee, 2011-2014).

The main goal of this proposed research initiative is to situate our understanding of transnational families from South Korea in Canada, based on the two projects, within a broader social, political, economic and institutional context. This will be achieved through a two-day international workshop to be held at York University in September 2012, where we expect to disseminate the research results from this program of research and to hear from known international scholars who also work on Korean diaspora and/or in the area of transnational families. A second objective is to engage in an intellectual exchange on the most current research and knowledge on the topic, and to examine it from multiple disciplinary angles. A third objective is to develop a research agenda and explore potential opportunities for international collaboration. Scholars from Canada, New Zealand, the United States, and South Korea, graduate students, community members, local ethnic media, and other researchers have been invited.

Funded by:
Association for Korea Studies
Population Change and Lifecourse Cluster (University of Western Ontario)
York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR)
Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies, York University