"We're So Happy to Have You Here (But We'd Rather You Hadn't Come)": Exclusion, Solidarity and Network Building of North Korean Refugees

Markus Bell

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    "We're So Happy to Have You Here (But We'd Rather You Hadn't Come)": Exclusion, solidarity and network building of North Korean refugees. In the last ten years, following periods of extensive famine, flooding and economic mismanagement on behalf of the North Korean government, the number of North Koreans arriving in South Korea has grown exponentially. The gap between North Korean refugees (talbukin), individuals brought up in a socialist, group-oriented system, and South Koreans, raised in a highly competitive, democratic society, can often feel like a whole world of difference. The existence of yeonjul networks in South Korea further ensure that North Koreans often have an extremely difficult time coming to grips with their new surroundings. Given the almost insurmountable difficulties experienced by many North Koreans in acclimatizing to South Korean society and developing networks that can provide emotional and instrumental benefits, it is hardly surprising the frequency and ease with which many choose to associate, both professionally and socially, with others from North Korea. This paper explicates the situation of North Korean refugees living in South Korea, in particular, the difficulties many individuals face after arriving in South Korea and the challenges experienced in creating and maintaining sustainable social networks. This paper argues that due to the exclusivity of social networks in South Korea, and the resultant difficulties talbukin experience in becoming part of these networks, the development of a North Korean enclave society is inevitable.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)221-230
    JournalStudia Universitatis Babes-Bolyai: Philologia
    Volume58
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

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