Dynamics of ethnic nationalism and hierarchical nationhood: Korean nation and its othernesss since the late 1980s

Dong Hoon Seol, Jungmin Seo

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8 Citations (Scopus)


Due to an influx of migrants, the multicultural character of South Korean society is gradually deepening. This transformation in the composition of the nation challenges the myth of Korea's social homogeneity. In this article, we examine the emergence of groups of ethnic and social minorities through the dual factors of globalization and the democratization of Koreans' conception of nationalism and nationhood. From the late 1980s, new social minorities have emerged in Korean society through democratization and globalization. Globalization brought about an influx of Joseonjok (ethnic Koreans from China), North Korean refugees, foreign spouses, and migrant workers, while democratization has led to the appearance of hwagyo (ethnic Chinese in Korea), gays and lesbians, persons with disabilities, and honhyeorin (mixed-blood people) as social minority groups. These minorities have become members of the Korean nation-state, establishing themselves as new constituents constructing Korean nationhood. We conclude that the dichotomy of inclusion and exclusion of these minorities in Korean society has transformed into a type of hierarchization. We employ the concept of hierarchical nationhood to describe the legal/policy and social dimensions of this hierarchization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-33
Number of pages29
JournalKorea Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jan 1


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Literature and Literary Theory

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