Global citizenship as a national project: the evolution of segye shimin in South Korean public discourse

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The idea of global citizenship in contemporary South Korean public discourse has revolved mainly around a national endeavor to boost the county's stature and competitiveness amid economic globalization. Based on a review of two decades of published media references to segye shimin (‘global citizen’ in the Korean language), this article shows that the specific usages of segye shimin – mainly by elites from government, academia, and journalism – underscore how the ‘developmental citizenship’ that marked South Korea's past authoritarian military regimes has carried on since the transition to civilian-led democracy. In contrast with the burgeoning academic discourse on cosmopolitanism that focuses heavily on moral responsibilities to humanity and the planet, South Korea's discourse of global citizenship has been closely aligned with neoliberalism and filled with exhortations to the domestic population to overcome numerous perceived liabilities seen as impeding the country's advancement. While global citizenship discourse in South Korea has emphasized top-down national strategic imperatives, a bottom-up approach to cosmopolitanism is also emerging as the country gains confidence and the notion of segye shimin gradually gains traction across the wider society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-68
Number of pages16
JournalCitizenship Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jan 2

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a National Research Foundation of Korea Grant [NRF-2009-327-B00048] funded by the Government of the Republic of Korea.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Taylor & Francis.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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