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While there is a common view that multiculturalism in South Korea and Japan is not possible, experts argue that discussing the issue is a positive change. What do you think about this issue? Is multiculturalism possible in Japan and/or South Korea?
Multiculturalism in Japan and South Korea?
In the eyes of many observers, multiculturalism in South Korea and Japan cannot prosper. They claim that, to the extent that cultural diversity exists, it is little more than a state-dominated effort to efficiently control and manage increasing ethnic diversity, primarily to serve the "developmental" needs of the country. They do not see the current policies of inclusion leading to the development of a genuine multicultural state—that is, a state in which the rights of minority or subordinated ethnic groups are meaningfully incorporated into the institutions of the state, and in which those groups, especially immigrants, can acquire citizenship or basic rights as permanent residents (among other factors).
However, there is a counterargument to the above view on cultural diversity in South Korea and Japan. Professor Timothy Lim argues in part that the mere emergence of a multicultural discourse, even in a very constrained form, is itself an important change. This new discourse has introduced a new cultural logic into both societies, one that problematizes the still-dominant—but no longer exclusive—national identity discourse built around racial and ethnic purity.
What do you think? Is the multicultural state a doomed project in South Korea and Japan or can multiculturalism thrive in what have been two of the world’s most “homogenous” nation-state?
- Lim, T. C. (2010) "Rethinking Belongingness in Korea: Transnational Migration, "Migrant Marriages" and the Politics of Multiculturalism" Pacific Affairs, Vol. 83 Issue 1, p. 51.
- Kang, S. W. (2010) “Multicultural education and the rights to education of migrant children in South Korea” Educational Review Volume 62, Issue 3
- Kim, A. E. (2009) “Global migration and South Korea: foreign workers, foreign brides and the making of a multicultural society" Ethnic and Racial Studies, Volume 32, Issue 1.
Qi, J. (2011) “Diversity and multiculturalism in Japan: what is called into question?” Educational Research for Policy and Practice, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 105-114
Nagayoshia, K. (2011) “Support of Multiculturalism, But For Whom? Effects of Ethno-National Identity on the Endorsement of Multiculturalism in Japan” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Volume 37, Issue 4.
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Is the multicultural state a doomed project in South Korea and Japan? (LSESU Korean Society Lectures)
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