The Rainbow Chorus : Performing Multicultural Identity in South Korea

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Finchum-Sung, Hilary
Issue Date
Kyujanggak Institute for Korean Studies, Seoul National University
Seoul Journal of Korean Studies, Vol.25 No.1, pp. 127-159
mul ticulruralism/tamunhwajuiuimulticultural family / tamunbwa kaiongchoral music, identity
Put multi culturali sm and Korea in the same sentence and a potenti al pa radox

materializes. Korea's ethnic nationalism, with irs espousal of one people, one blood, has

driven government policies and local identity for decades. In recent yea rs, esca lating

numbers of foreign workers and "marri age migrants" have led local and national

governments to develop social programs designed to assimilate immigrants into Korean

society as well as educa te nati ve Korea ns about these foreigners. Various multicultural

family centers, like the Center for a Multicultural Korea (Han'guk tamunhwa sent'O/

CMCK) in Seoul, have been set up around the peninsu la to advance this goa l. In this

papet; I examine the Seou l-area Center's spea rhead program, the Rainbow Chorus, as a

visible endeavor both projecting the Center's goa ls as well as working within a specific

Korean constru al of the term " multi cultural; " a co nstru ct engaging domestic

socioeconomic and cultural hierarchies as well as emphasizing assimilation. The Centet;

choral program, and chori ste rs represent a contemporary liminality within Korean

society; one balanced between complete assimi lation and the desire to nurture Korea's

burgeoning diversity through in tegration and education. The choristers themselves serve

as symbolic icons of contemporary demographic change. Simultaneously, the Chorus

embodies a potenti al paradigm shift, acting as a metaphor for Korea's hoped-for

traj ectory: a fu ture in whi ch a diverse Korea maintains equal footing with global competitors. Through a heuristic case study exa min ing the choriste rs' training and

perfornwnce processes as well as the Choru s's rh etori ca l conn ections to Korea's

multicul turalism, this paper offers a perspective on the mea ning of 'multiculturalism' for

children in the South Korean context.
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Kyujanggak Institute for Korean Studies (규장각한국학연구원)Seoul Journal of Korean StudiesSeoul Journal of Korean Studies vol.25 (2012)
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