South Korean Factory Managers Transnational Life in Ho Chi Minh City

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Chae, Suhong

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Department of Anthropology, Seoul National University
Korean Anthropology Review, Vol.3, pp. 1-40
This article was originally published in 『비교문화연구』 [Cross-cultural studies] 20(2): 47-94; Translated into English by Hwang Heesun.
It has become commonplace in the global production system for workers to relocate to various regions across the world. Companies import migrant workers by making capital and labor more flexible in order to maximize profits. As a result, sojourners-those who do not intend to settle down for good but instead are likely to return to their home countries-are increasing in number, and their transnational life patterns, woven by their movements between their homes and their resident countries, are receiving more academic attention. This article draws on South Korean managers experiences in Vietnam to gain a better understanding of transnationalism. South Korean factory managers, when they move from relatively wealthy South Korea to relatively poor Vietnam, tend to work in the new region without intending to permanently settle down or to be assimilated into the local culture. They are also unlikely to be victims of discrimination by native residents. Although they do not form a social majority in the region, they are allocated superior status at workplaces and in everyday contexts. Nevertheless, their life is constrained by their nationality status as foreigners and by their social class status as lowermiddle- class skilled workers. This empirical study ties the distinctive characteristics shown in the transnational lives of South Korean factory managers to their socioeconomic reproduction, as well as to the creation and care of their families.
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College of Social Sciences (사회과학대학)Dept. of Anthropology (인류학과)Korean Anthropology Review (KAR)Korean Anthropology Review Vol.3 (2019)
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