Marriage migrant women in South Korea and their civil society support
The citizenship versus empowerment dilemma

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Fanny Sauvignon
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서울대학교 대학원
citizenshipempowermentcivil societymarriage migrantsSouth Koreamulticulturalism
학위논문(석사)--서울대학교 대학원 :국제대학원 국제학과(국제협력전공),2019. 8. 김태균.
This project first seeks to demonstrate that there is a tension between the pursuit of citizenship and the process and means of empowerment for marriage migrant women in South Korea. This inherent tension is due to disempowering policies and restrictive perceptions of multiculturalism – perceptions which incorporate elements of ethnocentrism, cultural nationalism, gender inequality, familism and ideas of economic superiority. Once this tension is demonstrated through policy and social analysis as a crucial reason why marriage migrants are not acquiring citizenship in higher numbers, nor better integrating in Korean society, the practical consequences of this hindering factor on the strategies of CSOs supporting marriage migrants are explored through comparative case studies.

The first case study is that of KOCUN, a CSO with a high level of institutionalization and top-down governance, while the second, the Korea Women Migrants Human Rights Center, represents bottom-up governance and strength at grassroots level. While KOCUN is found to transnationalize the problematic dilemma between citizenship and empowerment and to harness the power of the market to make up for government shortcomings, the WMHRCs strategy is one of decentralization for the sake of community-building and self-reliance, while leveraging ally forces in civil society to keep its independence.

Although both approaches are valid and necessary, KOCUN encourages a rather unilateral effort for marriage migrants to assimilate to South Korea, whereas the WMHRCs approach allows for integration at local level, a preliminary step to belonging to South Korea national society, all while mobilizing native Korean civilians who are already sympathetic to the cause and/or are interested in marriage migrants native cultures. This represents a fairer model for an empowering pursuit of citizenship for foreign brides. The case of marriage migrants remains one of the most fruitful lenses through which to imagine the future of South Korean multiculturalism, citizenship and civil society.
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Graduate School of International Studies (국제대학원)Dept. of International Studies (국제학과)Theses (Master's Degree_국제학과)
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