Three men wearing Islamic clothing walk down a street in the Itaewon neighborhood in Seoul, South Korea.

Migration, Cultural Diversity, and Tolerance

Challenges and opportunities in Korea and greater Asia

The value of cultural diversity and transnationalism

Shifting demographics and increasing diversity across Asia call for new models for fostering social capital and economic growth.

Research Focus

Across Asia, in both ethnically diverse and homogenous societies, labor migration, the foreign bride phenomenon, and international students have together contributed to shifting demographics, a greater sense of diversity, and the need to explore better ways to foster effective social cohesion.
 
Despite these changes, broader social integration of ethnic minorities has not yet occurred and cultural diversity policies are only in their initial stages of development. A diverse social fabric can enhance the value and performance of organizations, but they must create policy frameworks to instill positive interaction.
 
The Migration, Cultural Diversity, and Tolerance collaborative research project examines migration and diversity issues and challenges in Korea and greater Asia. It focuses on migration policies and diversity programs and policies of universities, corporations, and governments, and on their impact on innovation and creativity. Project investigators Gi-Wook Shin and Rennie Moon also seek to stimulate much-needed conversation about the value of diversity in Korea and across Asia, and highlight what embracing diversity can mean and do for society.
 
Recent project-related publications by Shin and Moon include a paper in which they pursue an inter-regional comparison, evaluating the rise and development of discourses of inclusion in the West and their implications for Asia (see “Embracing Diversity in Higher Education: Comparing Discourses in the US, Europe, and Asia”); a book chapter that focuses on Korea as a lens for studying these larger issues (see “Why Does Cultural Diversity Matter? Korean Higher Education in Comparative Perspective”); and a working paper in which they discuss how developing countries can enhance innovation and economic growth by engaging with their diasporas (see “From Brain Drain to Brain Circulation and Linkage”).
 
Publications in progress include a special journal issue on migrants in Korea, whose articles under review examine the growing heterogeneity and multiplicity of migrants in Korea within the broader categories of two major groups, i.e., migrant workers and marriage migrants. The articles address issues of class in addition to ethnicity and citizenship, two main markers of distinction in the current literature, as an analytical lens and consider the contributions of migrants from both human and social capital perspectives. Shin and Moon call for a new framework in both social discourse and policy that reflects such complexities: one that moves from the current focus on assimilation and social integration towards better appreciation of cultural diversity and transnationalism.
 
Future research will place these findings about Korea within a comparative context, vis-á-vis countries that undergo similar trends in internationalization and migration, such as Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan. The research agenda also includes a project that will explore changing perceptions of what constitutes a “minority” and a “good citizen” in South Korean society, providing an empirical basis for understanding debates on the interaction of citizenship, nationalism, and diversity.

Lead Researchers

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Gi-Wook Shin

Shorenstein APARC Director and Korea Program Director
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Gi-Wook Shin

Shorenstein APARC Director and Korea Program Director
Senior Fellow, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and Professor of Sociology
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Rennie Moon

Associate Professor of Research Method, Underwood International College at Yonsei University
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Rennie Moon

Associate Professor of Research Method, Underwood International College at Yonsei University

Publications
 

Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center Working Paper, 2018
[See also "Can Brain Drain Generate Gains for Less-Developed Countries?," APARC website, March 2018]

Why Does Cultural Diversity Matter? Korean Higher Education in Comparative Perspective
In Globalization and Japanese “Exceptionalism” in Education: Insider's Views into a Changing System, by Ryoko Tsuneyoshi (ed.), Routledge, 2017

Embracing Diversity in Higher Education: Comparing Discourses in the US, Europe, and Asia
In Migration and Integration: New Models for Mobility and Coexistence, by Roland Hsu and Christoph Reinprecht (eds.), V&R Unipress, 2016

Internationalizing Higher Education in Korea: Challenges and Opportunities in Comparative Perspective 
Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center book, distributed by Brookings Institutions Press, 2016

Aid as Transnational Social Capital: Korea’s Official Development Assistance in Higher Education
Pacific Affairs, 2016

Commentaries and Opinion Pieces
 

Korea’s International Students
The Korea Times, Mar 27, 2018 (in Korean)

Korea No Longer a Country of Koreans
The Korea Times, Dec 12, 2017 (in Korean)

A Society that Valorizes Diversity
The Korea Times, Oct 10, 2017 (in Korean)

Broken English is the New Global Language
MK News, August 28, 2017 (in Korean)

College in Korea an Option for Korean Americans
The Korea Times, August 15, 2017 (in Korean)

Social Capital Matters for a Sustainable South Korea
Shorenstein APARC News, August 2016

Stanford Scholar Underscores Diversity, Global Education Goals
Shorenstein APARC News, May 2015

South Korean Universities Remain Challenging Places for Foreign Students and Faculty
TheConversation.com, May 2015


Photo credit: Flickr user Nicolas Nova.