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CEAPS Brown Bag - Agnes Sohn "South Koreans go back to the land: Refuge and belonging at the periphery of the nation"

Event Type
ceaps brown bag, migration, south korea
Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies
Davenport Hall 109A (607 S Mathews Ave, Urbana)
Mar 3, 2017   12:00 - 1:00 pm  
Agnes Sohn (PhD Candidate, Anthropology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Free (pizza provided)

Since 2012, Jeju Island has had the highest percentage of increase in population of any region in South Korea. This trend is part of a larger reversal of migration patterns in South Korea in recent years. South Korea’s rapid development from a war-torn country to an advanced industrial nation was accompanied by forty years of uninterrupted net-migration from the rural areas to the nation’s capital, Seoul. 2013 was the first year in forty that there was a net out-migration from the Seoul metropolitan area to the regional areas. Jeju Island has been the destination of much of this new out-migration, particularly for young adults, the focus of this presentation. The exodus of young people from Seoul to Jeju Island, from the corporate and professional world to slow living and self-employment marks a profound shift in the aspirations and sensibilities of the young generation in South Korea. This study finds that, ironically, this return to the countryside and to the local community allows young adult migrants to embrace a downshift and even downward social mobility while at the same time holding onto their global aspirations.

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