Date of Submission

Spring 2013

Academic Program

Political Studies

Project Advisor 1

Christopher McIntosh

Abstract/Artist's Statement

The instability of the North Korean economy and regime has led to significant increases in migration out of the country in past years. The famine of the 90s led to an increase in the internal movement of the population, as well as mass movement across the Chinese border. While the migration from North Korea to South Korea has been minimal, the number of North Koreans entering the south has been steadily increasing since the early 2000s. The effect of North Korean migration on the South Korean economy and society has also been minimal so far, however the problems of integrating migrants both economically and socially has been significant. The threat of renewed and increased migration is ever present and yet the full scale effect it could have on South Korea and the rest of the region is unknown.

This paper explores the causes behind migration, such as the economic downturn North Korea faced in the 1990s and the loss of aid and trading partners caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union, as a means of understanding how and why migration could occur in the future. The problems migrants have and currently face in South Korea is then explored by examining the difficulties they face in adapting to the far more modern and liberal South Korean society, as well as problems they encounter finding and retaining jobs in a society that discriminates against them. Using this information, the paper then explains that renewed and increased migration could significantly effect the South Korean state’s ability and willingness to provide assistance to migrants, for both economic and political reasons. The implications of all this are that a significant change in the levels of North Korean migration could have disastrous consequences for the South Korean state, as well as the North Korean migrants who rely upon it.

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