Organized Panel Session
Since the catastrophic famine of the mid-1990s in North Korea, there has been a sharp increase in the influx of North Korean migrants to China. Due to their illegal status and uncertain safety in China, many migrants continue their immigration path along a tumultuous route through Southeast Asia to reach South Korea. The majority of studies conducted on this population have investigated the process of resettlement and assimilation, focusing on the challenges of folding North Koreans into South Korean society as citizens with full cultural membership. This panel provides an alternative analysis to the nationalist framework that has traditionally guided these studies by focusing on the North Korean migrants’ transnational trajectories, experiences, and identities. Drawing on ethnographic research on North Korean migrants across Asia and beyond, this multidisciplinary panel examines how the transnational frameworks of belonging emerged as a new narrative within South Korea’s resettlement aid regime and among the North Korean migrants themselves. In addition, this panel investigates how the migrants’ transnational networks and practices (sending remittances, long-distance mothering, and Christian missionary work) shape their moral world and identity. By providing a deeper analysis of overlooked aspects of North Korean migrant communities, this panel provides a richer and more complex understanding of a unique form of migration arising in the context of a divided Korea.