Migration and Diasporas
In the 1990s, ethnic Koreans from northeast China began migrating to South Korea and, to a lesser extent, to several Western countries. Using their ethnic linkages and bonds with South Korean immigrants, Korean Chinese immigrants who moved to Argentina settled and carried out their economic activities within the well-established Korean community in Buenos Aires, which was founded in the 1960s. Initially, Korean Chinese immigrants were treated as a lower-class labour force by their Korean employers and experienced strong discrimination, much like Joseonjok immigrants in South Korea. However, as they gradually achieved upward mobility, Korean Chinese immigrants improved their social status within the Korean community and underwent a certain degree of assimilation, while maintaining a close relationship with China.
Using my ethnographic research in Argentina, I explore how Korean Chinese immigrants have utilised the ethnic linkages and resources of South Korean immigrants in the former’s migration and integration processes, such as transnational movement, settlement, economic and social activities. I consider their hybrid identities and cross-border mobility to analyse how Korean Chinese immigrants in Argentina have shaped particular experiences and relationships in transnational contexts. By resorting to transnationalism, a theoretical framework which encompasses the multiple ties and interactions linking people or institutions across national borders, I further discuss how in many ways this phenomenon can be interpreted as “an extended return migration”.