Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology, Republic of Korea
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While a set of social, political, and legal apparatuses amenable to the reinforcement of racism at the South Korean border has been critically addressed, the impact of border control technologies utilizing biometrics and enlisting algorithmic tracking on racial profiling and classification is rarely considered in investigating racial or racist discourses at the border. A review of South Korean critical surveillance studies, however, reveals a striking absence of discussion of race or racism, if not necessarily at the border, in the shifting politics of surveillance through data collection and alogrithmic processes that are supplied by what Lisa Nakamura calls “the power of race as a social identifier.” The border is a site of engineering institutional and administrative forms of racial identification and classification integral to the technical arrangement of national security. I offer a discussion of what I term surveillance racism in order to problematize the intricate connection between racial politics and surveillance at the border. I define surveillance racism as a perceptual regime in which the technical measurement of race through biometric devices such as facial recognition articulates and shapes anti-migration and anti-refugee discourses at the border and beyond. I present these discourses in South Korea in terms of forms and practices of surveillance racism, analyzing police and the police’s foreigner crime data, immigration think-tank policy proposals, and government documents and news reports about the deployment of biometric surveillance techniques in the Integrated Border Management System at the border.