<#283 Into the Campus>
Do You Know Korean Diaspora?
By Kwon Jeong-ha, Student Editor
The Research Group for Global Korean Business and Culture (RGGKBC) at Chonnam National University (CNU) was awarded the Presidential Commendation for its outstanding contribution to overseas Korean service at the 2nd Korean Day Commemorative Ceremony on October 2nd. The RGGKBC has not only been studying overseas Koreans’ lives, but also collecting a historical database. In a globalizing world, over seven million Koreans are residing in foreign countries and this migration is called the Korean Diaspora, meaning ethnic Koreans who live in many different parts of the world. The Korean Diaspora has over a 150 year history and still endeavors to preserve their identities as Koreans. Let us listen to the story of the overseas Koreans at the RGGKBC!
The four representative regions where Korean Diaspora residents live
Research on the Overseas Korean Residential Areas
In 1991, Hangeul schools were founded in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) on the initiative of the present Director of RGGKBC. The main reason for its foundation was the deficiency of the Korean language education. Koreans living in this region spoke Korean without knowing appropriate pronunciation so it was difficult for domestic Koreans to communicate with them, even though they use the same language, Korean. They started emigrating to the CIS at the end of the 19th century. As their generations have changed over the past several decades, the recent generations could not help becoming more Russianized. Consequently, there was little chance to be affected by recent advances in Korean culture or language. This was the stepping stone to research the Korean Diaspora. Since those schools were founded, the fundamental study of the overseas Koreans has made progress under some small-scale organizations at CNU.
In 2002, CNU unified several existing small-scale organizations and established the RGGKBC to materialize their study. On that occasion, the government also recognized the importance of the Global Korean Network (GKN) in this global world; the Korea Research Foundation publicly recruited research organizations for study in this field. The GKN would be helpful for trading and communication among overseas Koreans and contribute to uniting Koreans as well. After a one-year examination, the RGGKBC was finally selected as a leading research institute for constructing a GKN at the behest of Korean government.
Lively Activities for Global Korean Network
The study of the RGGKBC can be generally divided into three categories. First, the institution has an extensive survey of the general lives of the Korean Diaspora related to their economical and cultural background. Second, it conducts research on activities of overseas Korean business people all over the world and investigated the legal status of migration and social organizations’ activities. Third, the center focuses on the strategies of constructing the GNK.
The RGGKBC had conducted a study, “Global Korean Network and Korean Culture Community,” as a governmental project from 2003 to 2006. As the result of this project, the center published 33 volumes of books in a series. Last October 8th, the RGGKBC held an exhibition to show its research, including those publications.
In addition, the RGGKBC has operated a “Global Korean Diaspora Internship” program from 2006 and dispatched about 10 students to Japan, China and the Philippines each summer vacation. They work at companies operated by the Korean Diaspora for two months. It is a great chance for students to think globally and understand overseas Koreans through their internship.
Korean Diaspora: Indispensable for Embracing the World!
The director of RGGKBC, Lim Chae-wan said, “In a globalizing world, it is necessary to cement symbiotic relationship through the Korean Diaspora. For establishing relationships with them, fundamentally we have to research their lives abroad. Besides, the GKN is needed and it would not only contribute to the prosperity of Korea but also enhance our international competitive power.” It is expected that the research results of the RGGKBC will be the requisite for bringing harmony not only with the Korean Diaspora, but the world!
<Central Asia and Russia>
In this region, there are massive materials such as Korean traditional novels or Korean newspapers written in foreign languages. Regrettably, those materials are confronted with a critical situation because they are fading into time.
∙ Overseas Korean Population: 330 thousand
∙ Beginning of the Emigration: Late-19th century
∙ The Origin of Most Korean Residents in This Region: Tribes of Goryeo
Their identities are hitherto fairly well preserved. They still speak Korean and maintain Korean culture, too. However, as China has economically grown and assimilates the entire nation with one common characteristic, the Korean Diaspora is anticipated to be absorbed into China’s plans in the long run.
∙ Overseas Korean Population: 2 million
∙ Beginning of the Emigration: Mid-16th Century
∙ Korean Diaspora’s Corporation: 34 thousand
As time passed most Korean residents in Japan are divided into two representative ways of life. One of them is to become nationalized in Japan and the other still persists in Korean traditional culture by wearing Korean traditional clothes and speaking Korean every day.
∙ Overseas Korean Population: 900 thousand
∙ Beginning of the Emigration: 19th Century
∙ Korean Diaspora’s Corporation: 24 thousand
<United State of America>
Among these four representative nations, the US has the most members of the Korean Diaspora. The general characteristic in the US is that they have dual identities as both Korean and American. By coexisting with many races in the US, they spontaneously preserve their own identity as Koreans.
∙ Overseas Korean Population: 1.5 million
∙ Beginning of the Emigration: Early 20th Century
∙ Korean Diaspora’s Corporation: 130 thousand
∙ Korean Communities: 8,700