Volume 2, Issue 1 November 2021, pp. 4–16
Collaborative witnessing: A North Korean’s immigration experience in South Korea
Collaborative witnessing is a form of “relational autoethnography” that allows interviews to be more informal and resembles a conversation rather than a structured question and answer format. Collaborative witnessing is the methodology utilized in this article, which is about the personal history of one North Korean defector, JeongOk Lee, who escaped to China twice and came to South Korea in 2004. Media and society refer to them as “North Korean defectors.” In this article, JeongOk shares her experience living in foreign countries through the stories and through three years of interviews. JeongOk provides stories and experiences in North Korea and South Korea. The conversations will reveal the hardships JeongOk experienced working in both North and South Korea. JeongOk experienced difficulties in language and work culture. Her experience resembles what many immigrants face when moving to a new country. These North Korean defectors, or refugees, should be viewed as immigrants through a multicultural lens rather than to focus on the controversial or political issues that arise when discussing North Korean refugees. North Korean refugees struggle to acclimate to South Korea’s culture, language, politics, lifestyle, and capitalist society. As a result, North Korea defectors feel alienated and isolated in South Korean society which makes it more difficult to build relationships. Viewing North Korean people through a multicultural lens could help promote better integration in South Korean society. For South Koreans to be more accepting and understanding of North Korean refugees, they must understand the hardships that North Korean refugees face.
© Amy Hutchinson
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Hutchinson, A. (2021). Collaborative witnessing: A North Korean’s immigration experience in South Korea. Migration and Language Education , 2(1), 4–16. https://doi.org/10.29140/mle.v2n1.482
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