Displaying items by tag: Korean international students

Using in-depth interviews with 21 Korean international student wives (ISWs) and 8 student husbands, this paper explores the ways in which spousal power relations and the division of household labor changed for Korean ISWs after their migration to the U.S. In contrast to previous studies on ISWs that unanimously reported that the status of wives lowered after migration, this paper finds that the spousal relations of Korean ISWs were bifurcated between homemakers and female students. While homemakers became subordinate to their student husbands after migration, female students maintained egalitarian spousal relationships. In addition, whereas homemakers’ share of household labor and childcare responsibilities increased abruptly after migration, female students enjoyed a much more equal division of household labor. This paper discusses various factors that led to such divergent paths: the goals of migration, legal/social statuses and dependence on husbands, wives’ paid employment, the extent of wives’ social networks, and the living arrangements after migration. Although this study is based on the experiences of Korean ISWs, the findings can provide insights into the lives of other middle-class temporary migrant women across their countries of origin, because they may experience the same gender dynamics as middle-class temporary migrant women who are not allowed to work after migrating to the U.S. due to their similar types of visas.

Contemporary migration is distinct from past migration, and the transnational family currently encompasses an increasingly wider range of family structures that affects a wider range of cultures and nations. In the 1960s and 1970s, labor migrants from a developing South Korea left spouses, mostly wives, and children for economic opportunities abroad only to have their families re-connect with them in a more or less permanent move overseas. More recently, Korea's new position in the global economy has shifted family demography and strategies for social and economic mobility. It is in this context that the transnational family has re-emerged and taken a new form. This time children are being sent abroad for edcuational opportunities, leaving one or both parents to work in Korea, and often with the hope of re-uniting as a family back in Korea. But, this type of transnational family in contrast to the intact migrant family remains little understood. In this paper, we begin with a brief discussion of the social and political context of transnational family migration from South Korea to Canada and then using TKFS 2011 survey data, we situate our empirical comparisons of transnational and intact families in the literature on migration motivations and on those dimensions understood to be important for structuring transnational opportunities such as motivations, social class background, gender and the division of household labor, and social networks and previous exposure. 


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