Traversing: Familial Challenges for Escaped North Koreans

Authors: Lim, H.J.

Journal: Journal of Refugee Studies

Volume: 34

Issue: 4

Pages: 4279-4299

eISSN: 1471-6925

ISSN: 0951-6328

DOI: 10.1093/jrs/feab017

Abstract:

This research contributes to the development of migration theories by examining the challenges and opportunities faced by UK-resident migrants from North Korea in maintaining transnational family ties. Particularly, it reflects critically on the role played by 'place' as a regulatory apparatus in shaping the migrants' experiences of family relationships in a transnational social space. The findings are drawn from thematic analysis of data from life history interviews with 14 North Korean defectors. In the light of the prevalence of back-and-forth stepwise migration for the defectors and their families across multiple nation states, I propose the concept of 'traversing' to describe the strenuous transnational familial experiences and complex mobility trajectories of North Korean escapees, which goes beyond a linear journey from the sending to the host place. While existing migration research has capitalized on the host place in selectively enabling and stratifying migrants' access to transnational family rights, I argue that, instead of assuming forced migrants have free access to their home countries, it is important to consider the interplay between multiple places in understanding the challenges for vulnerable migrants to access essential family rights and maintain transnational family relationships.

http://eprints.bournemouth.ac.uk/32300/

Source: Scopus

'Traversing': familial challenges for escaped North Koreans

Authors: Lim, H.

Journal: Journal of Refugee Studies

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISSN: 0951-6328

Abstract:

This research contributes to the development of migration theories by examining the challenges and opportunities faced by UK-resident refugees and asylum seekers from North Korea in maintaining transnational family ties. The findings are drawn from life history interviews with 14 defectors. I analysed the data using thematic analysis. The research reveals that some of the defectors actively rely on social media to maintain their relations with family members who are scattered outside North Korea, while many others are faced with extreme familial challenges fraught with tensions and anxiety over the safety of their relatives who remain in the totalitarian state. In light of the prevalence of step-wise migration for the defectors and their families across multiple nation-states, which largely entails perilous journeys from China (after years of illegal stay) to South Korea via third countries, such as Laos and Thailand, the paper proposes the concept of ‘traversing’ to describe the strenuous transnational familial experiences of North Korean escapees. I argue that owing to their unique circumstances, researching the transnational familial relations of forced migrants is highly complex and it requires new conceptualisation going forwards: instead of assuming transnational migrants have free access to their home countries, it is important to consider the interconnectedness between sending and host societies in co-constituting transnational family justice.

http://eprints.bournemouth.ac.uk/32300/

Source: Manual