Transborder Mobility and (Re)construction of Boundaries in the Sino-North Korea Borderland


Most of the existing research on the migration in the Sino-North Korea borderland ignores the pre-existing fluidity of legal and illegal mobility between the northern part of North Korea and the northern provinces of China. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the land around the border between North Korea and China was the ethnic Korean space which has long established cultural and linguistic communities. These communities including members of the same families were then separated into individual countries in the aftermath of the colonial period and the Korean War. While constructing the borderlines under the nation-state system, both states tried to redefine the territoriality of the region and the identities of the peoples which remained ambiguous. Even the boundaries were fixed by the two nations, however the border crossing was still an everyday reality for the people in the border region until the 1960s. The networks based on kinship began to be revitalized from the 1990s after being severed for many decades. In this sense, this paper focuses on the transnational practices which blur the boundaries and the processes of reconstruction of kinship tied into the related interaction of socio-political contexts, drawing on in-depth interviews to reveal the trajectories of family separation and reassertion of family ties. I hope to argue that the borderland is not fixed by territorial thinking, rather it is continually reconstructed through the constant mobility formed by every individual practice.

Author Information
Sunkyung Choi, University of North Korean Studies, South Korea / University of California, Berkeley, United States

Paper Information
Conference: ACAS2017
Stream: Korean Studies

This paper is part of the ACAS2017 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon