University of Sussex
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‘Kyopo’ daughters in Germany: the construction of identity among second-generation German- Korean women in Germany

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posted on 2023-06-08, 11:51 authored by Simone Cecille Dominique Hary
This thesis explores the construction of identity amongst the second generation of South- Korean migrants to Germany in Frankfurt am Main, focussing mainly on women. Overwhelmingly, when talking about migrants the German media focus on the Turkish minority. Literature follows a similar pattern. However, West Germany recruited South Korean nurses and miners during the 1970s as labour migrants. Today, they and their children constitute the largest South Korean minority in Europe. In this thesis I examine the second generation of the Korean minority in relation to broader discourses on migrants and integration in Germany, and trace the dynamics of identification and self-understanding. Central to these are narratives of shared experiences, of having Korean parents and of living in German society, particularly in relation to discourses in which they are identified as foreigners. Korean parents impart a sense of “Korea” as a source of timeless tradition and practices; whereas “Germany” is a setting for their everyday lives. These shared experiences are mobilised as a framework for negotiating identities. In contrast to the essentialist understanding of identity invoked by Germany society, the second generation describe themselves as kyopo, a Korean term meaning “Korean living in a foreign country” and which, in the German context, means “Second-generation German-Korean living in Germany”. This thesis looks at the ways Korean-Germans articulate the possibilities and limits of kyopo identity in relation to narratives and discourses on ‘Koreanness’ and ‘Germanness’, and in the context of social interactions. I focus especially on the ways in which this occurs for women, whose experiences are often marginalised in the process of kyopo identity negotiation. They are caught between the need to expose the problems of male privilege and the desire to unite with Korean-German men to contest the German discourse on integration and foreigners that confines them both.


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