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Is National Identity an Obstacle to the Acceptance of Foreign Immigrants as Kookmin(Korean Citizen)?


Seokho Kim | Department of Sociology, Seoul National University

Eun-Sun Park | Department of Sociology, Sungkyunkwan University (Corresponding Author)


Analyzing the 2010 Korean General Social Survey, this study examines the effect of national identity on the acceptance of different ethnic groups as Korean citizens or ‘Kookmin (國民, 국민)’. We hypothesize that Koreans will gradually develop a more open attitude toward foreigners as daily interactions with them become more frequent. However, the impact of ethnic identity remained strong. Strong ethnic identity seems to function as an obstacle toward accepting immigrants as ‘our people’. This is the result of the distinctive meaning that Koreans attach to the title ‘citizen' or ‘Kookmin’. On the other hand, respondents who hold strong civic identity are more likely to accept North Korean defectors and Korean Chinese as Korean citizens. Hence, such result indicates that Koreans are reluctant to accept other ethnic groups as citizens due to their strong national identity and more importantly, ethnic identity.


Keywords: Civic Identity, Ethnic Identity, Citizenship, Social Distance, Dthnic Relations, Social Impact of Immigration


Korea Journal of Population Studies, 2016, vol.39, no.4, pp. 29-59 (31 pages)

UCI : G704-000152.2016.39.4.001