Journal of Geography


지리학논총, Vol.62 (2016)

Scalar Politics of Welfare for Marriage Migrants Between NGO and Government in South Korea

Yulii Kim

(Masters Candidate at the Department of Geography at Seoul National University)

Marriage migrant women have established a significant presence in South Korea within the last two decades and face linguistic and socio-cultural differences, leading to difficulties in adaptation. Governmental and non-governmental forms of aid have sprung up to facilitate these women’s needs of social integration. Despite an active response from the government in providing welfare for marriage migrants, NGOs take on a differentiated role that contest yet supplement the state centralized form of welfare. By observing the distribution of welfare in the marriage migrant community and individual scales, this study explores the dynamics of scalar politics between the NGO and government. A comparison of the varying agenda and vision of these two agents leads to a fundamental inquiry into the efficiency and impact of welfare to marriage migrant women. Conducting a case study on a well-established NGO of the field, this paper argues that while the government perpetuates a top-down distribution of welfare by fixing the targets of the receiving community and individual scales, the NGO provides an alternative discourse of empowering individual women to question and resist imposed notions of identity set by the state. In essence, the NGO expands individual capacity to jump scales and move beyond passive welfare.

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