Imagining Racial Otherness:

Multiculturalism and South(east) Asian Migrant Workers in Korean Cinema


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Since the late 1980s, South Korea has become a prime destination for migrant workers and marriage migrants, mostly coming from developing Asian countries. It is fascinating to observe the growing cultural diversity in Korea despite the fact that Korean society is still struggling with race due to its dominant ideology of a β€œone-blooded ethnic nation.” This presentation examines the representation of South Asian migrant workers in three South Korean films – Bandhobi (Shin Dong-il, 2009), Where is Ronny (Shim Sang-gook, 2009), and Banga? Banga! (Uk Sang-hyo, 2010) – against the larger contexts of political, economic, and social transformation in South Korea. It explores how growing ethnic diversity and demographic changes in South Korea have impacted the transformation of modern Korean identity and cinematic imagination of Korean nationhood, citizenship, kinship, and racial and ethnic identities.