SOAS University of London

Department of Politics and International Studies

Dr Myung Ja Kim

BA (Keio University in Tokyo), MSC (American University in USA), PhD (SOAS)
  • Overview
  • Teaching

Overview

Mung Ja Kim
Department of Politics and International Studies

Post-Doctoral Research Associate

Name:
Dr Myung Ja Kim
Email address:
Thesis title:
Diaspora and Divided Homeland: How Does Geopolitics Affect the Identity of the Zainichi
Year of Study:
Passed doctoral viva October 2015
Internal Supervisors

PhD Research

Research question;

My research examines how diasporic configurations like the Zainichi (Korean minority in Japan) are embedded in geopolitical relations and how that geopolitics has affected the shifts in Zainichi identity, i.e. the concept of “homeland” over time.

Abstract

The broadly understood assumption is that the bond between “homeland” and ethnic identity is unalteringly strong. Nationalists mobilize myths of “homeland” and consolidate nations by reinforcing the linkage between ethnic identity and their rootedness to a particular place in the “homeland.” This thesis challenges such primordial relations between homeland and the nations abroad. The Zainichi diaspora who hail from Korea and live in Japan have always been connected with political projects. My research focuses on how diasporic configurations like the Zainichi are embedded in geopolitical relations and how that geopolitics has affected the shifts in Zainichi identity, i.e. the concept of “homeland” over time. Although most of the Zainichi come from the region of southern Korea, i.e. South Korea and keep their South Korean nationality, they speak Japanese not Korean; they behave like the Japanese; they use Japanese names; in other words, they are highly acculturated to Japanese society. Despite the fact that the naturalization rate has increased since the 1990s, there still exist around 400,000 Zainichi who maintain their Korean nationality in Japan, but they do not intend to repatriate to Korea.  Such a contradictory aspect of the Zainichi is difficult to calibrate only through the interaction between minorities and host states. It is, however, reasonable for the ruling elites of a host state to make a policy toward its minorities which would affect their identities. The missing point in this is that the decision of the ruling elites is often made as a result of interaction between host states and external powers rather than minorities and host states.  By analysing this contradictory aspect of the Zainichi identity, this thesis concludes that geopolitics mechanisms do not only produce distant space between the Zainichi diaspora and their “homeland” but also provide the challenge toward the nation-states both of host state and its divided homeland.

Publications

Korean Diaspora in Postwar Japan, The: Geopolitics, Identity and Nation-Building by I.B.Tauris, 2017

How Does Diaspora Mobilization Become a Causal Feature of Structural Change?" DOI: 10.1177/234779701560191Journal of Asian Security and International Affairs, 2015, 2(3) 1–25

“デイアスポラと分断された祖国” (Diaspora and Divided Homeland) by ‘KAMIZONO’, institution magazine of Meiji Jingu in November 2014.

Conferences

  • ISA’s (International Studies Association) 56th Annual Convention in New Orleans in USA, date:  February 21, 2015,  The section title is “Diasporas and Political Change” (Invited)Title,
  • Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies PhD Symposium 2014: Department of Sociology in the London School of Economics and Political Science. Date: 12 - 13 June 2014, presentation paper, entitled “Diaspora and Divided Homeland.” (Invited)
  • 'Pondering the Political': Department of Politics and International Studies MPhil Conference, 13  June, 2012 at SOAS, University of London

Teaching

Guest lecturer at Korean Studies in Tubingen University in Germany in November 2012.

Guest lecturer on the MSc International Politics of East Asia at SOAS, University of London on 13 March 2015, entitled “Triangular Relationships and Migration Issues in Northeast Asia.”  

Teaching Assistant on the Northeast Asian Politics module at SOAS, University of London in 2016