HaeRan Shin: Professor, Department of Geography, Seoul National University
This talk is an ethnographic approach to female North Korean defectors in the UK and those entrepreneurs in South Korea. By documenting North Korean women’s plight from the 1994 to 1998 famine in North Korea and human-trafficking in China to their defection to the two countries, I plot their progression as they parlay precarity to empowerment. These women’s adaptability and ethnic networks led them to not only survive uncertain situations but thrive. In regarding precarity in terms of double-edged nature of agency, traps and opportunities or victimization and empowerment, this research contributes to multi-faceted and ambivalent understanding of agency and empowerment. Observing migrant women’s social navigation, set in motion by social forces and agency, reveals that the double-edged quality of precarity as a source of both threat and opportunity and their social activities result in unintentional empowerment.
Presented by the IAS Research and Creative Collaborative, Gender and Violence: Korea and Beyond.
HaeRan Shin is a Professor in the Department of Geography at Seoul National University. She focuses on the areas of political geography and migrant studies. She has examined the politics of urban development cases, including culture-led urban regeneration, new towns, eco-cities, and risk perception. Based on actor-focused approaches, she has explored how specifically different actors form and develop power relations and adaptive preferences in cultural economy. She has also worked on the issues of transnational migrants and refugees, the dynamics of mobilities, and the territoriality of their networks and ethnic enclaves. For her research on urban politics and migrant studies, she has used qualitative research methods including in-depth interviews, participant observations, focus groups, discourse analyses, and archival analyses. In recent years, she has focused on the transnational ethnic networks of North Korean defectors who live outside the Korean peninsula. She has published a number of studies in international academic journals and books including North Korean defectors in diaspora. She received her PhD in Planning at University of Southern California. She used to teach at University College London, and she started teaching in South Korea beginning September 2013.