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Korean Migrants’ Use of the Internet in Canada

Abstract

Drawing on qualitative interviews with South Korean migrants in Canada, this study examines how full-time working migrants appropriate the Internet to maintain sociocultural connections with their homeland, their diasporic community, and the host society. The present study raises the question of how the rapid diffusion of the Internet may redefine the meanings of the Korean diaspora, and it explores how migrants engage in, or negotiate, the digital mediascape of the host society. While Korean migrants in the present study encountered no difficulty with accessing and using the Internet, it was largely appropriated in Korean language and in relation to Korean community rather than serving as a platform through which they could actively engage in the host society’s mediascape. Thus, it is questionable how the ethnic use of the Internet may contribute to the co-construction between migrant and host media users.

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Notes

  1. The rate of self-employment is significantly high amongst Korean migrants, compared to the host populations. In addition, Korean churches have been influential in Korean migrants’ social networking, especially in major Korean-populated cities; as of 2008, approximately 200 Korean Christian congregations existed in the metropolitan Vancouver area alone (Baker 2008).

  2. Kelowna, which is known for its mild weather, orchards, and resort facilities for retirees, witnessed substantial population growth in the 1990s. One of the reasons for this growth was the migration of translocal whites from Vancouver—a phenomenon that is also known as “white flight”—who were concerned about the large influx of Hong Kong immigrants (Hiebert 2005). Given this background, Kelowna’s development and reputation as a “predominantly white city” is not unexpected (Teixeira and Lo 2012).

  3. The metropolitan Vancouver area, similar to several other metropolitan areas across North America, has witnessed an increase in the number of middle-class Korean transnational families, who can be considered a unique form of “lifestyle migrants.” The transnational family is often referred to as the “wild geese family” (kiroki gajok in Korean), comprising children and the mother in Canada who are separated from the father (Finch and Kim 2012). In the wild geese family, the parents tend to plan to obtain permanent residency for themselves and their children, while the parents themselves do not usually aim to re-establish their careers in Canada and rely on their income source in Korea (Yoon 2014).

  4. The PGWPP offers 3-year work permits to those who have completed a Canadian program of study (e.g., degree, diploma, or certificate program) lasting 2 years or longer.

  5. However, regardless of the length of their stay in Canada, most interviewees were not confident about their English skills; when asked to identify their English language skills between six levels—beginner, low-intermediate, intermediate, high-intermediate, excellent, and native-level fluency—more than two thirds of the interviewees ticked one of the lowest levels (i.e., beginner or low-intermediate).

  6. The decreased role of ethnic media can also be attributed to its highly commercialized nature, as well as to a lack of journalism. Owing to the lack of financial and human resources, the ethnic media in Vancouver have tended to rely heavily on the mainstream homeland media’s news rather than reporting neighborhood stories; thus, the role of the Korean ethnic media’s contribution to cultural citizenship has been questioned (Jin and Kim 2011; Yu and Murray 2007).

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada [Insight grant number 435-2013-0186]. I would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments. I am grateful for Nayoung Kim for her research assistance.

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Yoon, K. Korean Migrants’ Use of the Internet in Canada. Int. Migration & Integration 18, 547–562 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12134-016-0487-8

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Keywords

  • Ethnic language Internet
  • Ethnic media
  • Homeland media
  • Korean migrants in Canada