The Bibimbap Migration Theory? Challenges of Korea’s Multicultural Mix and Social Integration Development


DOI: 10.1007/s12134-016-0489-6

Cite this article as:
Shen, S. Int. Migration & Integration (2016). doi:10.1007/s12134-016-0489-6


Migration was never a brand new phenomenon in South Korea, but its migration pattern has been redirected, migrant size has been amplified, and migrant ethnicity has been diversified in recent years. Korea is undergoing dramatic changes in its demographic composition with an increasing presence of foreigners since the 1990s. Traditionally known for its cultural uniqueness and ethnic homogeneousness, the ongoing inflow of foreigners has presented new challenges, as to who the Koreans are and how the modern Korean society should be defined. Some Koreans even raise concern over migration inflow as a threat to its nationhood purity. This research examines the shifting trend of immigration in Korea with a focus on the new social development of multiculturalism, while assessing the level of social integration and multicultural discourses of the public. In addition to those widely discussed marriage immigrants and foreign labor workers in the existing literature, the recent surge of professional expats, foreign teachers, and international students is becoming evident in Korea’s multicultural mix. Moreover, there is still a lack of literature on foreign migrants in Korea, including the US military service personnel, the foreign professional sports players, non-North Korean international refugees, and the latest, permanent residency immigrants through property investment in Korea. Despite the noted increasing inflow of a variety of immigrant residents, who are constantly shaping the new faces of Korea, the acceptance of ethnic diversity and cultural integration has yet to secure its solid place in the Korean society for multiculturalism to be truly embraced and flourished.


Korea Migration Multiculturalism Social integration Immigrant policy 

Funding information

Funder NameGrant NumberFunding Note
National Research Foundation of Korea
  • NRF-2013S1A5B8A01054225
Catholic University of Daegu
  • 2015

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Multicultural StudiesCatholic University of DaeguGyeongsan-siRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.Department of Geography Education, College of EducationCatholic University of DaeguGyeongsan-siRepublic of Korea

Personalised recommendations