Transnational Motherhood in the Making of Global Kids: South Korean Educational Migrants in Singapore

  • Yoonhee KangEmail author
Part of the International Perspectives on Migration book series (IPMI, volume 2)


This chapter explores the intersections of transnational migration, education, and family, by examining South Korean migrant families’ various strategies for facilitating their children’s education in Singapore. Recently, a growing number of Korean young students in their primary and secondary schools have moved to Singapore for their ‘early study abroad’ (chogi yuhak). These young children are usually accompanied by their mothers, while their fathers remain in Korea to financially support their families abroad. Based on ethnographic research among these Korean ‘geese’ families in Singapore, this chapter analyzes the multiple meanings and motivations underlying Korean educational migration in Singapore. Unlike common assumptions of transnational educational migration, this study draws attention to much broader consideration and motivations which even include the acquisition of ‘emotional capital,’ a term that refers to the various forms of emotional practices and resources that facilitate children’s accumulation of other forms of cultural, social, and economic capital. It shows that a shifting attention to this affective dimension of transnational migration, in turn, leads the Korean migrants to re-imagine and reformulate their desired transnational subject as ‘Asian global’, which is an image of a person who is more multicultural, socio-centric, thus locally grounded. Looking at family as an active site of identity construction shows how Koreans’ traditional notions of family and mothering have paradoxically contributed to generating this new type of ‘global kids,’ as mediated through their discourses on emotional capital and their aspiration of becoming global citizens in this rapidly globalizing world.


Cultural Capital English Proficiency Limited English Proficiency Korean Student Global Citizen 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Fieldwork in Singapore was funded by Nanyang Technological University (2008–2010). This project was also supported by Seoul National University (Research Settlement Fund for the new faculty 2011–2012). I would like to thank the editors and an anonymous reviewer for their invaluable comments and suggestions. All errors are my own.


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Copyright information

© Springer Netherlands 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologySeoul National UniversitySeoulSouth Korea

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