Educational Desire and Transnationality of South Korean Middle Class Parents in Beijing



This chapter explores the transnational lives of South Korean migrant families in Beijing from a refreshing perspective of education. In contrast to the mainstream view of taking the migrant education as an indication of the extent of assimilation and integration into the host society, this chapter focuses on educational concerns among the migrant families in a destination that they regard as transient. Conceptualising Korean migrants as an anxious middle class, the author outlines the educational environment in Beijing for children of migrant families, based on which a profusion of desire for education can transnationally arise and burgeon. Focusing on the notions of educational desire and transnationality, the author draws attention to understanding the Bourdieusian discussion on class and education from a theoretical perspective of transnational migration and mobile subjectivity. Based on semi-structured interviews with 31 Korean parents and participatory observation, the author elaborates the parents’ “greed” (yokshim) to seek an international education and multilingual acquisition and their “anxiety” (kŏkchŏng) about the local Chinese and overseas Korean schooling with regard to their children’s education. These desires for education substantially reflect the identification generated among migrants vis-à-vis their migration peers, local residents, and those who have never left the home society. The chapter concludes with addressing the metaphor of “pursuit of a transnational badge” by analysing the subjectivities that migrants produce and intensify in an unsettling circumstance.


Educational desire Transnationality South Korean migration Middle class School choice 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiao Ma
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of HumanitiesLeiden UniversityThe Netherlands

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