One voice or many? Homeland politics, the impeachment of Park Geun-hye, and the South Korean diaspora in Melbourne, Australia

David Hundt, Hyein Ellen Cho, Amy Nethery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

South Korea’s ‘candlelight rallies’ in late 2016 and early 2017 were a mass movement that brought about the impeachment of then-President Park Geun-hye, and they were replicated on a smaller scale in Korean diaspora communities across the world. This article analyses the rallies held by Koreans in Melbourne, Australia, to better understand this heterogeneous community and its involvement in ‘homeland politics’. In doing so we seek to bring together the study of social (and political) movements as well as diaspora politics, by illustrating how and why some overseas Koreans decided to raise their voices in the politics of the homeland. Drawing on interviews with 20 participants in and observers of the rallies in Melbourne, we show that these events exposed and exacerbated generational and ideological fault-lines within the community. Older South Korean migrants, who were more likely to be Australian citizens, played little or no role in the rallies and tended to disapprove of them. By contrast younger South Koreans, who were more likely to view their stay in Australia as temporary, were prominent in organising and attending the rallies, which they saw as a legitimate and important means of participating in the politics of their homeland. The study thus illustrates two quite distinctive understandings of the appropriate relationship between the South Korean diaspora and homeland.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-238
Number of pages42
JournalJournal of Diaspora Studies
Volume17
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Keywords

  • South Korean diaspora
  • Park Geun-hye’s impeachment
  • Homeland politics
  • Rallies
  • Korean migration

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