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Voluntarily Exiled? Korean State's Cultural Politics of Young Adults' Social Belonging and Korean Students' Exile to a US Community College

** This essay is originally posted on the CUNY Humanities Alliance website:**

I am pleased to share my research paper entitled, Voluntarily Exiled? Korean State’s Cultural Politics of Young Adults’ Social Belonging and Korean Students’ Exile to a US Community College, published by the journal, Higher Education. This ethnographic study examines the complicated interlink between the Korean state’s identity politics of citizenship and working-class and lower middle-class Korean students’ flight to a community college in Chicago (Kim, 2018). This study discusses how these Korean international students’ experience studying abroad at the community college in the U.S. are intertwined with the former authoritarian Myŏngbak Leeand Geun-hye Park administrations’ neoliberal political-economic strategies of pushing out less profitable young adults. The abstract (Kim, 2018) describes,

For working-class and lower middle-class Korean community college students, study abroad means a deviation from the normal educational and life trajectories in Korea, while, at the same time, their education in the USL opens a pathway for reentering the Korean neoliberal system as more profitable citizens. Their being recognized as members of a profitable workforce indicates their achievement of neoliberal normalcy. (p.353)

Considering large number of transnational student populations at community colleges in the U.S., this article highlights the significance of building comprehensive understanding of these students’ educational and life trajectories, which includes their home countries social and political-economic dynamics within the context of globalization and the transnational relationships between their home countries and the U.S. as well as within the specific institutional, regional and broader contexts in the U.S. 

For those who are interested in this article, the full citation is as follows:

Kim, S. (2018). "Voluntarily exiled? Korean state’s cultural politics of young adults’ social belonging and Korean students’ exile to a US community college." Higher Education, 76(2), 353-367. Retrieved from


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