Ethnic Relations in Northeast China

Ethnic Revival or De-Ethnicisation of the Korean Diaspora?

in European Journal of East Asian Studies
No Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?


This article discusses the dynamic changes in ethnic relations that have taken place in the Joseonjok (Chaoxianju) community comprising minority Koreans residing in and around Yanbian, an autonomous prefecture in northeastern China, and discusses the implications of those changes for the region. The main focus is on how the tension between China’s fluctuating ethnicity-related politics and this diaspora group’s continual struggle for a collective identity has been managed and internalised. Contrary to existing studies on the Joseonjok, the paper argues that the group has experienced de-ethnicisation, both as a top-down (government policy) and bottom-up (diaspora’s reaction) process, rather than ethnic revival. The puzzling question is how and why de-ethnicisation occurs despite the commonly accepted conditions of ethnonationalism and, more recently, with trans-nationalism, heavily influenced by their Korean motherlands. Based primarily on ethnographical research and using a multiculturalism approach, this paper argues that the recent policy failure in dealing with multiculturality in China, together with the changing geopolitics of the region, has accelerated the process of de-ethnicisation. Joseonjok society’s particular way of resisting political pressures and coping with ethnic tension in fact reflects a diaspora’s common struggle to achieve integration with mainstream society while ensuring recognition of its own distinctive characteristics.

Ethnic Relations in Northeast China

Ethnic Revival or De-Ethnicisation of the Korean Diaspora?

in European Journal of East Asian Studies




Colin MackerrasChina’s Ethnic Minorities and Globalisation (London: Routledge2003) pp. 56–57.


Zhou Minglang‘Language policy and illiteracy in ethnic minority communities in China’Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural DevelopmentVol. 21 No. 2 (2000) pp. 129–148; see p. 132.


Gabriel ShefferDiaspora Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press2003) pp. 8–14.


John A. Armstrong‘Mobilized and proletarian diasporas’American Political Science ReviewVol. 70 No. 2 (1976) pp. 393–408 see p. 393.


Anthony D. SmithThe Ethnic Origins of Nations (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing1986); Anthony D. Smith Myths and Memories of the Nation (Oxford: Oxford University Press 1999).


SmithMyths and Memories p. 13.


Roman SzporlukCommunism and Nationalism: Karl Marx versus Friedrich List (Oxford: Oxford University Press1988).


See Brian Barry‘The muddles of multiculturalism’New Left ReviewNo. 8 (March–April 2001) pp. 49–71; Will Kymlicka The Rights of Minority Cultures (Oxford: Oxford University Press 1995); Bhikhu Parekh Rethinking Multiculturalism: Cultural Diversity and Political Theory (London: Palgrave Macmillan 2000); Adrian Favell ‘Applied political philosophy at the Rubicon: Will Kymlicka’s Multicultural CitizenshipEthical Theory and Moral Practice Vol. 1 No. 2 (1998) pp. 255–278.


See William A. Callahan‘History, identity, and security: producing and consuming nationalism in China’Critical Asian StudiesVol. 38 No. 2 (2006) pp. 179–208.


See J. Leibold‘Toward a second generation of ethnic policies?’ China BriefVol. 12 No. 13 (2012) pp. 7–10.


See for example Dennis Woodward‘China’s industrial reform policy’The Australian Journal of Chinese AffairsNo. 14 (1985) pp. 85–104.


See Outi Luova‘Transnational linkages and development initiatives in ethnic Korean Yanbian, northeast China: “sweet and sour” capital transfers’Pacific AffairsVol. 82 No. 3 (2009) pp. 427–446; Guo Jingfu Wang Jingtao and Wang Jianbin ‘Study on development policies of the special industries in ethnic minority areas of China’ International Journal of Business and Management No. 5 (2010) pp. 201–204.


Cha Han PilThe Rising Korean Nation in China (Jungguksoke ilddeoseoneun hanminjok) (Seoul: Yemun Seowon2006).


See Kenneth B. LeeKorea and East Asia: The Story of a Phoenix (Westport: Praeger Publications1997).


C.S. LeeThe Korean Workers’ Party: A Short History (Stanford: Hoover Institution Press1978) p. 16.


LeeThe Korean Workers’ Party p. 4.


Justus D. DoeneckeThe Diplomacy of Frustration: The Manchurian Crisis of 1931–1933 as Revealed in the Papers of Stanley K. Hornbeck (Stanford: Hoover Institution Press1981) p. 7.


Robin CohenGlobal Diasporas: An Introduction (London: University College of London Press1999).


Colin MackerrasChina’s Minorities: Integration and Modernization in the Twentieth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press1994) p. 32.


See D.S. Suh and Edward J. Shultz (eds)Koreans in China (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press1990).


Sujian GuoChinese Politics and Government: Power Ideology and Organization (London: Routledge2013) p. 76.


John Hutchinson‘Ethnicity and modern nations’Ethnic and Racial StudiesVol. 23 No. 4 (2000) pp. 651–669; quote from p. 655.


CohenGlobal Diasporas pp. 171–172.


Hutchinson‘Ethnicity and modern nations’ p. 653.


GuoChinese Politics and Government p. 79.


Luova‘Transnational linkages’ pp. 430–435.


Luova‘Transnational linkages’ p. 435.


June Teufel Dreyer‘China’s vulnerability to minority separatism’Asian Affairs An American ReviewNo. 32 (2005) pp. 69–86; Michael Clarke ‘Ethnic separatism in the People’s Republic of China: history causes and contemporary challenges’ European Journal of East Asian Studies Vol. 12 No. 1 (2013) pp. 109–133.


GuoChinese Politics and Government p. 226.


The incident happened in June 1996by the time the Joseonjok’s Korean Dream had reached its peak. Six Joseonjok crews who were hired by the South Korean captain of the Peskama-ho fishing ferry were all involved in the murder case; seven South Korean crew members along with other crews of other nationalities were murdered in August 1996.


SmithMyths and Memories p. 70.


S.W. Harold‘Ieodo as metaphor? The growing importance of sovereignty disputes in South Korea–China relations and the role of the United States’Asian PerspectiveVol. 36 No. 2 (2012) pp. 287–307; see pp. 288–293.


X.B. Zhao and S.P. Tong‘Unequal economic development in China: spatial disparities and regional policy reconsideration, 1985–1995’Regional StudiesVol. 34 No. 6 (2000) pp. 549–561; see p. 558.


Tony Saich (ed.)Governance and Politics of China (London: Palgrave2011) p. 190.


Michael Cartier‘Thirty years of economic reform and workforce transformation in China’China PerspectivesNo. 1 (2011) pp. 27–33; see p. 33.


Sun Xiulina and Zhou Feizhoub‘Land finance and the tax-sharing system: an empirical interpretation’Social Sciences in ChinaVol. 35 No. 3 (2014) pp. 47–64; see p. 61.


Lin‘Modernity and the violence of global accumulation’ p. 63.


Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 35 35 5
Full Text Views 141 141 69
PDF Downloads 5 5 1
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0