Sungsook Lim is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Anthropology at UBC.
ABSTRACT: Since 1990 when South Korea and the Soviet Union established diplomatic ties, older Koreans from Sakhalin Island in Russia have migrated to their so-called ethnic “homeland”, South Korea. This return migration is supported by the Japanese and South Korean governments in the name of a humanitarian project that has emerged in the context of post-colonial and Cold War transformations in Northeast Asia. I show how the return policy provokes complex emotional and political discourses around family separation and reunion, as well as raising questions of inclusion and exclusion among older Sakhalin Koreans within three different nation-states—Japan, South Korea, and Russia. Considering return in terms of everyday moral and political experiences, I explore how older Sakhalin Koreans reconfigure personhood through practices of kinship and citizenship in transnational settings. This ethnographic study provides a way of thinking about the role of transnational mobility in constituting personhood in mid- and later life. I also offer an understanding of how subjectivities and personhood are shaped in the transnational milieu where post-colonial, post-Cold War, and post-socialist social changes intersect.
BIO: Sungsook Lim is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Anthropology at UBC. Based on multi-sited ethnographic research conducted on Sakhalin Island (the Russian Far East) and South Korea from 2010 to 2011, she studied the transnational return mobility of older Sakhalin Koreans. Her research interests include: transnational mobility and kinship; personhood; aging and life course; everyday life; post-socialism; the Cold War; and the lives of diasporic Koreans in relation to geopolitical changes.