A Space of Emancipation or a Space of Insecurity? Gendered Dimensions in Nepal Town, South Korea
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The area near the Dongdaemun subway station in Seoul, South Korea, took on the informal name Nepal Town in the late 1990s as Nepalese workers came to be employed in small family-run garment factories located there and a Nepalese community began to form. It is a place where low-income Nepalese workers, who are often socially excluded, actively engage in diverse transnational community activities as well as spatial practices. Although the number of female Nepalese workers in South Korea has increased in recent years, Nepal Town is largely dominated by male Nepalese workers who enjoy taking part in these activities during their days off and holidays. I explore the complexities and implications of Nepal Town using a multiscalar approach, based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted both there and at Nepalese workers’ accommodation in remote agricultural areas of South Korea. I argue for the ‘emancipatory potential’ of Nepal Town through the permanent presence of Nepalese workers and their spatial practices. At the same time, Nepal Town can be an intimidating place for Nepalese women. Drawing on the notion of ‘gendered geographies of power’, the discussion aims to examine the gendered dimensions of Nepal Town by analysing labour migration policies, the transnational Nepalese community and the resilience of individual women in male-dominated spaces.
KeywordsSouth Korea Nepalese Migration policy Transnational community Gendered labour migration Resilience
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