5th Jan, 2019
Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies (SOAS) Seminar Series
Transnational Labour Regimes, Migrant Labour and the Changing Territoriality of Korean Development
Professor Dae-Oup Chang (Sogang University, Korea)
Wednesday 9th January, 5:15pm, Room G3 (Main Building) (SOAS)
Globalising capitalism affects the territoriality of labour regimes and the ways in which capitalist labour is reproduced, recruited and utilised within national boundaries. Labour regimes that produce and reproduce labour forces within national territories for capitalist development are no longer predominantly national processes. Rather, labour regimes increasingly attain a transnational nature through transnationally organised capital relations as well as transnational relations of reproduction. Although transnational labour regimes are formed mostly through the movement of capital, migration of productive and reproduction labour is one of the major ways through which labour regimes are becoming transnational processes. In Korea, the number of workers without Korean nationality has increased more than ten-folded since the introduction of the Foreign Industrial Trainee Programme in 1994, reaching approximately a million by 2018. These migrant workers form a significant part of the workforce in small-scale manufacturing, construction, agriculture and fishery in South Korea, contributing to the survival of these industries. In addition, there are around a quarter-million marriage migrants who offer paid and unpaid reproductive labour to Korean society. The labour regime within which these migrants work demonstrates an interesting case of territorial complexity. Whereas the South Korean state heteronises the working population, it homogenises Koreaness by institutionalising political and social exclusion of the migrant population. Although migrant labour shares the same workplaces and homes with Korean labour, they are working in disparate spaces. The bodies of migrant labour are located in Korea while their citizenship and rights are left in their home countries. Their physical location is disconnected from the standards according to which their wages and rights are determined. As a result, they are effectively extraterritorial beings in this transnational space.