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From Route to Root: Ethnic Koreans and Their Liminal Experiences in Colonial and Postcolonial Taiwan

Sat, June 25, 10:30am to 12:20pm, Shikokan (SK), Floor: 1F, 109


Hundreds of Koreans left their “motherland” for Taiwan in the 1920s and 1930s when both Korea and Taiwan were under Japanese rule. According to the popular census taken by the Japanese colonial government in 1943, there were 1,066 men and 1,709 women residing on the island. Together with Japanese on the island, many Koreans left Taiwan after Korea achieved independence in 1945. Yet, nearly 600 people remained on the island, some by choice and others by chance.
This paper examines the social history of “second generation Koreans in Taiwan.” They are either born in Taiwan to Korean parents or arrived to Taiwan at a very young age with their parents. What was their colonial and postcolonial experience? How did they cope with marginality of being a “Korean” (outsider/foreigner) under Japanese colonial rule and postwar KMT rule? The paper will focus on women, as they often experience dual or multiple marginalities due to their ethnicity, gender, and class. The protagonists are three women who—despite of their different backgrounds—grew up together, later got married, yet experienced single motherhood and economic difficulties after their husbands left them by death or divorce. They are also members of the Korean Church which has been the center of the Korean diasporic community in Taiwan, especially in the early postwar period. Coming through different routes, they are today all rooted in Taiwan—a home with many liminalities.