As part of the Communication Seminar Series organized by the Centre for Chinese Media and Comparative Communication Research of the School of Journalism and Communication at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Dr. Juhee Kang will deliver a seminar entitled “The Flip from Fraught to Assumed Use: Mobile Communications of North Korean Women During Their Journey to South Korea”.
Every year hundreds of North Koreans cross the Tumen River running through the Sino-Korean border in the search for a better life elsewhere. This study examines the migratory experiences of North Korean women who flipped their home between two Koreas. In particular, it analyzes the role of mobile communications in their journey as they transposed from the world’s most digitally-disconnected society to one of the most digitally-oriented societies. Based on qualitative interviews with North Korean women settled in South Korea, the study finds their mobile use during the journey was clandestine and fraught with danger but also a critically instrumental for the escape. By contrast, in their flipped home in South Korea where not having a mobile phone is a problem, their use of mobile is structured in everyday life while it is somewhat hindered by discrimination and re-designed for their need of anonymous bridging.