Markus Bell’s Asia Times article “Empire and trafficking in Northeast Asia” makes what I think are debatable links between the forced prostitution of Korean women under Imperial Japan and later waves of woman-related migration in and around Korea. His outlining of the way in which South Korea’s relative shortage of potential female partners triggered a whole series of movements in northeast Asia is quite convincing.
Encouraged by a government focused on modernization at any cost, young women from the Korean countryside poured into the capital to take up places in the factories churning out products for export. Those who were unable to find work on the assembly line often found work in the bars of the camptowns. A direct result of this gendered, mass movement from rural to urban areas was the gradual disappearance of young, unmarried women from the villages of Korea.
Rural Korea was being sacrificed as part of Park’s master plan and, in an effort to placate the fast growing bachelor population of the countryside, the government sponsored “bridal tours” in which it took single Korean men to seek wives in Northeast China. For much of the 1980s and early 1990s, with the explosion of the unregulated bride tourism industry, the bride of choice for the rural Korean bachelor continued to be ethnic Korean women located in China, known as Chosonjok.
However, as more and more of these women followed their new husbands into the Korean countryside, certain “truths” started to be revealed for both parties. Chosonjok women were not as obedient and “traditional” as advertised, while rural Korean men did not provide the women with a gateway to the glitz and glamour of South Korean modernity. As relations between China and South Korea improved, and restrictions gradually relaxed for Chosonjok working in South Korea, it became harder for Korean bachelors to find ethnic Korean-Chinese brides willing to toil with them in the rice fields.
As the availability of Korean-Chinese brides declined, South Korean men started to look further afield for women, venturing outside of Northeast Asia and beyond previously imagined ethnic boundaries. Moreover, as the population of northeast China became more affluent and mobile, ethnic Korean women, like South Korean women nearly 30 years earlier, were less willing to settle for a rural existence. Therefore, the dearth of potential brides in that area became even more pronounced.
Chinese men in the provinces of Northeast China now find themselves in a similar position to rural South Korean men a generation earlier. With land to work, aging parents to care for, and no heir to pass the estate on to, the men need to find wives. In this case, their demand for brides is being satisfied by North Korean women who cross into China illegally in search of work, food, an escape from hardship, and at times, passage to South Korea.
These women, many of whom are in their late teens and early twenties, are a vulnerable population. The market for brides in China is, as it was in South Korea, unregulated. It is dominated by ethnic Korean and Chinese brokers for whom making a profit is more important than the basic human rights of the individuals of whom they take charge. North Korean women are bought, sold, and trafficked throughout Northeast China and beyond. Many are sold to Chinese men as brides; many others are funneled into the burgeoning sex industry of the region.
Want China Times‘ article“S. Korea’s Jeju Island a new haven for Chinese investors”. The island of Jeju, located off of the south coast of South Korea, last appeared here in connection with a local statue of autonomy. Nowadays, apparently Jeju is becoming a popular destination for Chinese investors. It actuallysounds a _little_ bit like Prince Edward Island. (There, there are laws preventing non-residents from owning too much property, especially seafront property.)
Increasing numbers of Chinese nationals have bought holiday homes or invested in property in South Korea’s southernmost island province Jeju, which has drawn complaints from local residents, reports the Chinese-language Legal Weekly, the official paper of the CPC Central Politics and Law Commission.
Nearly 80% of property buyers in the South Korean island province are from China, said a property agent in Jeju. Many properties on the island are also being developed by Chinese companies who are targeting Chinese buyers, said Kong Shuai, founder of an investment and property development group from Wenzhou. When Zhou Dewen, chairman of the Wenzhou Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Development Association, brought groups of Chinese investors to the island in 2011 and 2012, many of them showed great interest in the island’s property market.
[. . .]
The island’s geographic location has great appeal to Chinese buyers as it only takes an hour to fly from Shanghai to Jeju. The flight ticket is cheaper than that between China’s northern cities and southernmost island province of Hainan. Jeju’s scenery and its clean environment also serve to attract investors from Chinese cities suffering from severe air pollution. Traveling to the island is also relatively convenient compared to other countries as Chinese nationals can apply for a landing visa in South Korea.
[. . .]
The South Korean government’s 2010 policy, which awards permanent residency to people and their direct relatives who invest more than US$500,000 on the island has contributed to the surge. The investors and their families can enjoy the same medical care, education and job opportunities as South Korean citizens. They are also eligible to apply for a South Korean passport after living in Jeju for five years. People with the passport can enjoy visa exemptions in more than 180 countries.
The rising property prices and the rising number of Chinese nationals living on the island has drawn concerns on the future of the policy. South Koreans have expressed their discontent and called on the government to limit Chinese investment and property purchases, according to a South Korean living in Iksan City in North Jeolla province. Local online forums were filled with strong sentiments against the surging Chinese immigration. Most of their discontent centered on rising property prices and the fact that a large amount of the country’s land was being sold to foreigners, which led to fears that the rising prices may destabilize the island’s social structure.