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Making and Faking KinshipMarriage and Labor Migration between China and South Korea$
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Caren Freeman

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449581

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449581.001.0001

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Brides and Brokers under Suspicion

Brides and Brokers under Suspicion

(p.69) 2 Brides and Brokers under Suspicion
Making and Faking Kinship

Caren Freeman

Cornell University Press

This chapter sketches the evolution of Chosŏnjok–Korean marriages from a government-endorsed social program to a profit-making enterprise run by licensed matchmakers and unlicensed marriage brokers. Accompanying the commodification of these marriages and their proliferation beyond the confines of the countryside is an abrupt shift in the popular perception of Chosŏnjok brides. No longer hailed as saviors of the rural patriarchal family and catalysts for ethnic reunification, Chosŏnjok brides became the subject of intense criticism in the South Korean media for the unbridled materialism and opportunism presumed to motivate their marriages. The chapter extends the discussion of the public debate over the morality of Chosŏnjok brides to a broader consideration of the cultural contradictions that frame the negative perception of Chosŏnjok migrants in South Korea more generally. These contradictory representations ultimately prompt South Koreans and Chosŏnjok migrants alike to question beliefs about the unity and essential sameness of Koreans across the globe, regardless of class or national origins.

Keywords:   Chosŏnjok brides, migrant brides, matchmakers, marriage brokers, transnational marriage

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