Cultural democracy in an era of internationalism and subnationalism: A new model for effective cultural integration in Korea

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The context for this paper is the rapid globalization and international migration occurring across the globe. An insightful metaphor for this era is “the death of distance”. The influx of new migrants into countries such as Korea, Japan, Thailand, and the United States presents many challenges for those societies. In Minnesota, people of Karen culture from Myanmar (Burma) are arriving daily and the state currently has over 100,000 individuals of Hmong ethnicity. With its incredibly low fertility rate (lowest among OECD countries), Korea is necessarily needing to import large numbers of workers from diverse countries of the Asia-Pacific region such as Vietnam and the Philippines which presents many challenges for Korean educators and policy-makers. In the first part of the paper as background, the different genres of people moving across national borders are carefully differentiated. Among the major groups are so-called gastarbeiter (guest workers) and those working in another country for a defined period, actual migrants (legal and illegal), and various kinds of refugees and/or those seeking political asylum. In this paper, the focus is on permanent migrants. In the early 1970s, Ramírez and Castañeda developed the important construct of cultural democracy which unfortunately was largely ignored. The US government’s focus, for example, has been on fostering political, not cultural democracy with many adverse effects. The concept of cultural democracy is far more relevant today than when it was developed. Cultural democracy is a key theoretical construct used in this paper. Other key theoretical constructs used are social contact theory developed by Allport and subsequently researched extensively by Thomas Pettigrew; the Protean individual developed by the political scientist, psychologist Lifton; and the important construct of intercultural competency. Drawing upon these four important theoretical frameworks, a model for effectively integrating new migrants in Korea is proposed for consideration and review.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-41
Number of pages15
JournalMulticultural Education Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Cultural democracy
  • Genres of migrants
  • Integrated multicultural model for korea
  • Intercultural competency
  • Multiethnic korea
  • Protean individual
  • Social contact theory


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