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  • P-ISSN0023-3900
  • E-ISSN2733-9343

Divergent Paths toward Militarized Citizenship: The “Unending” Cold War, Transnational Space of Citizenship, and International Korean Male Students

Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2018, v.58 no.3, pp.76-101
https://doi.org/10.25024/kj.2018.58.3.76

(University of Illinois)
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Abstract

This article examines how international Korean male students (de)stabilize their mobility and citizenship by strategically navigating their options and duties for military service in South Korea and/or the United States. Their stories reveal how the “unending” Cold War and the vestiges of US imperialism and militarism continue to impact Korean young adults and their transnational life projects. In particular, this research compares two groups: one composed of upper middle-class and upper-class male students who graduated from boarding schools and attend prestigious colleges in the United States and who are required to return to complete their military service in South Korea; and the other composed of lower middle-class and lowerclass male students who moved to the United States and are seeking to serve in the US military to secure an expedited path to American citizenship after failing to enter prestigious colleges in South Korea. In so doing, we show how two seemingly divergent paths toward militarized citizenship are highly classed. Although the two groups examined come from different class backgrounds and make different choices, they are alike in their decision to undertake military service—and to use that service to secure valuable citizenship. By showing how both groups remain tied to a militarized regime of citizenship during their respective transnational trajectories as international students, this research demonstrates the ongoing effects of the Cold War, not just on the Korean Peninsula but also in the transnational space of citizenship.

keywords
Cold War militarized citizenship transnational space of citizenship International Korean male student study abroad mass conscription MAVNI (Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest) Program

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