The narratives of women activists highlight the important roles of critical awakening, a sense of responsibility, guilt and moral conscience, reciprocity and caring for others, as well as an altruistic vision for others, all as driving forces for their activism. These findings highlight two major interrelated characteristics: relational and future-oriented dimensions. Founded on these, I present a new theoretical concept that I call ‘Altruistic Political Imagination’, which seeks to describe North Korean women’s human rights activism more aptly than existing concepts around imagination and altruism. This framework is an ongoing development built on my previous work on North Korean human rights activism.
This final chapter provides a recapitulated overview of the book, drawing on all the chapters. It re-emphasizes the significance of activism in improving the lives of North Korean women. It also reinforces the salient contribution of Altruistic Political Imagination in unpacking human rights activism, in conjunction with its potentially wider application to the analyses of other movements and activism. Additionally, it examines what has been achieved so far through the activism of North Korean women abroad, as well as other international endeavours to improve the situations of North Korean women. This chapter further discusses some limitations of the study and makes recommendations for future research.
This chapter examines North Korean women’s individual experiences of grave human rights violations, both inside the regime and after they have escaped to China. The first part focuses on women’s narratives of human rights issues in North Korea, such as domestic violence and sexual harassment. The second part explores women defectors’ experiences during their escape, primarily focusing on human trafficking and forced/voluntary marriages to Chinese men. It also presents the harrowing experiences women endured during and after repatriation to North Korean detention centres. The main argument of this chapter is that North Korean women experience a continuous cycle of oppression throughout their lives, both inside and outside North Korea, owing to the intersection of the deep-seated patriarchal structure of North Korea, the absence of freedom of movement, and China’s treatment of North Korean border-crossers as illegal migrants.
This chapter examines changes and constants in North Korean society since the mid-1990s, when the country faced severe famine. In particular, it investigates the rise of the informal market economy – and its subsequent impact on gender roles – and a large exodus of women to China as a consequence of the economic crisis. The chapter situates the North Korean diaspora within the context of globalization and its implications for North Korean refugees and their human rights. It further discusses human rights debates in North Korea and defector human rights activism outside North Korea.
Recent North Korean diaspora has given rise to many female refugee groups fighting for the protection of women’s rights.
Presenting in-depth accounts of North Korean women defectors living in the UK, this book examines how their harrowing experiences have become an impetus for their activism. The author also reveals how their utopian dream of a better future for fellow North Korean women is vital in their activism.
Unique in its focus on the intersections between gender, politics, activism and mobility, Lim's illuminating work will inform debates on activism and human rights internationally.
This chapter explores the narratives of North Korean women activists about their involvement in human rights activism, including critical awakening and the turning point of their identity from victim to activist. The chapter examines motivating factors for their activism, as well as challenges and strategies. The women’s narratives suggest a strong sense of altruism and concern for other people in similar situations, which have operated as motivators for their activism. In conjunction with this, their imagination of a better future for fellow North Korean women (and children) has become the driving force behind their activism. The chapter further discusses their plans from an operational perspective: what possible collaborations and works could be undertaken?
This chapter examines methodological considerations, focusing on ethical issues and the challenges of studying North Korean women defectors and their human rights issues. It applies a critical feminist approach. The chapter begins with a phenomenological method, linking to the life history and power of storytelling. Due to the risk of potential repercussions that defectors and their families face from the regime, as well as the sensitive nature of the topic, the study raises several ethical concerns. In addition, the dynamics between a woman researcher of South Korean heritage and North Korean women defectors poses methodologically important questions. Reflecting upon these, the chapter discusses the complex dynamics between insider and outsider, knower and enquirer, in a critical manner.
Chapter 2 outlines key academic debates surrounding class, identity, consumption and food. Engaging with Bourdieu’s toolkit of habitus, capital, field and practice, it explores middle-class social positioning. It connects contemporary class analysis to everyday eating by engaging with ideas of the cultural omnivore alongside work pertaining to postmodern ideas of consumption. The chapter then uses these ideas in conversation with the concept of domestication and scholarly activity which focuses on the materialities of food consumption to get a closer understanding of the temporally and spatially situated doing of food in the home. To this end, the importance of gender comes to the fore, specifically, the relationship between classed femininity and the temporality of practices and their associated constraints and priorities. Combined, these conceptual underpinnings provide the foundations from which to explore the empirical stories which unfold in the subsequent chapters.
Chapter 6 gathers together the key themes of this book to offer concluding remarks pertaining to the ways middle-classness is reproduced and communicated through everyday domestic food practices. Based on these themes, the chapter presents a discussion about the broader implications of taste, middle-class identities and domestic food provisioning in contemporary Britain. It suggests that the small-scale domestic interactions presented in this book have implications for a broader understanding of the relational ways that class provides access to particular ways of eating and legitimizes eaters who participate in very specific ways of valuing ‘good’ food.
Chapter 5 explores how knowledge about food is embodied and reproduced. It begins by taking public health messaging as an example to explore how ideas of self-control operate as ‘common-sense’ knowledge. Mapping participant journeys from the past to the present, it highlights the centrality of feminized learning about practices of food provisioning, which is supplemented with accrued culinary capital (such as cookbooks). Together, this appears to produce a strategic disposition to critically select from the diverse foodscape to enact a very particular and culturally shared version of good taste. The chapter then focuses on the household meal, as the end moment of the domestic sharing of ‘good’ food, to consider how these frames come together. It especially focuses on feeding children to examine how these learnt and accrued knowledges about food unfold across the generations and shows how encouraging a disposition to make discerning choices clearly emerges as valued.