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.
This chapter explores the temporalities of gentrification, arguing that promises of inclusion can work to keep us hooked to a version of the present that actually forecloses an alternative vision of the future. Drawing from ethnographic fieldwork and reflections collected after the redevelopment project’s ultimate approval, the chapter mobilizes temporality as a conceptual framework to focus on the active construction of multiple temporalities and the political work these do in (un)tying the past, present and future of the pub in the service of the normalization of dominant social relations. At the same time, I also argue that the kinds of socialities, relationships and friendships developed in trying to survive a violent present can lead to the creation of alternative queer utopias. These do not emerge from seeking inclusion within the dominant institutions and processes of capital accumulation, but from daring to imagine a queer future that overcomes the limits of the past and the up-beat, optimistic futures offered by gentrification.
This chapter sets the stage for the ethnographic work by following the emergence of corporate investments in LGBTQ+ diversity in tandem with a story about the gentrification of east London. I read investments in diversity made by east London’s wealthiest dwellers against the backdrop of growing inequalities, austerity policies, the closure of queer spaces and the exclusionary tendencies of neoliberal processes of capital accumulation for some of the area’s most marginalized inhabitants. In the chapter I bring these threads together in order to reconcile corporate investments in LGBTQ+ diversity with a broader critique of capitalism and its crises.
This chapter traces the emergence of a new brand of corporate diversity politics which, rather than requiring queer subjects to appear ‘virtually normal’ (Drucker, 2015), actually addresses them in their difference. I examine the emergence of queer difference as something that adds value not simply to the corporation but to the entrepreneurial queer self. The chapter documents fieldwork experiences at corporate LGBTQ+ networking events and, in particular, at the London chapter of the Lesbians Who Tech conference, a networking event catering to lesbian and queer women working in the world of tech. I argue that such events enshrine the neoliberal reconfiguration not only of queer labour but of queer life itself: the social, affective, inter-personal relations around which queer organizing unfolds. Ultimately, rallying queer people’s aspirations in capitalist economies, I argue that queer and lesbian tech CEOs and the corporate LGBTQ+ networking events that spawn them should be read as part of broader CEO-ization of the LGBTQ+ movement, whose interests have become increasingly aligned with those of corporations.