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14 - Claiming Citizenship

Rights Claiming and Recognition for North Koreans Entering South Korea

from Part IV - Shaping Rights for New Citizens and Noncitizens

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 April 2021

Celeste L. Arrington
George Washington University, Washington DC
Patricia Goedde
Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul
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This chapter explores what border-crossing tells us about the linkage between citizenship and rights-claiming by examining the experiences of North Koreans who resettle in South Korea, focusing on the security screening process that occurs immediately after they arrive on South Korean soil. Although North Koreans are often described as having “automatic citizenship” in the South under both constitutional and communitarian conceptions of citizenship, that claim is only partially accurate. I show that North Koreans must exhibit considerable agency to claim citizen-standing, and their rights are heavily circumscribed and contingent on state recognition of their identity throughout the screening process. The chapter elucidates how marginalized citizens claim rights at a site of maximal state power (Korea’s deep and securitized border) and illuminates how the gap between legal recognition of rights and their instantiation in state practice can render the claims process extended and arduous even for individuals whose citizen-standing is already theoretically established.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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