Korean Wild Geese Families: Gender, Family, Social, and Legal Dynamics of Middle-Class Asian Transnational Families in North America explores the experiences of middle-class Korean transnational families, whose mothers and children migrate abroad for children’s education while fathers remain in Korea and economically support their families, throughout transnational separation: before separation, during separation, and after reunification. It discusses the themes of (1) changes in wild geese parents’ relative gender statuses, housework patterns, and spousal relationships; (2) changes in mothering/fathering practices and intergenerational relationships; and (3) wild geese families’ settlement and integration in the host societies and re-adaptation to Korea after family reunification.
Se Hwa Lee interviewed mothers in both the United States and Canada, as well as fathers in Korea, to compare the effects of immigration policies between the two countries in North America and present gender-balanced explanations. Se Hwa Lee also sheds light on Asian documented immigrants’ hardships and different degrees of empowerment and incorporation in the host societies according to legal status, employment, additional education, and co-ethnic community membership. This book offers readers valuable venues to enhance their understanding of increasingly diverse transnational families in North America.
Se Hwa Lee is visiting scholar and research scientist at the University at Albany, State University of New York.
Introduction: Korean Wild Geese Families: Backgrounds and Motivations
Chapter One: Women’s Empowerment and Three Resources
Chapter Two: Changing Housework Patterns Through Migration
Chapter Three: Transnational Spousal Relationships
Chapter Four: Mothering and Socializing in Korean Immigrant Community
Chapter Five: Transnational Fathering and Father-Child Relationship
Chapter Six: After Family Reunification
Se Hwa Lee uniquely examines how transnationally split middle class couples negotiate women’s power and their relationship—before separation, while mothers and children live in North America, and after reunification in Korea. The analysis reveals a complex range of challenges and solutions. Migration transforms wives into single and often full-time mothers, as well as women of color in a new country. Their success varies with the effective use of available resources including legal status, employment, additional education, and ethnic community institutions. Meanwhile, fathers downsize living expenses to support their family abroad while also endeavoring to stay emotionally connected with their children and spouses by adopting a new version of fathering that relies on transnational communication and face-to-face encounters.
Through a meticulously deployed intersectional lens, this carefully crafted book unveils the many complexities inherent in family separations, shining new light on transnational families, the importance of legal status, and intimate matters of the heart. Highly recommended!