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
This volume by Lee addresses the migrations of mostly mothers and children from South Korean families temporarily resettling in other highly developed post-industrial societies in search of higher-quality educational opportunities for their children. For her research, Lee interviewed 64 immigrant parents in the US and Canada and some of their relatives (especially the fathers) who remained in South Korea. While the focus of this book may appear somewhat narrow, the author has attempted to tease out from her insightful and probing interviews lessons that would broadly apply to other immigrant groups and that help explain the impact of migration experiences on the well-being and durability of families in general. Accordingly, the text investigates the motivations that propel these families to travel abroad to advance their children's educational opportunities, their adaptations in host countries, difficulties and strains encountered that impact marital relationships, and how families eventually adapted upon their return to Korea, offering abundant insights into resettlement processes. Students of migration will find much value in this especially informative book. Recommended. General readers through faculty; professionals.
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!
3/31/22, Choice: This book was featured in a roundup of top community college titles.