Community-based art therapy for the coexistence of South Korean Youth and North Korean youth defectors: A phenomenological study

Yuri Kim, Sojung Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The existentialist philosopher Martin Buber argued that I, Thou, and We connect organically through dialogue and that coexistence is necessary for an authentic existence. However, coexisting with others entails challenges, especially when there are tremendous cultural differences, as with South Korean youth and North Korean youth defectors. Therefore, this phenomenological study investigates how the two groups of adolescents—two South Korean teenagers and six young North Korean defectors—from conflicting cultural backgrounds learned to coexist through a community-based art therapy project. Together, they completed a symbolic collaborative artwork called The Village-Making Project in a semester-long afterschool program. As a result, the participants’ lived experiences were categorized into three themes and seven subthemes to show related phenomena: (a) looking at the familiar self from a new perspective, (b) understanding others by defining myself, and (c) developing We through coordination and reconciliation. The researchers discuss the meaning of community from an existential standpoint and the therapeutic role of the arts in helping community members coexist.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101860
JournalArts in Psychotherapy
Volume76
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2021

Keywords

  • Coexistence
  • Community-based art therapy
  • Cultural diversity
  • North Korean defectors
  • Phenomenological study
  • South Korean

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