Multiculturalism: Obligations and Policy Prescription for a (Formerly) Homogenous State

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How should South Korea respond to the competing demands of the international humanitarian paradigm and a domestic self-perception of homogeneity? This paper assesses the multiculturalism governance dilemma faced by a state seeking to embrace international norms while transitioning from homogeneity towards multiculturalism. It concludes that normative obligations and the demands of national interest need not be mutually antagonistic. The paper first assesses competing normative prescriptions for good governance. It then turns to address international normative governance obligations regarding refugees, immigrants, and other vulnerable individuals and groups. This is followed by an assessment of related governance policies in the Republic of Korea. The paper concludes with a policy prescription for a (formerly) homogenous state, noting that not only is it normatively imperative for South Korea to embrace multiculturalism but also pragmatically rational to do so.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)240-264
Number of pages25
JournalAsian International Studies Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • South Korea
  • governance
  • homogeneity
  • human security
  • migration
  • multiculturalism
  • refugees


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