Understanding “Koreanness”: Racial Stratification and Colorism in Korea and Implications for Korean Multicultural Education

Hyein Amber Kim


This paper explores the social construct of Koreanness and its implications. The first section reviews literature on Whiteness, and states that Koreanness shows many similarities to Whiteness in the United States. Next, drawing upon the framework of Bonilla-Silva, this paper argues that a tri-racial system is emerging in Korea, with Koreanness at its center. Then, the study examines how racism and colorism permeate Korean society and culture, with special attention to education. The paper concludes that Koreanness should be addressed in multicultural education in Korea: in teachers’ reflection of their identities, teacher education, instruction, and anti-racism curriculum.


Koreanness, multicultural education, Korean education, racism, colorism

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18251/ijme.v22i1.1834

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