Alyssa Park - CEAS Postdoctoral Associate
This talk examines changes in mobility laws regarding Koreans in the late nineteenth century and the unintended consequences of these changes. Whereas movement was previously controlled by a host of factors, such as one’s vocation, class, lineage, or religion, in the late nineteenth century, nationality became the primary factor in determining the terms of one’s movement between Korea and Russia - one was defined either as a “Korean” subject or a “Russian” subject. Though the new laws and passports clearly demarcated the one’s legal status, levels of enforcement and comprehension on the part of Korean and Russian border officials varied. The new laws, it turned out, were constantly being negotiated and redefined at the local level, a process which helped spread an awareness of the hardened boundary among migrants themselves.