International Symposium on Japanese Studies in Global Contexts

Open Japan Closed Japan: Towards Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Mobility

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Relation between Language and Identity of Children with Korean Roots in Japan

Soye Kim, Osaka University

The goal of this presentation is to clarify the role and importance of language in shaping the identity of Korean roots children and its transition between generations. This will be accomplished through investigating the method of language acquisition and formation of identity.

There have been suggestions in major studies that state it is necessary to think about the method of identity formation and language learning in regards to ‘children on the move’ (Kawakami 2011, etc.). However, it is not mentioned what kind of effect ‘language’ will have on identity formation or whether the relation between language and identity transfers through age.

In the context of such situations, the presenter of this research conducted a semi structured-interview survey from June to October, 2015. For the research, nine university students with Korean roots were interviewed and requested a recounting of their life story.

As the result, the investigation has revealed that their language does not directly relate to their identity, even though their language is the ‘tool’ that expresses and negotiates their identity. This differs from the view of older Korean-residents in Japan in that they consider their language directly reflects their identity.

In other words, language has transformed into the tool for expressing the “individual” rather than just “ethnicity”. This result can help explain the concept of “diversity of identity” that has been argued in many fields.

Short Biography

Soye Kim was born in Korea and lived in several regions of Japan, Korea, and New Zealand where she spent her young years as a ‘child on the move’. She eventually settled down in Japan. She is currently enrolled in Graduate School of Language and Culture, Osaka University and also in the Doctoral Program for Multicultural Innovation, Osaka University. Her main research topic is the relation between language and identity of ‘children on the move’.