Strategic use of ICTs among North Korean women resettled in South Korea
Date of Issue2017
Proceedings of the Ninth International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development
Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information
This study analyzes the migratory experiences of North Korean women who crossed the Sino-Korean border and found their way into South Korea. Transposed from the world's most digitally-disconnected societies to one of the most digitally-oriented societies, these North Korean migrants make an interesting case for scholars in the field of ICTs for Development (ICTD) regarding the role of ICTs in the course of their escape and resettlement. Based on qualitative interviews with North Korean women settled in South Korea, this study analyzes the extent to which mobile phones facilitate their resettlement process. We found that North Korean migrants use ICTs strategically to avoid direct interaction with South Koreans by hiding behind computer-mediated communications. ICTs assisted their strategic use by enabling their behaviors of 1) seeking help online anonymously; 2) hiding their identity via text-based communications; 3) managing a manipulated identity on social media. Consequently, this can lead to further segregating themselves from the host society. The paper argues that empowering migrants via ICTs is not a sufficient condition and further efforts should be made to change how the host society embraces new settlers.
© 2017 The Author(s). All rights reserved. This paper was published by ACM in Proceedings of the Ninth International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development and is made available with permission of The Author(s).