Life and Its Meaning of First-generation Immigrant Koreans in Turkey: The Image of a Contributor

Son Y., Jeong E.

Journal of Humanities Therapy, vol.12, pp.83-125, 2021 (Peer-Reviewed Journal)

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 12
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Journal Name: Journal of Humanities Therapy
  • Page Numbers: pp.83-125
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: Yes


This study aims to understand the image and meaning of life byexamining the lives of first-generation Korean immigrants in Turkey byconducting an oral life story survey on 9 first-generation Koreanimmigrants living in Turkey for 20 to 40 years. Based on the oral contentsof the narrators, three questions were largely “life before immigrating toTurkey, life after immigrating to Turkey, life in the future, and the mostmemorable moment”. First, as a result of examining the life before immigration to Turkeybased on the oral contents of the narrators, most of them had positiveexperiences with foreign countries and foreigners, and it was found thatthese experiences had an impact on their immigration to Turkey. Next, we looked at the oral contents of the narrators about their livesafter moving to Turkey. First, it is understood that the reason for choosingTurkey was that they wanted to live in a foreign country with advancedculture at the time. Second, as a result of checking life as an immigrantthrough life in Turkey, it appears that they made a thorough effort to belongto the immigrant society. These efforts were more like conformity byactively accepting and acknowledging systems and commands, rather than adaptation. Finally, the narratos' answers about the future life and memorablemoments gave us a glimpse into the relentless effort to contribute behindthe attitude of conformity. Through the above narrative, it is possible toconfirm the image of the contributor to the first generation of Koreanimmigrants in Turkey. The desire to take root and occupy such a positionas a person who is helpful to the land to which they immigrated, thatis, Turkey, is revealed as the “image of contributor”, and this can be seenin the attitude of the first-generation Korean immigrants in Turkey. Turkey, the largest refugee country in Europe, is receiving a largenumber of immigrants from Syria and Afghanistan, as well as fromcountries in Central Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa. In thiscontext, it is very meaningful that the first-generation Korean immigrantsfrom Turkey play such a role as a contributor in Turkish society. Althoughthere are a small number of Koreans among immigrants in Turkey, thesignificance of this study can be found in that the discourse on the lifeof Korean immigrants who show the image of contributors in Turkey willbe an important message to local immigration-related researchers.