International Development Planning Review

'Wild geese fathers' and a globalised family strategy for education in Korea

International Development Planning Review (2006), 28, (4), 533–553.

Abstract

This article examines one interesting form of global householding practised among Korean middle-class families: transnational families split across oceans for the purpose of children's early education, called kirogi families. Based on statistical data and interviews with a small sample of kirogi fathers, this study describes the rapid growth in the numbers of Korean students going abroad for early English education and examines the main motivations for the kirogi family arrangement. Our analysis suggests the growing power of English as a critical asset of occupational mobility and the problems of the exam-oriented Korean educational system as the main sources of this phenomenon. Our interview data suggest that the fathers are not mere passive or reluctant participants in the family splitting and that they seem to maintain a stable conjugal relationship as well as a strong supportive role for the children despite their physical separation from the family.

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Author details

Lee, Yean-Ju

Koo, Hagen