South Korea's economic restructuring following the 1997–98 Asian financial crisis increased deregulation, privatization, and labor flexibility, creating new forms of social precarity. This article examines this precarity to rethink the relationship between macrolevel social changes and microprocesses of social life in relation to urban inequality. Drawing on fifteen months of ethnographic research conducted between 2009 and 2011 and in-depth interviews with twenty-two South Korean young adults, the author analyzes how a host of young adults strive for their belonging as they confront their own social precarity in a highly unequal and rapidly changing urban environment. Many young domestic migrants who moved to the Seoul metropolitan area are precarious workers and vulnerable tenants in emerging forms of substandard housing. Their attempts to reconcile the idealized notion of home and their precarious realities reveal the uneven and hidden effects of neoliberal restructuring.
Minwoo Jung; Precarious Seoul: Urban Inequality and Belonging of Young Adults in South Korea. positions 1 November 2017; 25 (4): 745–767. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10679847-4188398
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