Neither North nor South - just Korean

Outsiders caught between countries

Many zainichi – ethnic Koreans in Japan – still feel caught between countries, unaccepted fully by Japan, yet with no home in North or South Korea. Ms Kim Seo Hyang, who married a Japanese man, talks about fitting into Japanese society.
Project manager Kim Seo Hyang, an ethnic Korean living in Japan, speaks fluent Korean, but her trips to Seoul made her realise that she is very different from South Koreans.
Project manager Kim Seo Hyang, an ethnic Korean living in Japan, speaks fluent Korean, but her trips to Seoul made her realise that she is very different from South Koreans.ST PHOTO: ASHLEIGH SIM

Struggling to fit into Japan and Korea, some feel they are treated as 'second class'

Despite speaking fluent Japanese and being, at first glance, indistinguishable from their Japanese peers, many zainichi - ethnic Koreans in Japan - still feel caught between countries, unaccepted fully by Japan, yet with no home in North or South Korea.

Ms Song Ri Na, 22, a recent graduate of Korea University in Tokyo, said: "In terms of relationships between people, we think we're part of Japan. But in terms of government policies, we're outsiders."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2018, with the headline 'Outsiders caught between countries '. Print Edition | Subscribe