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In November, Associate Professor Suin Roberts (ILCS) gave an invited lecture at the Goethe Institut (Seoul, South Korea) symposium on the Korean migration to Germany.
The symposium, “From a Silent Migration to a Multicultural Society,” coincided with the 150th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Germany and Korea and the 50th anniversary of their labor recruitment agreements.
From 1963–77, more than 18,000 Korean nurses and miners were sent to Germany as part of a guestworker agreement between the two countries. Most workers returned to Korea when their contracts expired, but some stayed in Germany. So, in 1977, when Germany issued a government order to collectively dismiss the Korean workers, some nurses and miners fought and, eventually, the order was repealed.
Germany still has a Korean presence, and the lives of these immigrants and their descendants was the focus of the Goethe Institut symposium.
Roberts was invited because of her personal ties to the subject and scholarly interest in German-Korean relations: her parents were Korean immigrants in Germany, and this personal experience is the focus of her academic writing. She has written and lectured extensively on Korean-German migration, including a 2008 lecture, “Language of Migration: Guestworkers in Germany,” and a book entitled Language of Migration: Self- and Other-Representation of Korean Migrants in Germany (2012).
Her expertise was also recognized in the Korean Times article “Protests Led by ‘Koran Angels’ Stunned Germany,” which can be read here. For this article, Roberts was interviewed as part of a series on Korean immigration.
For more information about Suin Roberts and her work, visit Roberts’ website or contact COAS’s Department of International Language and Culture Studies.