Urban-Rural Migration and Migrants' Successful Settlement in Korea *

By Ma, SangJin; An, Sok et al. | Development and Society, June 2018 | Go to article overview

Urban-Rural Migration and Migrants' Successful Settlement in Korea *


Ma, SangJin, An, Sok, Park, DaeShik, Development and Society


Introduction

During the process of industrialization, rural-urban migration was a common phenomenon. In Europe and the United States, it took place after the Industrial Revolution in the 1860s and the urbanization phase lasted by the end of the 1950s (Hosszú 2009). Since the late 20th century, there has been a phenomenon of rural population growth in western developed countries. A new population movement from urban areas to rural areas called 'urban-rural migration', which was not explainable by previous classic migration theories such as Ravenstein's "law of migration" and Zelinsky (1971)'s "the hypothesis of mobility transition". To probe the new population change, many scholars have studied urban-rural migration using various terms: "desurbanization" or "desurbanisation" (Van den berg 1982; Vartiainen 1989); "counterurbanization" or "counterurbanisation" (Dahms and Mccomb 1999; Halliday and Coombes 1995; Spencer 1997; Leeson 2002; JensenSvendsen 2007); "urban-rural migration" (Nivalainen 2003), "population turnaround" (Fuguitt 1985), "rural repopulation" (Stockdale , Findlay and Short 2000), "nonmetropolitan turnaround," "rural rebound," "rural renaissance," "amenity migration" (Arnon and Shamai 2010).

Korea1 also experienced unprecedented urbanization during the process of economic development from the 1960s. Rural agricultural surplus labor moved into urban areas for jobs2. Consequently, urban areas accommodate over 80 percent of the total national population in the 1990s (Kwon and Jun 1990; Statistics Korea 2000). Unlike the precedent migration, a new migration from urban to rural areas started3 since the late 1990s, which has appeared in western developed countries since the 1970s (Mitchell 2004). The economic crisis in 2008 caused by the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers led to many urban workers losing their jobs. Some of these unemployed went back to their rural hometowns to make a living. Some urban workers moved to rural areas to seek an alternative rural life. After all, urban-rural migration became an important social issue in Korea as more than 10 thousand households have been moving from urban to rural areas since 2010.

The recent urban-rural migration has caused significant population changes in Korea rural areas, where older population is growing dramatically. Since migrants are relatively young, they become practical work forces who can replenish a deficiency of labor in farming. They are regarded as human capital in rural areas because of their various job experiences and networks in urban areas. Therefore, successful settlement of urban-rural migrants drew attention from government policymakers in terms of agricultural and rural development. Korea government has enacted urban-rural migration laws and implemented policies to support urban-rural migrants' settlement.

Thus, this study aimed to investigate factors influencing urban-rural migrants' successful settlement. To elucidate the importance of migrants' settlement in rural areas, this paper elaborated the recent migration trend during industrialization in Korea. We also reviewed migrants' features and motives to build our own model for successful migration. Specifically, this study identified what factors affected rural migrants' perception of successful migration using the Korea Rural Economic Institute (KREI) and National Institute of Agricultural Sciences (NAS)'s survey of urban-rural migrants. In 2014, the KREI and NAS jointly constructed an urban-rural migrant survey system called Korea Urban-rural Migrants Settlement Study (KUMSS), which was designed to survey urban-rural migrants for five years (20142018).

Research Context: Urban-Rural Migration Trend in Korea

Korea's rural population has continually declined during its industrialization period. Recently, however, the decrease in rural population has eased, and in some areas, the rural population has increased. Korea was an agricultural country similar to other East Asian countries until the 1950s. …

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