OMNES : The Journal of multicultural society

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OMNES: The Journal of Multicultural Society - Vol. 11, No. 2

[ Article ]
OMNES: The Journal of Multicultural Society - Vol. 11, No. 2, pp.51-71
ISSN: 2093-5498 (Print)
Print publication date 31 Jul 2021
Received 27 Jun 2021 Revised 07 Jul 2021 Accepted 18 Jul 2021

Diaspora, Mobility, and Food Culture: Continuity and Change in Dietary Habits and Foodways among Korean Return Migrants from Latin America
Jin Suk Bae
Konkuk University, Korea

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Food is an important symbol of diaspora in this era of international migration. The food practices of a diaspora often reflect their unique historical and cultural characteristics and contexts of home and host countries. This article explores the dietary habits of Koreans who have returned from Latin America to their ethnic homeland. Methodologically, this study draws on an empirical approach to food and migration studies and utilizes data collected from 18 in-depth interviews held with Korean return migrants from Latin America. The findings show that after returning to Korea, the respondents’ consumption of Latin-American food significantly decreased because of the general unavailability and high cost of Latin food ingredients and restaurants in Korea, and because Latin dishes in Korea are Koreanized or Americanized. Contrastingly, their consumption of Korean dishes increased because of their affordability and available variety. They also enjoyed the easy access to other Asian flavors, including Thai, Vietnamese, and Indian cuisines. This study will enhance the understanding of the Korean diaspora’s return migration, their hybrid and varied food culture, and their cultural identities.

Keywords: Latin-American food, mobility, return migration, diaspora, glocalization, food and identity


This work was supported by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2018S1A6A3A03043497). The latest draft of this article was presented at the 18th IMISCOE (International Migration, Integration, and Social Cohesion in Europe) Annual Conference on July 8, 2021.

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Biographical Note

Jin Suk Bae received her Ph.D. at Brown University’s Department of American Studies. She is currently HK Research Professor at the Academy of Mobility Humanities (AMH) at Konkuk University in Seoul, Korea. Her academic interest lies in researching the regional and global Korean diaspora in general, and the onward—or multiple—migration of South Koreans, in particular. Her recent publications include “Transnational Student Mobility: Educational and Social Experiences of Mixed-Race Koreans in Seoul,” and “Online Community Activities among Mixed-Race Koreans in the U.S.: Focusing on the ‘’ Facebook Group” (with J. Kim). E-mail: