<em>Spaces of Citizenships: Interrogating the Corporeality of the Sino-Korean Border</em> — ASN Events

Spaces of Citizenships: Interrogating the Corporeality of the Sino-Korean Border (16441)

Dongsei Kim 1
  1. Melbourne University, Melbourne, VICTO, Australia

Citizenship is one of the most fundamental determinants of how one experiences border spaces and its expansive interconnected territories. Consequently, this difference in citizenship—who holds which citizenship—fundamentally shifts the way one perceives, engages, uses, and subverts bordering practices. The greater contrast in citizenship instigates a greater differential in one’s experience of a border territory. Here bordering practices refers to Joseph Nevins’ (2002) view that frame borders as continual construction of national identities and exclusivities enabled by the ongoing ‘dividing practices,’ such as the perpetual ‘us and them’ defining processes. 

Further, the paper interrogates how acute differences in one’s spatial experience of a border might emerge from physically identical border as a consequence of differences in citizenship using Craig Martin’s (2011) ‘desperate passenger’ and Liven de Cauter’s (2004) ‘capsule’ metaphor. The paper studies the Sino-Korean border, where, how extreme types of citizenship engender different spatial experience can be best understood. Interrogating this specific border helps us to decipher and reveal how one’s citizenship, specifically impact and instigate one’s use, experience, and construction of border spaces.

The paper focuses its interrogation on the two extreme conditions that are most publicly discussed. The first narrative traces how the underprivileged North Korean (DPRK) citizens illegally leave and abandon their country, mainly to defect to South Korea and some to the US for survival and freedom. For instance, the North Koreans who are understood as ‘desperate passengers’ here, has to enact out the Paul Virilio’s (2006) ‘violence of speed.’  These ‘desperate passengers’ to cross and reach their destinations they are required to go through a border space that is ‘devoid of the protective cushioning of capsularisation.’ The second narrative traces the other extreme. It follows the privileged group of Western tourists who visit  North Korea on arranged tours. In contrast to the desperate passengers, they travel through the border by consuming the ‘protective, capsularised, and legitimized forms of mobilities.’ 

In conclusion, the paper attempts to demonstrate the significance of the exclusive membership inherent in the notion of citizenship and how they fundamentally alter the way in which borders spaces are contingently experienced and used. This offers an entry point for the notion of citizenship to be explicitly included in the ongoing spatial discourses on borders. Further, by deeply understanding how latent—yet fundamental notion of citizenship shape border spaces—one can start to imagine new ways of constructing, operating, and deconstructing borders.

  1. Craig Martin, 2011. “Desperate passage: violent mobilities and the politics of discomfort,” Journal of Transport Geography, Volume 19, Issue 5, September, Pages 1046-1052, ISSN 0966-6923, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2011.03.005.
  2. De Cauter, Liven., 2004. “The capsule and the network: notes toward a general theory.” In: Graham, S. (Ed.), The Cybercities Reader. Routledge, London, pp. 94–97.
  3. Nevins, Joseph. 2002. Operation Gatekeeper. New York: Routlege.
  4. Virilio, Paul., 2006. Negative Horizon. Continuum, London.