Organized Panel Session
Since the 1990s, the South Korean state has sought to enhance its “global competitiveness” as one of the world’s advanced nations by charging its young people to become the next “global generation” -- via the acquisition of English and global work experiences abroad. In doing so, the state has liberalized border-crossing channels for educational migration in creating more cost-effective destinations in the Asia-Pacific. While scholars have begun to examine the rise of class and gender inequalities in educational migration flows, researchers have yet to analyze the ways in which these inequalities are shaped by the diversification of educational migration destinations to other Asian-Pacific nation-states. This study examines the South-bound migration trajectories of South Korean youth who seek English language acquisition via “second-tier educational migration pathways” in budget language schools in the Philippines and/or on the job while on working-holiday visas in Australia. Ethnographic and in-depth interview methods reveal that while educational migrants who go south may gain similar education/exposure to English as their Northbound peers, once they return home, they experience downward mobility as they fail to gain valued credentials to those from educational institutions in Western countries such as the United States. My data suggest that existing inequalities become magnified upon migration and upon educational migrants’ return leading to their rise as “deskilled workers of globalization.” Illuminating the uneven geographies of educational migration allows us to challenge existing paradigms of international education and migration at time of increased competition and rapid growth in education.