This paper examines the migration of North Koreans to South Korea from a critical theoretical perspective. To historicize the division of the Korean peninsula, I examine how the bio-power to “make live” worked in tandem with sovereign power to “take life” in order to construct North Korea and the post-colonies as “death-heterotopias.” To highlight the spatial declension of such necropolitics, I frame the First World as a biopolis, and the “developing” world as a necropolis. I examine how the body that moves from the necropolis to the biopolis pose challenges to bio-sovereign power. I specifically look at how the South Korean state tries to manage the challenge posed by North Korean migrants by organizing their mimetic transformation through the Hanawon, pro-bono cosmetic surgery, and TV programs. Lastly, I end by examining the challenge posed towards biosovereign power by a migrant body that refuses a biopolitical transformation and instead chooses suicide.
Hae Seo Kim (Hae-Suh Kim) is a first year student in the department of anthropology at UCI. She is interested in feminist, decolonial, and artistic approaches and imaginaries to the study of outer space. Her previous work as a MA student in Art and Politics at Goldsmiths (University of London) examined the migration of North Koreans to South Korea and the colonial sovereignty highlighted by the movement of people across this most militarized border in the world.