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Korea's Global Talent


Job applicants wait for their on-site interviews at an international students' career fair, held at COEX in Seoul, Korea. October 1, 2013
Photo credit: 
Yonhap News Agency


Senior Fellow
  • Professor, Sociology
Joon Nak Choi
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

A central focus of the research efforts at Shorenstein APARC is to analyze the bridges linking Asia and the United States. As the Asian diaspora continues to grow in America and across the world, new possibilities have emerged for migrants who become integrated into their host societies while remaining engaged with their home societies. Such trans-migration creates new innovation and trade opportunities for both Asia and the United States, as a positive-sum game where both sides benefit. This differs markedly from the traditional view of immigration as a zero-sum game, assuming that outflows of skilled people represent a loss for the home country, and that countries engage in a “global war for talent.” 

This research project seeks to investigate the social capital potential of transnational bridges between the host and home countries. Gi-Wook Shin and Joon Nak Choi (a Stanford graduate now teaching at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology) examine an emerging stream of research that conceptualizes global labor mobility as a positive-sum game in which countries and businesses benefit from building ties across geographic space. This new orientation is timely and necessary as the competition for skilled foreign workers will only increase with economic globalization and demographic transition. 

Project investigators seek to empirically demonstrate the arguments in Korea, a nation that has embraced economic globalization while facing a demographic crisis. Research and key findings from this project are relevant to other advanced societies both in Asia and Europe that seek to utilize skilled foreigners for economic development. The project is envisioned to provide generalizable insights that extend beyond the Korean experience.  Its first outcome is a book coauthored by Shin and Choi to be published by Stanford University Press in early 2015.

Future research will focus upon the efficacy of transnational bridges in corporations maintaining a strong national orientation and cross-national comparisons—particularly between Korea and a Japan that faces very similar issues. Seminars and colloquia on this and related topics will be held at Shorenstein APARC over the course of the project.


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