The Hidden Curriculum of Korean Language Textbooks for Marriage Immigrants: Challenges and Changes

Authors: Kamilla Pak (University of Suwon (Rep. of Korea))
Speakers: Kamilla Pak
Strand: Language Socialization
Session Type: General Session


Despite the deeply rooted patriarchal culture and a long history of gender discrimination, traditional gender roles in South Korean households have undeniably shifted towards a more egalitarian reality influenced by globalization, economic development, and modern-day demographic processes. In today’s South Korea, the man is no longer the sole breadwinner, as women’s participation in economic activities is more and more accepted and expected. However, until very recently Korean language textbooks designed for marriage immigrants taught something decidedly different, systematically reinforcing traditional gender roles and societal expectations. The government-sponsored series of textbooks oriented at marriage immigrants, who were by default pictured as female immigrants predominantly from North- or Southeast Asia, have been largely criticised for containing some striking patterns of representation of cultural and gender stereotypes and presenting a very narrow view of everyday experiences and socialisation needs of these newcomers to the Korean society. In response to these criticisms, a new series of textbooks was presented in 2019, with the content and delivery largely revised to reflect a more diverse and inclusive view of Korean culture, promote multiculturalism, and prioritize practical communication skills. This research aims to closely examine the patterns of representation of communicative practices in the revised textbooks compared to the previous version, to see whether and how major problems have been addressed, and to explore how these changes reflect broader social and cultural shifts in Korean society and governmental policies regarding multiculturalism. Drawing on an empirical analysis of verbal and visual content in the two series of textbooks, this study provides a comprehensive outlook of the changing landscape of Korean language education for marriage immigrants and the ongoing efforts to create more balanced and culturally sensitive language learning materials.

Keywords: Korean language education, marriage immigrants, hidden curriculum, gender roles, cultural representation