Peer-Reviewed Publications


The international frameworks on refugee protection, including the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, are among the strongest norms to govern international mobility. Despite the salience and universality of these international norms, however, asylum outcomes as indicated by refugee recognition rates (RRR) vary extensively across state parties. The variation in RRR signals a critical normative gap between the institutionalization and implementation of international norms on refugee protection. In this article, I offer an explanation for this gap by examining the role of domestic institutions responsible for implementing relevant international (and domestic) laws on the ground. Through in-depth interviews, participant observation, and analysis of government, media, and NGO materials, I investigate the case of South Korea, a wealthy liberal democracy known for its exceptionally low RRR. I argue that South Korea’s low RRR is a result of the preexisting and prevailing ethos of the institutions responsible for Refugee Status Determination, which is deeply rooted in the preservation of law and order and therefore fundamentally conflicts with the human protection principles underlying the Convention.

2020.  "Universalising the particular: strategic framing in immigrant cross-border activism." Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. 46(7): 1478-1496.

Existing literature on transnational migration suggests that immigrants’ participation in political cross-border activism is particularistic, meaning it is defined by national, racial, or ethnic connections to their ancestral homeland. However, I argue that migrant cross-border activists seeking support from the host country strategically avoid using particularistic rhetoric, and instead opt to use universalistic frames to better resonate with audiences in the host society and immigrant community. Striking this broader resonance, in turn, helps to not only justify the movement but also expand it in the host society. I elaborate these arguments using a case study of the World War II ‘comfort women’ movement led by Korean-Americans. Textual analysis of Korean-American newspaper articles and interviews with KoreanAmerican activists show that universalistic frames have predominated, and that they were used by core groups of activists to appeal to the American mainstream. 

Working Papers

"Claims of Visibility, Diligence, and Suffering: How the South Korean Courts Determine Refugee Status, 2005-2018."

"In the Name of Universal Rights: Strategies on Refugee Rights Activism in South Korea."   

Other Publications

2023. "No country for asylum-seekers: the complexity of refugee protection in South Korea." 9Dashline, August 7.

2019. "Civil Rights of Mexican Immigrants Are Under Threat." (With David S. FitzGerald and Gustavo López). Center for Comparative Immigration Studies Report for Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos (CNDH). 

2019. "Mexicans in US Routinely Confront Legal Abuse, Racial Profiling, ICE Targeting and Other Civil Rights Violations." (With David S. FitzGerald and Gustavo López). The Conversation, July 3.