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Insularity or Cultural Identity: Natives and Migrants in Jeju Island, Korea
Jeju Island, introduced at fist in the name of Quelpart to the West, is located below the southernmost tip of the Korean Peninsula. Islandness is characterized by relative isolation and limitation in size. This paper deals with the islandness, giving examples of what an anthropologist from the mainland experienced when moving into Jeju Island in 1984. The limited size of an island community leads to a fixed moving period of Jeju Island once in a year. When a certain product was not available in Jeju Island, the responses of Jeju storekeepers showed isolation from the mainland. The question about one’s hometown has revealed a salient classification in everyday life among Jeju people, that is, the distinction between natives and mainlanders as migrants. People in and from the mainland are significant others and outsiders to Jeju natives. Jeju natives have an ideology that Jeju culture must be distinct from mainland culture, regardless of similarity and continuity between two cultures. Generally speaking, the so-called peripheries such as islands limit their claim for cultural autonomy to a condemnation of the processes of transformation and progress in them. The symbolic boundaries between the island and the mainland such as insularity and the perception of their asymmetric relationship have constructed Jeju cultural identity as discourse.