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Memoir/manuals of South Korean pre‐college study abroad: defending mothers and humanizing children


Global Networks

Published online on


In this article, we analyse the memoir/manuals of three ‘goose’ families. These are South Koreans whose children participate in pre‐college study abroad (PSA). One parent (typically the mother) accompanies the child while the other (usually the father) remains at home to support the venture. Although many South Koreans aspire to study abroad, both the mothers and children of goose families have attracted wide criticism – the mothers for being narrowly instrumental and too family centred, worried only about social reproduction and mobility and the children for forsaking their nation, foregoing their filial duties and, perhaps, failing abroad. These memoir/manuals defend the goose mother and protect the PSA child against such charges. As memoirs, they depict remarkable people worthy of documentation. As manuals, they offer (at least some) guidance for mothers and families contemplating this particular family strategy. The memoir/manuals open a window to the challenges and anxieties of PSA in South Korea today.