Experiences of Social Stigma of Korean Students in the UK during COVID-19 Pandemic

Heekyung Kim, Chanki Moon

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This study aimed to gain an in-depth understanding of the social stigma experienced by Korean students in the UK during COVID-19. Online interviews were conducted with 12 Korean students (6 males and 6 females) who studied in the UK between 2017 and 2021. As a result of data analysis using Colaizzi's phenomenological qualitative research method, 12 clusters of themes and 4 categories were identified. The first category is ‘Koreans who are indistinguishable from Chinese,’ and Korean students were ignored and mistaken for Chinese by British society even before the outbreak of COVID-19. The second category is ‘East Asians spreading COVID-19,’and Korean students were directly discriminated against as objects of caution and avoidance during COVID-19. The third category is ‘no choice but to endure,’ and Korean students did not directly resist unfair discrimination, but endured unpleasant feelings and continued their studies. The fourth category is ‘reduced expectations for long-term residence,’ and social stigma during COVID-19 has reduced Korean students' expectations of remaining in the UK after graduation. These results suggest that institutional and professional interventions are needed to improve the safety and mental health of Korean students studying abroad in a global pandemic situation such as COVID-19.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-74
JournalKorean Journal of Youth Studies
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023


  • Social Stigma
  • COVID-19
  • Korean Students

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