Becoming Multicultural: Kinship Development of Korean Adolescents With Asian Cross-Border Marriage Migrant Stepmothers

Jeehun Kim, Sumie Okazaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In Korea, more than one-third of cross-border marriages are remarriages for at least one spouse, yet little is known about the experiences of Korean adolescents who enter into a blended multicultural family through their father’s remarriages. The current study examined the experiences of 10 Korean (seven female) adolescents (Mage = 15.9 years) primarily from low-income families with Korean fathers and non-Korean stepmothers using content analysis of in-depth interviews with adolescents, supplemented with field observations at after-school mentoring program. The analysis suggested that many of the Korean adolescents gained a new sense of identity as a member of a multicultural family primarily through new kinship bonds they experienced through the intimate labor of caretaking for their new half-siblings. Many of the adolescents had grown up without close kinship ties to their biological parents, thus the introduction of foreign stepmothers to the family provided opportunities for the adolescents to claim them as kins despite language and cultural barriers. At the same time, the adolescents also experienced challenges and tensions that often accompany new blended family formation. These results have implications for understanding formations of kinship and new cultural identity in blended families across borders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-28
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Adolescent Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • Asia
  • adolescence
  • culture/ethnic practices
  • family
  • global/international issues

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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