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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published online by De Gruyter Mouton May 17, 2022

Positioning of female marriage immigrants in South Korea: a multimodal textbook analysis

So-Yeon Ahn ORCID logo and Gordon Blaine West


This study examines a series of government textbooks used to teach Korean language and culture to spouses of South Korean nationals living in Korea. A multimodal analysis of textbook images and narratives explores how strictly defined gender identity discourses are constructed and circulated through these government textbooks in ways that not only seek to reinforce gender conventions, but also advance a conservative, assimilationist curriculum for these immigrants. The analysis reveals ways in which female marriage immigrants are positioned primarily as housekeepers; how they are subordinately positioned vis-à-vis in-laws and their husbands; and finally, how intercultural miscommunications are presented as the fault only of the immigrants. In this, the burden for intercultural communication and learning is placed solely on the immigrants in the multimodal narratives presented in the textbooks, without reciprocal burden ever placed on the spouse or spouse’s family, or effective ways of negotiating intercultural miscommunications being shared. Images and text work together in multimodal ensembles to craft narratives that position immigrant women in ways that textual or visual analysis alone would not fully capture. Thus, the study argues the use of multimodal analytical approach in examining language textbooks as a way of deconstructing broader discourses and disrupting problematic discourses.

Corresponding author: So-Yeon Ahn, School of Digital Humanities and Computational Social Sciences, KAIST, 291 Daehak-ro, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon 34141, Republic of Korea, E-mail:


This work was supported by a grant of the KAIST-KT joint research project through AI2XL Laboratory, Institute of convergence Technology, funded by KT [G01210694, AI-based customer service: Investigating the completion of tasks and enhancing UX of AI].


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Received: 2021-05-20
Accepted: 2022-04-27
Published Online: 2022-05-17

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