Abstract: In line with the increasing significance of the role of transnational migration in healthcare provision—especially in the West—slightly over 11,000 nurses and nurse assistants from South Korea moved as “guest workers” (Gastarbeiter) to the former West Germany mainly between the 1960s and the 1970s. This study explores the role of emotions in the professional practice of nursing care. Particular attention is paid to gendered and racialized aspects of the emotional labor carried out by the Korean migrant healthcare workers based on their experiences at work. The way in which the stereotypical image of Asian/Korean femininity has been shaped into care work will be examined. Another focus is the way in which the Korean female healthcare practitioners manage their emotions and act as compassionate nurses in care delivery. They perform or manage their emotions to demonstrate a sense of compassion and empathy in nursing practices. In the process of performing their duty of care and managing their emotions over the long-term, the Korean healthcare workers also have to negotiate between providing compassionate care and coping with “compassion fatigue” in healthcare settings by performing racialized gender in a recurring manner. Their emotional labor is thereby undertaken in intersection with gender, and race/ethnicity; factors which are entangled and mutually reinforced in the performativity of gender and race/ethnicity within the context of nursing care by the “guest workers.”
Source: Yonson Ahn, "Samaritans from the East": Emotion and Korean nurses in Germany", Korean Studies, Volume 45, 2021, pp.9-35. doi:10.1353/ks.2021.0002.