Korean J Occup Health Nurs.  2009 Nov;18(2):174-184.

Recapturing the Lives and Experiences of Korean Nurses Dispatched to Germany in the 1960s and 1970s

  • 1Nursing Department, Daejeon University; Nursing Science Research Institute, Chung-Ang University, Korea.
  • 2Nursing Department, Kangwon National University, Korea. swhongks77@freechal.com
  • 3Nursing Department, Chung-Ang University, Korea.


While there exist a good number of studies on Korean nurses who were dispatched to Germany in 1960s and 1970s in sociological or labor economic perspectives, there have been few studies on their experiences from a nursing perspective. The purpose of this study is to recapture their lives and experiences from a nursing point of view.
This paper adopts an Agar's ethnographic approach which is more suitable to investigate personal qualitative experiences of those Korean nurses. The data were collected from group discussion and individual interview, and field observation with 10 dispatched Korean nurses.
The experiences of those dispatched nurses to Germany can be summarized into three themes: challenging to life, embracing new life, and giving a meaning to life. Challenging to life involved 'hope and anxiety,' and embracing new life was reflected by 'wonderment and envy' and 'loneliness and sorrow.' Lastly, they took pride in their contributions to their mother country and also felt something lacking that they had not been properly evaluated.
By rediscovering their lives and experiences from a nursing perspective, this study argues for more future studies to reexamine their impact and contribution to the nursing field in Korea.


Korean nurses; Germany; Experiences; Nursing approach; Ethnography
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