|Type of paper:||Essay|
The United States of America has one of the most diverse cultures in the world. The country is the second home to practically every ethnic group in the world. The Koreans are one of the ethnic groups with the most significant presence in the US. The continued enabling conditions such as favorable government policies has seen the population of Koreans in the US rise to 1.7 million which is one of the highest of any immigrants in the country (Pyong 196). The scenario can be attributed to the existence of a strong political and cultural link between South Korea and the United States. Apparently these conditions have made it possible for the United States to absorb the largest number of Korean immigrants, far more than any country in Asia. Living with other ethnicities has had both negative and positive impact on the Korean culture. This essay highlights how the Koreans have been affected by their interaction with other people within American society.
From the interviews, it is clear that interaction with other ethnicities has influenced how the Koreans practice their culture. According to the first respondent, her nineteen-year stay in the US has seen her adopt almost all American customs and practices. Resultantly the respondent is more willing to disregard her Korean culture. Similarly, the first respondent when asked about his perception on participating in mainstream organizations, he indicates that it is the best approach towards attaining inclusivity in the society. Such responses are an indication of the changing perceptions of each passing generations. As highlighted by Chong, the first generations were more focused on maintaining their identity as Koreans. On the contrary, however, the second generations are no longer keen on keeping their cultural identity.
Besides the cultural identity, the second generation of Koreans is experiencing upward mobility in the society. According to Patterson, the first generations were focused on entrepreneurship. However, the trend is changing in the second generation with most individuals seeking employment in major professions (81). From the author's analysis, the driving factor behind the upward mobility is the improved education provided to the Koreans. As reflected in the interviews both the respondents indicated that they are taking part in college education which is likely to see them getting employed in prestigious professions.
As highlighted in the interviews the American Koreans have many similarities with the other ethnicities in American. For instance, it is the practice in all ethnicities that the males are the heads of the families. According to the second respondent, there is the practically minimal difference between American men and the African American males. It is however clear from the interview that the respondent's interactions with other ethnicities have been negatively affected by his background. The respondent indicates that he encountered challenges interacting with other students. Apparently, his physical appearance exposed him to segregation. These assertions reflect the findings of Chong on Korean parents regarding the future of their children. From the author's analysis, Korean parents state that their children's physical outlook will have an impact on how they relate to other ethnicities. In other words, the physical features associated with the Koreans would hamper one's ability to prosper in the predominantly white society (Chong 214). The first respondent's challenges in college are, therefore, a testament to the difficulties faced by the Koreans in the American culture.
It is also evident from the interview that most of the Koreans strive to stay together through community organizations. As indicated by the second respondent, he has maintained close links with other Koreans by participating in religious activities: "I consider them very important for me as an individual as they determine my identity." Ostensibly engaging in community organizations help foster ethnic identity of the respondent. In addition to that, when asked whether they considered teaching children about race and ethnicity, the first interviewee replied in the affirmative. The reason given for this assertion is that it helps the children to know their heritage. Apparently understanding one's heritage is the best way to maintain cultural identity and hence preserving a culture. A similar study highlighted by Chong revealed that people of the Asian origin tend to form groups which agitate for their welfare (221). Unlike other ethnicities, the Asian origin people- who include the Koreans- have resisted the temptation of blending with the white race. On the contrary, this group of people is maintaining their racial identity and campaigning for recognition.
The respondents also indicate that there is a tension between being a Korean American and Americans. According to the first interviewee ", this tension comes up whenever I engage with people from other backgrounds." As indicated above, the conflict majorly stems from the difference in physical features. The fact that the Koreans appear different from the whites who comprise the majority of the population make the former look out of place which exposes them to segregation and even bullying. These findings reflect the findings of Chong who asserted that most Korean parents were pessimistic of how their children would interact with other ethnicities (214). On the contrary, however, the second respondent indicates that she is much comfortable interacting with people from different ethnicities. For instance, when asked whether she started conversations differently according to ethnicity she demonstrates that he does not approach conversations differently. This scenario is a clear reflection of a generation which has accepted to relate to other individuals without considering their backgrounds. These findings augment Chong's analysis on the blurring or racial boundaries. According to Chong, the negotiation of self-identification is the major contributing factor behind the blurring or ethnic barriers. As reflected by the second respond she no longer considers herself Korean American but rather an American as she has adopted a different culture.
In conclusion, the Korean culture has remained relatively stable and relevant in spite of the many external pressure. However, this trend is changing with the second generation Korean Americans adopting the American culture fully. In other words, the racial boundaries are getting blurred with the passage of time. Consequently, new generations are willing to embrace people from different ethnicities unlike before. This scenario has resulted in improved confidence. As indicated in the case of the second respondent, it is becoming easier to interact with people from other ethnicities. In addition to that, there is heightened upward mobility of the Koreans a fact which has been attributed to improved education and engorgement from the earlier generations. The Koreans are becoming more prosperous and integrated into the American society. However the same is being achieved at the expense of the Korean culture which is slowly diminishing. Apparently the more success and integration, the lower the cultural beliefs and practices.
Chong, Kelly H. "Relevance of Race: Children and the Shifting Engagement with Racial/Ethnic Identity among Second-Generation Interracially Married Asian Americans." Journal of Asian American Studies 16.2 (2013): 189-221.
Min, Pyong Gap. "The immigration of Koreans to the United States: A review of 45 years (1965-2009) trends." (2011).
Patterson, Wayne. "Upward social mobility of the Koreans in Hawaii." Korean Studies 3.1 (1979): 81-92.
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