Korean Americans

Yoonsun Choi

in Social Work

ISBN: 9780195389678
Published online June 2012 | | DOI:
Korean Americans


Korean immigrants, like many other immigrants from Asia and Latin America, arrived in the United States in greater numbers as a result of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. Korean Americans are the fifth-largest Asian group and live mainly in metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles; New York; New Jersey; Washington, DC; San Francisco; and Chicago. They are disproportionately drawn from the educated, urban, middle-class population of South Korea. The Korean immigrant community is characterized by its strong ethnic attachment and solidarity, which is reflected in its economic, social, and cultural adaptation, as well as its family culture and interactions. Three distinct characteristics of the community have contributed to this solidarity: the homogeneity of culture and common language, Korean ethnic churches (75 percent Protestant), and the high concentration in small businesses that are labor intensive and heavily dependent on kinship laborers (for example, grocery or liquor stores, imported goods, dry cleaning, and manicure services). One of the notable recent changes in the Korean immigrant community is the significant increase in the number of the “1.5” generation (those who immigrated during adolescence) and second-generation (US-born) Korean Americans. This emerging group creates and practices a culture that is distinct from their parents’ culture. Unlike their parents who are concentrated in the small-business workforce, the younger generation tends to work in the mainstream economy and is also culturally more integrated into the mainstream. However, this emerging generation has not completely discounted the older generation but is trying to accommodate the perspectives and resources of their parents while integrating new cultural traits. Despite their parents’ reluctance, interracial marriages are common among young adults, especially among Korean American women. This new trend is likely to change the characteristics and dynamics of the Korean immigrant community in significant ways.

Article.  9804 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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