Journal Article

Intergenerational Transmission of Religion and Culture: Korean Protestants in the U.S.

Pyong Gap Min and Dae Young Kim

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 66, issue 3, pages 263-282
Published in print January 2005 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 2005 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI:
Intergenerational Transmission of Religion and Culture: Korean Protestants in the U.S.

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This paper systematically examines the extent to which Korean Protestant immigrants in the United States have transmitted their religion and cultural traditions through religion. It is based on a survey of 1.5- and 2nd-generation Korean American adults and a survey of Korean English-language congregations in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area. Previous studies reveal that the majority of Korean immigrants are affiliated with a Korean Protestant church and that their frequent participation in it enables them to preserve Korean cultural traditions. Results of our survey show that Korean Protestant immigrants are highly successful in transmitting their church-oriented style of Protestantism to the second generation. Approximately two-thirds of 1.5- and 2nd-generation Korean American adults who attended a Protestant church during their childhood were found to participate in a Protestant congregation regularly, with more than two-thirds of them going to a Korean congregation. Moreover, they also participate in a congregation as frequently as Korean immigrants. However, our study shows that Korean Protestant immigrants have failed to transmit their cultural traditions through religion. Korean English-language congregations for 1.5- and 2nd-generation Korean American Protestants have almost entirely eliminated Korean cultural components from worship services and other socio-cultural activities. Transmitting Korean cultural traditions through religion is difficult for Korean Protestant immigrants partly because there is a great dissociation between Korean Protestantism and Korean secular culture and partly because second-generation Korean American Protestants have embraced the white American evangelical subculture. Based on these findings, we argue that transmitting a religion does not necessarily help to transmit ethnic culture and ethnic identity unless there is a strong correlation between the two.

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Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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