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2019.10.15(Tue)

[JSR] The Common Experiences of Korean Americans

[LA중앙일보] 기사입력 2019/05/17 18:03

Young girls dressed in traditional Korean dress - hanbok - embracing the culture that strives for more representation. [Source: Associated Press, Ahn Young-joon]

Young girls dressed in traditional Korean dress - hanbok - embracing the culture that strives for more representation. [Source: Associated Press, Ahn Young-joon]

Susie Song, Grade 11<br>Academy of the Canyons

Susie Song, Grade 11
Academy of the Canyons

In society today, Korean Americans are considered one of the fastest growing groups in the United States. Being Asian, one can experience many things such as alienation or discrimination in the workplace, school, or any public space. There already is a known “fact” that Asians, more specifically Korean Americans, severely lack representation in the media and society.

Almost every Korean American has experienced the “your lunch smells” or “take off your shoes before entering” moments. These are a few of the common experiences that almost every Korean American faces while growing up. The shocking part is that Korean Americans divide themselves within their own group too.

There are two groups in which Koreans divide themselves into; this decides who you hang out with and who you leave out. The first group includes the Fobs (Fresh off the boat), which means “coming directly from Korea” and the possibility of having difficulty speaking English as they are not native to the language. The other group is “Korean Americans” or second generation children, where one’s parents are native Koreans, but he/she was born in America.

K-pop festivals and concerts are a great way for the Korean culture to be exposed, shared, and integrated. [Source: Associated Press, Kin Cheun]

K-pop festivals and concerts are a great way for the Korean culture to be exposed, shared, and integrated. [Source: Associated Press, Kin Cheun]

This divide is seen throughout schools and churches most often, explained by “don’t want to get too white washed” or “don’t want to become a fob.” A junior from Academy of the Canyons, Josephine Kim, stated “I see Korean Americans alienated even among their own society/community.

Korean Americans pay a lot of attention to the way they look. Even in Korean society, women are expected to dress modestly and take care of their face. Many Koreans think that having double eyelids are essential for a girl to look pretty, which is why double eyelid surgery is so common in Korea. Double eyelid surgery is often given to young girls as a graduation gift.

As a Korean American, I personally didn’t experience alienation from how I looked, but I did hear and see Korean Americans be alienated because of their “slant” eyes and hear questions like “can you even see?”

With the lack of representation in society, Korean Americans are not really integrated in all situations and aspects. However, one way Korean Americans all unite is through concerts and festivals based on Korean culture - traditional and modern.

There are events such as the Korea Times Hollywood Bowl Concert and the Korean Annual Festival (a.k.a Hanta) where hundreds of Korean Americans can gather and celebrate with Korean food, K-pop, K-dramas, and K-products. Even non Koreans join these events which allows for the society to integrate as a whole.

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