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Ethnic Attachment among Korean-American High School Students

Population and Development Studies Center, Seoul National University
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This paper examines the level of ethnic attachment among Korean-American high school students as a typical example of descendants of the post-1965 immigrants in the United States. The data were collected through questionnaires administered to 170 Korean-American high school students in New York City. The respondents show a high level of assimilation to American culture and a low level of attachment to the Korean cultural tradition. However, in spite of their high acculturation, they are found to show a preference for Koreans as close friends and dating partners. Although the respondents' U.S. born status and length of residence in the U.S. have significantly reduced their level of cultural ethnic attachment, they do not have significant negative effects on their social ethnic attachment. These findings support Gordon's proposition that for some minority groups cultural assimilation does not automatically lead to social assimilation. The respondents show differential levels of attachment to Korean culture in three different social settings. They are found to depend upon the Korean language, Korean name, and Korean food most frequently at home, and more frequently in the ethnic church than in the school. Due to the nature of the sample, the findings have limitations in generalizability. Nevertheless, they provide important clues to assimilation and ethnic attachment patterns that other recent non-white immigrant groups might follow in the future.

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