Sunday, September 20, 2009

Traits characteristic of Koreans

There are a few interesting conclusions to take away from this article, "A Comparison of the Korean Minorities in China and Japan." . While it does look somewhat dated (and hence, we don't know how the exact conditions have changed in the two autonomous Korean(Joseon) Prefectures in China, we can grab that:
  1. As table 1 shows on page 6, Koreans have not really lived in Manchuria for centuries.

Second, I know that Bruce Cumings devotes an entire chapter in Korea's Place in the Sun to argue against the labelling of Korean-Americans as a model minority group and trying to defend the diversity of Korean-Americans as a "group." Though here, and it may come off as a surprise, but according to I believe the 2000 U.S. Census Data, Korean-Americans are actually the poorest income "group" among Asian-Americans. Of course, it's 4:28 a.m4:51a.m. Sunday Morning here, and I'd rather not try to look it up now, but I remember seeing it from the U.S. Census Bureau website itself somewhere, sometime ago.According to data from the U.S. Census bureau, we have that Korean-Americans are one of the poorer minority groups with an income below that of not only other Asian-American groups, but also of the average American household.

But, what's interesting is to see the parallels between what this paper finds and how it stacks up to how ethnic Koreans are perceived or how Koreans are expected to be in the United States. Considering that China too is a very diverse, multiethnic country and that, at least on paper, the Chinese have a similar definition of identity as that of the United States, I'd like to argue that it can be shown that the expectations or beliefs that Americans may hold towards Korean-Americans can indeed be validated. We can show by seeing if these same expectations can be confirmed from data found among ethnic Koreans living in China (Joseon-jok, 조선족). Hence, we have that:

In terms of achievement in standardized tests and percentages of high school and college graduates, the Koreans not only do better than any other minority group in China, they also outperform the Hans, the majority group in China. For example, 175.3 Koreans completed four years of college per 10,000 Koreans six years old and over, compared to 72.9 for the total Chinese population and 31.6 for all minorities (C. Lee, 1986)

Now, I couldn't get the primary source for this data, but based on what is said here, it wouldn't be to hard to say that Koreans as a people very much value education (I can also recall reading that another source puts South Korea as being the largest source nation of foreign students in both China and the United States). Recall that South Korea is half a country of less than fifty million. I'd also argue that by extension that this also quantifies the argument that Koreans have been most influenced by neo-Confucian values and institutions as well as a number of other conclusions. But, I'll leave that for either a future posting and/or to the reader..

With respect to why I changed the name of the title: The term model minority group is just one interpretation and not necessarily one I am in favor of. Though what I am saying is that it if can be argued a model minority group is defined by a certain set of desirable characteristics and these characteristics can then be found to describe a certain minority, then it could also be argued that this group constitutes a model minority group. Nonetheless, I feel I am treading on thin ice here and I feel the title takes away from what I'm trying to say here so that's the reason why I changed the title from "A model minority group." Anyways, I wrote the exact reasoning here.

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