Flushing Koreans

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of good food.


History of the Ethnic Community

Background/Departure from homeland   Up-Arrow

By Muhammad Junaid

The Korean peninsula is located in East Asia. The peninsula is roughly the size of Minnesota and covers an area of about 85,563 square miles.[M1] It is politically divided at the 38th parallel. The northern division of the peninsula is under the control of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) and the southern division of the peninsula is under the control of the Republic of Korea (South Korea).

The name “Korea” comes from the Koryo dynasty, which lasted from 918 A.D – 1392 A.D. Korea has also been referred to as Choson, which means “the Land of the Morning Calm”. It was called Choson during the earliest of its ancient kingdoms (around 400 B.C) and during its final Kingdom (1392-1910).[M2]

Throughout its history, Korea has been heavily influenced by China. For several centuries Korea was forced to act as a tributary state. As a result, many aspects of Chinese society underwent a cultural diffusion to Korea. The Korean language borrows elements from the Chinese writing system and vocabulary. Confucianism became an important part of the Korean identity. Many Koreans followed its ethical teachings, if not its religious ones.[M3]

Because of its strategic location, Korea has often faced invasion.[M4] Korea’s last kingdom, ruled by the Yi dynasty, was confronted with invasions by both the Japanese and the Manchus. The Yi dynasty was slow to recover from these attacks and as a result they decided to pursue a policy of isolation. This went on for over 200 years and earned them the title of “The Hermit Kingdom” from western nations.[M5]

In 1882 Korea finally bowed to Western pressure and agreed to open its ports for trade. On May 22 they agreed to sign the Treaty of Amity and Commerce, which established diplomatic relationships with the United States. The treaty had various provisions, but most importantly, it opened the door for immigration and set the stage for the first wave of Korean immigration.[M6]

In 1910 the Yi dynasty came to an end as a result of annexation by Japan. Japan’s dominance in the region had been growing with its victories in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895 and the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-1905. Japan’s dominance over Korea was supported by both the United States and Great Britain. In 1905 Japan was able to declare Korea its “protectorate nation” and effectively end its political autonomy. In 1907 King Kojong was forced to abdicate the throne, and in 1910 Korea was completely annexed to the Japanese Empire. Under Japanese rule Korean culture was phased out. The Korean language was banned from schools, government offices, and the majority of media. Korean students were forced to learn Japanese history and change their names so that they sounded more Japanese. They were also forced to pray to Japanese gods and emperors at Japanese places of worship (Shinto Shrines). Korea would remain a Japanese colony for the next thirty-five years until Japan’s surrender at the end of World War II.[M7]

The Allied Forces present at the Yalta Conference decided Korea’s future in February of 1945. All parties present agreed that they would like to see a free and independent Korea sometime in the future. In the meantime it was decided that Korea should be separated at the 38th parallel. The northern division was put under Soviet control and emerged as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in 1948. The southern division was put under the control on the United States and emerged as the Republic of Korea. The two nations were set up with ideologically opposed government and tensions rose. North Korea built up its armies with the aid of its communist allies and launches an assault on South Korea on June 25,1950 sparking the Korean War. The United States led a United Nations coalition and entered the war on the side of South Korea. As a result, China entered the war on the side of North Korea. Heavy casualties were inflicted on both sides until an armistice agreement was signed in July 27, 1953. The conditions created by the war set the stage for the second phase of Korean immigration.[M8]

Arrival and Settlement Up-Arrow

Korean immigration to the United States can be described as occurring in three major phases. These phases were prompted by legislation passed in the United States and the Korean War.

The first phase of Korean immigration to the United States was facilitated by the ratification of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce with Korea in 1882. The treaty allowed for Koreans to enter the United States. The first group of Koreans arrived in the country in 1888. They numbered fewer than fifty and were comprised of students, merchants, and migrant workers. Among the arrivals was Syngman Rhee, who would go on to become the first president of the Republic of Korea in 1948.[M9] Immigration to the United States got its true start with the arrival of male laborers to Hawaiian sugar plantations in 1903. A total of 7,333 Koreans arrived in Hawaii between 1903 and 1905 as laborers for the Hawaiian Sugar Planters’ Association. These men were brought in to provide a cheap source of labor since the passage of the Chinese Exclusion act of 1882 had stemmed the tide of Chinese immigrants. This phase would be sort lived however, since Japan acquired Korea in 1905 and ratified the Gentlemen’s agreement in 1908. Since Korea was part of Japan now, the agreement blocked any further Korean immigration. However, from 1910-1924 approximately 1,100 picture brides were able to join their perspective husbands in America. Their marriages were arranged via the exchange of pictures. Enough females arrived this way to balance out the sex ratio.[M10]

Most of the laborers came to Hawaii to find work, not to settle. Many planned to take the money they made and return to Korea. Others were biding their time while conditions at home improved. The majority of laborers were young bachelors who were between 20-30 years old. They were largely uneducated and came from Korea’s port cities. At the plantations they faced brutal conditions, working long hours in the hot sun for little pay. Most Koreans become involved in Christian churches, which served the immigrant community as religious, social, and cultural centers.[M11]

The second phase of Korean Immigration took place from 1951-1964 and was largely a response to the Korean War. It consisted of young Korean women married to American soldiers, Korean War orphans adopted by American families, and small numbers of students, refugees, and professional workers. This second phase of immigration differed greatly from the first. It comprised mostly young women and children. The post-Korean War immigrants had a ratio of 1 male to 3.5 females, whereas the early immigrants in the first phase had a ratio of 10 males to 1 female. Also different was the fact that the majority of immigrants reported having no other job other than being a housewife. From 1950-1975 28, 205 Korean wives of American servicemen came to the United States and from 1955-1977 American families adopted approximately 13,000 Korean orphans. [M12]

The third phase of Korean immigration refers to the large influx of Korean families, professionals, and students after the passage of the U.S Immigration Act of 1965. The law did away with the discriminatory nature of the quota system based on national origins. It also put heavy emphasis on family reunification and the immigrant’s skill. This law benefitted the relatives of two groups of Koreans the most, Korean wives of American servicemen and students/professional workers who became permanent U.S residents. The family of students and professional workers accounted for the biggest influx of Korean immigrants.[M13]

Economic Adjustment

Despite many Koreans’ economic motivation for immigrating, the group as a whole has yet to attain economic equality in the United States. Korean Americans’ median family income in 1990 was $33, 909 whereas the American median family income was $35, 225. In addition to this, a relatively large portion of Korean immigrants (14.7%) were still below the poverty level as of 1990.[M14]

A significant structural difference between Korean American workers and American workers is the large percentage of self-employed Korean business owners as compared to self-employed American business owners. Whereas 7.0% of American workers were self-employed in 1990, a staggering 16.9% of Korean workers were self-employed. In fact, according to the 1990 census, Korean Americans represented the largest majority (in terms of percentage) of self-employed workers in the US.[M15]

This overrepresentation of self-employed Koreans in the American workforce is attributed to a combination of three factors. The first factor is the large disadvantage that immigrant workers experience in the US as compared to American workers. There is a marked language and cultural barrier between native workers and unaccustomed immigrants. This barrier makes it difficult for immigrants to work for American-owned enterprises. In addition to this, educational and occupational skills are not easily transferable between non-American nations and America. Finally, the American labor market inherently marginalizes minorities. They are shut out of the core sector and are instead subjected to unfavorable work conditions, low wages, nonexistent benefits, and little chance for promotion.[M16] These obstacles are evident in surveys of the Korean workforce in America. In Chicago, for example, although 63.1% of the Korean immigrant workers were college graduates and held professional occupations in Korea, only 21.3% held high-level occupations in the US.[M17]

The second factor is the variety of resources available to prospective Korean business owners in America. These resources include labor and capital resources. In Korean culture family is the basic social unit. For this reason, family members provide a great deal of support to their aspiring entrepreneur. When the head of the household begins a business, all members of the family contribute their time and effort in order to facilitate the success of the business. For example, 58% of the spouses of Korean American business owners work at the family business without pay. Just as store-owners work an average of 57 hours a week, their spouses average 54 hours of work. Similarly, Korean immigrant entrepreneurs rely on their ethnic resources in order to obtain the necessary capital for the growth of their business. Most often they depend on Korean suppliers to provide them with merchandise such as clothing. In fact, over 80% of clothing store-owners obtain their goods from Korean suppliers. These suppliers generally offer low-priced merchandise without the hassle of language barriers that American suppliers impart.[M18]

The final factor that explains the abundance of self-employed Koreans is the exclusively Korean market that has emerged due to the influx of Korean immigrants in America. The Korean ethnic market accommodates the needs of Korean consumers that reside in the United States. These consumers are in demand of Korean products and services such as restaurants, newspapers, herb shops, martial arts schools, translation services, etc. that non-Koreans are unable to provide. Because such ethnic markets are available solely to Korean entrepreneurs, many of them have taken advantage of this market gap in order to start their businesses. This is evident in the fact that Koreatowns exist in metropolitan areas all across the United States. This includes areas of Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago. In the Broadway Korean district of Manhattan, for example, there exist over 400 Korean-owned stores.[M19]


The early Korean settlers of America had the dual problems of becoming economically stable/independent and finding a means to perpetuate the cultural tradition of their homeland.

Acculturation is defined as the process by which “the culture of a society is modified as the result of contact with the culture of one or more other societies.”[M20] Korean-American acculturation refers specifically to the way in which immigrants embraced American language, traditions, standards of behavior, and beliefs. In order to measure the degree of the immigrant’s cultural adaptation, three variables can be considered: English proficiency, exposure to American media, and changes in social attitudes and culture.

Language is a significant aspect of cultural acculturation. A large percentage of Korean Americans experience language difficulties and these difficulties are even more prevalent among first-generation immigrants. A survey conducted on Korean Americans in Chicago is evidence of this fact. Of the Korean Americans that were surveyed 35% rated their English reading abilities as moderate, 31% rated their English writing abilities as moderate, and 40% rated their English speaking abilities as moderate. Those who have lived in the US for a longer period of time reported better speaking abilities. Further, male immigrants and those who immigrated to the US at a younger age also demonstrated greater English proficiency. Despite these values, however, a staggering majority (87%) of immigrants indicated that they never or very rarely speak English at home. They also claimed to exclusively communicate in the Korean language with friends, relatives, and neighbors.[M21]

Just as adaptation of language is telling of cultural assimilation, so is the immigrant’s exposure to mass media. It is reported that nearly half of Korean immigrants never read American newspapers. In contrast, over 60% of Korean Americans claim to read Korean newspapers on a daily basis. Among those who do engage in American printed media, there is a gender difference in terms of favorite sections of the newspaper. Males show a strong interest in the sports section. This is indicative of the Americanization process, as most also identify with a specific team such as the Chicago Bears. In contrast, advertisements were the most favored aspects of the newspaper to Korean American female readers. This is an indication of the influence of American consumption habits on Korean females.[M22]

Finally, the penetration of American ideals such as individualism, equality, and freedom into the mindset of Korean Americans is an indicator of cultural assimilation. A questionnaire conducted on a sample of Los Angeles Korean immigrants reveals that many immigrants still have an attachment to Korean culture. Regardless of sex, negative attitudes towards intermarriage (67.4%), the importance of familial commitment (89.7% males, 91.6% females), traditionalist views on gender roles (78.5% males, 64.3% females), and the perpetuation of Korean culture (90.4% males, 89.2% females) are all widespread among Korean Americans.[M23] These viewpoints are consistent with those that their Koreans counterparts hold. Despite this strong connection however, most Koreans are accepting of the wife’s work outside the home, seek individual achievement and self-realization, and engage in social interaction with different races.[M24] These are all indicative of their embracement of American cultural values.

The Changing Structure of the Korean Family

As mentioned earlier, the family—not the individual—is the basic social unit in Korea. For this reason, the life of Korean Americans is largely focused on familial relations. In Korea, a patrilineal extended family system exists. Often, there are more than two generations living together in the same household and a male patriarch is the head. Additionally, 72% of marriages in Korea are arranged by parents and relatives, most parents still prefer to have sons over daughters, filial piety—a concept established by Confucius—continues to be a fundamental value, and a woman’s role is believed to be that of a homemaker. Most immigrants who emigrate from Korea arrive to the US still value these traditional beliefs. In the US, however, they must face a society that is drastically different from their own. Whereas Korean society focuses on the filial piety established by Confucius, which emphasizes familial responsibility and mutual reliance, American society places more emphasis upon individualism and self-reliance.[M25] Such stark contrasts have prompted Korean Americans to alter their adherence to traditional Korean family values.

As a result of interaction within American society, the Korean woman’s role has some undergone changes. In Korea the husband is generally the ‘breadwinner’ of the family. The wife is a full-time homemaker and if a woman is unmarried and employed, she is expected to leave her job after marriage. Those women who continue their employment after marriage are severely discriminated in the Korean labor market. Gender discrimination prompts unfairness in wages, promotions, etc. In fact, only 20% of married women in Korea are employed outside the home. This is in great contrast to the 75% of Korean immigrant wives who are employed outside the home in the US.[M26]

A high rate of women employed outside the home seems to be one of the sole factors that separates Korean American woman from their Korean counterparts. According to a survey among working wives, employment has no effect on the nature of their work at home. 70% of working wives performed the majority of household tasks regardless of employment. In addition, fewer than 10% of immigrant husbands performed household tasks, regardless of their wives’ employment. Instead, about 20% of the tasks were shifted to family members other than the husbands. Finally, the wife’s employment had no effect on the family’s traditional view of gender roles in the Korean household. In about 70% of immigrant couples, the wife alone is still expected to perform the majority of household tasks.[M27] Being employed outside the home, then, introduces a rigorous new role that Korean immigrant wives must undertake—one that involves balancing work in the labor force and work at home.

In addition to the evolution of new responsibilities for Korean immigrant woman, problems of fulfilling filial piety have also arisen due to Korean immigration. In Korea, the elderly generally live with their adult children. Usually, they reside with the eldest son and his family and the daughter-in-law is expected to live with her husband’s parents. As emigration from Korea expanded, many of these elderly parents immigrated with their adult children to the US.[M28] These children felt the responsibility to care for their aging parents, despite the difficult task of adjusting to life in a new country.

Although elderly parents were traditionally served and consulted by their children, roles were transposed when they came to the US. While their adult children worked long hours and struggled to settle their families in a foreign land, the elderly parents were conferred with the tasks of attending for grandchildren, cooking meals, and cleaning the house. Their familial positions markedly declined. So much so in fact, that a study of the Korean elderly in NYC reported that 77.2% of respondents preferred to live in separate households from their children.[M29] The reality of Korean familial relations in the US is at variance with the traditional family system that has been upheld in Korea for centuries.

The Impact of Koreans on American Society

Despite their comparatively short history of immigration in the US, Korean Americans have already contributed a great deal to American society.

Economically, early Korean immigrants offered their labor to America’s agricultural economy. They toiled on Hawaiian sugar plantations and cultivated rice by the tons in California. The new Korean immigrants have contributed different skills. Many have joined the white-collar workers of America by offering their skills in fields such as medicine, science, and engineering. Others have filled the role of small business owners in the American labor market and, in doing so, have breathed new life into dying neighborhoods across the US. In Washington DC, for example, over half of the small business are owned by Asian Pacific Americans. Asian Pacific American restaurants, dry cleaners, and discount stores now fill the once devitalized town of Rainier in Seattle. Perhaps the greatest example is the endlessly productive Korean community of NYC, which owns over 1400 produce stores, 3500 groceries, 2000 dry cleaners, and 1300 nail salons.[M30]

In addition to their economic contribution, Koreans have had an educational impact on American society. There are more than 2000 Korean American professors in the US and the majority of them are specialized in the natural sciences. Many teach at the nation’s premier universities. Additionally, Korean American students make up a large portion of the enrollment at the nation’s top universities.[M31]

Finally, the political participation of Korean Americans has been astounding considering the comparatively brief period of time since the initiation of Korean immigration to the US. In 1993, Jay Kim became the first Korean American elected to Congress. He was born in Seoul and immigrated to the US in 1961. Paull Shin of Washington was born in Korea in 1935 and became a state senator in 1996. As second-generation Korean immigrants become of age, political involvement by Korean Americans is expected to rise substantially.[M32]

In NYC: From Settlement to the Present   Up-Arrow

By Sharon Richardson

Story of the Community

The experience of Koreans in Flushing, New York can be explained in the stories of their economic development, interracial conflicts, and their assimilation into American culture. When the first Korean Immigrants settled in Flushing, they were following the path of the “Lucky 7”[S1] train also known as the “Oriental Express”[S2] from Manhattan to their new residence. Kwang Kim said that Koreans moved to Flushing because “the culture was there”[S3] due to Chinese immigrants previously settled. Others argue that Koreans moved into Flushing simply because the homes were vacant and close to the 7 train which came straight from Manhattan.

Regardless of why Koreans came to Flushing, it is certain that they kept certain aspects of their culture from the homeland, and also created a new culture of Korean-American different from the Koreans of Los Angeles. While the children of the immigrants worked to identify themselves in the new country, their parents enjoyed the same churches and many practices from Korea in Flushing. The first generation did not find a need to translate their shop signs, street signs or church sermons into English. Rather they were content with how they immigrated and were able to maintain a quiet existence and business successfully.

As far as interactions with other ethnic groups and those already here, according to Kim Myung Ja, “Koreans have historically been proud of an exclusive and apparently homogeneous blood tradition that claims ‘single nation, single ethnicity’ and have a tendency not to accept or be open to others.”[S4] Many different sources have asserted this same point that the people of Korea like to stick to their own community and in effect, only market to Koreans in their stores but as time went on, they learned that it is less profitable to operate that way.

Economic Development of the Community

The Korean population always found ways to make money after immigrating to America. In order to gain upward mobility, many ethnic Americans become entrepreneurs in a labor-intensive retail or other industry. But since Korean Americans excel in starting businesses and becoming self-employers, many scholars have looked at their model to see how to successfully and effectively move upward in American Society. “For many Korean Americans, self-employment in businesses is by default an adaptation to limited opportunities for a primary sector jobs in the U.S. labor market. Language and cultural barriers and the difficulty of transferring their educational credentials and occupational skills to the American labor market act as obstacles for obtaining jobs.”[S5] For some, opening up a grocery shop is the only option considering they do not know much English and American jobs are not always readily available. Most Korean stores are owned by the Chinese and simply rented by the Koreans. This is a disadvantage to the Korean-Americans but they are quite content with this arrangement.

Many people want to know where the success comes from. How were the Koreans able to make so many small businesses within such a short amount of time? The answer is through small credit unions or community chests called Gyeh or Kye. According to the New York Times, “a “gyeh” is an ancient practice in which group of individuals will pool their money together to form sort of a credit union.”[S6] Gyeh literally translated means filial piety and this makes sense as the members of the credit union seemingly are brothers doing favors for one another by loaning the money. This practice of a money-go-round is just like the “susu” of Caribbean and South American people. Su-su means small small, which helps to better define the practice. By putting in small amounts of money into the susu account, you get to withdraw more without interest. The Koreans “have relied primarily on a combination of savings and loans from family and kin and friends rather than bank loans or capital brought from Korea.”[S7] The Koreans made the credit unions work by giving a certain amount of money into the fund every month and then taking turns withdrawing the whole sum. When the cycle is complete, the members can choose whether or not to start again.

In general, according to Ember, Korean immigrants use “rotating credit associations (kye) as indirect sources of savings and business operating funds. Three different kinds of kye have been reported: friendship kye, number kye, and bidding kye.”[S8] However, in a November 1986 article in Asian Week, a Mr. Lee from Flushing, commented, “We are having this gyeh not just for the money, we have come here to see our friends and we exchange information. In this way the Koreans have become a very close and tight-knit group.”[S9] In addition to the benefits and services that gyeh provides for newcomers, Richard Mei Jr., Asian community affairs assistant for Mayor Ed Koch stated, “Koreans have helped the revival of the city by going into marginal neighborhoods, setting up businesses and upgrading those neighborhoods.”[S10] By whatever means the Koreans deem necessary, no one can refute the economic good it is doing for New York neighborhoods like Flushing.

The economic condition of the immigrants has improved. Since 1980, Koreans began arriving with enough capital from Korea to start their own businesses. They didn’t need to rely on the ancient traditions of gyeh. However, they did not anticipate the boycott of other ethnic groups on their stores, which would bring a downturn in business.

The Story of Tensions or Conflicts within the Community and the History of Nativist Resistance/Racism and its Impact

The most known conflicts concerning Korean Americans are those involving African American-Korean relationships. Many blacks felt like Koreans came into their neighborhoods and set up shop, thus taking away possible jobs and money that could have been theirs. A movie called “Do The Right Thing” depicts the racial scene very well. The blacks, (Caribbean-Americans included) are angry that Koreans are so prosperous “fresh of the boat” so they react by cursing them and degrading them. They are jealous because certain Caribbean immigrants have been here for generations and still they own little or no businesses. [S11] Many Korean-Americans were pleased by how the movie portrayed Koreans, and reason that “some black resentment against Koreans is fueled by misconceptions.”[S12] The images they appreciate include the part where the movie shows Koreans as hardworking (18 hours a day) and quiet or to themselves.

The biggest thing to happen in New York City concerning Korean and blacks happened during the 1990’s with the Church Avenue boycotts. On January 18, 1990, a Haitian woman went into a Korean owned grocery store. She left a few minutes later in an ambulance with bruises and contusions. The Koreans accused her of shoplifting some food and then throwing the peppers at the cashier. While she accused them of beating her when she was simply trying to leave without taking anything. As a result, blacks began a boycott on that grocery store and another Korean grocery store across the street.

The boycott affected both grocery stores heavily considering the neighborhood was predominantly black and now that no one was shopping there, revenues went down from 2,000 and 7,000 dollars a day to “$10 and $30.”[S13] Robert (Sonny) Carson, one of the organizers of the boycott stated how he felt about the incidents, “We are not going to tolerate continued assaults by people who don’t live in our community, don’t employ people in our community, don’t spend in our community and don’t have our best interests at heart.” With this statement he portrayed the resentment that many blacks felt towards Koreans and the boycott showed the power of blacks to shut down Korean groceries if the conflict was not resolved.

Koreans also suffered scrutiny from native whites in Flushing who felt that they were being excluded from their own community. The people complained that the store signs were not in English and even if there was a few English words on there, they did not allude much to the purpose of the store and what services or goods were offered there. As the New York times says, “The sign controversy highlighted a long time ethnic discord between Korean immigrants and longtime white residents of Queens.”[S15] When this was brought to the attention of Comptroller John Liu (then City Councilman of Flushing), he deemed the problem “not serious enough to warrant a new city law.”[S16] The evidence supports this also since only 5 percent of the stores had signs in only Korean. However, Councilman Tony Avella supported the longtime white residents who believed that they are being discriminated against. In his efforts to prove them right, he even tried quoting a “1909 state law requiring some English on signs”[S17] but this was deemed unenforceable and he dropped it.

Another notable incident between Koreans and Blacks that served as a turning point was the 1992 African American-Korean American tension and civil unrest set ablaze by the “acquittals of several Los Angeles police officers in connection with the videotaped beating of Rodney Glen King.”[18] Of the riots that followed 50% of all damages were to Korean stores and Korean property.


Although the incident was housed in Los Angeles, “many Korean-Americans lost faith in the “American dream” and reconsidered their place and purpose of life in America.” They felt that they were “innocent victims of “racial” conflict in the 1992 unrest mainly because they lacked political power.” As a result, “the Los Angeles unrest heightened Koreans’ political consciousness.”[S19] This led to a large number of immigrants applying for naturalization and in turn, registering to vote. “In the 1992 elections, Jay Kim, representing the Forty-First District in California, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, becoming the first Korean member of Congress in American history.”[S20]

The best result of this is that Koreans began to organize in New York creating “Hanin-hoe (Korean Association of New York)” and instead of their initial attention to Korean politics; they began to care about politics and voting here. Various organizations also began to spring up to promote “friendship and socializing” instead of the common conception of Koreans as exclusive and the organizations “became powerful enough to deal with such things as competition, meeting with government agencies and wholesalers.”[S21]

In Flushing particularly, Korean-American communities now work together with Chinese American communities to achieve local political goals like combining efforts to “protest against police brutality inflicted on Korean immigrants.”[S22]

The other result of the 1992 unrest was that of the second generation Korean-Americans or those who may have been born in Korea but came to America when they were 12 or younger. When the “children saw what happened to their parents’ stores and realized no one was there to help or protect them, [they] Reclaim[ed] ‘Korean-Americanness’ and brought a new sense of ethnic identity and activism.[S23]

Siginificant Community Members

Three of the most significant members of the Korean American community are Herbert Choy, Margaret Cho and Michelle Wie. Herbert Choy became the first Asian American to serve on the federal bench as a federal judge on a U.S. court of appeals in 1971.

Margaret Cho is an Korean American comedian, actress and a lot more. She has certainly broken the mold of staying to her Korean roots and is known for her comedy routines where she discusses her mother and portrays her mother with heavily accented speech and uses it to laugh about rather than perfect her mother’s English.

Michelle Wie is a Korean American professional golfer. At a young age, Wie was able to become professional just shy of her 16th birthday and has won as an amateur in many golfing tournaments.

These three help to exemplify how Koreans in America have assimilated and made their own place in the country with their own talents and distinctive taste.

Contemporary Data

Population Analysis   Up-Arrow

By Annaliisa Gifford

Flushing, Queens has had an enormous influx of Korean immigrants since the 1980’s. With a current total Korean population of 64,107, the number of Korean immigrants is ever increasing. Flushing’s total population is 176,026, making people of Korean descent over 36% of Flushing’s population. Many Asian immigrants (and specifically Korean immigrants) were drawn to this area in the early 1980’s on account of cheap rent in the idealized, opportunistic city of New York.

The median age of the Korean/Flushing population is 39. There are currently 29,654 males and 34,453 females. Out of the entire population, 41,201 people are between the ages of 20 and 60. This makes the Koreans of Flushing, Queens a very largely middle age population. This may be due to the fact that many immigrants arrived to New York and the United States at a younger age in the 1980’s and 1990’s. With 49,201 of the Koreans in Flushing being born outside of the United States, it is no wonder that Flushing has been transformed into one of the largest Korea town’s in the entire world. This density of Korean, foreign-born population leads to a very strong and ethnically identified community in Flushing. It is largely unnecessary to use English as a Korean speaker living in Flushing on a daily basis. This is exemplified in the fact that 37,412 Koreans in Flushing speak English “less than very well”.[A8]

Citizenship of this population is largely divided as well. With the influx of Koreans into Flushing beginning in the 1980’s, 14,053 people arrived. This figure was remarkably lower in years before, when Flushing was predominantly white. In the 1990’s, high Korean immigration continued and 16,492 arrived. In the 2000’s, 13,142 have arrived in the area. This shows a slight decline in immigration, but not a significant drop. It is assumed that immigration to this area will still continue despite overcrowding and increasing rent prices.[A8]

Income and Employment Analysis

By Patrick Lempert


In 2011, out of the 100,063 Koreans in New York, 61.4% were in the labor force. The Bureau of Labor Statistics defines the labor force as “the sum of employed and unemployed persons.” In this case, ‘unemployed’ means those who “do not have a job, have actively looked for work in the prior 4 weeks, and are currently available for work.” Interestingly, the entirety of employed Koreans is civilian; that is, virtually none of the Koreans in New York are part of the Armed Forces. Of those in the labor force, the unemployment rate is 6.3%.[P1]

The majority of employed Koreans, 40.1% are employed in management, business, science, and arts occupations. This is followed by sales and office occupations, which 31.4% of employed Koreans hold, service occupations, which 17.9% hold, and production, transportation, and material moving occupations, which 8.1% hold. The remaining Koreans work in natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations.[P3]

In industry, 17.5% of Koreans work in retail, 16.1% in education and health care, 13.8% in professional, scientific, and management services, 15.3% in ‘other’ services, and the rest evenly distributed among manufacturing, wholesale, transportation, finance, and entertainment.[P3]

There are 36,834 Korean households in New York, with a median household income of $48,003. The Census defines a household as one that “consists of all people who occupy a housing unit regardless of relationship. A household may consist of a person living alone or multiple unrelated individuals or families living together.” There are 22,249 Korean families in New York; those that consist of people “related by birth, marriage or adoption residing in the same housing unit.” The median household income for this group is $52,597. It may be notable that 73.5% of Korean families have a married-couple present, as opposed to 59.3% in all of New York. The difference is in the percentage of female householder families, which is far less among Korean families (16.5%) than in all of NYC (31.2%). The percentage of families that have only a male householder present is about 10% among both Koreans and everyone else. Interestingly, whereas the income of all NYC families is quiet volatile, Korean family incomes seem to be more stable. The median married-couple family income for Koreans is $54,520, compared with the median married couple family income for NYC, $73,180, is a substantial difference. Male household families earn $49,850 among Koreans, and $46,614 among all such families in NYC. Finally, Korean female householder families earn $41,785, which is substantial, considering the median female household income for New York is $31,722. [P2][P3]

Korean Small Businesses and Employment

Hidden in the Census labor statistics is the propensity for Korean immigrants to start small businesses, like green groceries, garment factories, and nail salons. Some estimate that 70% of Koreans are in some way involved in small business. This trend (which has reportedly been in decline in the last couple of years as the waves of Korean immigrants from the 60s assimilate into American culture) can be attributed to Korean values and their perception of the American dream. The term norokui taekka, which in Korean describes the relationship between labor and reward (the amount of reward is proportional to the amount of labor), is common among all immigrants. It can be seen most clearly in small businesses, since more time working translates directly to higher earnings. Another reason for the Korean participation in small business is the simple fact that every generation of new immigrants ends up running these kinds of businesses, from Jews to Italians and more recently Indians. The following from historian Illsoo Kim sums it up:

Korean immigrants are able to buy shops from white minority shopkeepers, especially Jews, because the second- or third- generation children of these older immigrants have already entered the mainstream of the American occupational structure, and so they are reluctant to take over their parents’ business.(I Kim, 1981: 111)

It should be noted that 20-25% of Korean immigrant entrepreneurs fail in small business every year.[P4]

Greengroceries: Their Rise and Fall

Illsoo Kim writes that Korean greengroceries emerged in New York in 1971. Contrary to other ethnic businesses that only operate within their ethnic enclaves, Korean entrepreneurs have opened businesses in both white and black neighborhoods, including multi-ethnic neighborhoods in Queens. Kim enumerates three factors that led to the popularity of Korean green groceries: little starting capital, family labor, and long working hours.[P6]

It may have cost only $15,000 to purchase a store and other necessities to start operating as a greengrocery. Considering how (relatively) cheap it was to start a produce store, historians have wondered why the Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans were so successful at it, as opposed to African Americans. UCLA professor Ivan Light theorized that it was the traditional rotating credit system, hui in Chinese, tanomoshi in Japanese, and kye in Korean, that led to their success in creating business capital. On the other hand, black slaves in America were forced to live on farms and eventually lost their traditional rotating credit system, known as ensusu (a Yoruba word from the West African tribes). However, contrary to the Chinese and Japanese, Koreans did not generally have access to their homeland as a source for capital. Thus, despite Ivan Light’s notion that kye was vital to Koreans’ entry into small business, Hyung-chan Kim indicates instead that “[Korean immigrants] issued stock certificates to capitalize and incorporate their enterprises.” (H. Kim, 1977:104) H. Kim’s research in Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, and San Fransisco, also showed that the majority of firms reported ‘individual savings’ as their source of capital, second to bank loans (only one firm reported kye as the source of its initial investment capital). H. Kim goes further on to assert that “the small enterprises among Korean immigrants in America are more a symbol of disguised poverty than one of marked success.” (105) This may have changed since the publication of H. Kim’s The Korean Diaspora, as today the poverty rate among Koreans in New York is 15%, slightly less than the city’s 18% poverty rate.[P5]

Another advantage that Korean immigrants have in the fruit and vegetable business is family labor. These family-operated businesses are open 10-12 hours a day, seven days a week. Aside from the hard work they put in, Korean entrepreneurs with family labor can pass on hiring immigrant employees and having to pay a salary. It should be noted, however, that non-unionized immigrants are often exploited, as revealed by the president of the Korean Produce Retailers Association of New York:

Recently, officials from the Food Employee Union have frequently visited the Korean fruit and vegetable stores, asking for a collective contract with the union…We can make an excuse as follows: “This store is run by family members,” or, “We, partners, run this store.” (I. Kim, 1981:115, quoting Hankook Ilbo, Feb.26,1976)

The problem with unionized employees is that extra expenses must be paid by the employer, such as overtime payments, minimum wage, and social security taxes. Korean greengroceries were not able to pay the cost. On the other hand, Korean immigrants were not willing to bear the denigrating working conditions. As a result, turnover of workers was high, and Korean entrepreneurs with insufficient family labor were discouraged from starting in the business.[P6]

It seems that the trend of Koreans venturing into the greengrocery business has reversed in recent years. Laura Vanderkam covers this trend in her 2011 article, “Where Did the Korean Greengrocers Go?” Vanderkam contends that two factors led to the dwindling number of produce stores. The first is New York’s changing economic environment, and the second is Korean’s changing economic status.[P7]

The success of pioneering retail chains in New York like the Gap gave way to CVS, Starbucks, KFC, and national banks. As these national chains moved into New York, Vanderkam states, the city became more livable and retail rents rose. This gentrification threatened to push out existing Korean business-owners. Other marginal costs like taxes, parking and sanitation fines, and the new Green Cart initiative (which gives permits to mobile produce stands), contributed to the pressure that Korean greengroceries are facing.[P7]

More important than New York’s dynamic economy was Koreans’ success in America. Based on Jacob Vigdor’s 2008 report, “Measuring Immigrant Assimilation in the United States,” Korean immigrants, among Canadian, Cuban, and Philippine immigrants, were “economically indistinguishable from natives.”8 Vanderkam also notes the importance of education in Korean families, and its effect on upward mobility. Those who still own businesses have ‘stepped up’ to run nail salons or have started their own retail chains – the most notable being H-Mart, with 34 locations around the country.[P7]

Racial and Ethnic Tensions in the Workplace

Racial tensions were prevalent when the Koreans first came to America en masse in the 60s and 70s. Even though the majority of Korean immigrants were white-collar workers in Korea, their educational and occupational histories were not sufficient for work in America. Often, Koreans were barred from obtaining good jobs because of their difficulty with English. I. Kim wrote about Ill Y. Chung, a man with two masters degrees in city planning from a Korean school and a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Hawaii, who said, “I need money but there are no good jobs for Koreans.”

In The Korean American Dream, Kyeyoung Park discusses the discrimination and prejudice directed toward Koreans, especially by city law enforcement. A beer distributor explained, “If an inspector from the City Department of Sanitation notices garbage improperly placed in front of my store, which is in fact the overflow from the white storeowner next door, still they ask me to pay a fine.” Poor language was also a barrier to Korean immigrants. A garment factory owner said, “A man whom I was asking for trucking information told his colleagues that I was hopeless because I am a colored person. This humiliated me. Due to my poor English, I suppose, they laughed at me. I felt so bad.”An automobile body owner mentioned, “…For example, when customers argues and complained to the police that we had not done the job properly, there was nothing we could do. … If I had command of English, I know they would treat us differently.”[P4]

Park’s research also found that Korean employees felt as though they were not trusted and respected by white employers. Mr. Chung, a fish market owner, said, “When I was working at an American business, the boss lost something. From then on I was treated peculiarly. I was investigated three times…I felt dishonored. I was very upset…Eventually I quit the job.” Conditions for Korean employees in Korean workplaces are slightly easier, as they are privileged over employees of other ethnicities. Nevertheless, American employers seemed to be fairer about working hours and pay when compared with Korean employers.


Out of the 73,326 Koreans who are 25 years and older, 9% have less than a high school diploma, 19.7% are high school graduates, 17.7% have an associate’s degree, 37.1% have a bachelor’s degree, and 16.6% have a graduate or professional degree. Roughly 90% of Koreans 25 and over are high school graduates or higher, while about 50% of Koreans have a Bachelor’s or higher. This is a marked increase from data taken by the Census in 1993 that indicates that 80% of Koreans completed high school and 34% of Koreans completed four years of college. Compared with the rest of the New York population, Koreans have a higher level of educational attainment; only 79.3% of New Yorkers are high school graduates or higher (10% less than Koreans), and 33.7% of New Yorkers hold a bachelor’s degree or higher (16% less than Koreans).[P3][P9]

These trends may be due to the fact that most Korean immigrants were from the middle class in their home country. They came to America seeking a higher standard of living. Furthermore, Korean parents placed a strong emphasis on education, seeing it as the door to success in America. It’s no wonder more than 60% of students in Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, and Brooklyn Technical high schools are Asian. What looks on the outside as talent and giftedness is actually “all about hard work,” as said by Bronx Science student.[P10]

Housing and Household Analysis

There are 36,834 Korean households in New York City. These are divided into family households and non-family households. Family households are those that consist of at least two people related by birth, marriage, or adoption (same-sex marriage is not included). 60.4%, of Korean households are family households. The remaining 39.6% are non-family households. Non-family households consist of people living alone or those not related to the householder.

Family households are further divided into those with children under 18 and those without. They are also separated by the type of householder, whether it is a married couple family, or a female householder with no husband present. 44.4% of households are husband-wife families, 10.0% of households are female householder (no husband) households.

Non-family households consist of those who do or do not live alone. Twice as many females are nonfamily householders than men, and the majority of nonfamily householders live alone (28% of all households).[P3]

Current Issues Facing the Community   Up-Arrow

By Annaliisa Gifford

There are multiple issues currently facing the Korean population of Flushing, Queens. The population faces tension from white members of the community who feel overwhelmed by the prevalence of Korean culture in Flushing, specifically on North Boulevard. Many Korean businesses and churches in the area operate by and for a largely Korean population, making other members of the community feel on the outskirts of these social spheres.

Recently a debate over Korean only signs has “highlighted ethnic discord between Korean immigrants and long time white residents of Queens.” Mr. Westerfield of Queens was quoted in the New York Times, saying an over abundance of Korean business “ruins the economy for regular Americans”[A3]. In reality, only 5% of the store signs on North Boulevard contained absolutely no English. The expansion of Korean churches and necessary parking lots that accompany these churches are putting added pressure on the ethnic relations of Flushing.

It seems, however, that soon the large Korean population of Flushing will be over run by an influx of Chinese immigrants to the area. The Korean population in Flushing dropped by 1/3 between 2000 and 2004. This neighborhood shift is showing itself in an increase in Chinese businesses along the busy North Boulevard.[A4]

Chinese businesses aren’t the only threat to Korean economic stability. Big box stores and the invasive nature of capitalism threaten the many, smaller “mom-pop” Korean businesses in Flushing. These businesses tend to stem from very supportive communities and combined efforts. If big name businesses threaten this economic ecosystem, the Korean population of Flushing will lose a major aspect of their sense of community. Since Korean culture is historically group oriented, an individualistic society such as America can be difficult to withstand outside of the ethnic enclaves that places like Flushing foster. Thus, if larger businesses compete and ultimately take Korean business, the already high poverty levels of the area will only increase.

English language proficiency is a large barrier facing the Korean immigrant population in New York City. Many of them face issues when trying to reach English classes in their communities. The Minkwon Center finds that 70% of the Korean American community are first generation, and that 60% of the working age population face “limited English proficiency”[A6]. This disparity is emphasized by the fact that many Korean Americans in New York live in Korean enclaves where there is no need to speak English on a daily basis (such as Flushing). While this has its obvious advantages, these Korean-Americans face immense difficulty finding work outside of these enclaves and navigating the legal system. Affordable or free English language classes are available, but they are sparse and often fill up quickly. This is exemplified at the Flushing YMCA, where many classes have incredibly long waiting lists and all the news of these classes is spread by word of mouth. The Minkwon Center also offers English classes to the Korean population in Flushing.[A6]

Another issue facing the Korean Christian population is gender hierarchy. According to the New York Times article, “Severe Underrepresentation in Church Leadership,” Korean women face severe inequalities. Since many first and second generation Korean Americans still accept the “social principle for Confucian patriarchal traditions,” women often do not receive the religious recognition they deserve. They are almost always prevented from being elders and pastors. This issue is illuminated by a Korean feminist pastor who is quoted in the article.  A. Kim says, “most women accept inferior status and adjust to the Korean Christian environment”.[A1]

If it were not for a variety of organizations throughout New York City, many Korean Americans would not receive the information or support they need to sustain their rights and sustain their livelihood in American society. One of the defining immigrant aid organizations in New York City is the Minkwon Center for Community Action, located on 41st Avenue in Flushing, Queens. This pivotal association provides various services to underrepresented Asian (and specifically, Korean) immigrants to New York City. They concentrate much of their backing on the Flushing community itself. Minkwon Center’s website and brochures also inform other community members on the necessity for action on the part of Korean-Americans and the struggles that these immigrants face when becoming accustomed to life in New York City.[A6]

The Minkwon Center website clarifies some of the main challenges the Korean-American group faces when first arriving to their area of residence: “As new arrivals, our immigrant community members face serious language and cultural barriers, legal issues, and disempowerment”.[A6] If it were not for organizations like Minkwon, many immigrants would be left to struggle with these issues singlehandedly. Thankfully, Minkwon organizes various “street and grassroots outreach” and is simultaneously extremely committed to large campaigning for immigration reform.

Immigration reform itself was a very recent and imperative concern for the Korean American population of New York City. “Immigrant communities in New York…have been left at the mercy of destructive enforcement practices: raids, the criminalization of immigrants, and inhumane detention practices”[A6]. These problems within the immigration system produce an unnecessary and unequivocal fear of the U.S. government within immigrants to the United States. Without fair and equal treatment of Korean-American immigrants, we cannot expect to see an increase in the legalization of more newly arriving immigrants.

Many myths and stereotypes perpetuate immigrant communities, especially very strong ethnic enclaves such as the Korean population found in Flushing. Since many of the original immigrant population moves and stays within this particular community, residents of different ethnicities sometimes react with bias or misunderstanding towards the Korean-American population. In order to address this issue, the Minkwon Center recently functioned alongside the NAACP in Northeast Queens in 2008 with a ‘Truth About Immigrants Campaign. “[The] grassroots educational campaign [worked] to dispel myths about immigrants,” and emphasize their irreplaceable contribution to the community of New York and Flushing.[A6] These campaigns work to promote education and cooperation among various immigrant groups and community members living in close proximity. And no community is a better representation of diverse groups living near and with each other than Flushing, Queens.

Another service that immigrant aid organizations set up are forums throughout the city addressing immigrant issues that may not be stated or communicated without the advocacy of groups such as these. Minkwon, in particular, held a Queens Town Hall forum with 5 separate immigrant rights organizations where they “invited elected officials to hear more directly from more than 100 affected community members about the critical need for immigration reform”.[A6] These forums are absolutely instrumental for sometimes-voiceless immigrants who do not speak the language and have no other way to express their discontent with immigration policy and discrimination.

Housing is another major problem among the Korean-American population in Flushing. With Flushing’s vast amount of incoming immigration, by Korean and Chinese immigrants, it is often difficult for newcomers to find affordable and safe housing options. Immigrants in the area often face threats of “eviction and harassment from predatory equity firms”.[A6] And the equity firms are not the only ones out to pry as much money as possible from a vulnerable immigrant population. Many landlords charge unfair prices to Korean and Asian immigrant without their knowledge. If a new immigrant to America is unsure as to their rights, they are sure to be taken advantage of.[A6]

This Korean-American immigrant population does not usually have the money to be spending on superfluous rent either. A Minkwon Center study found that “more than a quarter of all Asians in Flushing spend at least half their income on rent”.[A6] This statistic gives one an idea of the economic situation of this population. With outlandish prices and unfair labor practices, many Korean immigrants are at a complete disadvantage without the help of immigrant agencies and non-profit organizations.

The actual safety of the living environments and apartment buildings in Flushing, Queens is another unnecessary hazard for Korean-Americans. In Korean-American households whose income falls under the poverty line “one-third of all renter households even lack complete plumbing facilities”.[A6] This risk could expose hundreds of renters to mold, flooding, and ceiling collapse. Thankfully for this population, Minkwon Center and others like it aid in the fight against illegal rent prices and the overpricing of immigrant rent.[A6]

Along with high rent, “potentially devastating budget cuts to basic Social Services in New York City” for low income Asian-Americans are frightening many.[A6] This lack of government aid could offset the lives and homes of many Korean Americans currently living in poverty. It is also no surprise that immigrant communities and new Americans living in poverty often are at a disadvantage fiscally since they are often uninformed as to their legal rights as citizens.[A6] Without this vital information, many Korean Americans cannot push back against the many forces that are pushing against them right from the beginning of their new lives in America.

Elderly Koreans often face health care issues as well. Since they are far more adapted to pharmaceutical and physical care in Korea, it’s often quite the adjustment when seeking U.S. health care. Different spiritual and health beliefs also cause discrepancies in care methods and procedures. “Koreans have described spiritual causes of illness if they do not meet their spiritual beings expectations of them.[A5] This ties the direct action of the individual to their health, making some elderly or unhealthy Korean Americans hesitant to seek health care. It is interesting that some other illnesses resulted from an inability to harness ones emotions from being outwardly shown. This is especially frowned upon in Korean women. The belief, known as the “fire illness,” is said to affect different organs according to what emotion is being expressed.[A5]

The elderly population may also lean more towards traditional Korean methods of healing rather than towards the hospital stays and medication of the American system. The problem with this tendency is that “traditional medications are aimed at relieving symptoms rather than treating the underlying condition”.[A5]

Religion Up-Arrow

Flushing, Queens has historically been a marker for religious freedom. The Flushing Remonstrance was the first legitimate document in the United States that specified religious freedom. The majority of Koreans in Flushing identify as Protestant. Thus, spirituality is without a doubt one of the most important aspects of Flushing Korean’s lives. This inference is visible after a brief stroll through the area. According to Keun-joo Christine Pae in “Negotiated or Negotiating Spaces,” is not uncommon to walk through a block and come across 5 or so Korean churches. This distinct concentration of Korean (and specifically Christian Korean) churches provides immense benefits and downfalls to members of the immediate community. There are also a few key reasons for the large amount of churches and religious activity in Flushing, Queens among Korean.[A7]

With the influx of Korean immigration in the 1980’s, new churches of various religions and denominations began to spring up. However, religious freedom wasn’t the main attraction to Flushing, Queens. In fact, cheap rent and space availability was the main pull towards the area, yet the fact that Flushing was a religiously free area was another incentive. Within the area of Flushing there are Christian churches, Buddhist temples, Hindu temples, mosques, and Sikh temples. According to Hanson Forthcoming, “two hundred different houses of worship are densely populated in a residential neighborhood and commercial district about two-point-five square miles”.[A7] This amount of religious activity aids the congregations and community immensely, but also causes rental climb and lack of space within the area. The expansion of these churches is another concern for community members. Yet their helpfulness in the daily life of Flushing Koreans is unequivocal.

The churches in the area provide vital community centers for the congregants living in the area. They also provide various social services to immigrants that may not speak English and may not know how to navigate the system and get help elsewhere.  “Elderly Korean immigrants are common guests for Macedonia African Methodist Church’s food pantry and soup kitchen”.[A7] The H Korean Presbyterian Church is also the only Korean church of its kind that offers soup kitchen services to nearby residents. Various scholarship programs for the congregation’s youth provide economic help for those who may not have the means to receive an education. After school programs assist congregation’s parents as well. Since this area deals with issues of poverty and expensive housing, it is obvious how much these church-funded programs do to help the area.

The Flushing Forum is a combination of various churches of different denominations in Flushing that listens to “diverse congregational voices.” These voices often speak on issues of “increasing population, traffic congestion, pollution, poverty, affordability of housing, lack of parking spaces.”[A7]

Without these services, the community would no doubt face many more social service related issues and lack of assistance.

That is not to say that these churches do not cause a few issues in the area that they help as well. “Korean churches do not frequently engage in attempts to address concerns about housing and urban development. Korean community activists urge Korean churches to participate in community affairs. Otherwise, it is feared, anti-immigrant feelings may increase in Flushing.”[A7] If these religious organizations were more receptive to the ‘church overcrowding’ of the area, there would be far less traffic and concentration in Flushing. Presently, on Sundays, many blocks are clogged with church going traffic that complicates transportation for this area. The expansion of churches creates the problem of over priced real estate as well, due to a lack of it. In fact, many of the churches leaders have been urged to move churches to the suburbs in order to de congest the area. The immense amount of migration movement in Flushing creates a competition for religious spaces and ultimately a competition for livelihood.

To conclude, religious participation is alive and well among Koreans in Flushing, Queens. The Christian Korean majority displays a large amount of dedication to the church and religious community, providing a structure of helpful tools for the Korean population. Especially since it is possible to function on a daily basis without the use of the English language, churches provide educational outlets and English learning opportunities that are incredibly helpful to Flushing.

References Up-Arrow

M1. Hurh, Won Moo. The Korean Americans. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1998.

M2. ibid.

M3. ibid.

M4. Bjorken, Johanna. “Korea.” Encyclopedia of Law Enforcement 3 (2005): 1156-1159. (accessed April 22, 2013).

M5. Hurh, Won Moo. The Korean Americans. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1998.

M6. Kim, Robert , Airyang Park, and Kun Hong Park. “1903 – 2003: A Century of Korean Immigration.” Korean American Historical Society (KAHS). (accessed April 22, 2013).

M7. Hurh, Won Moo. The Korean Americans. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1998.

M8. Bjorken, Johanna. “Korea.” Encyclopedia of Law Enforcement 3 (2005): 1156-1159. (accessed April 22, 2013).

M9. Kim, Robert , Airyang Park, and Kun Hong Park. “1903 – 2003: A Century of Korean Immigration.” Korean American Historical Society (KAHS). (accessed April 22, 2013).

M10. Chʻoe, Yŏng. From the land of hibiscus Koreans in Hawaiʻi, 1903-1950. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2007.

M11. Hurh, Won Moo. The Korean Americans. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1998.

M12. ibid.

M13. ibid.

M14. ibid.

M15. ibid.

M16. ibid.

M17. Hurh, Won Moo, and Kwang Chung Kim. Korean immigrants in America: a structural analysis of ethnic confinement and adhesive adaptation. Rutherford [N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University, 1984.]

M18. Hurh, Won Moo. The Korean Americans. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1998.

M19. ibid.

M20. Hurh, Won Moo, and Kwang Chung Kim. Korean immigrants in America: a structural analysis of ethnic confinement and adhesive adaptation. Rutherford [N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University, 1984.]

M21. Hurh, Won Moo. The Korean Americans. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1998.

M22. ibid.

M23. Hurh, Won Moo, and Kwang Chung Kim. Korean immigrants in America: a structural analysis of ethnic confinement and adhesive adaptation. Rutherford [N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University, 1984.]

M24. Hurh, Won Moo. The Korean Americans. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1998.

M25. ibid.

M26. ibid.

M27. ibid.

M28. ibid.

M29. ibid.

M30. ibid.

M31. ibid.

M32. ibid.

S1. “Koreans Pool Funds in Community Chest”, Asian Week (1983-1989), Nov 14, 1986.

S2. Christine Keun-joo Pae, “Negotiated or Negotiating Spaces: Korean Churches in Flushing, Queens of New York City,” Cross Currents 58, no. 3 (Fall 2008): 456-474, Humanities Source, EBSCOhost

S3. Angela Montefinise, “Koreans In Queens: Finding A Second Home In The Borough Of Queens”, Queens Tribune.

S4. Kim Myung Ja, “Literature as Engagement: Teaching African American Literature to Korean Students.” Melus 29, no. 3/4 (Winter 2004): 104-120. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost

S5. Carol R. Ember and Melvin Ember, Ed. Ian Skoggard, “Koreans in the United States.” Encyclopedia of Diasporas: Immigrant and Refugee Cultures Around the World. (New York: Springer, 2005.) 993-1003. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 22 Apr. 2013.

S6. “Koreans Pool Funds in Community Chest”, Asian Week (1983-1989), Nov 14, 1986, (accessed April 23, 2013).

S7. Carol R. Ember and Melvin Ember, Ed. Ian Skoggard, “Koreans in the United States.” Encyclopedia of Diasporas: Immigrant and Refugee Cultures Around the World. (New York: Springer, 2005.) 993-1003. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 22 Apr. 2013.

S8. ibid.

S9. “Koreans Pool Funds in Community Chest”, Asian Week (1983-1989), Nov 14, 1986.

S10. ibid.

S11. Miriam Ching Louie, “‘Right Thing’ Touches Nerve for Koreans in New York.” Asian Week (1983-1989), Aug 11, 1989.

S12. ibid.

S13. M.A. Farber, “Black-Korean Who-Pushed-Whom Festers”, The New York Times, (May 07, 1990)

S14. ibid.

S15. Corey Kilgannon, “Ethnic Friction over Signs that Lack Translations”, The New York Times, (January 10, 2004)

S16. ibid.

S17. M.A. Farber, “Black-Korean Who-Pushed-Whom Festers”, The New York Times, (May 07, 1990)

S18. Carol R. Ember and Melvin Ember, Ed. Ian Skoggard, “Koreans in the United States.” Encyclopedia of Diasporas: Immigrant and Refugee Cultures Around the World. (New York: Springer, 2005) 993-1003. Gale Virtual Reference Library.

S19. ibid.

S20. ibid.

S21. ibid.

S22. ibid.

S23. ibid.

P1. “Labor force characteristics,” Bureau of Labor Statistics, accessed May 12, 2013.

P2. “Current Population Survey (CPS) – Definitions,” U.S. Census Bureau, accessed May 12, 2013.

P3. U.S. Census Bureau, 2011 American Community Survey

P4. Kyeyoung Park, The Korean American Dream (Cornell University, 1997)

P5. Hyung-chan Kim, The Korean Diaspora (Clio Press, 1977)

P6. Illsoo Kim, New Urban Immigrants (Princeton University, 1981)

P7. Laura Vanderkam, “Where Did the Korean Greengrocers go?”

P8. Jacob Vigdor, “Measuring Immigrant Assimilation in the United States”

P9. Pyong Gap Min, Caught in the Middle (University of California, 1996)

P10. Kyle Spencer, “For Asians, School Tests are Vital Steppingstones”. New York Times. Published October 26, 2012. Accessed May 12, 2013

A1. Gap Min, Pyong. “Severe Underrepresentation of Women in Church Leadership in the Korean Immigrant Community in the United States.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 47, no. 2 (2008): 225-241.

A2. Holloway, Lynette. “A Korean Coming of Age; Pan-Asian Superstore in Queens Defies Stereotypes.” New York Times, January 20, 1995, sec. Small Business.

A3. Kilgannon, Korey. “Ethnic Friction Over Signs that Lack Translation”. New York Times, January 10, 2004, sec. Archives.

A4. Knafo, Saki. “Praise the Lord Raise the Curtain.” New York Times, December 25, 2005, sec. New York/Region.

A5. Kyung, Rim Shin, Chol Shin, and Patricia Blanchette. “Health and Health care of Korean American.” Stanford University. (accessed May 9, 2013)

A6. “Minkwon Center | What We Do.” Minkwon Center for Community Action. accessed May 4, 2013).

A7. Pae, Keun-joo Christine. “Negotiated or Negotiating Spaces: Korean Churches in Flushing, Queens of New York City.” Cross Currents 58, no. 3 (Fall2008 2008): 456-474. Humanities Source, EBSCOhost (accessed April 22, 2013).

A8. U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census.

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