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KakaoTalk and Facebook

Korean American Youth Constructing Hybrid Identities

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Jiwoo Park and Dafna Lemish

KakaoTalk and Facebook: Korean American Youth Constructing Hybrid Identities explores the role smartphones play in the lives of Korean American youth as they explore their identities and navigate between fitting into their host society and their Korean heritage. Employing multiple methodologies, this book gives voice to the youth’s personal experiences, identity struggles, and creative digital media practices. While similar in many aspects to other American youth, they also differ greatly in the central roles that their smartphones’ use plays in maintaining their mastery of the Korean language, connecting to Korean pop culture, and cultivating their social networks with other co-ethnic peers and homeland relatives and friends. The results of this study challenge traditional assumptions about assimilation of second generation immigrants into a host society and suggest that digital technologies facilitate the process of segmented assimilation, according to which ethnic identities continue to play a central role in the identity of children of immigrants. KakaoTalk and Facebook will be of great interest to scholars and educators of media and youth and those exploring how digital media have changed the nature of immigration processes in dramatic ways.

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Chapter 2. Studying Korean American Youth

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STUDYING KOREAN AMERICAN YOUTH

Being Korean American

According to the 2015 Census, Asian Americans belong to the fastest growing ethnic group in the U.S. from 2000 to 2015. Korean Americans comprise a large segment of the Asian American population in the U. S., with a total of 1.8 million among the entire U.S. population identifying themselves as Korean descent (U.S. Census Bureau, 2015).

Within the Korean American community, an immigrant Korean family is recognized as a family that speaks primarily Korean at home, eats Korean food, emphasizes the values of filial piety, has predominantly Korean friends, and celebrates Korean holidays (Danico, 2004). According to Hurh (1998) and Min (1995), Korean Americans maintain a high level of ethnicity compared to other Asian American minority groups. While Korean Americans are outwardly becoming assimilated in the U.S. society, they are inwardly continuing to retain their traditional ethnic heritage (Min, 1995).

The classification “first generation parents” refers to adult immigrants who were born in Korea and arrived in the new country after reaching adulthood. “First-and-a-half generation children” refers to those who were born in Korea and were generally between 11 and 16 years of age at the time of immigration with their family, possess memories of life in Korea, are able to speak both ← 27 | 28 → conversational Korean and English, become consciously dual-oriented, and are capable of blending Korean and American ethnic expressions (Danico, 2004, pp. 5–6). “Second generation...

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