The Journey of U.S. Korean Children: (Re)constructing Bicultural Identities in Picture Books

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2015


The term "Asian Americans" was used after the Civil Rights movement by Asian Americans to claim their lawful right as citizens to reconstruct their own collective identities (Chae, 2008). A problem arises, however, when collective representation is married to multiculturalism for categorical usages that encourage society's understanding of Asian Americans to become simplified. With the result, ethnic differences can be unintentionally ignored in favor of simplistic racial categorization. When such conceptual categories serve as a major referencing tool to indicate sociocultural ethnic groups, the internal diversity of those groups is unacknowledged. The U.S. Koreans, for example, are not all immigrants. Many have become U.S. citizens or were born in the U.S. Currently there are over a million people of Korean descent residing in the U.S. (Yi, 2014). Between 1976 and 1990, Korea was the third largest source country of immigrants to the United States, after Mexico and the Philippines (Min, 2011 ). Given the long history of Korean immigration to the United States, it is not hard to imagine how complicated and profound the internal diversity and cultural dynamics must be among U.S. Koreans.

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