Juggling two worlds: Ethnic identity of Korean-American college students

Hue-Sun Ahn, University of Pennsylvania


Despite a rapidly growing number of Asian-Americans in the U.S., studies on the acculturation experiences of Asian Americans have been scant as compared to those on African-Americans and Latinos and even fewer studies are available on Korean Americans. Korean-Americans face issues that are different from those of the other three large Asian-American ethnic groups, Chinese Americans, Japanese Americans, and Filipino Americans, mainly because of their differing immigration history. In order to better understand the adjustment of various groups in second culture contact, researchers have attempted to study their second culture acquisition (SCA) process. There have been five major models of SCA to date: assimilation, acculturation, multiculturalism, fusion, and alternation. After reviewing the various models of second culture acquisition, I chose the Alternation Model (LaFromboise, et al., 1993) to help understand SCA because it appears to be least culture-biased and best supported by recent studies. A set of written measures was completed by 210 Korean American college students all over the U.S. and then ten volunteer subjects were chosen for a 30–60 minute individual interview to explore farther issues covered in the survey items. This study investigated the effects of Ethnic Socialization and Cultural Flexibility on SCA in Korean American college students. It also examined the impact of SCA, Cultural Flexibility and Ethnic Socialization on College Stress. The Korean Ethnic Socialization Scale, which is the first of its kind for Korean-Americans, was developed and validated as a part of this study. No significant relationship was found between Ethnic Identity and College Stress or Ethnic Socialization. However, there was a significant relationship between Cultural Flexibility and Ethnic Socialization and also with Ethnic Identity. In addition, there was a significant relationship between Ethnic Socialization and College Stress. Experiences of Korean-American college students regarding their ethnicity and stress are further explored through the ten case studies. Methodological limitations and implications for future research are also discussed.

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Psychotherapy|Academic guidance counseling|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Ahn, Hue-Sun, "Juggling two worlds: Ethnic identity of Korean-American college students" (1999). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9926088.