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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

March 24, 2008

Written by C.N.

Korean Americans Going to Korean Colleges

Asian Americans know that the competition to get into the top colleges and universities is quite intense these days. With that in mind, as the Korean newspaper JoongAng Daily reports, many Korean American students have decided to skip the U.S. entirely and instead, attend the top universities in South Korea:

A year ago, 19-year-old Korean-American Choi Joo-eun chose Korea¡¯s Yonsei University over the prestigious University of California system in her home state. Having gotten into both UC San Diego and UC Irvine, she had earned a place in two schools even many California teenagers dream of entering.

So far she has no regrets. On campus, she takes classes taught entirely in English while spending her spare time learning Korean culture and language. Off campus, Choi, who had never visited Korea before deciding to study here, keeps busy building a new network of friends and pursuing her dream of working for the United Nations one day. . . .

While it is well known that many Koreans opt out of the highly competitive race to get into a top local university like Yonsei for an American university, an increasing number of Korean-Americans and overseas-educated Koreans are heading in the opposite direction. . . .

Still, regardless of Korea being the land of their parents, it is far from home, and the students have to overcome their share of hardship and difficulties in adjusting to a new country and culture.

The article highlights the many advantages associated with such a process — reconnecting with one’s ancestral ethnic roots, exposure to an international climate, becoming fluently bilingual in English and Korean, etc. But as the last line of the quote I cited above alludes to, there can also be loneliness and cultural adjustment issues.

Nonetheless, this particular trend of Korean Americans “going back” to Korean schools is likely to accelerate in the coming years, as the world in general but American society in particular become increasingly globalized and transnational. As such, such transnational Korean American students are likely to have a competitive advantage.

However, it is worth noting that as the article points out, being Korean American does not automatically mean that you will have an easy time in Korea — being Asian and Asian American are two difference things.

Nonetheless, seen another way, being Korean American does provide another avenue of personal and academic enrichment when it comes to having the cultural international connection to Korea — one that can be seen as an asset rather than a liability as we move forward into the 21st century.

Author Citation

Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Korean Americans Going to Korean Colleges" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <> ().

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