According to the class reading by Eui-Young Yu, “Korean American Communities and their Institutions: An Overview” she states Korean Americans have established three broad types of communities: territorial community, associational community and psycho-cultural community. One may ask, are these separate communities needed to constitute a cohesive Korean American community? This question can be answered accordingly, each community works together and actively participates with one another to enhance the likelihood of maintaining a strong ethno-cultural identity of the Korean Americans. This essay will address these types of communities defined by Professor Kashima in comparison to the Filipino American community.
Professor Kashima offers the definition of community as “a socially identifiable group of people who may or may not reside in a particular geographical area but who consciously share a common culture and way of life and can act in a collective manner to pursue desired ends” (Kashima, Trust). In particular a territorial community is a forced segregated area where individuals reside and work. Korean Americans created a geographic area in New York and Los Angeles called Koreatown (Chang).
Southern California has the highest Korean American population of over 150,000 members in which this community provides ethnic networking for the Korean immigrants and the later 1.5 generation. Koreatown has tea rooms, cafes and nightclubs that allow Korean Americans to make business deals and make friends. On the other hand, the Filipino Americans don’t inhabit an identifiable territorial community; instead, their community has a symbolic approach which they don’t necessarily reside in a particular geographical area but who consciously share a common manner to pursue desired ends (Kashima, Community).
As follows, Filipino Americans have established a community in a symbolic perspective, or in other words, an associational community. Professor Kashima asserts that this type of community consists of organizational and institutional activities which provides a sense of belonging and a high level of participation within these associations. Filipino Americans have established approximately 2,685 Filipino and Filipino American organizations (Yu), such as the Filipino Community of Seattle who promote diversity and ethnic pride through the active participants donating and volunteering to preserve the Filipino American identity.
In contrast, Korean Americans have established an associational community by the example of first and 1.5 generations actively attending Korean churches. This type of community allows Korean individuals to “reinforce traditional norms and values of the immigrants, and thus strengthening ethnic solidarity and isolation from the mainstream” (Yu). The difference between the Filipino American and Korean American associational communities is Korean churches preserve the Korean language more effectively, and becomes self-serving to the Korean American community by simultaneously embracing the mainstream American society and incorporating Korean culture—the 1.5 generation.
However, many Korean and Filipino Americans do not participate in ethnic associations, but psychologically and culturally identify themselves as Koreans or Filipinos, thus forming a psycho-cultural community. In other words, this type of community is a conscious group of individuals that retain the ethnic cultural values and some cultural heritage without much involvement in the associational community. Korean Americans display this community through “their practice of petite bourgeois values” (Kashima, Korean Americans). Korean Americans are able to gain trust and share their ethnic cultural values with the establishment of restaurants to provide an education for their children; in other words, Korean Americans can continue to value the importance of an education without participating in a Korean organization.