On My Own: Korean Businesses and Race Relations in America

Synopsis

The Los Angeles riots shattered Korean immigrants’ naive belief in the American dream. As many as 2,300 Korean shopkeepers lost their lifetime investments in one day. Korean immigrants had struggled for years to become economically independent through small businesses of their own. However, the riots made them realize how fragile their economic base is because their businesses are dependent on the impoverished, oppressed, and rebellious classes. In On My Own, In-Jin Yoon combines an intimate fieldwork account of Korean-black relations in Chicago and Los Angeles with extensive quantitative analysis at the national level. Yoon argues that a complete understanding of the contemporary Korean-American community requires systematic analyses of patterns of Korean immigration, entrepreneurship, and race relations with other minority groups. He explains how small business has become the major economic activity of Korean immigrants and how Korean businesses in minority neighborhoods have intensified racial tensions between Koreans and minorities like blacks and Latinos. “A groundbreaking study of Korean-black relations. Yoon’s insights on immigration, entrepreneurship, and race relations significantly enhance our understanding of urban racial tensions.”—William Julius Wilson, Harvard University