The Korean American Dream: Immigrants and Small Business in New York City

By Kyeyoung Park | Go to book overview

[8]
Political Processes

When he received an award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Kim Sung Soo, president of the Korean American Small Business Service Center of New York, commented ( 1988) on some of the problems facing the Korean American community:

There is an increasing degree of violence aimed against Asians. Pecking order, "Toyota fever," Reaganomics which cut back welfare benefits, bad impression of Asian fatherlands, and the aftermath of the Vietnam War are among the contributing factors. Another problem is conflict developing between Korean shopkeepers and their neighbors. These are intensified by poor understanding of other ethnic cultures, orientation of business which emphasizes the maximizing of benefits rather than considering the business as goal, and different legal cultures that the Koreans experience in the states. The third problem is low access to political power and government. Koreans are much more silent in articulating their interests and grievances.

Previous chapters have dealt with the consequences and implications on family, kinship, gender, and ethnicity of Korean immigrants' adoption of the ideology of anjŏng. In this chapter, I examine how that ideology influences immigrants' political participation. I argue that Korean Americans' political activities can only be analyzed by relating them to the centrality of small business in their lives. This is most evident in the role that business organizations play in the Korean community. Immigrants often begin to undertake political activity to protect small business interests.

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