November 4, 2003
By Chong Hoon Kim
The first generation immigrants who run practically
all of the affairs at the Centennial Committee of Korean Immigration
complained on October 31 that it is very difficult to persuade
second generation immigrants to participate in the committee events.
They had the same observation about “1.5 generation immigrants” --
first generation immigrants who moved here at a very young age.
Tae Cho, the chairman of the committee, said, “It is
very hard to work with the second generation because they have
a tendency to avoid a meeting with us in the first place.”
Meanwhile, besides having trouble wit the language barrier, the
second and 1.5 generation immigrants complain that the first generation
immigrants run the organization is an inefficient manner. They
also complain that committee meetings are much too long.
the Youth Plaza, which was organized by the New York University
Alumni Association (NYUAA), suffers from poor participation
from the second generation, because it is also run in the first
The association initiated the Youth Plaza with an intention to
bridge the gap between the second generation immigrants and international
students. But the second generation says that they could not bear
the tedious, prolonged speeches at the meetings.
It appears that
the first generation’s decision making approach
and its dreary meeting procedures are the main things that irritate
the second generation.
Lack of participation from the second generation
of Koreans is a problem.
A recent research by the Korean Youth School
shows that the 1.5 and second generation immigrants ages 18 to
29 make up a mere 14.5
percent of Korean American voters. During election time every year,
the majority of Korean American voters are in their 40s and higher.
Professor Young Min Suh at LaGuardia Community College pointed
out, “The new generation’s indifference to
social affairs has reached a dangerous level. Most second and 1.5
generation immigrants have been raised in an environment where
they have only worked helping family businesses, so it is an unfamiliar
idea to sacrifice their spare time for political and social activities.”
of the League of Korean American Voters, Dong Chan Kim, who has
been promoting cooperation between the two generations
by seeking common interests, said, “It is obvious that there
is a large cultural gap between the two generations. In particular,
the second generation does not understand the first generation’s
philosophy of ‘make it happen no matter what’ in dealing
The second generation is accustomed to
make plans in logical and practical ways, unlike the first generation,
with its obstinate
and sometimes irrational drive.
“It is a fruitless effort to convince the second generation
to become engaged unless the first generation comes up with effective
reasonable plans.” Kim said. “It is time for change.” Cho
of the Centennial Committee of Korean Immigration said, “It
is time for the second generation to take over and be in charge.
The only duty we have now is to encourage and support the next
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . .
Translated from Korean by Bonchee Chung