Generation Gap
From JonngAng
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 (CCKI), 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.

Byung 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.

In addition, 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 generation’s style.
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.

Sociology 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.”

Director 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 with businesses.”

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 and 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 generation.”

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Translated from Korean by Bonchee Chung

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