Cup Legacy for Second Generation Korean-Americans
By HyunSang Lee
The World Cup fever among Korean-Americans last June
2002 was fueled by the second generations support. Among hundreds and thousands
of crowds cheering the South Korean team, their participation was distinguishable.
Especially around Seoul Plaza, Flushing, known as the Mecca for cheering during
the World Cup match, second generation Koreans wearing red T-shirts and Korean
national flag face paint filled the streets several hours before the game. They
shouted and cheered, and their emotional impact from Korean soccer teams
victory was no less than that of the first generation.
It is amazing to notice
their changes in attitude. Before the World Cup 2002, many of them did not have
a high ethnic pride or favorable attitudes toward South Korea. However, these
same people gathered to cheer and waved the Korean national flag last June; the
phenomenon is as surprising as it was to see Korea go to the semi-final round.
And the change has continued since.
Kim, a parent from Long Island shared his
impressions: My teenage son barely spoke Korean other than with Mom and
Dad before. Since the World Cup, he has been self-studying Korean nights and days,
and now we are having conversations. It would have been impossible without the
James Lee, a high school student from Queens, recalled that
he has never been so proud of being a Korean as when his friends were envious
of the Koreans success during the match. He emphasized, Now I am sure
I will be proud of being a Korean whenever and wherever I will be.
second generation, who often had criticized Korea and Koreans when they saw the
negative U.S. media coverage of Korea, found their ethnic identity and started
to defend Koreans when friends from other ethnic groups expressed negative views
A community foundation that supports Korean non-profit organizations
through the One Dollar for Neighbors campaign has had increasing participation
from the second generation who took a major role running the campaign after the
Although promising, community leaders are not fully satisfied. An
activist from a community organization emphasized the role of the first generation,
saying that the first generation has to help and provide a ground for the second
generation to participate in community services.
Korean by JooYeon Lee.
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