The ICAS Lectures


The Korean Diaspora and
Becoming a Good Citizen

Danny K. Chun

ICAS Summer Symposium
August 6, 2005 Saturday 9:30 AM 5:30 PM
Montgomery County Community College Science Center room 214
340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell, PA 19422 (

Institute for Corean-American Studies, Inc.

965 Clover Court, Blue Bell, PA 19422

Tel : (610) 277-9989; (610) 277-0149
Fax: (610) 277-3289

Biographic Sketch & Links: Danny K. Chun

The Korean Diaspora and Becoming a Good Citizen

Danny K. Chun

Simply being law abiding and peaceful citizens may no longer define being "Good Citizens" in the U.S. For quite some time now, Korean/Americans have worked very hard in their respective workplaces, have done an excellent job of educating their children, have been successful economically and have "settled" into their respective nooks in American suburbia. In the meantime, Korean/Americans have been generalily thought of as law abiding and peaceful citizens. All this sounds like the makings of perfect "Good Citizenship", but is it?

At the risk of over generalizing, I would lilke to say that Korean/Americans are also known for their lack of political clout, their apathy to the political process and concern for only their community. There is no Korean/American block of voters that any U.S. politician would seriously concern themselves with. So far, Korean/Americans have been content with throwing fundraisers for politicians for a mere smiling pose and a big framed picture in exchange.

Becoming a "Good Citizen" now means "participation" in the community. Whether it is the local community board, the local political club, the local PTA or any civic association, Korean/Americans must now participate in them to be good citizens. Being a good citizen means giving to the community as well as absorbing all the benefits. It means volunteering for community-sponsored activities, and NOT just within Korean/American communities. Becoming a "Good Citizen" means being fully aware of the issues and the problems facing our communities and being able to do something about those issues and problems. Becoming a good citizens means being able to influence, either by lobbying or other legal means, the political and legal arena in our communities.

Being oblivious to the issues or simply ignoring them are now ways of the past and Korean/Americans do not have any excuse for doing so now. Simply being comfortable no longer defines being a good citizen.

While giving back to the community and contributing to society is a necessity, Korean/Americans must also take what is rightfully theirs in the political, legal and social arena. Korean/Americans must advocate zealously for their place in the community. In order to do so, Korean/Americans need to learn how to unite for causes such as immigration, equal treatment in the workplace and most important, representation in the political process. Korean/Americans can no longer use unfamiliarity with language, culture and the political and legal system as excuses to merely stand by and simply be "law abiding."

This page last updated 11/4/2005 jdb

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