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Culture Paper: South Korea

The Korean peninsula has been inhabited for roughly 40,000 years. Many significant events throughout Korea’s history have played important roles in shaping Korea’s culture into what it is today. The name Korea originally rooted from “Koryo,” which was the succeeding dynasty in 918-1392 after the Tongil Silla period (period in which the peninsula was unified). Korea was imposed by Japanese colonial rule and finally liberated at the end of World War II in 1945. Following the end of the war, Korea faced an internal battle, resulting in the division of the country into two parts: the north, which is the People’s Republic of Korea backed by powerful communist allies such as China and Russia, and the south, which is the Republic of Korea supported by the United States. This led to the Korean War, resulting in many casualties and an armistice agreement signed in 1953 (Stone, 2005).

Despite tremendous damage from the war, South Korea achieved remarkable economic growth and democratized its political processes. In addition, such historical events opened doors for the Korean people to unite while preserving their shared culture by maintaining “their own distinctive language, culture, dress, and cuisine” (Stone, 2005, p.117). Following, there were three major waves of immigration to the United States respectively in 1903, 1950, and 1965 with the passage of the 1965 Immigration Act. Reasons for the accelerating number of Korean immigrants are many, mainly driven with hopes of a better education and opportunities for the children. Specifically in Boston, Massachusetts there are 2,564 Korean people, which is 0.44% of the population (10 cities and towns in MA with largest population of Korean Americans, 2010).

Post-immigration, Korean immigrants experienced a sense of displacement due to the language barrier. With communication difficulties, opportunities to assimilate and participate in the American mainstream were limited. This...
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