The purpose of this monograph is to provide recommendations to busy rehabilitation service providers in the U.S. for effectively working with persons who hold traditional Korean values. The topics of Korean history, immigration, culture, language, religion, food, views on disabilities and rehabilitation services typically available in Korea are covered briefly to provide the reader with a quick overview and background. For those who seek more detailed information, the references cited in each section can be used as a starting point. For those with prior background knowledge of Korea, I suggest reading Part II first, in which I introduce Korean culture with case stories in the context of rehabilitation process.
I have used limited amounts of quantitative data for fear that people will generalize and create stereotypes about Koreans and their culture. The anecdotal examples cited here are to illustrate some typical Korean beliefs, behaviors and attitudes, but should not to be categorically applied to all Koreans. Individuals will act differently depending on their degree of assimilation of American mainstream culture. It is the reader's task to use the information appropriate to individual consumers whose level of assimilation and acculturation is unique. My hope is that this monograph will enhance awareness and broaden the knowledge base of traditional Korean culture related to disability issues. In addition, it is my aim to increase the reader's knowledge and respect for Korean culture, which can result in enhanced interpersonal relationships with persons from this culture.
The Romanized system of writing Korean sounds used in this monograph is the McCune–Reischauer Romanization system which is currently used by most academic libraries including the Library of Congress in the United States. Part I: Overview on Korea
General Background about Korea and its Culture
Korea is a peninsular country located in the Far East, adjacent to China on the west and Russia to the north. It occupies approximately 86,000 square miles, and is roughly the size of Minnesota or New York state. To the east, Korea faces the islands of Japan. The peninsula is strategically important because it has the advantage of easy access to continents and oceans. It has the disadvantage, however, of being a target of aggressive neighbors. Although Korea has never initiated wars to conquer other people's territory, it has often been a battleground for power politics over the past thousand years.
Korea's climate is generally affected by East Asian monsoons and there are distinct differences between its four seasons. The summer months of June through August are mostly hot and humid while November through February are dry and cold winter months, with short periods of spring and fall in between. The mean temperature of the coldest month, January, is generally below freezing. The summer monsoon brings abundant moisture from the ocean, and produces heavy rainfall. The cool fall weather is the most pleasant of the year.
More than 70 percent of Korea is mountainous with the eastern regions consisting mainly of rugged mountain ranges and deep valleys. Historic Chinese records refer to the beauty of the Korean landscape as Kŭmsu Kangsan, which means "the rivers and mountains are embroidered on silk" and many Koreans find hiking in the hills and mountains a favorite leisure activity.
Most of the larger rivers and rice fields are located in the western region. The west coastline consists mainly of mud flats and has some of the highest tides in the world, while the eastern coastline has many sandy beaches with clear blue water. The south coast is dotted with bays and many small islands (Korean Overseas Information Service, 1994).
Korea claims more than 5,000 years of history. The discovery of Paleolithic sites suggests that people probably have inhabited the Korean peninsula for about 40,000 years. The first political state, called...
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