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Religion And The Korean Diaspora : The Role Of Christianity And The Church For Korean Immigrants In The United States

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The growth of the Korean immigrant population in the United States has undoubtedly been on the rise within the context of the past several decades. This is evidently the case as many of the major American cities now house massive Korean diasporic communities including Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Chicago (Min, 1370). The rise of these Korean communities in the United States has definite links to the history of immigration policy in the U.S. The history of Korean immigration into the United States will be an integral part to my research of Korean immigrants in the United States. Essentially, however, the Korean diaspora is at the core of my research in this paper. Initially, I will discuss different topics that generalize the notion of diaspora. That is, I will question the notions of diaspora in formulating a framework for which I can base the existence of the Korean diaspora in the United States. But at the heart of my research is more then just the immigration history of Koreans into the U.S. I ask, how does the role of the church play a crucial part in the story of the Korean diaspora and its growth in the United States? My research ultimately aims at unraveling this strong connection between the Korean diaspora in the United States and the Christian church. In other words, my paper will focus on the role religion plays in the development of the Korean diaspora in the United States.

Research shows that religion continues to be an important identity marker for new immigrants in the United States (Yang and Ebaugh, 2001). There certainly isnЎЇt an exception for Korean immigrants in the United States. Most Korean immigrants are affiliated with and actively participate in Korean Protestant churches of the century were Christians prior to immigration, and the majority of them attended immigrants reported attend church at least once a week (Min and Kim, 2005). These percentages are staggering statistics and perpetuate the major influence Christianity, particularly Protestantism, have on Korean immigrants in the United States.

The principle formation of ethnic diaspora entails a separation of group of people from its homeland. Given the context of this very rudimentary definition of diaspora, the Korean immigrants in the United States form the basis for the Korean diaspora in America. Immigration of Koreans into the United States has come more in larger waves post 1965. This hallmark year indicates the year the United States passed the Immigration Act which lifted the ÐŽ®national originsЎЇ clause in previous immigration legislation and eliminated quotas (Yang and Ebaugh). After the passing of the Immigration Act of 1965, Koreans were able to enter the United States as long as they fulfilled one of the seven preferences included in the act.

The changes in U.S. immigration policy posed for more ethnic diversity in the U.S., particularly a wave of Korean Protestant immigrants. These immigrants not only created the foundation of the Korean diaspora in the United States post 1965 immigration policy, but constructed a road for the assimilation of new migrants through the establishment of religious institutions, primarily the Protestant church. My examination includes several accounts of the enormous influence Korean immigrants had on not only sacrifice. New York and other Korean communities in the United States have achieved a Korean population has increased in each Korean community (Min, 1992)

IЎЇve been exposed to a plethora of material within the past ten weeks that has provided me with a general understanding to the topic of diaspora. In my studies of diaspora, IЎЇve been exposed to several of the leading scholars in this field such as James Clifford, Robin Cohen, and Daniel and Jonathan Boyarin. My exposure to these scholarsЎЇ work on diaspora and their respective topics has broadened my knowledge of the ever growing field of diasporic studies. Setting up a framework of diaspora studies is not a simple task by any stretch of imagination. However, since this paper is essentially about the Korean diaspora and its link to Christianity, itЎЇs important to discuss and attempt to explain different topics of diasporic studies under the guidelines of these leading scholars in order to frame the Korean diaspora into the wider picture of diasporic studies.

The Jewish case in diasporic studies is probably one of the most important aspects in diasporic studies solely because of the ties the term ÐŽodiasporaÐŽ± has on the dispersion of the Jews in antiquity (Tololyan). Two of the leading scholars that have provided a generous amount of research and analysis for the Jewish diaspora are Daniel and Jonathan Boyarin. The Boyarins pursuit to contextualize the Jewish diaspora and its identity is pertinent to my research not only for its value in adding knowledge to the broader understanding of diaspora in the more general sense of the term, but also for their constant religious reference in their attempts to identify the Jewish diaspora.

The BoyarinsЎЇ assessment of Jewish identity has major ties to that of their religion, as is my argument for the Korean diaspora and Christianity. The Boyarins actually use the letters of Paul and, stated in their own terms, ÐŽointerrogate the Pauline sources of Western discourse about generation, space, and identity, along with the rabbinic Jewish counterdiscourse around these termsÐŽ± (Boyarins). Terms such as space, generation, and identity are used by the Boyarins are actually common terms used by diasporic studies scholars to explain diaspora. The specific terminology that the Boyarins use to frame diaspora in the Jewish perspective, however, does not only apply to the Jewish diaspora, per se, but also pertains to diasporas of different ethnic origins, including the Korean diaspora.

Daniel and Jonathan Boyarin understand that Jewish identity coexists and even coincides with the formation of the Jewish diaspora. Aforementioned previously, the relevance of religion in their argument for how the Jewish diaspora has formed its identity is of extreme importance. The Boyarins, in fact, structure their whole article on not only PaulЎЇs letters in the New Testament of the Bible, but also on textual citations from the Torah. The importance, then, of religion in their explanation of Diasporic cultural identity is unquestionable. The importance of religion is illustrated by the Boyarins in that when the Jews were given a choice between domination by a ÐŽoforeignÐŽ± power who would allow them to keep the Torah, the Hebrew Bible, undisturbed and domination by an authority who would interfere with religious life, the Pharisees and their successors the Rabbis generally chose the former (Boyarins, 722).

Jonathan and Daniel Boyarins are two scholars on the forefront of a revolution in a field

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