What is the meaning behind the existence of all creation? Why do these creations exist and why do they constantly fight for survival? The author believes that the existence of the creation that remains today was created by the identities of those who have existed before. The author’s existence is the result of the author’s parents, his progenitors, and those who have settled on the Korean peninsula and created a cultural identity. To put it forward, the meaning of existence is to maintain one’s identity and pass on what we have now to our future generations.

The identity that we hold is not just a standard to be imposed on ourselves, but it has to correlate with the mainstream society’s classification. If they do not match, serious confusion will result. For example, if one is a human being, but others treat him as an animal, he will resist vigorously. But once he gives up, he will either give up his life or accept his assigned identity as nothing more than an animal.

We have left our homeland and live in the United States now. We call ourselves Korean Americans, and the American society calls us that as well. The term “Korean American” came to define our identity. How will we continue to preserve our identity? What must we do?

First, we must create our homeground. For a group that shares an identity, having a homeground is very important. If a family related by blood lives apart for a long time, it becomes extremely difficult for them to live in the same house once again. In history, we see that the Kitans have disappeared without a trace when they ruled northern Asia for over a thousand years. The Kitans acted as the conquest army for Tang’s campaign to take over Goguryeo and created their own empire after taking down Balhae, but was conquered by the Jin Dynasty. The Kitans switched their alliance to the Mongols and served important roles in the empire but they disappeared into history because they lost their homeground. Where can the Korean American community call home? The author believes that the location where Korean Americans are concentrated at and can exercise influence is the place we must base our power in.

Second, we must create leadership within the community to plan for the future. We must also strive to be accepted by the mainstream American society. Koreans in American are currently unable to create a stronghold like the Chinese Americans. The Chinese tend to choose a place and remain there for an extended period of time. However, Koreans have a nomad-like trait to them, so they move to better places.

Third, Korean Americans must overcome differences and create bridges with each other to become united. Korean Americans have a difficulty of gathering cultural resources with each other. However, through the advent of advanced communications, we share culture with the mainland Korea. Korean Americans must get along with the American society as well, so in essence, we live between two cultures.

We will live here as well as our future generations, and to prevent them from disappearing into history like the Kitans, we must make sure that our identity is kept faithfully. We have a lot of work on our hands. With this in mind, the 1992 LA Riots was a big turning point for Korean Americans. The community began to think about whether Korean Americans should continue live separately or unite together with one identity. To reinforce our identity and get our voices heard, the community began to register voters, urge participation in the local community, and worked to increase the knowledge of Korean among the newer generations.

On top of our efforts, it would be great to see the planning of centralized leadership in our communities and the future of the Korean Americans.

Categories: Column / Opinion
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