Had lunch the other day with a Korean-American client. Like many Koreans in Seattle, he came here at elementary school age (12 in this case) and he comes across just like any other American. No accent, understands and even laughs at my jokes, etc. At one point in the lunch, he told of having to go back to Korea to meet his wife’s parents to request their daughter, which is very much traditional in Korea. We then talked of a mutual friend who had initially gotten lots of grief for having married a non-Korean.
Then our Korean client said something I found very interesting and insightful, which was that the older Koreans in the United States are “more Korean” than the Koreans in Korea. He went on to say that they came over to the United States 30 or 40 years ago and “their Korea” has remained the Korea of 30 or 40 years ago, but Korea today is, of course, very different from the Korea of 30 or 40 years ago. So while the people in Korea change, the older Koreans in the United States don’t. On top of this, the older Koreans rightfully see themselves as bulwarks for maintaining Korean culture, whereas Koreans in Korea likely do not see themselves so much in that way.
I definitely think my client is right when it comes to Koreans in the United States as opposed to in Korea, but I have never really noticed anything similar in terms of the Chinese in the United States being “more Chinese” than the Chinese in China. Am I missing something? What do you think?