This paper is a study in the assimilation of Korean-Americans in Vancouver, Washington. The objectives of the study are to: 1. Evaluate the applicability of the concept of the "melting pot"; 2. Locate the factors that affect this process; and 3. Measure the degree of assimilation in orientation to American life. Generally speaking, one's ethnic loyalty and self-identity affect his lifestyle and choice of reference group.

The data were gathered with the use of a questionnaire with open-ended questions. Informants were asked to state their feelings on many topics such as language fluency, preference for traditional Korean foods, knowledge of Korean history, attitudes towards ethnic exogamy and peer groups. The informants selected for study were personal acquaintances of the researcher and others referred to him. A variety of backgrounds are represented. The study includes data from four first-generation immigrants (born in Korea), four second-generation immigrants (usually born in America), and five third-generation immigrants.

From the study it was found that Korean-Americans are assimilating in many ways, including structurally (occupying statuses in the dominant white society). The extent of their assimilation is directly related to their generation level and reference groups. The most rapidly assimilating Korean-American would be a third-generation person, socializing very little with other Koreans, and having a Caucasian spouse. The least assimilated would be a first-generation Korean who has had much more involvement with the Korean community, lives with family members, and has had complete ethnic endogamy among his descendants. Among latter generations, Korean-Americans are only able to maintain a symbolic cultural identity. In the fourth and fifth generations, it seems that with the likelihood of intermarriage with Caucasians any semblance of Korean identity will be virtually eradicated.

Data from this study support findings of other researchers in the field of assimilation as a process among differing groups of immigrants, and demonstrate their applicability to Koreans. Social distance between Korean and WASP groups can be overcome by English language fluency, lifestyle compatibility, and high educational attainment.

LLU Discipline





Graduate School

First Advisor

James H. Stirling

Second Advisor

John W. Elick

Third Advisor

Isao Horinouchi

Fourth Advisor

Anees Haddad

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Korean Americans -- Washington (State) -- Vancouver; Vancouver (Wash.) -- Social conditions.



Page Count

iv; 114

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives