Leisure activity of older Korean Americans in the U.S. and its relationship to cultural integration and ethnic preservation
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The purpose of the investigation was to explore daily activities and interactions of older Korean Americans and the relationship of these activities and interactions to ethnic identity preservation and cultural integration. First generation older Korean immigrants were of particular interest in the study because they have lived in both Korea and the United States long enough to know both cultures. An interpretive qualitative approach was used to address the research questions. Participants were six Korean Americans (three females, three males) over the age of 65 who have lived in the US for at least 15 years. In-depth, semistructured, open-ended conversational interviews, a time diary, and field notes were the primary sources for data collection. The constant comparative method was applied for data analysis, first within cases and then across cases. The findings from the data analysis revealed both personal and cultural leisure meanings. From a personal perspective, leisure (Yeo-Ga) was used to create two effects: Ki-Bun-Chun-Whan and self-development. Ki-Bun-Chun-Whan is a feeling of refreshment and transcendence found in a wide variety of activities. But some of the same activities, as well as others, were also used for intellectual, physical, psychological, or spiritual growth. Cultural meanings were reflected in two categories: re-creating Korean-ness and accommodation to the host culture. Three subcategories within the category of re-creating Korean-ness suggested by the data were re-building Jeong (attachment/care), re-enforcing collective identity, and seeking familiarity. From a cultural perspective, while some leisure activities (e.g. shopping) served to expose participants to American culture, the manner in which they were done (usually only with other Koreans) served the effects of continuity and ethnic preservation at least as much as cultural integration. Although physical and cultural differences perpetuated a feeling of strangeness, participants used a wide variety of activities to reinforce their Korean-ness and restore their sense of ethnic identity. In conclusion, while leisure experience of older Korean Americans helped them accommodate to the host culture through everyday life, this study provided more evidence that such activities contributed to maintaining Korean cultural bonds and traditions in a still-strange land.