From the land of morning calm to Hawaiʻi nei : Korean American life writing in Hawaiʻi

Park, Heui-Yung
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2013]
"From the Land of Morning Calm to Hawaiʻi Nei: Korean and Korean American Life Writing in Hawaiʻi" examines how Korean immigrants and Korean Americans in Hawaiʻi, from the early twentieth century to the present day, have represented themselves. Looking into their individual and collective identities in lyric poems, oral history, autobiography, and memoirs recalls how the earliest arrivals, their children, and their grandchildren have come to terms with their national, ethnic, and local selves, and how their sense of identity changes over the course of time, both within and beyond the initial generation. In the lyric poems found in Korean-language periodicals of the native-born generation, we can trace the significance of the motherland and Hawaiʻi for these writers' sense of identity, and also how this identity shifts from the "I" or "me" to "we" or "us." These changes create a self associated with the place of settlement, yet still undeniably a Korean self, whose ultimate return to the homeland may or may not be possible. The oral histories of first-generation women, most of whom arrived as picture brides, also represent another "us": often vulnerable Koreans who define themselves in relation to both the present culture and to Korean men. The self developed by the second-, third-, and in-between-generation Koreans diversifies because their identity is not even defined exclusively by their ancestral land, but extends to Hawaiʻi and to America. Their representations of themselves and their immigrant parents and grandparents show the continuities and discontinuities of their ethnic and local heritage, thereby revealing an inherited diasporic self that mirrors, yet diverges, from that of the pioneers. Some children choose to assume an American identity, while others prioritize a self connected with Korea and its people, and still others feel a strong sense of rootedness in Hawaiʻi. The "I"s in works of third-generation diasporic Korean writers often take a journey away from their Korean family, local home, and community, yet ultimately return to those they left behind. This homecoming affirms their claims to both the Korean and local legacies that make them who they are.
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2013.
Includes bibliographical references.
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