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PASTORAL CARE AT TIMES OF BEREAVEMENT:
FUNERAL RITES FOR KOREAN METHODIST CHURCHES
IN THE UNITED STATES
A Professional Project
the Faculty of
Claremont School of Theology
In Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree
Doctor of Ministry
SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY
This professional project, completed by
has been presented to and accepted by the
Faculty of the Claremont School of Theology
in partial fulfillment of the requirements
for the degree of
DOCTOR OF MINISTRY
K. Samuel Lee, Chairperson
Dean: Susan L. Nelson
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Pastoral Care at Times of Bereavement:
Funeral Rites for Korean Methodist Churches in the United States
Some ethnic churches in the United States have attempted to develop
appropriate funeral rites that fit their specific cultural, social, and psychological needs.
They have attempted to integrate their ethnical funeral cultures with the theological
perspectives of their respective denominations. The Korean Methodist Church
published The Korean Methodist Book of Worship [Yemoon] as a source of contextual
liturgies. This service book includes culturally relevant funeral rites which are
sufficiently comprehensive and reflective of Korean Methodists in South Korea.
However, Korean American Methodist churches affiliated with the Korean Methodist
Church tend to disregard the funeral rites outlined in The Korean Methodist Book of
Worship , because the funeral rites in this book are not appropriate for or relevant to
the contexts of Korean American immigrants.
Funeral rites are culturally shaped. Therefore, developing culturally relevant
funeral rites that will address the experience of immigrants living between two
cultures is called for. By studying traditional Korean religious beliefs and funeral
practices, the theology of traditional Methodism, Korean American theology, the
funeral rites of the United Methodist and Korean Methodist churches, and relevant
pastoral care literature and research, this project provides suggestions for funeral
rituals for American Korean Methodists.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. Introduction. 1
2. Korean American Immigrants’ Context. 13
The First Period (1903-1950). 13
The Second Period (1950-1964). 18
The Third Period (1965-Present). 20
Korean American Immigrants’ Contextual Issues. 22
3. Concept of Death in Korean Cultural and Religious Traditions. 27
Death in Korean Shamanism. 28
Death in Korean Buddhism. 30
Death in Korean Neo-Confucianism. 33
4. Theology of Death in “The Sunday Service” of John Wesley and in
Korean American Theology. 39
Historical Background of “The Sunday Service of the Methodist in North
Comparison of “The Sunday Service” and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer . 41
Theological Understanding of Death in “The Sunday Service” of John Wesley ... 45
Death and Resurrection in Korean American Theology. 51
5. Purposes and Functions of Christian Funeral Rituals. 56
Purposes of Christian Funeral Rituals. 58
Funeral Rituals, Their Functions, and Grieving Process. 63
6. Alternative Funeral Rituals for the American Korean Methodist Church. 74
Pre-Funeral Rituals for the American Korean Methodist Church. 75
Alternative Ritual Elements in the Funeral Service. 81
Post-Funeral Rituals for the American Korean Methodist Church. 84
7. Proposed Funeral Rites for the American Korean Methodist Churches. 90
Funeral Services and Rituals of the United Methodist Church. 90
Funeral Services and Rituals of the Korean Methodist Church in Korea. 95
Composition of the Funeral Services for the American Korean Methodist Church.. 100
Commendation and Commendatory Prayers at the Time of Death. 100
A Service for Placing the Dead in the Coffin ( Ipkwansik ). 103
A Service of Death and Resurrection (The Service of Balin) . 105
A Service of Committal ( Hal<M>ansik ). 110
Distinctions in the Funeral Services for the Korean Methodist Church in the U.S.. Ill
8. Conclusion. 113
Appendix A. 115
Appendix B. 116
Appendix C. 117
Appendix D. 118
Problem Addressed by the Project
This project addresses the need for funeral rites that are culturally relevant
and responsive to the pastoral care needs of Korean American Methodist churches in
the American Conference of the Korean Methodist Church.
Importance of the Problem
The United States is a multicultural society where diverse worldviews,
languages, traditions, lifestyles, and religions coexist. It is no longer uncommon for
ministers to be called upon to offer pastoral care in times of loss to those whose faith
practices are unfamiliar to them. 1 It is also not uncommon to be called upon to offer
pastoral care to a family from a different cultural background at a time of significant
loss. Pastors in a multicultural society are called to become multiculturally competent
in providing pastoral care.
Funerals are an important pastoral care activity. The funeral is not only a
significant chapter in the corporate grief process, it also serves an important role in
individuals' processes of grief and mourning." The Dictionary of Pastoral Care and
Counseling states that effective pastoral care for bereaved persons is based upon the
capacity of the pastor to relate closely to persons undergoing intense emotions; the
pastor’s knowledge of the dynamics, stages, and behaviors of grief; and the pastor’s
attention to the needs of the bereaved. 3 Likewise, the funeral provides a great comfort
and an effective expression of pastoral caring if the pastor can provide care needed,
taking into account their cultural backgrounds and religious traditions. This is more
1 Stuart M. Matlins, The Perfect Stranger s Guide to Funerals and Grieving Practices (Woodstock,
VT.: Skylight Paths, 2005), 13.
' Gene Fowler, Caring through the Funeral: A Pastor’s Guide (St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2004), 132.
David K. Switzer, "Grief and Loss,” in Dictionary of Pastoral Care and Counseling , ed. Rodney J.
Hunter (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2005), 474.
difficult when the bereaved are situated in between two cultures and possibly two
religious traditions. Thus, an intentional ministry focused on pastoral care for
bereaved persons who live between two cultures would be invaluable in churches. In
order to provide effective pastoral care for such persons, it is necessary that the pastor
consider the unique experiences and contexts, cultural backgrounds, and religious
traditions of the bereaved when they prepare funerals for Korean American
Funerals have historically varied along with changes of culture and religion in
specific regions. Likewise, the form of Christian funerals has changed along with
theological understandings of death and resurrection in each denomination. Every
denomination embodies its own theological understandings in terms of liturgical
formation and contextualization. For Korean Methodists, considering the theological
understanding of death and resurrection in "The Sunday Service for the Methodists of
North America” created by John Wesley in 1784 and the funeral service with which
John Wesley was most familiar, namely, that of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer is
important. It is also important to consider Korean American immigrant theologies in
order to arrive at culturally relevant funeral rites for American Korean Methodist
Based upon the culturally relevant pastoral practices, many Korean American
immigrant churches have attempted to formulate a new form of funeral rites
appropriate for Korean American cultures. In 2001, the Korean United Methodist
Church (KUMC) and the Presbyterian Church, United States of America (PCUSA)
jointly published Come, Let Us Worship, a Korean-English hymnal and service book,
as a movement of liturgical contextualization. 4 The KUMC participated in the
4 Prof. K. Samuel Lee, the first reader of this project, served on the advisory board of this resource.
development of this book in order to address the growing need for bilingual worship
resources for KUMC. 5 6 7 The format of this book uses two printing devices to make
possible a bilingual worship service, one that is simultaneously in Korean and English,
rather than having languages alternated or translated. This book seeks to be a
collection that speaks in the idiom of two different faith traditions - the United
Methodist Church (UMC) and the PCUSA. It contains the same hymns but two
different sets of liturgical resources. In particular, the Korean-English United
Methodist Hymnal contains funeral rites (‘"A Service of Death and Resurrection” and
“A Service of Committal”), while the Korean-English Presbyterian Hymnal and
Service Book does not contain funeral rites.
Come, Let Us Worship was intended to be '‘a resource that would serve as a
bridge for some of the differences between first and second generation Korean
Americans.” 6 While this book bridges the language gap between the two generations,
it does not provide culturally relevant services. For instance, it mentions that the
KUMC liturgical resources have been adopted by the General Conference. Similarly,
the PCUSA edition contains the Lord’s Day service. 7 The funeral rite in the
Methodist version accepts and uses Western liturgical traditions and a Western
theological perspective without providing any reflection on or of Korean culture and
tradition. It is virtually the same as that in the UMC’s Book of Worship. As such, it is
not responsive to, nor does it touch upon, Korean immigrants' contextual issues, such
as discrimination, oppression, rejection from the dominant American group, and
psychological distresses. Secondly, it just contains a “Service of Death and
Resurrection” and a “Service of Committal,’’ but not a “Commendation at the Time of
5 United Methodist Church (U.S.), Come. Let Us Worship: Chansong Gwa Yebae: Book of United
Methodist Worship (Nashville: United Methodist Publishing House, 2001), vi.
6 United Methodist Church, Come, Let Us Worship, vi.
7 United Methodist Church, Come, Let Us Worship, vi.
Death” or a “Service for Placing the Dead in the Coffin,” which are typical in Korean
culture. Third, the funeral rite in Come, Let Us Worship tends to portray an
understanding of death and resurrection based on current Western theology rather than
an understanding of death and resurrection in light of Korean immigrant theology.
Because Korean immigrant theology has historically developed in the context of
Korean immigrant cultures, languages, and indigenous religions, a theological re¬
examination of death and resurrection in light of Korean immigrant theology may be
helpful in terms of designing culturally relevant funeral rites as well as offering
effective pastoral care to the bereaved.
While the KUMC has Come, Let Us Worship , its own bilingual service book
that includes funeral rites, the American Conference of the KMC does not have its
own worship book. That is, it neither has a culturally relevant service book written in
Korean or English, nor does it have a bilingual worship book that contains funeral
rites. The Korean Methodist churches that affiliate with the American Conference of
the KMC have the Korean Methodist Book of Worship, but they tend to disregard the
funeral rites outlined in it, because they are not sufficiently comprehensive or
reflective of Korean American immigrant contexts. 8 In addition, since many Korean
American immigrants are influenced by both American culture and Korean culture,
the funeral rites of the Korean Methodist Book of Worship do not provide adequate
ministerial care. In this context, Korean Methodist pastors, who minister to Korean
Methodist churches in the U.S. as members of the American Conference of the KMC,
seek culturally relevant ways to prepare funerals for Korean Americans living in a
8 1 observed three funeral services led by Korean Methodist pastors who work for the Korean
Methodist immigrant churches; Valley Hanaro KMC; Great Light KMC; Philadelphia KMC. When 1
was attending the funeral services, I observed that they were using their own funeral rituals, but not the
Korean Methodist Book of Worship (Yemoon). i had the interviews with three senior Korean Methodist
pastors who provided the funeral services in order to ask why they used their own funeral rituals. They
stated that the funeral rituals in the Book of Worship ( Yemoon ) are culturally not appropriate to Korean
multicultural society. A new form of funeral rites should reflect the contemporary
context of Korean American immigrants, and this requires an understanding and re¬
examination of death and resurrection in Korean American immigrant theology.
In this study, I will examine not only the concept of death in Korean cultural
and religious traditions, but also the understanding of death and resurrection as
reflected in funeral rites that John Wesley used and in Korean American theological
literature. Moreover, I will articulate the role of funeral rites in the Korean American
immigrant context as a pastoral care method and the first phase of the grief process. I
will then propose a model for funeral rites for Korean Methodist churches in the
American Conference of the KMC. A new understanding and practice of funeral rites
as pastoral care and part of the grief process can help ministers offer effective pastoral
care to the bereaved, their friends, and church members in American Korean
My thesis is that most Korean Methodist churches in the U.S. uncritically
adopt funeral rites developed for Koreans in Korea or for Methodist in the U.S., and
that, in order to provide culturally relevant pastoral care, the KMC in the U.S. must
take seriously Korean American immigrants’ sociocultural, religious, and historical
Definitions of Terms
For the purpose of this project, ‘'Korean Americans” refers to individuals of
Korean origin or descent who live in the United States. These individuals participate
in and are influenced by both American and Korean cultures. They consist of Korea-
born first-generation Korean Americans, and their descendents, referred to as “Next
Generation” by K. Samuel Lee, which includes the Transgeneration (bom in Korea
but raised in the U.S.), and second- and third-generation Korean Americans. 9
However, I will focus on first-generation Korean Americans in this project, because
the cultural needs of Transgeneration and second-generation Korean Americans are
different from those of the first generation.
The American Conference of the KMC
The American Conference of the KMC was formally organized by the KMC
in October 2007. The Conference has 307 local churches across the United States.
Grief and Loss
Grief is '‘the complex interaction of affective, cognitive, physical, and
behavioral responses to the loss by any means of a person, place, thing, activity, status,
bodily organ, etc., with whom (or which) a person has identified,” i.e., that person or
thing has “become a significant part of an individual's own self.” 10
Bereavement refers to the fact or state of being deprived, due to death, of a
family member or other person with whom one has had an enduring tie."
Han can be defined as a critical wound of the heart generated by unjust
psychosomatic repression, as well as by social, political, economic, and cultural
oppression. As an abysmal experience of pain, it is entrenched in the hearts of the
victims of sin and violence, and it is expressed through such diverse reactions as
sadness, frustrated hope, collapsed feelings of pain and helplessness, resentful
9 K. Samuel Lee refers to the children of the first generation as the "Next Generation^ in "Youngurl
Sayonghanun Hanindlul Wihan Mokwhesayuok," [Ministry for Korean-Americans who use English]
Miju Hanin Katnni Kyohoe paengnyonsa [The Korean Methodist Church / 00years history], Vol. 2. ed.
Chan-Hee Kim (Upland, CA: Committee on Publication of 100-Year History of the Korean-American
Methodist Church, 2003), 240.
10 Switzer, 472.
11 Fowler, 21-22.
bitterness, hatred, and a desire for revenge. 12
Pastoral Care of the Bereaved
Pastoral care of the bereaved means helping the bereaved allow themselves to
feel and to express feelings of grief both verbally and nonverbally. This expression of
emotion tends to lead to the most constructive resolution of the grief process, while
the repression or suppression of early reactions to loss tends to lead to a greater
severity of grief symptoms later. In addition, pastoral care of the bereaved attempts,
through frequent conversations, to facilitate grieving, i.e., it helps people express
feelings, remember, accept the reality of physical death, experience their own value as
individuals, and re-discover meaning in their lives. The funeral is also considered to
be a part of pastoral care of the bereaved. 13
A funeral is a worship service or public ritual marking the death of an
individual, including the disposition of the dead body by burial or cremation. Usually,
a funeral involves a clergyperson, thus a pastoral function by which pastoral care is
offered for the bereaved. Funerals are an integral part of the mourning process,
assisting individuals in coping with their grief and social groups in reintegrating after
the loss of one of their members. 14 The goals of funerals are:
to affirm the reality and finality of the physical death of the person, to
encourage remembering and the sharing of memories, to facilitate the
identification and expression of feeling, to bind persons to one another in
community, to provide conditions and resources which may assist growth in
faith and hope, and to celebrate the life of the deceased before God in the
context of appropriate religious meanings and ritual expressions. 13
A funeral rite, seen as an '‘outward rite’' or “formal act,“ involves putting into practice.
12 Andrew Sung Park, The Wounded Heart of God: The Asian Concept of Han and the Christian
Doctrine of Sin (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1993), 10.
13 Switzer, 472-475.
14 Switzer, 450.
15 Switzer, 474.
or performing, what a written funeral ritual prescribes.
Work Previously Done in the Field
Only a few resources are available on this topic. Gene Fowler’s Caring
through the Funeral: A Pastor s Guide presents the ministry of funerals from the
standpoint of pastoral care. He considers effective caring ministry for the bereaved as
he examines the relationship between funerals and the grief process. Fowler defines
the vocabulary ministers need in terms of the caring ministry of funerals, including
“bereavement,” “loss,” “grief,” and “mourning.” He compares four different liturgical
books, each associated with a different Protestant denomination. Finally, he moves
beyond a discussion of funerals as a form of caring for the bereaved to the
interrelationship among funerals, mourning, and grief.
Two other books that deal with funeral rites from religious and cultural
perspectives are The Perfect Stranger s Guide to Funerals and Grieving Practices: A
Guide to Etiquette in Other People’s Religious Ceremonies, edited by Stuart M.
Matlins, and Worship Across Cultures: A Handbook, edited by Kathy Black. Each of
these books deals with funeral rites from a broader perspective than the focus
considered in this project; each book provides insights into the needs and losses
experienced by various ethnic or religious groups and the significance of considering
cultural aspects during funerals in terms of pastoral care for the bereaved.
On a practical level, Brandon Cho, a KUMC pastor, advocated for a new
form of worship for Korean American immigrants in his D. Min. project, Toward an
Authentic Korean-American Worship .' 6 In his project, he proposed a liturgical model
of Holy Communion related to Korean American ancestor worship. The problem
addressed by his project is that “Korean-American ministers have a tendency to
lD Brandon I. Cho, Towards an Authentic Korean-American Worship , D. Min. project, Claremont
School of Theology, 1987 (Ann Arbor: UMI, 1987).
uncritically accept and use Anglo-Saxon liturgy without serious reflection on its
purpose, nature and meaning.’' 17 Thus, he suggested that “Korean-American churches
need to re-examine their liturgy if they want to make their worship services as a
dynamic culture-building opportunity, an inspiring spiritual venture, and a meaningful
fellowship event.” 18 Cho’s suggestion is that KUMC needs to become actively
involved in a movement of liturgical contextualization.
Scope and Limitations of the Project
This project focuses on funeral rites as a pastoral care resource for Korean
Americans who attend a KMC in the American Conference of the KMC. The project
will seek to design culturally relevant funeral rites for Korean Americans. It will
examine issues related to providing pastoral care to bereaved persons who are
influenced by both American and Korean cultures and the role of the pastor in terms
of preparing funeral rites.
There are several limitations to this project. First, it does not attempt to
consider different funeral rites for persons based on factors such as gender, age, or
religious traditions other than Methodism. It will also not take into account different
degrees of assimilation into American culture. A second limitation is that the project
does not address all the pastoral care needs of Korean American families, but is
limited to those needs related to funeral rites. Caring for the bereaved through the
entire grief process is a more complex and long-lasting ministry. Therefore, I will
examine a definite period of time: from the moment that the pastor is informed of a
death to the day of the funeral. A third limitation is that the project focuses on the
pastoral care offered by clergypersons and not on the care that may be provided by a
congregation or the lay persons in that congregation. Nevertheless, when I discuss
17 Cho, 126.
18 Cho, 127-28.
pastoral care as practiced by the minister, some attention will be given to the care
provided for and with bereaved church members. While the funeral rite that I will
propose assumes that the deceased is an active Methodist, the form can be readily
adapted for use in instances where the deceased is not a church member nor perhaps
Procedure for Integration
This project will provide practical suggestions for pastoral care with bereaved
persons who are Korean American immigrants by designing culturally relevant
funeral rites related to the needs of these persons. To do this work, I will conduct a
literature review and critical analysis in which attention will be given to the
theological, pastoral, liturgical, and cultural aspects of funeral rites conducted in
Korean Methodist churches. This will involve engaging the academic disciplines of
pastoral care, worship, and cultural studies. I will also analyze funeral rites used by
Korean Methodist ministers in the American Conference of the KMC and the role of
funeral rites in their ministries. Thus, through these processes, this study will describe
and interpret the context of Korean Americans and their cultural and pastoral care
needs and expectations with regard to funeral rites.
Chapter 1 describes the project. In this chapter, I analyze the existing
resources for funeral rites as pastoral care and point to problems with the resources.
Chapter 2 examines the context for this project by highlighting the current
realities and experiences of Korean Americans in the U.S. To examine the contextual
issues which will inform the development of culturally relevant funeral rites, I discuss
the Korean American immigrant experience, including historical, cultural, religious.
and political factors.
Chapter 3 explores the concept of death in Korean cultural and religious
traditions, specifically, Korean Shamanism, Korean Buddhism, and Neo-
Confucianism. These traditions have a major influence on and are important for
understanding the historical, cultural, and religious characteristics of funerals in Korea.
Chapter 4 explores the understandings of death and resurrection represented in
the funeral resources used by John Wesley. Also, I will examine the biblical and
theological understandings of death and resurrection found in Korean American
immigrant theology in order to propose culturally and theologically relevant funeral
rites for Korean American immigrants in the American Conference of the KMC.
Chapter 5 examines the ministry of funeral rituals from the perspective of
pastoral care. For this work, I will explore the purposes and functions of funeral
rituals. Also, I will examine the relationship and connection between funeral rituals
and the grief process by using academic sources.
Chapter 6 examines alternative approaches to funerals based upon several
studies related to the multicultural grieving process and a comparative study between
the funeral rituals of North America and Korea. These studies will be the basis for
proposing a model of pastoral care through designing culturally relevant funeral rites
for Korean Americans in the KMC.
Chapter 7 discusses the funeral services and rituals of the UMC and the
funeral services and rituals used by the KMC. Based upon this discussion and the
work of previous chapters, I will propose a model for a culturally relevant and
integrated funeral service for the KMC in the American Conference of the KMC.
Appropriate and integrated funeral rites constitute a valuable method for offering
pastoral care to bereaved family and church members who are situated in between
Korean and North American cultures.
Finally, Chapter 8 summarizes and concludes this project.
Korean American Immigrants' Contexts
Analyzing and understanding Korean American immigrants' contexts before
attempting to design culturally relevant funeral rituals are crucial. In short, the history
of Korean American immigrants is a history of hardship. From the first immigration to
Hawaii to the present time, Korean Americans have experienced hardships, including
labor exploitation, cultural adaptation difficulties resulting from racial discrimination,
and interethnic conflicts. 1 Throughout Korean American history, Korean American
churches have played a significant role in helping Korean Americans overcome
hardships and settle in the U.S. Chapters 2 through 4 review the Korean American
experience, including the historical, cultural, religious, and political factors which
infonn Korean American theology. It will also explore the role of Korean American
The First Period q903-1950) 2
In the latter half of the nineteenth century, Korea experienced many difficult
situations, such as starvation due to several famines, invasions from other countries,
and internal disturbances. In 1882, Korea signed a treaty of amity and trade (known as
the Chemulpo Treaty) with the U.S., the first Western country with which Korea
established diplomatic ties/ As early as 1896, the Hawaiian sugar industry attempted
to obtain Korean laborers to supply a severe labor shortage on Hawaii sugar
1 The 1992 Los Angeles Riot is an example of interethnic conflict that Korean American immigrants
have experienced in the United States.
“ Won Moo Hurh divides the history of Korean immigration to the United States into three distinct
phases: (1) the early immigration of predominantly male laborers to the Hawaiian islands (1903-1905),
followed by their "picture brides" - Korean women brought to the U.S. by marriages arranged through
the exchange of pictures (1910-1924); (2) The post-Korean War immigration (1951-1964) of young
Korean women married to American servicemen, Korean war orphans adopted by American families,
and a small number of students and professional workers; and (3) the large wave of Korean "family
immigration" since the passage of the Immigration Act of 1965. Won Moo Hurh, The Korean
Americans (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998), 31-40.
Yong-ho Ch’oe, "The Early Korean Immigration: An Overview," in From The Land of Hibiscus:
Koreans in Hawaii, ed. Yong-ho Ch’oe (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2007), 11.
plantations. 4 5 However, it was not easy to recruit Korean laborers because there were
difficulties and strong oppositions within Korea. In 1902, Emperor Kojong was
eventually persuaded by Horace N. Allen, the U.S. diplomat to Korea, who was also a
Protestant medical missionary, to allow the recruitment of workers for the Hawaii
sugar plantations. Emperor Kojong authorized the setting up of an office called
Suminwon to issue passports to those who wished to travel abroad. After the founding
of Suminwon, David W. Deshler, an agent of the Hawaii Sugar Planters Association,
established the East-West Development Company in Incheon to recruit Korean
The first group of Korean emigrants left Incheon harbor for Japan aboard a
Japanese ship, Genkai-maru, on December 22, 1902. After they underwent a physical
examination in Japan, they boarded an American merchant ship, the S.S. Gaelic, for
their voyage to Hawaii. 6 There are conflicting reports on the exact number of persons
in that first group of Koreans. Kim Won-yong, who wrote perhaps the most helpful
history of Koreans in the U.S., claims that 121 workers were in the first group of
Korean emigrants who traveled to Kobe, Japan on their way to Hawaii. 7 Although
many scholars accepted Kim Won-yong's number, he unfortunately did not give his
source for this information. Hwangsong shinmun, a contemporary newspaper
published in Seoul on December 27, 1902, reported that 54 Koreans left on December
1902 for Hawaii via Japan. 8 Kato Motoshiro, a Japanese consul general stationed at
Incheon at the time, wrote a detailed report stating that 97 Koreans left Incheon
harbor aboard the Genkai-maru to work in Hawaii. 9 Yong-ho Ch'oe, a professor of
4 Hurh, Korean Americans, 36.
5 Ch'oe, 12.
6 Ch'oe, 12.
7 Ch'oe, 12.
8 Ch’oe, 12.
9 Ch'oe, 12.
Korean history at the University of Hawaii, believes that Motoshiro’s count is the
most accurate, because “as Japan was moving toward gaining dominance over Korea,
Japanese officials in Korea were paying meticulous attention to the developments
within Korea at the time, scrutinizing every detail of Korea’s contacts with
According to Yong-ho Ch’oe, there is another contradiction between the
number of Koreans who departed Incheon on December 22, 1902, allegedly 97, and
the 102 who arrived in Honolulu on January 13, 1903. If Motoshiro’s number is
correct, Yong-ho Ch’oe claims, “a reasonable assumption one can draw is that the first
group of ninety-seven emigrants were joined in Japan by other Koreans who had
come from other Korean ports at around the same time to undergo physical
examinations.” 11 Thus, 102 Koreans received physical examinations in Japan around
the same time and then were allowed to travel to Hawaii. This was the beginning of
the first wave of Korean immigration to the U.S. Thereafter, Korean laborers
continued to arrive in Hawaii until the end of June 1905. According to a report made
by the commissioner general of immigration, a total of 7,400 Koreans entered the U.S.
from 1903 to 1905, and of these, 7,291, or 98.5 percent, had reached Hawaiian shores
on 65 different ships. 12 Although their intention was to leave the socioeconomic and
political hardships in Korea, in Hawaii they suffered from poor living conditions,
almost comparable to those of slaveiy. The prevailing wages during this period were
an average of sixty-five cents for a man and fifty cents for a woman for ten hours of
work per day. Korean laborers worked an average of sixty hours per week on the
10 Ch’oe, 13.
" Ch’oe, 13.
12 Ch’oe, 17-18.
plantations. 13 The living conditions on the plantations were not only deplorable, but
the laborers had to perform extremely hard work under a hot sun for long hours. Often,
they would repay their passage loans and leave Hawaii for the mainland to work on
railroads and farms. 14
Between 1910 and 1924, another group of Koreans left for the U.S. They
were known as “picture brides,” who, through the exchange of pictures, were brought
to the U.S. in order to marry the first wave of Korean bachelors. Most male workers,
who immigrated to Hawaii at a young age, remained bachelors for a long time due to
the lack of Korean women. 13 They sent pictures back to Korea in the hopes of finding
brides. Tragicomic situations were common due to mutual misunderstandings to
intentional disguises of age and other personal information because these men and
women met only based on photographs. When some of these women arrived in the
U.S., they were surprised and deceived because their potential “old” husbands
misrepresented themselves with photographs from their young adult years. Some
brides had to marry husbands, ten to twenty-five years senior than they. Sadly, they
could not return to their homes because their culture would have viewed them as a
disgrace. The realities of immigrant life were quite different from what the picture
brides anticipated. Korean women not only cooked, washed, and cleaned for their
family members, but they also worked on the Hawaii plantations and on the farms of
the Western United States. They suffered doubly from demanding housekeeping and
the hardships of work on plantations and farms. 16
13 Ch’oe, 23.
14 Hurh, Korean Americans, 38.
15 According to the report by the commissioner of labor statistics on Hawaii, from July 1, J900toJune
31, 1915, 8,047 Koreans arrived in Hawaii, and they were listed as 6,773 males (84.2 percent), 780
females (9.7 percent), and 494 children (6.1 percent). This report offers a gender breakdown of those
Koreans who were admitted into Honolulu harbor. Ch'oe, “The Early Korean Immigration: An
16 Upyong J. Kim, “A Century of Korean Immigration to the United States: 1903-2003,” in Korean
From 1910-1945, Korea was a colony of Japan. Many students and political
refugees left Korea during this time because of persecution from the Japanese
government. Hurh and Kim state that '‘289 Korean students arrived [in the U.S.] with
Japanese passports between 1921 and 1940. Some of the students returned to Korea
after the completion of their studies, but some remained/’ 17 The economic situation
of the early Korean students was dire. They had to work to pay for their tuitions and
to support their family members. They could only work as gardeners, bus boys,
waiters, dishwashers, porters, and orchard or factory workers during school
During this period, Korean American churches attained rapid growth in the
number of Koreans professing Christianity as their religion. According to Hyung-chan
Kim and Wayne Patterson, approximately 2,800 Koreans were converted to
Christianity and 39 churches were established in the Hawaiian Islands during the
period between 1903 and 1918. 19 Kim and Patterson assert that there are several
reasons for this rapid growth of Korean American churches: churches were the only
social groups that enabled Koreans to engage in social intercourse with other Koreans;
churches provided them an opportunity to maintain their culture and language; and
Korean American churches supported political movements for Korea's
independence. 20 First, Korean American churches performed a joint ministry of
religious and social welfare, providing a spiritual home for poor, lonely, and illiterate
plantation workers. After Sunday services, immigrants gathered to speak their native
Americans: Past, Present, and Future, ed. llpyong J. Kim (Elizabeth, NJ: Hollym International, 2004),
17 Won Moo Hurh and Kwang Chung Kim, Korean Immigrants in America: A Structural Analysis of
Ethnic Confinement and Adhesive Adaptation (Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University, 1984),
18 Hurh and Kim, 49.
19 Hyung-chan Kim and Wayne Patterson, The Koreans in America 1882-1974: A Chronology and
Fact Book (Dobbs Ferry, NY: Oceana Publications, 1974), 127.
20 Kim and Patterson, 127.
language, enjoy each other’s company, and discuss their problems. These practices
reveal that Korean American churches played an active role in supporting Korean
immigrants’ social and spiritual needs. Second, Korean American churches played a
pivotal role in educational efforts to maintain Korean culture and language during this
period. For example, most Korean American churches established Korean language
schools, Sunday Schools, and night schools. According to Warren Kim, there were 21
Korean language schools throughout the islands of Hawaii between 1907 and 1940.
Wardmann Oden, district superintendent of the Methodist Church, Hawaii Mission,
reported on the educational successes of Korean American Methodist churches at the
1914 annual conference: “In 1904 we had 346 students in 6 Sunday schools, but now
we have 1,642 students in 39 Sunday schools. And almost every Korean church has
night school.” 22 Third, Korean American churches supported propaganda and
diplomatic efforts to restore Korea’s independence. They had previously been at the
center of the struggle for liberation from the Japanese military government. To gain
liberation, churches had not only collected money for the financial support of freedom
movements, but they had also nurtured national Korean leaders. Through the
integration of these three types of activities, Korean American churches brought
comfort to immigrants in the midst of their painful lives and provided them with hope
for a better future.
The Second Period (1950-1964)
The second period of immigration was between 1950 and 1964 and involved
a more heterogeneous group, consisting of three main categories of people: (1) wives
of American servicemen, (2) war orphans, and (3) students. During and after the
Warren Kim, Koreans in America (Seoul, Korea: Po Chin Chai, 1971), 43-44.
' Tong Shik Ryu, Hawaii Ei Hanin Gwa Gyo Hwoe: A History of Christ United Methodist Church,
1903-1988 (Seoul, Korea: Christ United Methodist Church, 1988), 89.
Korean War, which lasted from 1950 to 1953, 28,205 Korean women married
American servicemen. 2 ' These women became invisible once they settled in the U.S.
with their husbands. In addition, 6,293 war orphans were brought to the U.S. through
inter-country adoptions between 1955 and 1966. 24 The third category, students,
approximately numbered 5,000 immigrants during the four year period from 1950-
1953. 23 Little data exists about them because they did not create their own groups but
integrated themselves quickly into the dominant culture due to their immediate
connection with American families.
During this period, Korean churches contributed to the reduction of
intergenerational conflicts between first generation Korean Americans and the second
or third generations in relation to cultural and political differences. After Korea gained
independence in 1945, first generation Korean Americans worked hard for the
democratization of Korea, while the democratization of Korea no longer was a critical
issue for second or third generation Korean Americans. 26 In addition, the second and
third generations could hardly identify themselves with the first generation religiously
and culturally. Nonetheless, even as Korean American churches provided places of
social interaction and cultural identification, they offered opportunities for second and
third generation Koreans to understand the first generation's religious perspectives
and patriotism. 27 Thus, Korean American churches played a bridging role that helped
reduce intergenerational conflict between first and later generations. Furthermore,
Korean American churches acted not only as representatives of Korean society but
also as the backbone of Korean American communities. Because there was not a
sufficiently organized Korean association in the U.S., Korean American immigrant
23 Hurh and Kim, 49.
24 Hurh and Kim, 49-50.
" 3 Hurh and Kim, 52.
26 Kim and Patterson, 134.
27 Kim and Patterson, 134.
churches provided centers that enabled Korean immigrants to have ethnic solidarity
among themselves through worship, fellowship, education, or mutual support.
The Third Period (1965-Present)
The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 of Presidents John F. Kennedy
and Lyndon Johnson, dramatically changed the quota laws and altered the face of
United States immigration up until the present time. In 1989 90% of Koreans in the
U.S. consisted of immigrants who arrived after 1965. 28 According to Hurh, the
number of inunigrants increased from 2,139 in 1965 to 33,042 in 1985. In less than 20
years, the number of yearly Korean immigrants increased by almost 11 times,
reaching a total of 424,594 during this period. 29 According to the U.S. Bureau of the
Census, the population of Korean Americans in the U.S. was 1,415,890 in 2000/° In
2008, the U.S. Bureau of the Census estimated that the population of Korean
Americans was 1,609,980. Moreover, an estimated 607,046 ethnic Koreans in the U.S.
were native-born Americans, and 1,002,934 were foreign-bom. Korean Americans
that were naturalized citizens numbered 533,322, while 469,612 Koreans in the U.S.
were not American citizens/ 1
During this third period, Korean immigrants have been motivated to move to
the U.S. by their dreams. After the Korean War, the Republic of Korea experienced
much suffering due to poverty, political chaos, and an ideological conflict between
communism and democracy. From 1961 to 1992, Korea was ruled by a military
~ 8 Won Moo Hurh, 'The Korean-American Community: Its Development in Historical and
Comparative Perspective,” Modern Praxis 9 (1989): 245.
19 Hurh, “Korean-American Community,” 243.
U.S., Bureau of the Census, 2000 Census of Population, Supplementary Reports, Detailed Ancestry
Groups for States (Washington, DC: Bureau, 2000), CP-S-1-2.
31 2008 American Community Survey, "S0201 Selected Population Profile in the United States: Korean
alone or in any combination,” U.S. Bureau of the Census, Oct. 26, 2008,
qr_name=ACS_2008_l YR_G00_S0201&-qr_name=ACS_2008_lYR_G00_S0201PR&- html
(accessed December 13. 2009).
government. Economic instability under this government and educational fever in
intellectual circles, among other factors, prompted approximately 268,000 Koreans to
immigrate to the U.S. in the 1970s and 334,000 in the 1980s, all with the “American
Dream" in their minds.
One of the major reasons for immigration is the hope of better economic
conditions and improved lifestyles. Korean immigrants who have come to the U.S.
since 1965 have settled in larger cities, such as New York and Los Angeles. The
reason is that they have had a better chance at success by opening small businesses in
ethnic communities. These Koreans have moved into cities and neighborhoods where
they can afford to start businesses with very little start-up money. Like the Chinese
and Japanese, they have created their own communities, known as Koreatowns. 33
Although 72 percent of Korean immigrants held professional or managerial level jobs
in Korea, a majority have not been able to find positions in America comparable to
their qualifications. They become self-employed and start service-oriented businesses:
hamburger stands, barbershops, grocery stores, food services, restaurants,
maintenance companies, and so on.
Another reason for immigration is Korean parents’ desire for the best
education for their children. In Korea, parents are sometimes overly concerned about
their children’s education. Because of this, they will spend enormous amounts of time,
money, and energy on supporting and promoting their children's education. According
to statistics, Korean parents who have school-age children generally spend over 20%
of their living costs on education. Some Korean parents spend over 40% of their
living expenses on their children’s education. ’ 4 Because of this educational fever,
32 Hurh, "Korean-American Community," 246.
33 Alexandra Bandon, Korean Americans (New York: New Discovery Books, 1994). 50.
4 Jung A. Lee, "Sakyoyukbi Jichul Yangkukhwa Simhwa," [A Serious Discrepancy of Educational
many Korean parents have decided to immigrate to the United States to further the
education of their children. Generally, they believe that the U.S. has a good public
educational system. They figure that, for little money, they can provide their children
with a good education in the U.S. Although Korean parents provide their children
with the opportunity to have a good education, they are faced with great, unexpected
difficulties between themselves and their transgeneration children. They suffer from a
generation gap created by language barriers and different ways of thinking and
During the third period, Korean churches have become deeply connected to
the Korean community. The Korean American church has experienced phenomenal
growth, growing to 2,400 churches in only 20 years. By the year 2000, there were
about 3,500 Korean churches all across the U.S. 3:1 In addition to their religious
functions, Korean churches offer their members many vital services. Some of these
are Korean and English language classes, information and training in ways to cope in
American society, and a milieu in which to interact with other Koreans. Korean
churches function as centers where Korean values and language can be preserved.
Counseling, fellowship, mutual aid, economic assistance, and countless other minor
services are also supplied by churches and pastors. Thus, Korean immigrant churches
and pastors help preserve language, social bonds, and customs central to Korean
identity. Furthermore, Korean American churches have been places that offer healing
for the marginalized and give them a sense of personal worth and group identity.
Korean American Immigrants' Contextual Issues
Although many Korean American immigrants have safely settled in the U.S.,
Expenses between the High Income Bracket and the Low Income Bracket] Hankyerae Newspaper,
February 7, 2006, http://www.hani.co.kr/arti/ISSUE/16/ 99206.html (accessed February: 2007).
35 R. Stephen Warner, "The Korean Immigrant Church as Case and Model/' in Korean Americans and
Their Religions: Pilgrims and Missionaries from a Different Shore, ed. Ho-Youn Kwon, Kwang Chung
Kim, and R. Stephen Warner (University Park: Pennsylvania University Pres
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