By Seungwon Kim
Because Korean Americans and Koreans were raised in different countries,
they have several obvious cultural differences. Korean Americans grew up in
the United States so they tend to act more individualistic than Koreans.
Korean Koreans are more familiar with collectivistic ideas than Americans
are. In Korea, you are required to be respectful toward elders because they
have more life experiences. By respecting senior citizens, Koreans think
they can learn the wisdom of life from them. They even use formal language
when talking to seniors. If someone doesn’t follow these rules, Koreans might think he
or she is very rude. That’s what Korean American celebrities had to deal
with when they came to Korea.
Jay Park, a Korean American entertainer, was born in Seattle and came to
South Korea to be a singer when he was 18. Although he was musically
talented, he was not familiar with the Korean culture and language. He was
not used to the strict schedules of his company and he was uncomfortable with
using honorifics to elders. He was extremely uncomfortable with these
sorts of cultural differences. Park wrote some comments on Myspace that he
wanted to return to Seattle. He left some insulting comments about
Koreans to relieve his stress. He got into a bigger trouble after offending
Koreans so he had to quit his job as a member of 2PM which was a popular
Korean boy band. Park flew back to Seattle. However, he could come back as an
individual artist after apologizing for his behavior.
Jessie Ho, another Korean American artist from New Jersey also had similar
issues when she first came to Korea when she was 15. She stated that it was
uncomfortable for her to bow to someone who was older than her because it
is unusual in America. However, she is trying to get used to it to
maintain her popularity as a rapper and a singer.
Although Korean culture may be uncomfortable for Korean American
entertainers, they must adapt if they want to be popular in
Korea. It may seem unfair, but they really don’t have a choice.