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Asian American Studies

Korean Youth Culture and Globalization

Matthew Sloane (2015); Mentor(s): Joseph Jeon

Abstract: The primary goal of this research project was to compose an ethnography of contemporary Korean youth culture to support Professor Jeon’s upcoming work. I carried out observations in Seoul, South Korea for seven weeks, from June 12 to August 27. Methods of data collection included visual observation, interviews, videos and photographs. As a Korean adoptee, I was allowed to stay at the Koroot hostel for international adoptees, which served as a valuable place to meet and converse with other adoptees, Korean youth volunteers, and even government employees. My adoptee status eased the process of assimilation and allowed for an insider’s perspective on the Korean lifestyle and the extent of Western influence. It also helped me discern the oft-complex relationships between the locals, Korean-Americans, adoptees, and foreigners. Adoption itself is a noteworthy byproduct of Korean globalization and highlights some of the stigmas that pervade Korea. Other areas of interest such as the music scene further define Korean youth culture. Korean pop music, commonly known as K-pop, symbolizes the rapid growth and Westernization of Korea through its very lyrics. Punk rock, a more obscure genre, represents an underground aspect of the youth culture personality and its timeline coincides with Korea’s modernization. This poster will cover a variety of elements of Korean youth culture and adoption and analyze their significance in the wider context of recent Korean history. 
Funding Provided by: Pomona College SURP

Research at Pomona