Ethnonationalism or Asian Panethnicity: Korean Americans Responses to anti-Asian Violence during the Covid-19 Pandemic

Chungse Jung, SUNY Cortland
Seon Mi Kim, Hunter College
Yunju Nam, University at Buffalo
Eun Jeong Lee, Asian American Resource and Information Network

The racialization and exclusion during the COVID-19 pandemic have contributed to a sharp increase in anti-Asian violence and discrimination against Asians and Asian American communities in the U.S. This study explores the experiences and responses of Koreans and Korean Americans to anti-Asian violence and racism during the pandemic. This study analyzes 36 personal in-depth interviews from three groups (young adults, older adults, and small business owners) of Korean immigrants and Korean Americans in the metropolitan New York area. One of the most striking findings is to identify of rising ethnonationalism among Korean immigrants during the pandemic. On the one hand, Korean immigrants show a negative attitude toward coalition building with other Asian ethnic groups and racial minorities to react anti-Asian violence and hate crimes. On the other hand, younger Korean Americans insist solidarity with pan-Asian ethnic groups and other racial minorities is necessary to cope with increasing anti-Asian racism. This study argues that the adaptivity to racism and the scope of collectivity induce different views on perception and solutions to anti-Asian violence and racism in the Korean and Korean American communities. The different levels of adaptivity and collectivity lead to different behaviors against anti-Asian violence and racism: a combination of resistance in adaptivity to racism and the narrow scope of collectivity has pursued a strategy of exclusion such as ethnonationalism. Otherwise, a combination of resistance in adaptivity and the wider scope of collectivity has sought a strategy of inclusion such as Asian panethnicity. By investigating Korean immigrants and Korean Americans’ pandemic experiences, this study explains how they negotiate their ethnic identities as well as their capacity to redefine categories of racial identity.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 171. Racism Across Asian and Asian American Communities