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Open Access Publications from the University of California

World Cultures eJournal

UC Irvine

A View of Identity as Developed by a Korean-American Teenager: Cultural Adaptation in a Korean Community in the United States


This study explores how a 17-year-old Korean American girl displays identity and cultural adaptation in a Korean community in the United States. Audio-taped interviews and ethnographic observations were used to answer three main questions: (1) To which cultural identity does the girl primarily orient herself? (2) With what communication style does she interact in the Korean community? (3) How does she adapt her communication style to the Korean culture? The main subject was a 17-year old Korean American girl living in a southeastern coastal city in the United States. In-depth interviews of both the informant and her mother revealed the girl’s bicultural orientations. The girl considers herself both an American who is familiar with Korean culture and a Korean who is familiar with American culture. Her discourse, however, demonstrates the dominance of her American identity. Additional studies are needed to further our understanding of how such an identity is constructed in everyday interactions.

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