Ethnic Koreans in China have been widely recognized as a 'model minority' primarily for academic success. Using the data collected as part of a larger ethnographic research on Korean elementary school students, this paper examines how 27 Korean families construct meaning out of the model minority stereotype in the context of their lived experience in Northeast China. Research results indicate that Koreans constructed the multi-faceted nature of 'model minority' as a matter of cultural superiority and dual economic marginalization in the Chinese and South Korean mainstream societies, and valued education as a practical means to achieve economic upward mobility into the Chinese mainstream. This paper argues that the model minority stereotype with the cultural explanations for Korean success may reinforce the cultural deficiency argument about the academic failure of 'backward' minorities, silence the disadvantages suffered by Koreans in China's reform period and lead to no active intervention to remedy them. Copyright © 2008 Taylor & Francis.
CitationGao, F. (2008). What it means to be a 'model minority': Voices of ethnic Koreans in Northeast China. Asian Ethnicity, 9(1), 55-67. doi: 10.1080/14631360701803252
- Model minority
- Cultural superiority
- Dual economic marginalization
- Social hierarchy
- Educational aspirations