KorUS Voice 2018 Survey was a project to identify issues of importance to the Korean-American community in the US and to elevate these concerns to the nation’s decision makers. Specifically, this survey sought to gauge Korean American community’s level of civic engagement as well as Korean Americans’ perceptions of the homeland Korea and how these perceptions were shaped by coverage in mainstream media. The survey also assessed top issues Korean Americans feel most passionate about and how we as a community could help influence the narrative of how Korea and the Korean American community are covered in mainstream media.
The survey of 225 Korean and Korean Americans was conducted from September 27th to October 12th, 2018.
A majority, 72 percent of the respondents are eligible to vote and registered. 7% of the respondents indicated that they are eligible to register but not registered because of the following reasons: they didn’t like any of the candidates (35%) and they were too busy (21.43%)
Most of the respondents said that the U.S.-Korea relations is “not very important” factor when voting for the president.
About half said the Trump Administration has had a somewhat to extremely negative impact on US-Korea relations – however, over one-third said it has had a somewhat to extremely positive impact
Majority of respondents are involved in some type of organization
A quarter of respondents either volunteer or donate in some type of organization
The top priority issues in Korean American community were:
- Economy/Jobs/Bamboo/Glass Ceiling
- Civil rights/Protecting against discrimination based on race, gender and sexual orientation
- Fair portrayal of Asian American and Korean Americans in the media
- Participation in Government/Voting/Elected and Appointed Officials/Judiciary/Census
In assessing some of the biggest challenges in the Korean American community today, a majority of respondents said they or a Korean American they know:
- Have elderly parents or relatives to take care of and support financially (20%)
- Have faced the bamboo ceiling at work (18%)
- Do not have any retirement savings (13%)
- Have faced immigration challenges (12%)
- Have had mental health issues (10%)
- Have been a victim of domestic violence, human trafficking, sexual assault and/or sexual harassment (9.6%)
Perceptions and Mainstream Media Coverage of Korea and Korean Americans
A majority of respondents consume Korea-related news daily or weekly. Top sources for Korea news were mainstream media (29%) and social media (26%), followed by Korean friends and family and Korean media.
When asked to describe their view on how South Korea is portrayed in US mainstream media, most responded moderately positive to neutral. Most negatively portrayed area are politics and human right. On the other hand, most positively portrayed: entertainment and technology.
When asked if they agreed with a statement saying, US news coverage of Korea is fair and objective, most responded neutral and evenly split between those who agreed (27%) and disagreed (29%). However, when we reworded the question with essentially the same meaning, asking if they agreed or disagreed to statement, US news coverage of Korea is biased, sixteen percent disagreed while 29 percent of respondents agreed.
Respondents’ strongest perceptions of S. Korea were: Dynamic cultural center of Asia and the world; Economic and tech powerhouse; and Plagued by political infighting and not living up to its full potential.
Despite some of the negative views, the positive perceptions of Korea made 82 percent of respondents feel proud to be Korean-America. Majority of respondents said the most positive images of Korean Americans are: Prioritizing education, Work ethic, Entrepreneurial, Korea Wave such as KPOP and Korean company such as Samsung and Hyundai.
A majority of respondents said the most negative images of Korean Americans are: Not politically engaged Hardworking but not “leadership material,” Generally intolerant of LGBTQ communities, and gender inequity.
Respondents’ perception of Korea, for the most part, hasn’t changed over the years with one in three saying it has become more positive and one in five saying that it has become more negative. Some of the reasons for a negative shift are: Political corruption and scandals and Handling of the North Korea issue.