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  • P-ISSN0023-3900
  • E-ISSN2733-9343

Korean Immigrants’ Socioeconomic Adjustment in California (1905–1920): Participation in Rice Farming and Subsequent Advancement during the World War I Rice Boom

Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2014, v.54 no.3, pp.60-78
https://doi.org/10.25024/kj.2014.54.3.60

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Abstract

This study examines the socioeconomic advancement of Korean immigrants in Californiafrom 1905 to 1920. Based on county archives, special collections, oral histories,U.S. government documents, contemporary studies, and newspapers, this studyanalyzes how the Korean immigrants in California were influenced by the WorldWar I rice boom and made efforts to develop their status in California at the start ofthe twentieth century. Successful rice cultivation started in California around 1912and this new agricultural development provided opportunities for Koreans to makethe transition from migratory farm laborers to rice farmers. This study presents theunique adjustment pattern of exceptional Korean immigrants who made significantefforts to adjust to Californian society and improve their socioeconomic status; however,in this process, they continued to strongly express their Korean identity and contributedto Korean independence rather than develop an outward loyalty to theUnited States. Korean immigrants’ successful adjustment to California resulted fromtheir combined efforts to maintain their Korean identity, overcome racial discriminationthat denied them citizenship rights, and promote the upward mobility of ethnicKoreans.

keywords
Korean immigrants racial discrimination California rice farming tenancy World War I rice boom Alien Land Act of 1913 Korean identity socioeconomic status adjustment

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