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

Korean Pioneer Women: Picture Brides and the Formation of Upwardly Mobile Korean Families in California, 1910s-1930s

Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2020, v.60 no.1, pp.207-238
https://doi.org/10.25024/kj.2020.60.1.207

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Abstract

This study examines the efforts of Korean picture brides to promote the upward mobility of their families in California from the 1910s to the 1930s. It analyzes special collections, oral histories, interviews, US government documents, contemporary studies, and newspapers to identify the specific characteristics of Korean picture brides in California and to shed light on their struggles to survive and expand their familial roles. The migration of Korean picture brides to California facilitated the development of unique nuclear families in California’s Korean community. Objectively analyzing the impact of the US historical context on Korean picture brides’ efforts to improve the socioeconomic status of their families, this study focuses on how these Korean women migrants diversified their roles in the face of California’s changing discriminatory environment. It finds that Korean families’ successful adjustment to life in California resulted from the varied and complex economic, educational, and emotional roles Korean picture brides adopted to facilitate their families’ upward mobility. In adjusting to life as active members of a marginalized community in early twentieth-century California, Korean picture brides exemplified the spirit of pioneer women, leveraging opportunity from adversity by embracing roles that had no precedent in traditional Korean families.

keywords
Korean picture brides family education World War I rice boom adjustment upward mobility small family business anti-Japanese laws Korean identity

Korea Journal