1.5 Generation?

the question of origin


by Sophia Kim





  Read More... DIVERSE special

Read More... Culture Section



From 1.5G photo project.. Photo by Myungsook Lee.


Growing up, so many people have asked me where I was from, and I never thought too much about it. I was from Korea if I were asked that question in Canada, and I was from Canada if I were asked that question in Korea. The contradiction was never an issue until two years ago when I was in England on an academic exchange.


When people asked me that question in England, I told them that I was from Canada, thinking that they were questioning my foreign Canadian accent. Most people seemed to be satisfied with that answer and I was too. However, about a month into my exchange, someone told me that I may live in Canada but that I couldn¡¯t really be ¡°from¡± Canada. It seemed as though my black hair, East Asian skin tone and short height prevented me from being a Canadian. I was devastated without really knowing why. My physical characteristics and some parts of my upbringing clearly made me a Korean and not Canadian. But I had spent more than half of my life immersed in the Canadian culture. Following this incident, for the first time in my life, I felt painfully visible and aware of my different appearance and habits. My black hair and the rice that I ate every day were constant reminders of my alienation in the western society; while my mannerisms and interests prevented me from being a ¡°real¡± Korean.

Soon after I returned home to Canada, I found myself working for a magazine that allowed me to explore the lives of many immigrants. I subconsciously began to categorize my interviewees: those who were like my parents and those who were more like me. I began to distinguish myself from the recently immigrated interviewees who were clearly from Korea, China and India. I related more to those who had grown up in two different cultures. It was this experience that allowed me to fully formulate a proper answer to the question: I was a real ¡°1.5 generation¡± Korean-Canadian.


Defining 1.5 Generation


In the book The 1.5 Generation: Becoming Korean American in Hawaii, ¡°1.5 generation¡± is a term coined by a Korean-American reporter Charles Kim to describe people ¡°who are neither first, nor second generation¡±. This broad term is used to distinguish immigrant children who are bi-lingual and bi-cultural. Similar terms are prevalent in many cultures around the world where immigration is popular because perhaps the 1.5 generations represent a unique social and cultural experience that is different from both their parents and their descendants. In general, the 1.5 generations are able and expected to bridge the schism between the first generation immigrants and the new society to which they must adapt. Often, the 1.5 generation members like me, get the best of both worlds. While at times we are alienated by the contradictory state of not belonging to either culture completely.



Story is continued


DIVERSE 5th Issue

We are pleased to announce that DIVERSE 5th issue, Summer 2011 has been released.  

12 Diversity in Canadian Workplaces What are the obstacles to a better form of ¡°diversity¡± in the workplace?

- Open Door Group

- BC Workplace Diversity Inclusion Awards

6 BC¡¯s Diversity through 30 portraits



2 ThePower of Exchange A Historic Collaboration between Germany¡¯s

Premiere Art Collections and Canada¡¯s First Nations

28 Ezra Kwizera  Born in Uganda to Rwandese refugee parents, Canadian Musician and genocide  survivor speaks on the art of  forgiveness and of adapting to Canadian culture

42 Dana Claxton  

The Mustang Suite: Questioning mobility, freedom and autonomy 


24 Gung Haggis Fat Choy in Vancouver, BC: The Diversity of Canada      

38 Denise Brillon Breaking barriers in the fashion world



32 Pysanky¡¯s Resurgence

Joan Brander¡¯s contribution to the renaissance in traditional

Ukrainian egg art


10 Publisher¡¯s Note

27 Benefits of being a bilingual writer

31 Canadians come in all differences



35 News Briefs on Multiculturalism

36 Publisher¡¯s Picks


You Can Order Here.


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