Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Immigrant Story

Laura Vanderkam, writing in City Journal, on how Korean greengrocers have moved up and out in New York City:

Despite Korea’s traditional attitude toward entrepreneurs, Korean immigrants, coming from a country torn apart by its battle against Communism, embraced the American dream. A survey that Min conducted in 1992 found Korean merchants far more likely than blacks or whites to agree strongly that “in this country, anyone, regardless of race, sex, or national origin, can make it if he or she works hard.” And work hard they did, scrubbing their produce and stacking cereal boxes into picture-perfect pyramids—perhaps as a bulwark against the chaotic neighborhoods around them. When Park did her fieldwork studying New York’s Korean community in the 1980s, she often had to interview people at 10 pm, the earliest they could get off work. And she still remembers babies crying inside trucks at Hunts Point Market at 4 am, when the parents (who couldn’t, of course, afford child care) were already at work again.

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