Despite cultural differences, Korean American students say they
do not experience much discrimination or misunderstanding on
“It’s kind of obvious that you’re a minority on campus, just
because the breakup of the population,” said Humphrey Shin, a
senior computer information systems major and president of the
Korean American Students Association. “I don’t feel that there are
too many differences – just skin color, culture and heritage.”
Korean Americans make up 0.4 percent of the Fort Collins
population and contribute to the city’s 2.5 percent Asian American
population, according to the 2000 U.S. Census. Asian Americans make
up 2.6 percent of the student population at CSU.
James Schada, a junior electrical engineering major, said he has
not experienced any sort of discrimination.
“For the most part it’s pretty good here,” Schada said. “I
haven’t really had any problems.”
Ken Kim is more comfortable at CSU than he was at his high
“Actually, when I came here I felt a lot more comfortable
because I was in the Key Academic Community,” said the sophomore
open option business major. “It’s a real diverse atmosphere. It’s
made me feel a lot more comfortable.”
While Shin does not experience any personal injustice, he
notices some mild evidence of it in American culture.
“If there’s a racial comment made about Asian Americans it’s not
as strongly frowned upon as say it is to a larger minority
population,” Shin said. He said he notices these comments most
often in the media.
Sometimes Korean Americans are broadly categorized as Asian
Americans or mistaken for members of another nation in the same
“Most people can’t distinguish between the races,” Shin said.
“Someone may know some Japanese and come up to you and start
talking Japanese just because they automatically assume you’re
Japanese when you’re not.”
As for first-generation Korean Americans, their transition to
campus life should be relatively easy, said Joon Kim, an associate
professor in the sociology department.
“Most of them have very little difficulty with respect to the
food here or other aspects of the culture because Korea is already
very much Westernized,” said Kim, who is also the Asian/Pacific
American studies instructor for the Center for Applied Studies in
American Ethnicity. Kim identified language as the greatest barrier
first-generation students experience.
All the students interviewed felt that they have not been
subjected to discrimination or stereotypes, and they expect that
experience to continue.
“I may be a minority on the outside,” Shin said, “but I feel as
far as getting that internship, getting that job, whatever it is
kids come to college for, I believe I have a fair shot at