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Lesson 1*: The Korean Diaspora and Korean Americans


Korean Flag. (Source: Asia Society)

American Flag. (Source: Wikipedia)

*This lesson was adapted from the lesson Korean American Experiences: Interethnic Relations, by Dr. Edward Chang, Professor of Ethnic Studies and founding Director of the Young Oak Kim Center for Korean American Studies at UC Riverside. Supplemental activities were developed by Dr. Grace Cho, Professor of Secondary Education at California State University, Fullerton. Some elements of these materials also appear in Lesson 8: Saigu and Social Justice. 

Lesson Standards

  • History/Social Science Analysis Skills

  • History/Social Science Content Standards

  • ​Common Core Grades 6-12 Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, & Technical Subjects


Lesson Features

  • TOPICS: Korean diaspora, early Korean Americans, Korean immigration


  • SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENT: Oral History Analysis Presentation

  • RESEARCH EXTENSION: Short Web-Based Research Report​


Lesson Overview

  • Students are introduced to Korean Diaspora and Korean American immigration patterns and experiences.  They compare experiences of Korean Americans in the first and second waves of immigrants and consider how these experiences have evolved over the  the 20th century.  They analyze oral histories and complete a web-based short research project on locations of Koreans and Korean Americans.


Lesson Activities and Assessments


Objectives and Learning Goals

  • Students will be able to define diaspora and identify major countries in the world and states in America where Koreans live today.

  • Students will be able to identify examples of the three Korean waves of immigration to the United States.

  • Students will be able to identify compare and contrast examples of immigrant experiences and issues they faced in the United States.​ 

  • Students will be able to identify ways how Korean immigrant experiences have evolved since 1903.



  • There are two activities in this lesson. Activity 1.1 requires 55 minutes.

  • Activity 2 includes viewing of several videos and could take several days.

  • The Summative Assessment Oral History Analysis requires 55 minutes and homework, plus additional time for presentations.

  • The Summative Assessment web-based research project requires 55 minutes and homework.



  • Arirang - Korean folk song representing separation and lost love.

  • Diaspora - populations, such as members of an ethnic or religious group, that originated from the same place but dispersed to different locations.

  • Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 - suspended the immigration of Chinese laborers (skilled or unskilled). 

  • Immigrant wave - The migration of many people simultaneously, so that they appear at once at a given place in great numbers in comparison with those that go before or come after.

  • Quota system - a system, originally determined by legislation in 1921, of limiting by nationality the number of immigrants who may enter the U.S. each year.

Lesson 1 Resources​​

Lesson 1 Presentation (PDF)

Lesson 1 Presentation Teacher's Guide (PDF)

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