With the launch February 15 of the web-based Korean American Data Bank (koreanmericandatabank.org), Queens College Sociology Professor Pyong Gap Min (Sociology) has engaged the power of the Internet to broaden accessibility to the growing resources offered by the Center for Korean American Community he founded at the college three years ago.
With the simple click on a Korean or American flag icon, viewers can see the site’s contents in either Korean or English. Min expects the Data Bank to become a significant resource for social service agencies and other Korean community organizations—as well as for scholars, journalists, government officials in both Korea and the U.S., and anyone else with an interest in the Korean American experience. But the audience he is most enthused about reaching is people living in Korea. “Many people there are interested in data about Korean Americans,” he notes.
The site offers statistical reports, a reference section, and unpublished and published articles and book chapters about Korean Americans and other overseas Korean populations. A section devoted to qualitative data offers what Min describes as “more humanistic aspects of Korean American and other overseas Korean experiences,” including oral histories, audio-visual tapes of old-time Korean immigrants, and personal narratives on ethnic and racial identities among younger-generation Korean Americans.
Visitors will find six of 12 essays written by Korean- American young adults exploring their racial and ethnic identities. Originally presented last year at the center’s annual conference, their inclusion illustrates another key aspect of the Data Bank: While still undergoing the time-intensive process of preparation for publication in book form, these essays could be posted to the Data Bank as soon as they were edited.
Thomas Chung, a graduate assistant who recently graduated with a degree in English from Min’s alma mater, Georgia State University in Atlanta, spends two days a week at the center’s office in Powdermaker Hall editing content for the Data Bank and writing grant proposals. His account of his own Korean-American experience is among those to be found on the site. The center also has an associate director, four research associates, and five graduate research assistants who all provide part-time help.
Min observes, “You know when these manuscripts are published in journals, not many people are going to read them, only specialists. But this is a good way that they can be read by a large audience. It’s good for the authors and also good for the readers.” This, he feels, also helps address his concern that “academia is too much detached from the community.’
Assistant Director of News Services