Posted: November 29th, 2013
Diversity and Inclusion
Alabama’s population constitutes white Scotch-Irish and English descent and blacks descended from slaves of Africa. According to the 2000 census, the minority cultures included Asian Indians, Koreans, and Chinese, which numbered to 6,900, 4,116, and 6,337 respectively. The essay will discuss each of the cultural groups by first describing the salient features that make each one unique. An analysis of the lifestyles, religion, and traditional functions will be done on each group as well. This analysis will discuss the traditional arts, cuisine and traditional clothing of the Chinese and Koreans. The essay will conclude by displaying the similarities and differences of these two groups.
Statement of purpose
The essay focuses on the living standards of the minority population within Alabama State. The two minority cultural groups that were selected for this study were the Chinese and Koreans. The rationale for selecting these two groups lies in the fact that they both have a rich traditional background. Their lifestyles, values, and economic activities have been adapted by most of the communities in Asia making them influential groups. The Chinese and Koreans also practice various customs despite the rapid changes caused by globalization that have diluted or assimilated other cultural groups.
Koreans culture – clothing
The traditional Korean clothing is marked by the traditional hanbok that is a combination of two items. The upper part is called the jeogori, a blouse-like shirt having longer sleeves for men than females (Yoo, 2006). Women adorn skirts called chima while men wear trousers called paji. The regular people wore white, dull clothes as dyed clothes were only reserved for weddings and other ceremonies. The upper class within Korea laid great emphasis on wearing brightly colored clothes and accompanied them with jewelry and footgear as well as headdresses. During winter, the Koreans wear cotton-wadded dresses and fur coats. Although the social status surrounding clothing has waned within the ethnic group, the Koreans still deem certain clothes as superior to others (Kim, 2011).
Traditionally, rice was the staple food for the Korean community. However, with the changing lifestyles heralded by the tough economic conditions, consumption of rice has gone down significantly. Most urban Koreans eat similar diets to Americans (The Korean Government, 2012). Traditional families however consume highly organic and green foods such as vegetables, soup and fruits. Kimch’I is the national dish for Koreans that consists of a fermented or pickled mixture of many vegetables with the dominant ones being daikon radishes and Chinese cabbages. Meat dishes such as kalbi and pulgogi are also popular in this community. The Koreans also have specific food customs for various ceremonies (Chŏng, 2009).
The Korean community has had a long history of classical literature that was written explicitly in Chinese by the late Chson and Koryo who wrote sijo poems with themes on loyalty. Some of the prominent Korean novelists include Hwang Sun-won and Kim Tong-ri. The Koreans also engage in sculpting of bronze, stone, and rock figures such as the Sakyamuni Buddha in the rotunda of the Sokkuram Grotto that is a national landmark (Chiu & Genocchio, 2011). Korean performance arts involve music and dance that evolved from 3,000 years of religious ceremonies. Korean music is dominated by two genres: Chong’ak and minsok’ak that represented soft music and energetic music respectively (Van, 2011). Frequent court dances are jeongjaemu practiced at banquets. Ilmu is practiced at rituals of Korean Confucian (Jung & Choi, 2012).
Chinese culture – clothing
Chinese traditional clothing was generally referred to as hanfu although each social class had their own style of dressing. Rich men and women would wear coats and leather shoes made of bright silks and leather respectively. The middle and lower class Chinese adorned black cotton shoes and synthetic materials. Military officials wore the Mandarin Square over all their other clothes to signify their ranks. Much later during the Qing Dynasty and the Republican Era, the adoption of Western fashion overtook Chinese traditional wear as the dominant clothing regime (Zee, 2002).
Rice is the staple food for most of the Chinese. Toward the north and northwest of China, the weather only permits the growing of wheat as the staple crop. The rice is served alongside porridge, congee, served with shrimp, vegetables, and pickles. An extra addition would be a vegetable soup. Most of the Chinese families cannot afford meat, as it is slightly expensive. Apart from rice, the Chinese also consume large amounts of freshwater catch such as shrimp, crabs, lobster, and frogs (Wakiya, 2008).
The government of China has a strong influence on what the Chinese people express as “art”. Most of the production of works of art is prohibited by the Communist Party. Although the state pays artists for their works, it also stifles their progress (Villard, 2010). Chinese literature consists of visual poems, for example the Book of Songs and the Lament. More Westernized writers such as Lu Xun, whose best-known work is The Rickshaw Boy (Lau, 2008). The Chinese are also known for their graphic painting that depicts the efforts of achieving a balance between yin and yang. Native Chinese music instruments include sanxuan, dongxiao, dizi, and daluo.
Similarities between Korean and Chinese cultures
Both the Chinese and Koreans share a common belief in Buddhism and Confucianism. They share the worship of the same gods as well as some of the religious holidays. In terms of their dietary preferences, both the Chinese and Koreans consume large percentages of rice and wheat. Within the performing arts, both the Chinese and Koreans developed painting, opera, and dance as ways of expressing their talents within the society. To a larger extent, China and Korea share the same root of their language.
Differences between Korean and Chinese cultures
Language forms a major difference between these two communities. The Chinese are also more liberal as compared to the Koreans. The Chinese have different food preferences that are mostly oily as compared to the Korean ones that are mostly vegetables. This is because the Chinese have easily adopted Western attitudes and lifestyles such as Western clothing, music, and technology. China is also different since it has over fifty-six ethnic groups, of which the majority is the Han ethnic group (Chinese Government Official Web Portal, 2012). Korea has also maintained a firm grip on the social classes and stratification as compared to China that has opportunities for upward mobility based on merit.
Application in the classroom
The information obtained from the study of the Chinese and Korean cultures is valuable in understanding different cultures and their features. Students can decipher different traditions, their origins, and their significance to the Chinese and Koreans. The information on these two cultures can also be studied with an aim of adopting positive traditional practices that are beneficial within those cultures, for example adopting the etiquette mannerisms or the industrious nature of the Koreans by a section of American students would be beneficial to the students.
Materials and methods used in the essay
In the research, the emphasis was placed on different cultural aspects of both Chinese and Korean populations. The most important sources in the paper were Contemporary art in Asia by Chio that provided information on nearly all the cultural elements in Asia as a continent. The information from the sources was sorted basing on their relevance and importance. The sharp contrasts and similarities were elaborated later in the paper. This report will contribute to the increased knowledge when teaching lessons on Asian foreign communities.
Chinese Government Official Web Portal. (2012). GOV.cn. Retrieved from http://english.gov.cn/2006-02/08/content_182626.htm(Secondary)
Chiu, M., & Genocchio, B. (2011). Contemporary art in Asia: A critical reader. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press. (Primary)
Chŏng. (2009). Korean cuisine: A cultural journey – the world of Korean cuisine, the Korean cuisine of the world. Seoul: Thinking Tree. (Secondary)
Jung, E.-Y., & Choi, H.-J. (2012). Acceptance Patterns and Meaning of Tales Appearing on Dance as a Performing Arts Contents for the Journal of Korean Contents. The Journal of the Korea Contents Association, 12, 3, 123-138. (Secondary)
Kim, S.-Y. (2011). Dressed to Kill: Women’s Fashion and Body Politics in North Korean Visual Media (1960s-1970s). Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique, 19, 1, 159-191.
Lau, F. (2008). Music in China: Experiencing music, expressing culture. New York: Oxford University Press. (Primary)
Van, Z. J. (2001). Perspectives on Korean dance. Middletown, Conn: Wesleyan University Press. (Secondary)
Villard, F. (2010). ‘Class’, ‘Race’ and Language: imagining China and the discourse on the category ‘Han’ in the writing of Marxist revolutionary Qu Qiubai (1899-1935). Asian Ethnicity, 11, 3, 311-324. (Secondary)
Wakiya, Y. (2008). Haute Chinese cuisine from the kitchen of Wakiya. Tokyo: Kodansha International. (Secondary)
Yoo, K. J. (2006). Korean culture and Korean thought. Azijske in Afriške Študije, 10, 27-41. (Primary)
Zee, A. (2002). Swallowing clouds: A playful journey through Chinese culture, language, and cuisine. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre. (Secondary)
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