Monday, January 25, 2016

Do Korean Americans Intermarry with Other Asian Americans?

Dear Korean,

I'm an American of English heritage living on the periphery of Chinatown in Manhattan. Besides the Chinese, many Koreans and Vietnamese own businesses in my neighborhood. I'm curious about the extent of the interaction among different Asian American ethnic groups. For instance, is it common for Korean and Chinese Americans to intermarry?


There is survey data on this precise topic thanks to Professor C.N. Le of University of Massachusetts. At his site Asian Nation, Professor Le put together the marriage data for major Asian American ethnic groups.

For Korean Americans, below are the numbers. As you can see, there are three columns of numbers. The first column is for all married couples that include at least one Korean American. The second is for married couples that include at least one Korean American who is raised in the United States. The third column is for married couples, with at least one U.S.-raised Korean American marrying another U.S.-raised person.

Other Asian2.910.413.0
Multiracial & All Others0.40.71.1
Population Size (x1000)265.447.830.2
Other Asian3.69.29.8
Multiracial & All Others1.22.73.3
Population Size (x1000)351.572.658.4

Please do visit the site for other ethnic groups, as the results are highly interesting.

The numbers indicate that Korean Americans regularly marry outside of their ethnicity, particularly if they were raised in the United States. It also shows that Korean Americans marry other Asian Americans at the rate of around 10 percent among U.S.-raised Korean Americans. One's definition of "common" may differ from person to person, but TK would say one out of ten is a fairly common occurrence.

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at


  1. This is really eye opening. Thanks for posting. It's great when your feelings or hunches are validated by quantitative support. Some eye opening findings to me are -

    1. Really, nearly 60% of Korean American women born in the U.S. are married to white dudes? What the hell did our parents' generation do to their daughters? Less than a quarter are marrying other Koreans like themselves.

    2. Growing up I always knew there was underlying racism towards the black community from the Koreans (right or wrong) and the numbers show it.

    3. We often lament the extinction of an animal species. Are we facing the extinction of Koreans in America over time if these trends continue? And is it a bad thing or should this be a reason to celebrate as it points to assimilation?

    4. If the trends were flipped and we found that nearly 60% of white American women were marrying dudes outside their race, would the white community be concerned? How about if nearly 60% of of black women were marrying outside of their race?

    Don't know what else to say, other than this is real eye opening. It's a good follow-up to a post from 2013 -

    1. As a caucasian woman from Europe who lives in Korea and is committed to a Korean man, let me answer to your two last questions.

      Do you love each other? Can you make each other happy? Can you live with each other? Fine. Ethnicity doesn't and shouldn't matter. Population changes anyway, and we're all same human species at the end of the day.

      Ha! A little arrogant for somebody who has zero connections to the USA to answer on their behalf, but seriously, this is merely an interhuman thing that shouldn't depend on politics.

    2. 1. It alarms me that you think there is something 'wrong' with marrying outside of your own ethnicity.

      3. An ethnic group (especially in a country as varied as the US) is not the equivalent of a 'species' becoming extinct. If the US is truly a 'melting pot', as many claim, then it stands to reason that the lines between distinct Asian ethnic groups will begin to blur as time goes on. We can already see it with white Americans. Most whites can identify with reasonable certainty at least two different ethnic groups in their family history, and it is likely that there are in fact many more. It is not uncommon for a white American to be any mix of Scottish, Irish, English, German, Polish, Jewish, etc. Asian Americans are still very recent immigrants and that is why we are not yet seeing this happen.

      4. Racist whites would probably be concerned, but any reasonable person living in 2016 America should know that this is normal. It is impossible, however, because there are just not enough non-white men in the US for 60% of all white women to marry a different race.

    3. 1. I never said there was anything wrong with 60% of Korean American women marrying white dudes. You did. I can't help it if you harbor that bias. I only asked about what our parents' generations did to their daughters for them to overwhelmingly prefer white dudes over dudes who look like them.

      3. The U.S. is not a melting pot, sorry to say. If it was truly a melting pot shouldn't the black community (who has been in this country much longer than most Asians) be indistinguishable to whites in terms of common social metrics such as education, income, incarceration rate, etc? Besides, hasn't the food analogy evolved to become a salad bowl? Also, in this case I'm not talking about ethnicity; I'm talking about race. Yes it is true that many European Americans married other ethnicities but interracial marriage is a fairly recent phenomenon for white folks (i.e. post Civil Rights movement).

      4. I threw those examples out as an intellectual exercise only, and not to be taken literally. But for what it's worth, you are correct. There are note enough non-white men in the U.S. for 60% of all the white women to marry a different race. Not sure the racial make-up of your friends, but next time you're around them ask what their reaction would be. You'll be surprised.

    4. As someone who is a different ethnicity than the community I grew up in, (I'm white, grew up in a city that was mostly Hispanic. 80%,) let me say this -- sometimes, there just aren't enough people like you to to marry. When you grow up surrounded by people who are of a different ethnicity than you, you find yourself attracted to what you're used to. And, newsflash, what you're used to won't be people from your ethnicity. You date people in your high school and at your job and from your church. And in a country that is vastly different from yours or your parents' country of birth, the likelihood of you marrying outside of your ethnicity is quite likely. I would actually say that 60% is kind of low. I have only been on dates with one white person in my entire life, not because I don't like white people, but because almost all the white people I know are RELATED to me.

      Anyway. A lot of it is the numbers game. :)

  2. To me 10% does not seem "common" seems pretty low to me.

    1. I'm inclined to agree. Only 10% in a country where ethnic Koreans make up ~0.5% of the country is pretty low and suggests that Koreans are actually highly inclined towards marrying within their own community.

  3. CucKorea, a meme for our time.


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