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정희수 칼럼

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  Dr. Joseph Chung - Column
 정희수 칼럼



The friction between parent and the adolescents is a universal phenomenon. But in the case of the Korean community, the friction seems to be more serious because of the huge cultural distance between Korean culture and Quebec culture.

One thing which Korean parents should not do is to impose unilaterally the Korean value system. In some cases, Kim was told, the misunderstanding between father and adolescent children was so poor that the children left their parents for good.

Kim remembered one scene he witnessed. It was in 1983. There was a seminar organized by the Korean Association of Montreal on intergenerational conflict. There were about 80 participants; the seminar was a big success. The normal number of participants at this sort of event was around 30. It showed that the people were so much interested in the problem of intergenerational conflict.

On the front desk were sitting a panel consisting of church pastor, two senior persons and the president of the Korean Association. The panel members expressed their views of the problem.

“I think that the problem is due to the ignorance of the young people about the Korean values; the children must obey their parents”, said one panel member.
“But, we are not in Korea; we are in Canada; we have to adopt the Canadian values”, reacted another panel member.

“ I guess that both views are right. But, we must remember that for the parents who had been educated in Korea, it is not easy to change their values; the children must accept their parents’ values”, suggested another.

Then a young university student stood up and declared:  “You see, we are being educated by Quebec teachers; we are making friends with Quebecers; we have to find job in Canada; we have to live like Quebecers. We love our parents in our new way. Why don’t parents leave us alone?”.

This shocked many. The young man was a son of one of the panel.

“Young man! You are going over the fence!”, said one of the senior persons with affection. All laughed.

There were different views, but the atmosphere was friendly. Both the first generation and the second generation people tried to understand each other.

Kim had a fond memory of this incidence. What made Kim a little sad was that since the 1982 seminar, there were no important intergenerational dialogues within the Korean community in Montreal.
Kim knew that the probability of having organized intergenerational dialogues depended on the perception of the problem by the leadership of the Korean Association and its intellectual leadership. In most of the cases, for the presidents of the Association, what was important was the bread-butter problem; they were little interested in intellectual, psychological and sociological problem of the community.

What interested more the leaders of the Association was the fellowship and the conservation of memories of a certain part of the contemporary history of Korea including the 8.15 commemoration of Korea’s liberation from Japan on the 15th of August 1945, the 6.15 commemoration of the Korean war and a few others.

Kim admitted that the first generation Koreans in Montreal was too preoccupied with the very survival for thinking about the suffering of their children who came to Montreal because of the parents’ decision and who are lost between the two seas of values.
Kim remembered a few horror stories. In one case, a father was so mad with his son’s “non-Korean behavior” toward him that he took his son to Kimpo airport and there he beat him severely. That was the end of the father-son relations; he lost his son. Kim felt sorry for both the father and the son.
One another case involved a son’s court action against his father.
A young man of 19 years old accused his father for negligence and violence against him before the court and the father was judged guilty of torturing his son.
<to be continued>