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Live-blogging Dr. Daniel Pak

Daniel Pak, M.D., U.Michigan prof and of JAMA spoke today at CTS… here are some quick bullets from live-blogging his seminar this afternoon. More resources to follow…

  • Korean American college students experience highest rates of depression, drinking, and suicide among ethnic groups
  • There is a strong observed correlation between grades and depression as well as grades and relationship with parents. 
  • Among 2nd gen. Korean American marriages, the divorce rate is 60%, which is higher than national average.
  • Korean American churches that go multiethnic are often faced with the question, “Why can’t you get along with your parents?” The integrity of their ministry of reconciliation is being challenged.
  • Jim Bob Park at Binneri Church in TX is an example of transitional KM/EM 1.0 to 1.5 church. Also Sarang Church in CA. 
  • Less than 3% of all Korean churches in US (~4,000 according to Dr. Pak) are predominantly English-speaking. This contributes to the Silent Exodus – up to 95% of post high-school churchgoers leave the ethnic church.
  • Were those who left the church kicked out for all practical purposes? Maybe it wasn’t a silent exodus, rather it was a silent expulsion? Perhaps we need to reconsider the posture of welcoming…
  • In Korean context, love is mute. They/We don’t express it verbally. We value non-verbal expressions of love more. 
  • Another contrast between Korean and American perspectives: Korean– “Self-denial is the secret to our survival”; American- “Self-assertiveness is the key to our success.”
  • 2nd gen pastors are usually filled with bitterness due to these cultural differences with 1st gen. The hierarchy, scarcity mentality vs. prosperity mentality, etc. These lead to value judgments made on others and unhealthy dialogue.
  • Before, the younger generation had to choose to be Korean OR American. Increasingly, identity crisis can lead to great contribution. Having both identities is not a handicap, with possibility to be Western and capacity to be Easterner. This has a lot of roots Biblically as well. Increasingly, we are the most needed people group in order to build bridges and deliver the Gospel more effectively. 
  • “We were placed in a context we could not escape…God placed us…just like Joseph. God met him and trained him and showed him the world. We were sold into slavery…American Dream Slavery…I say this, not only as analogy, because we are selling our children into the American Dream. What we dream about becomes our master. Harvard becomes our master. Becoming a doctor becomes our master. When it doesn’t happen, we become depressed. I’m finding out the whole generation is like me, with 50% falling into depression.”
  • 1st gen pastors don’t know how to relate for 2nd gen. They don’t know what to do. It is difficult just to talk about these issues. When we prayed, we saw some things happen. Danny Han in NJ is doing an annual gathering of pastors to continue this work.
More to come…just want to get this down.

About David Park

Christian 2nd-generation Korean American; Atlanta Georgia; more details to come.

3 responses to “Live-blogging Dr. Daniel Pak

  1. Joseon ⋅

    David, thanks for posting this. The divorce stat and the first bullet point really stood out to me.

  2. Dan


    I’m sorry I wasn’t there. These bullet points are eye-opening…

  3. djchuang

    thanks for these notes, great to see your recent posts and thoughtful reflections on the place for ethnic identity and its interplay with our Christian faith and surrounding society

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