Dec 29, 2021 Uncategorized

Comparison of Chang-Rae Lee´s “Native Speaker”

Koreans in the US – Comparison of Chang-Rae Lee´s “Native Speaker” and Spike Lee´s “Do the Right Thing”


I need to hand in a 1.5 pages midterm reflection paper. My seminar deals with Asian American diaspora in Literature and I´d like to focus on the topic of Koreans in the US. For this topic we had to read an excerpt of Chang-Rae Lee´s book Native Speaker (the excerpt is attached). I also gave a presentation on the tensions between Korean-Americans and Black-Americans in the US.

What I´d like to have in the paper is to a) depict the entrepreneurial aspirations that Koreans had when they came to the US and b) the tensions between Black-Americans and Korean-Americans. In order to do so I´d like a comparison between two scences of Do the Right Thing (links provided below) and the excerpt of Native Speaker.

The scence of Do the Right Thing in which the customer is buying batteries and is making fun of the merchant´s Korean accent reinforces the stereotypical image of non-English-speaking Koreans. However, most Korean merchants simply don´t have the time for education as they are working all their life. This can be compared to the part of  Native Speaker in which the son states that his father lived for money, for his work; that he was so hard working that he barely ever saw his family but that he wanted his son to get a good education to have a better life without the quarrels he himself had.

Likewise, the scene in which the three Black man sit and debate about why “fresh-off-the boat Koreans” can have shops in their Black neighberhood whereas Blacks themselves do not, can be compared. And it should be mentioned which reservations of Blacks against Koreans are revealed in both scenes, and that those racial-tension eventually contributed to the LA riots and that Spike Lee´s film kinda hints to that already a few years earlier.


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