Opening the Red Door: Pastoral Counseling for Second-Generation Korean American in Third Space Open Access

Choe, Hae-Jin (Summer 2018)

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Many second-generation Korean Americans (SGKAs) are living lives of marginality on the edge of Korean American and American cultures. This double life often leads to heightened mental health concerns. Due to cultural stigma, however, SGKAs may not seek out counseling or other mental health services. If they do, their unique cultural formation is often not fully addressed, impeding growth and healing.

The aim of this study is to determine what kind of space is needed for the growth, healing and empowerment of SGKAs. Red Door Ministry (RDM), a pastoral counseling center at a local Korean American church, serves as a model for such a space. Built from a postcolonial understanding of third space, RDM is constructed with various culturally sensitive elements that allow SGKAs to move from places of shame on the margins to empowered new centers.

This transformation is examined by four in-depth interviews of RDM clients. These clients have completed at least ten sessions of counseling in RDM and present marked improvements in their mental, emotional, and spiritual health. The interviews show that these transformations were possible because their complex cultural hybridity was addressed in the process of counseling. This process is analyzed using concepts from Western psychological theories of D.W. Winnicott and C.G. Jung as well as through the work of several Korean American theologians: Wonhee Anne Joh, Grace Ji-sun Kim, and Andrew Sung Park.

The results of this study show that a third space that encourages personal transformation leads people with hybrid identities and cultures to live more meaningful and renewed lives. Their transformation is multiplied when they empower others towards freedom and agency. On this basis, it is recommended that pastoral counselors and other caregivers of marginalized and intercultural populations create hybrid third spaces for their care. Further research could be undertaken to identify the unique impact SGKAs may make when they are welcomed and empowered in similar spaces.

Table of Contents

Introduction                                                                                                                       1

Why Red Door Ministry?: Origins and Nomenclature                                                          2

A Small Sample with Limitless Knowledge: Meet the Other Three Clients                          5

Framing the Door: Methods of Research                                                                             7

The Researcher and The Participants                                                                                   9

A Walk Through the Red Door: Chapter Outline                                                               11

Chapter 1: Red Door Ministry in Context                                                                14

In Search of Home                                                                                                             14

Double Lives                                                                                                                      17

           Scholarship on the Double Live of Second-Generation Korean Americans            18

           The Benefits of a Double Life                                                                                22

           Not Fully Korean                                                                                                   22

                       A Snapshot of Korean Culture

                       Korean Culture Vs. American Culture

                       “Too Americanized”

           Not Fully American                                                                                                26

                       The Myth

                       Being “Asian American”

                       Racism Continues

                       Forever Foreigners

           Pressures to Fit In                                                                                                  30

                       Expectations from Korea America Parents

                       Korean American Dream

                       Expectations from American Society

Mental Health Consequences of Double Lives                                                                   36

           Anger and Violence                                                                                                37

                       Fatherlessness: Growing Up with Violence

                       Ager and Violence and Second-Generation Korean Americans

           Quest for Success: Guilt, Shame, and Fear of Failure                                             40

                       A New Definition of Success

           A Sign of Weakness: Shame                                                                                   43

The Double Life of the Korean American Church                                                             44

           The Church as a Comforter                                                                                    44

                       As a Buffer from Oppression: Marginality and Racism

           The Church as an Oppressor                                                                                  45

                       Social Hierarchy: Competition

                       Generational Hierarchy

                       Restrictive Gender Roles  

Homecoming: Red Door Ministry as a Place for Wholeness                                               49

Chapter 2: The Space of Red Door Ministry                                                               53

Defining Space                                                                                                                    53

Postcolonial Theory: Creating Third Space                                                                         55

           Starting from Orientalism: Labeling the “Other”                                                    56

                       Edward Said

           Postcolonial Critique                                                                                              57

                       Homi Bhabha

           Postcolonial Process                                                                                               59

                       Critique of Oppressive Systems

                       Validation of Full Humanity

                       Recovery through Reclamation

                       Construction of New Realities

           Postcolonial Space                                                                                                  63

                       Third Space and Hybridity

           Red Door Ministry as Third Space                                                                          64

Imagined Space to Physical Space                                                                                       65

           Envisioning Red Door Ministry                                                                              66

           Creating Red Door Ministry: Under Construction                                                  67

           Inside the Room                                                                                                     68

                       Creating Potential Space

                       Transitional Object

                       Experiencing a Holding Environment

The Counselor’s Inner Space                                                                                              73

           The Counselor as Like All Others, Like Some Others, Like No Other                   74

           Pushing Past Labels                                                                                                76

                       Reframing the “Rebellious Child”

                       1.5 Generation: A Fluid Identity

           Claiming My Voice                                                                                                 79

                       A New Definition of Culture

                       Climbing Out of Silence

                       Being True to Self

           Creating More Space                                                                                              84

                       Confessions of a Colonized Colonizer

           Homecoming                                                                                                         85

                       Home Away from Home

           Conclusion                                                                                                             87

Chapter 3: What Happens in Red Door Ministry                                             88

Western vs. Eastern View of Self                                                                                        89

           Western and Eastern Views of “Self”                                                                     89

           Shame                                                                                                                    91

Shame and SGKAs                                                                                                             93

           Defining Shame                                                                                                      93

                       Shame: Self-Deficiency

                       Shame: A Threat to Hope

                       Shame: The Result of Victimization

                       Shame and Guilt

           Jason and Shame                                                                                                    97

                       Shame and Idealization

                       Shame and Gender Script

           Ava and Shame                                                                                                     100

                       Shame and Negative Emotions

                       Shame and Gender Roles

Western Psychological Theorist                                                                                        104

           D.W. Winnicott                                                                                                    104

           Transitional Object and Transitional Phenomena                                                 105

                       Transitional Objects and Shame

                       Ava’s Transitional Object

           Play and True Self                                                                                                 108

                       Play and True Self and Shame

                       Ava’s Play and True Self

           C.G. Jung                                                                                                             112

           Self-Exploration and Individuation                                                                       113

                       Self-Exploration and Individuation and Shame

                       Jason’s Self-Exploration and individuation

           Shadow                                                                                                                 116

                       Shadow and Shame

                       Jason’s Shadow

           Winnicott and Jung in Red Door Ministry                                                            119

           Gaps in Western Theory for Second-Generation Korean Americans                    119

Eastern Theorist                                                                                                               121

           Wonhee Anne Joh                                                                                                121


                       Jeong and Shame

                       Jason’s Jeong

                       Ava’s Jeong

           Andrew Sung Park                                                                                                126


                       Hahn and Shame

                       Ava’s Hahn

                       Jason’s Hahn

           Hae-Jin Choe                                                                                                        129

                       Fusion Chef

                       Fusion Chef and Shame

                       Ava and the Fusion Chef

                       Jason and the Fusion Chef

Beyond Shame                                                                                                                  135

           The Red Door Ministry Model in the Therapist and Therapeutic Environment    135

                       The Therapist/Caregiver

                       Therapeutic Environment

The Red Door Ministry Model in the Therapeutic Environment of Christian

Churches                                                                                                              137

Chapter 4: Transformations in Red Door Ministry: Theological Implications         139

Pastoral Theology                                                                                                 140

Red Door Ministry Six Step Transformation Model: From Margins to New Center 141

Step 1: Opening and Embracing Possibilities                                                                    141

           The Divine Dance                                                                                                141

           Dancing at Red Door Ministry                                                                             144

Step 2: Identifying Oppressive Systems                                                                            144

           Margins                                                                                                                144

                       Being Marginalized

                       Rose’s Feelings of Marginalization

                       Sam’s Feelings of Marginalization

Step 3: Identifying Redemptive Elements                                                                         148

           Turning the Margins into Places Possibilities                                                        148

           New Ways of Seeing                                                                                             149

           Finding New Sight at Red Door Ministry                                                             150

                       Rose’s Step Toward Redemption

                       Jason’s Step Toward Redemption

Step 4: Using Redemptive elements to Challenge Oppressive Systems                              154

           The Fluidity of Margins and Centers                                                                     154

                       God and the Margins

           Challenging Oppressive Voices in Red Door Ministry                                          157

                       Ava Challenges Oppressive Systems

Step 5: Owning Power and Agency                                                                                   160

           Power                                                                                                                   160

                       Jason’s Power and Agency

           Jeong                                                                                                                    163

                       Sam’s Jeong

Step 6: Co-Creating New Centers                                                                                     165

           Chi                                                                                                                       165

                       Chi and New Centers

           Co-Creating New Centers in Red Door Ministry                                                  167

                       Ava’s Center of Hope

                       Rose’s Center of Empowerment and Justice

                      Sam’s Center of Self-Discovery

                       Jason’s Center of Freedom

Flow of Divine Movement                                                                                               171

Chapter 5: Going Beyond the Red Door Ministry                                             174

The Clients: Beyond the Red Door Ministry                                                                     174

           Taking the Red Door Ministry Beyond Its Walls                                                  174

           Clients Creating Space                                                                                          176

                       Ava’s Dream: Creating Potential Space for Justice

                       Rose’s Ministry: Creating Space for Jeong

                       Jason’s Next Chapter: Creating Space for Hahn

                       Sam’s Renewed Energy: Creating Space for Authenticity

The Community: Beyond the Red Door Ministry                                                             180

           A Scriptural Model for Flourishing Space                                                             181

                       Parable of the Sower: Space for Growth and Healing

           The Postcolonial Model for Flourishing Space                                                     183

                       Third Space

                       Third Space and Fusion

                       Third Space and Potential Space

           Implication for the Korean American Church                                                      185

The Caregiver: Beyond the Red Door Ministry                                                                 187

           The Inner Life of the Dreamer: A Life’s Work of Inner Work                              187

           Quest for Authentic Connection: A Life’s Work of Rest and Nurturing Relationships  188

           Going Beyond the Red Door Ministry                                                                   189

Bibliography/Non-Printed Sources                                                                              191

Appendix: Interview Questions                                                                                    200

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