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Learning from Asian Indian Americans

[Steven Y C Kang, CPA]

I left Korea in 1967 when I was 7 years old. Although I am married to a Korean woman, who came to the US when she was 19 years old, I am still unfamiliar with the Korean culture and language. I could speak Korean but the nuances and ever-fast-changing Korean culture leave me at a disadvantage in Korean social settings. As a result, I have been fostering my American side more than my Korean side, as it is easier to master.

So why do I keep coming back to the Korean community? It is because of belongingness. I am accepted just as I am because we are going through a similar experience, called the American Experience.

I felt this when I was helping the Korean American victims of the LA Riots in 1992, instead of taking up guns and fighting the looters. That singular experience cemented my identity as an American, Korean American. Although there are those who oppose me just because of how I look, how I speak, or where I came from, America held its arms open to me to plant my roots here, because of its commitment to the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,

Prior to this experience, although I wanted belongingness to the Korean-American community, I shied away from it because I was not fluent in Korean and its culture. I also did not want to submit to those who used their better knowledge and mastery of the Korean language and culture to project their superiority, often closing off the community from the outside world. We learned from the Chinese that building walls do not work.

The main mission of KASCPA is to help accountants improve their professionalism and increase diversity through education, information, and exchanges with members and related professionals required in the accounting profession. 본 협회의 주 임무는 회계 직업에서 요구되는 교육, 정보 및 회원과 연관 전문인들과의 교류를 통해서 회계사들의 전문성 향상과 다양성을 증가시키는데 도움을 주는 데 있습니다.

It is my hope that KASCPA will be able to deliver on this mission statement. I see a great future for KASCPA if it is able to improve Korean Americans’ professionalism and increase the diversity required in the accounting profession. One way to do this is to break down the walls to include more Korean-American accounting professionals, empowering them to succeed in the accounting profession.

According to the NPR article 6 Charts That Dismantle the Trope of Asian Americans As A Model Minority, published on May 25, 2021 by Connie Hanzhang Jin, , Asian Indian American households are the highest-earning group among Asian Americans, with a median household income of $127,000 a year. The same article noted the following statistics:

  1. 4.3 million Asian Indians in the US,

  2. 1.9 million Koreans in the US, and

  3. Korean households in the US median household income is around $80K, which is slightly higher than the U.S. median household income of $66,000.

One organization, which contributed greatly to increasing the wealth of Asian Indian Americans is the Asian American Hotel Owners Association, or AAHOA, 40 years ago, a group of Asian Indian American hotel/motel owners banded together to fight discrimination by forming AAHOA. Their mission is to be “the foremost resource and advocate for America’s hotel owners.” Today, Asian American Indians own 60% of hotels/motels in the U.S. They employ 1.1 million employees earning $47 billion annually. How did they achieve this? By pulling their resources and empowering each other through education and networking to compete and win in the mainstream.

I don’t know exactly how KASCPA would achieve this but I hope that it would take the first step toward it by being more inclusive and transparent for all to see and take ownership of the organization.

Steven Y C Kang, CPA

KASCPA Costa Rica 에서 발표한 내용입니다.


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