The Role of Korean Migrant Churches in Australia in Welfare Service Provision and Social Action

Ki Soo Jang

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This thesis examines the needs, roles and problems of the Korean migrant church in social services and social actions in Australia.

This research also analyses how Korean migrant churches in Australia promote and encourage an understanding of the cultural gap between their mother culture and the new culture experienced by migrants in Australia.

This study investigates the character of Korean migrant churches, methods used to preserve their Korean ethnic identity and ways of encouraging church members to integrate themselves as migrants in a new land and new society. This thesis clarifies the concept of the diaspora or migrants as the ‘Min-Jung’ in a new society and culture.

This research is a study of Korean churches within the boundaries of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia. Fifty Korean migrant churches out of a total of 106 in Sydney participated. The main source of data was obtained from Korean migrant church ministers in various Sydney areas, using a 22 page questionnaire followed by a personal interview.

This was a comparative study in relation to the social needs of two groups: group one were Korean people immigrating to Australia between 1970 and 1999, and group two those arriving since 2000. The response of the churches to their varying and differing needs is examined.

The data was analyzed in terms of five particular hypotheses: (1) the differences in the way churches provide social services in the Western regions compared with the northern/North regions of Sydney; (2) The way the personal social service activities offered vary with membership size; (3) the way the personal social service activities offered vary with the proportion of new migrants; (4) the reality that Korean churches in Sydney are more likely to support churches and missions in Korea and overseas than they are to support churches, welfare service and missions in Australia; (5) the observation that Korean churches in Sydney are more likely to assist their church members to preserve a Korean ethnic identity than to promote cultural settlement in Australia.

One of main findings of this research is that Korean migrant churches in Australia are also involved in the service of providing information and referral services in housing, job and family counselling services to Korean migrants. Korean churches and especially Korean church ministers are major service providers and gatekeepers for migrants in a new society who have significant service needs in their life. Critical limitations in migrant-specific activities by formal social service providers in Australia and Korean ethnic social service agencies in the Korean community makes it apparent that Korean migrant churches will need to continue their present role in providing services to Korean migrants.

Another finding is that the services that Korean churches provide for Korean migrants are mostly personal services not related to the other formal service systems available in the wider Australian society. Importantly this research shows that Korean migrant churches are strongly and significantly active in preserving Korean identity. However it was found that there was little attention given to promoting cross-cultural interaction and multicultural settlement processes.

The overall conclusion is that joint efforts in providing services by formal social service agencies and Korean migrant churches would lead to more effective and efficient services for the needs of Korean migrants.

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Charles Sturt University
  • Moore, Gerard, Principal Supervisor
Award date01 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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