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Name: Pyong Gap Min

Title:Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Director of the Research Center for Korean Community

Department: Sociology

Degree(s): MA history, PhD educational philosophy, and PhD sociology, Georgia State University

Contact Information:
Phone (718) 997-2810
What I like most about teaching at Queens College is teaching at a school with such great racial and ethnic diversity among its students.
Pyong Gap Min
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Pyong Gap Min, one of the nation’s leading scholars on Korean/Asian Americans and immigration, doesn’t have to travel far to carry out his research. Flushing has vibrant Asian scenes, with a particularly strong Korean immigrant community. For his exceptional work in this field, Min was recently named Distinguished Professor of Sociology, a title the City University bestows on its top faculty.

Min has written several books on the Korean-American experience. Caught In the Middle: Korean Communities in New York and Los Angeles (1996) compared the immigrant experience on opposite ends of North America, surveying the inter-group conflicts that arose among Korean retailers, white suppliers, black customers, and Latino employees.

Ethnic Solidarity for Economic Survival: Korean Green Grocers in New York City (2008) looked at how unified boycotts over mistreatment of grocers by suppliers at a city wholesale market brought systemic change. Between 1981 and 1995, the city’s 2,000 Korean grocers on 10 occasions staged a boycott of the Hunts Point produce market to make their point.  “This was an example of ethnic collective action,” says Min. “They showed that a boycott can hurt them.”

In 2010 Min will publish Preserving Ethnicity through Religion in America: Korean Protestants and Indian Hindus across Generations. He studied a Korean-American congregation and a Hindu congregation in Queens, looking at how the children of immigrants connected with their parents’ past. 

Min found that Korean immigrants successfully transmitted their Christian beliefs but did less well inculcating a strong sense of being Korean in the next generation. Indians, meanwhile, created a strong national identity through Hindu traditions, but did not pass along a strong religious identity.

“The Koreans had a weak Korean identity and a strong Christian identity,” says Min, who came to the US in 1972 to study at Georgia State University. “For the Hindus it was the opposite—the Indians embraced their Indian ethnic identity, even though they weren’t so religious.”

Book everyone should read: Black Identities: West Indian Immigrant Dreams and American Realities by Mary C. Waters

Surprising fact: Min’s early life in Korea was marked by tragedy: his mother died when he was 8, and his six brothers and sisters all died while children.


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