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Is underage drinking a problem among Korean American youth?




Steve Han stands on a busy street corner in Koreatown, Los Angeles, where he says the local community is addressing underage drinking among youth.
Steve Han stands on a busy street corner in Koreatown, Los Angeles, where he says the local community is addressing underage drinking among youth.
Dorian Merina / KPCC

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Underage drinking has long been an issue for youth from many backgrounds. But how different cultural communities respond is rarely talked about.

That's something journalist Steve Han takes on in a recent article in KoreAm Journal.

Han himself grew up in a Korean American family and, as he writes, the stats for the community are alarming:

"In a recent survey of 1,043 college students under age 21, conducted by AADAP [Asian American Drug Abuse Program], nearly a quarter of Asian Americans said that they had considered themselves “drunk” more than three times in the past month, compared with only 12 percent of all surveyed California students. Among those Asian American students, Korean Americans represented the largest ethnic majority in the pool, with 35 percent of them consuming six or more drinks in one sitting."

Han profiles a group called the Koreatown Youth and Community Center that is leading efforts to reduce underage drinking by working with local businesses and educating children and teens.

His article, "Protecting Youth from ‘Culture of Drinking’" in KoreAm Journal, was produced as a project of The California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships, an initiative of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.