Cultural Attitudes Toward Drinking among Koreans

After studying Module 5: Lecture Materials & Resources, discuss the following:

Jay and Sue Kim, ages 29 and 26 years and married for 2 years, immigrated from South Korea and settled in Los Angeles. They have lived in a small one-bedroom apartment since their arrival. Both graduated from the same Korean university with baccalaureate degrees in English literature. They have one child, Joseph, age 1 year. When they arrived in the United States, Jay was unable to find a job because of his poor proficiency in English, despite his major in English literature. He eventually obtained a job with a moving company through a church friend. Sue is not working because of their son. Although the Kim’s did not attend a church before immigration, they are now regularly attending a Korean Protestant church in their neighborhood.

Sue is pregnant again, determined by a home pregnancy kit, with their second child and concerned about the medical costs. They did not use any contraceptives because she was breastfeeding. Because of financial limitations, Sue did not initially have prenatal care with her first pregnancy. However, she did keep up with the Korean traditional prenatal practice, tae-kyo. Eventually, she received help from her church and delivered a healthy son. She is not sure whether she can get financial help from her church again but is confident that her second child will be healthy if she follows the Korean traditional prenatal practices.

Jay is concerned about job security because he recently heard from colleagues that the moving company might soon go bankrupt. Although Jay has not been satisfied with his current job (he thinks that he is overqualified), this news is still a cause for concern. Moreover, Sue’s recent pregnancy has made Jay more stressed, and he has started drinking alcohol. Joseph cannot stand up by himself and still wants to be breastfed. Although Sue has tried to give foods such as oranges, apples, steamed rice, and milk (because she is now pregnant), Joseph refuses to eat them and cries for breastfeeding. Joseph’s weight is low-normal for same-age babies.

  1. Describe the Korean cultural practice tae-kyo. Is this practice congruent with allopathic recommendations for prenatal care?
  2. How do food choices among Koreans differ with pregnancy and postpartum?
  3. Describe cultural attitudes toward drinking among Koreans.
  4. Identify two or three culturally congruent strategies a healthcare provider might use to address Jay’s drinking.

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cultural attitudes toward drinking among Koreans

Description of Tae-kyo:

Tae-kyo is a traditional Korean prenatal practice that focuses on the care and well-being of the mother during pregnancy. It involves a combination of cultural and medical beliefs and practices. Here are some key aspects of Tae-kyo:

  1. Nutrition: Tae-kyo emphasizes the importance of maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet during pregnancy. Traditional Korean foods such as seaweed soup (miyeokguk), various types of kimchi, and other nutrient-rich dishes are often consumed. These foods are believed to provide essential nutrients to support the mother’s health and the development of the fetus.
  2. Rest and Avoidance of Stress: Pregnant women practicing Tae-kyo are encouraged to rest adequately and avoid physical and emotional stress. It is believed that a calm and stress-free environment is essential for the well-being of both the mother and the baby.
  3. Herbal Medicine: Some Tae-kyo practices involve the use of herbal medicine to alleviate common pregnancy discomforts, such as morning sickness and fatigue. These herbal remedies are often based on traditional Korean herbal medicine principles.
  4. Cultural and Social Support: Tae-kyo also encompasses social and community support. Family members and friends may offer assistance to the pregnant woman, helping with household chores and providing emotional support. In Sue’s case, she received help from her church during her first pregnancy.

Congruence with Allopathic Recommendations:

Tae-kyo shares some similarities with allopathic (Western) recommendations for prenatal care, particularly in terms of the emphasis on nutrition and rest. Both approaches recognize the importance of a healthy diet and reducing stress during pregnancy. However, there are also differences:

  1. Medical Monitoring: Allopathic prenatal care places a strong emphasis on regular medical check-ups and screenings to monitor the health of the mother and fetus. Tae-kyo may not incorporate these medical assessments to the same extent, which could lead to potential health risks going unnoticed.
  2. Herbal Medicine: While some herbal remedies used in Tae-kyo may have beneficial effects, there is a lack of rigorous scientific evidence to support their safety and efficacy during pregnancy. Allopathic care relies on evidence-based medicine and FDA-approved treatments.
  3. Cultural and Community Support: Tae-kyo places a significant emphasis on social and community support, which can be valuable. However, allopathic care also recognizes the importance of emotional well-being and may incorporate counseling or support groups as part of prenatal care.

Food Choices Among Koreans During Pregnancy and Postpartum:

Food choices among Koreans during pregnancy and postpartum are influenced by cultural beliefs and nutritional considerations. Some common practices include:

  1. Miyeokguk (Seaweed Soup): This soup, rich in vitamins and minerals, is often consumed during pregnancy and postpartum as it is believed to promote breast milk production and aid in recovery.
  2. Kimchi: Fermented kimchi is a staple in Korean cuisine and is often included in meals during pregnancy and postpartum. It provides probiotics and essential nutrients.
  3. Sesame Oil and Nuts: These are believed to provide essential fatty acids and energy to new mothers to support recovery.
  4. Avoidance of Cold Foods: There is a belief that consuming cold or raw foods during pregnancy and postpartum can be harmful. Warm, cooked foods are preferred.

Cultural Attitudes Toward Drinking Among Koreans:

In Korean culture, drinking alcohol, particularly socially, is quite common and is often seen as a way to build and maintain relationships. However, it’s essential to note that attitudes toward drinking can vary among individuals, and not all Koreans drink alcohol.

Strategies for Addressing Jay’s Drinking:

  1. Cultural Sensitivity: Healthcare providers should approach Jay’s drinking with cultural sensitivity. They should acknowledge the cultural significance of drinking in Korean society while also discussing the potential health risks associated with excessive alcohol consumption, especially during a stressful time.
  2. Education and Awareness: Healthcare providers can educate Jay about the potential impact of alcohol on his own health and well-being and on the family dynamics. They can provide information about healthy coping strategies for stress and anxiety.
  3. Referral to Support Services: If Jay’s drinking becomes problematic, healthcare providers can refer him to support services, such as counseling or addiction treatment programs. They can also involve a social worker or counselor who understands the cultural context to provide guidance and support.

In summary, Tae-kyo is a traditional Korean prenatal practice that emphasizes nutrition, rest, and cultural support during pregnancy. While it shares some commonalities with allopathic recommendations, there are also differences in medical monitoring and the use of herbal remedies. Food choices during pregnancy and postpartum in Korean culture focus on nutrient-rich and warm foods. Cultural attitudes toward drinking are generally accepting, and healthcare providers should approach addressing Jay’s drinking with cultural sensitivity, education, and referrals to support services if needed.

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