Tapestries: Interwoven voices of local and global identities


This paper examines the intersections between death and culture in the context of hospice care. The patient demographics of modern hospice care are overwhelmingly White; through an analysis of the formation of Korean-American culture and its distinct values, I conclude that hospice as we know it today primarily adheres to the Western conceptualization of a “good death”, and therefore is not accessible to those who belong to different cultures. In order to remedy this and to explain the racial disparities among hospice patients, I apply a model of cultural competency that specifically caters to Korean-American death traditions. While the effects of implementation are unknown, this model reimagines hospice to be a critical nexus between cultural variance and a good death.

Author Biography

Lydia Koh-Krienke (she/her/hers) is a graduating senior at Macalester College. As an American Studies major with a biology minor, she plans to attend graduate school for a dual nursing and masters of public health degree. While her passions include bioethics and engaging race in order to promote culturally-competent healthcare, her future plans include caring for her community through nursing in settings such as free clinics, halfway houses, and homeless shelters. She dedicates this paper to her Grandfather, who immigrated to the United States from South Korea in order to escape war prison, but would also like to thank her family for being a constant in this ever-changing world.


I would first and foremost like to thank my father, John Krienke, for always jumping at the chance to read and edit my paper through its many forms. I would also like to thank Ron Barrett, Jaine Strauss, Duchess Harris, Ronald Brisbois, Lin Aanonsen, Karin Aguilar-San Juan, and countless others at Macalester College for continually engaging my scholarship and answering my endless questions. I would truly not be here today without the help and compassion of every single one of these individuals, and for that I am truly grateful.


– Lydia Koh-Krienke, '19

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.