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ISSN : 2233-6710(Print)
ISSN : 2384-2121(Online)
Journal of Asia Pacific Counseling Vol.4 No.1 pp.49-64

A Review of the Korean Cultural Syndrome Hwa-Byung: Suggestions for Theory and Intervention

Jieun Lee1, Amy Wachholtz2, Keum-Hyeong Choi3

1Pohang University of Science and Technology, Pohang, South Korea.
2University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA, USA.
3American University, Washington, DC, USA.
Received September 30, 2013 Accepted January 17, 2014


The purpose of this paper is to review Hwa-Byung, a cultural syndrome specific to Koreans and Korean immigrants. Hwa-Byung is a unique diagnosis and differs from other DSM disorders. However, Hwa-Byung has frequent comorbidity with other DSM disorders such as anger disorders, generalized anxiety disorder, and major depressive disorder. There are several risk factors for Hwa-Byung including psychosocial stress caused by marital conflicts and conflicts with their in-laws. Previous interventions of the Hwa-Byung syndrome were based primarily on the medical model. Therefore, based on previous research, we present a new ecological model of Hwa-Byung. We also recommend some areas of future research as well as present some limitations of our ecological model. Finally, we discuss some treatment issues, particularly for Korean women in the United States.

Corresponding Author
Jieun Lee, Student Counseling Center, Pohang University of Science and Technology,
77 Cheongam-Ro, Nam-Gu, Pohang, Gyeongbuk, 790-784 South Korea.