For Korean immigrants, settling in New Zealand is challenging and stress-inducing. There is growing concern that feelings of alienation and loss seem to be key features in their lives. Taking the symbolic interactionism perspective that people interpret a situation through social interaction, the purpose of this study was to explore how Korean immigrants interact with their new environment, whilst re-negotiating their reality. A grounded theory methodology was employed as it places participants’ actions at the centre of its attention. Semi-structured interviews and field observations were conducted to collect information from 25 participants who lived in the North Island of New Zealand. Data were analysed using methods of constant comparison, conditional matrix and memoing. The resultant substantive grounded theory was Regaining Control: A Journey of Valuing Self. It offers one plausible explanation of how Korean immigrants make choices about their occupations by opting to enact ‘Korean Ways’ and ‘New Zealand Ways’ until they reach a place where they will once again feel valued as members of civic society. Through increasing understanding of the impact of immigration on occupations, this study contributes to knowledge of the diversity of human experiences in the occupational science literature.