Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Korean Americans Did you know– That more than 800,000 Americans of Korean ancestry reside in the U.S.?

Korean Americans
Did you know–
That more than 800,000 Americans of Korean ancestry reside in the U.S.? (according to the 1990 census)
That Japan occupied Korea from 1910 to 1945 and launched a campaign to wipe out Korean culture?
That the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 created a demand in Hawaii for Korean labor, brought in also to offset the growing militancy of Japanese labor?
That Kwangbok, the future restoration of sovereignty for Korea, became the unifying force in the U.S. Korean community after 1910?
That between 1942 and 1943 (during World War II), the ten thousand Koreans in America purchased $239,000 worth of U.S. defense bonds?
That during World War II, Korean Americans often wore traditional dress and some wore signs that read, “I’m no Jap”?
That the Korean War opened up to a second wave of Korean immigration from 1951, the so-called “war brides”?
That the racial epithet “gook” is actually Korean for “country”? In Korean language, the U.S.A. is called Mee Hap Joon Gook, shorted to “Mee Gook.”
That the Hart-Celler Act of 1965, which abolished the national origins quota system, opened up a third wave of Korean immigration? (299,000 between 1965 and 1980)
That there are more North Koreans that South Koreans in the U.S. today?
That Korean communities formed a credit-rotating system called the kae (or kye)?
That many Korean professionals in major U.S. cities are self-employed? (with the highest rate among Asians, twice as high as the U.S. average, and second only to Greek Americans)
That although 25% of Koreans are Christian, some 75% of Korean Americans belong to Christian churches, especially Presbyterian?

Famous Korean Americans You May Have Heard About:
The Ahn Trio, with pianist Luica Ahn and her sisters, cellist Maria Ahn and violinist Angela Ahn
Earl Kim, Korean American composer of Where Gried Slumbers
Christine Choy, creator of the documentary Who Killed Vincent Chin?
Philip Ahn, character actor who played the master in Kung Fu; the first Asian American actor to be immortalized on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Randall Duk Kim,actor and one of the finest interpreters of Shakespeare
Margaret Cho, comedian and former star of ABC TV’s All-American Girl
Angela E. Oh, attorney specializing in criminal law, Asian American spokesperson during the 1990’s Los Angeles riots

Important Korean American Dates (Source: Baron and Gall):
1904, The Japanese move through Korea on their way to attack Manchuria (China), but never leave Korea. Japan declares Korea a protectorate, or dependent state, in 1905. The word “Kwangbok” (meaning the future restoration of Korean national sovereignty) becomes a rallying cry for the Korean fighters for independence.

1905, The Korean Evangelical Society was organized in San Francisco. “Korean churches served not only the religious needs of their members but also provided a community meeting place away from the discrimination of the outside world. The Korean independence movement found its headquarters in local churches, where meetings were held and strategies prepared.”

1907-08, Pro-Independence Korean American newspapers were founded: the United Korean News and The New Korea. In 1928, The Samil Sinbo.

1911, When whites drove eleven Korean apricot workers out of Hemet, California, the Japanese consul general offered to assist the workers. Korean association leaders, however, where indignant and refused Japanese assistance. The Korean associations in California then banded together to assert their separate identity from the Japanese Americans. Since Japan took over Korea, many Koreans were angry at the Japanese nation.

June 1913, Fifteen Korean fruit pickers, who had been hired by an orchard owner in Riverside Country, California, were surrounded and driven off by a crowd of angry unemployed European Americans when they arrived at the train station.

1919, Korean American churches and study groups react with renewed energies to Japan’s suppression of the independence movement: they increase aid, found the Korean National Association, raise funds, and attend the first Korean Liberty Congress in Philadelphia.

1920, Agricultural entrepreneurs Charles Ho Kim and Kim Hyong-sun established the Kim Brothers Company in Reedley, California. Kim Hyong-sun and an employee named Anderson invented the nectarine, a cross between a peach and a plum.

December 29, 1941, Fifty Koreans had registered for training with the California National Guard. A separate Korean guard unit was formed soon after.

1945, The United States War Department set the 38th parallel in Korea as the dividing line between Soviet-occupied North Korea and American-occupied South Korea.

August 14, 1948
The new Republic of Korea (the South) was inaugurated at a ceremony in Seoul, Korea, with Syngman Rhee as its founder and first president. Syngman Rhee had received a B.A. from George Washington University, an M.A. from Harvard, and a Ph.D. from Princeton (the first Korean to do so in any American college).
Syngman Rhee organized the Korean Methodist Church and the Korean Christian Institute in Hawaii. He later became leader of the Korean independence movement.

June 25, 1950, The Korean War began when the Soviet-armed North Koreans invaded the southern Republic of Korea.
U.S. forces directed by President Harry S Truman join U.N. troops on the side of S. Korea. Communist China comes to the aid of N. Korea.
U.S. servicemen marry Korean “war brides” and bring them back home after the war stalemates, in 1953
An armistice ends the war in 1953; Korea remained divided
The Korean War brought tremendous destruction and casualties to both North and South Korea. Following the war, many Korean war orphans were adopted by U.S. citizens.

1992, Soon Jah Du, Korean American shopkeeper, shoots Latasha Harlins, an African American teenager, in an argument over a bottle of juice.

April 29, 1992, The riots in South Central Los Angeles, following on the verdict of the second Rodney King trial, bring looting and destruction of Korean American-owned business, at a loss of about $425 million.

Elaine Kim, “Home is Where the Han Is: A Korean American Perspective on the Los Angeles Upheavals”
“I want to explore the questions of whether or not recovery [from the violence of the upheavals] is possible for Korean Americans, and what will become of our attempts to ‘become American’ without dying of han. Han is a Korean word that means, loosely translated, the sorrow and anger that grow from accumulated experiences of oppression” (270)
Emphasis on the “instititial” or in-between status of Korean Americans: their function as a “buffer” class between the poor people of color and the privileged classes.
Sa-i-ku means “April 29,” the date of the Los Angeles Upheavals.
The Los Angeles Koreatown was targeted during the violence that ensued upon the Rodney King trial decision, which acquitted four policemen of the charge of brutality committed against Rodney King
The violence against the Korean American shopkeepers underscores the racial tensions between Korean Americans, on the one hand, and African Americans and U.S. Latinos on the other.
Korean Americans were made into scapegoats: they invested in liquor stores and grocery stores during the 1970s but blamed for alleged prejudicial behavior toward people of color.
The news media, furthermore, treated them as lawless vigilantes protecting their businesses, seated on rooftops, shooting into the crowd. But they were protecting themselves for the three days of the looting and rioting, when the police and fire departments would not come.
Kim explains:
Korean immigrants eager to pursue the American dream “of social and economic mobility through hard work” (273)
Sa-i-gu as a kind of painful “initiation into becoming American,” requiring them to take the blame for dispossession and inequality in America
In the news media, Koreans demonstrating for constitutional reform “made to seem like insane people from another planet,” thus feeding the stereotypes (274). Koreans had no voice in the western news media; no coverage of the 30,000 Korean Americans who marched for peace in downtown Los Angeles.
Kim also discusses the typical Korean attitude of scorn toward the poor and shabby, and the lack of English speaking skills, reinforcing hostility between races.

Video: Korean Americans
Koreans kept out of white schools; denied services in public recreation and in restaurants; ethnic antagonism
Oriental Exclusion Act, 1924
Met with a rough reception
US and Soviets opposed each other in Korea
1965, US Immigration Act signed by LBJ; many professionals, instant members of the middle class
Chain immigration: relatives coming in, hosted by relatives; how 2nd generations keep their cultural identities; revitalizing businesses in LA’s Koreatown; also in the NY borough of Queens
Entry businesses: getting small shops off the ground

Barriers of language; issues of skin color; Koreans had lived in a monoracial society in Korea; no chance to see other races except white missionaries; most Koreans in the US feel very strange; not understanding blacks’ body movements
Immigrants facing tensions; Korean stores targeted by looters; saying Korean merchants were rude; rudeness stemming from prejudicial Korean attitudes; also learned prejudicial attitudes from American movies; cultural differences; Korean men not supposed to show emotions or talk much. Direct clash with African American culture, which has a strong oratory or conversational outlook. In Asia, not supposed to look directly into another person’s eyes, but here’s that’s interpreted as being rude.

Korean American minister found problems of finding housing or restaurant service in Chicago; difficult to get into nice neighborhoods
Racism can be overt or subtle: white teacher can be more reactive to white parents than to Asian-looking ones; going into that context, will my child grow up to have self-confidence?

A myth that Asian Americans have made it. But still subject to epithets, violence, and race politics
We join together with other people of color to fight for civil rights
African Americans as having lost their faith in the system
The April 29 events showing that political leaders didn’t respond to their needs: not the police, the mayor, the governor made their appearance but offered no substantial aid.
Myth of the natural superiority of white people

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