January 13th - A Day to Celebrate and Honor Korean Americans
Korean American Day, January 13, is a day to honor Americans of Korean descent who have made immeasurable contributions as small business owners, military service members, faith leaders, doctors, artists, and elected officials for over a century. It was on January 13, 1903 that just over 100 Koreans first arrived in the United States. They arrived as “contracted laborers” for sugar cane farming. They worked hard, with persistence and determination to help their families financially back to Korea. The number of immigrants quickly grew and, within two years, about 7,500 Koreans had immigrated to the United States.

Korean Americans served their communities and their country during World War I, World War II and the Korean War. During these times, more Koreans decided to emigrate from their homeland. As the years passed, Korean-Americans have made valuable contributions toward society. In 2003, President George W. Bush proclaimed a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first Korean immigrants. In 2005, the U.S. House and Senate passed simple resolutions in support of Korean American Day. Since then, many states across the country have passed bills declaring January 13 as an annual celebration of Korean American Day. On Korean American Day, we honor and celebrate the contributions, efforts and significance of Korean American culture.

There is a plethora of success stories from Korean Americans, including the invention of the first beating heart operation for coronary artery heart disease, the development of the nectarine, and many achievements in engineering, architecture, medicine, acting, singing, sculpture, and writing. Many communities have recognized Korean Americans for their contributions. Among them, Ahn Chang Ho (also known as Dosan), one of the earlier immigrants. Ho established the Willows Korean Aviation Corps in the United States, which later helped establish the Korean Air Force. Among others, Sammy Lee, the Olympic gold medalist in diving, and Wendy Gramm, the U.S Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chair under President Reagan and President Bush I. Additionally, Judge Herbert Y.C. Choy, was the first Asian American appointed to the U.S. Federal Court (Court of Appeals Ninth District) in 1974, Sang Hyun Lee, the first tenured Asian American professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, and Hines Ward, Jr., a professional football player for the Pittsburgh Steelers. In 2016, the Council of Korean Americans (CKA) organized diverse civic, political and military leaders from across the United States to nominate the late Colonel Young Oak Kim for a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award of the United States. Young Oak Kim’s extraordinary service in the United States Army and his compassion for the underprivileged and marginalized epitomize the meaning of public service and social justice. Kim’s legacy reminds us that all of us can be agents for positive change in society by lifting each other up.

Korean culture is very vibrant within Korean American communities through church organizations, Korean schools, and Korean-culture camps. Since the beginning of this century, Korean churches have offered classes in Korean culture and language. Korean culture, in general, has a significant footprint in the United States. 

Please visit Korean American Story to hear the powerful stories of Korean Americans or document your own.                                                      
#DEIatCTI #KoreanAmericanDay #koreanamericancoalition #koreancuisine #koreanholidays

Please watch:
Korean Americans: Past and Present- Susie Woo – video length 39.38

Suggested Readings:
  • Korean American Pioneer Aviators: The Willows Airmen by Edward T. Chang and Woo Sung Han
  • Korean-Americans: Past, Present, and Future by Ilpyong J. Kim
  • Memoir of a Cashier: Korean Americans, Racism, and Riots by Carol Park