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Year of the Ram
Jan. 10 - Jan. 16, 2003

Korean Centennial Feature

Scattered But Strong

Korean Americans Speak Out for Peace, Demilitarization

Angela Oh Captures Her Journey in New Book

Korean American Rose Parade Float Wins Award

Korean American History

Proud to Be Korean American

Smithsonian Commemorates KA Centennial

Korean Centennial

Communities Brace for Second INS Registration Deadline
(in National News)

Wins Workers Get $337,000 in
Back Wages From Lockbox

(in Bay Area News)

Matsui Heads for the Bronx: Frog, Prince or Toad?
(in Sports)

Look Out! Films to see in 2003
(in A&E)

Emil Amok: In Defense of the Short and Fat
(in Opinion)

Korean American History

By May Chow | AsianWeek Staff Writer


Birth of Philip Jaisohn, the first Korean to become an American citizen and first Korean American to receive an American medical degree. Born Suh Jae-Pil in the South Cholla province of Korea, Jaisohn uses an Anglicized version of his name upon arrival in the United States in 1885.


Korea and the United States enter into their first treaty, The Treaty of Friendship and Commerce.


On Dec. 22, the first group of Korean immigrants — 56 men, 21 women and 25 children — sail across the Pacific en route to Hawai‘i aboard the SS Gaelic. They land in Honolulu on Jan.13, 1903 to work as immigrant laborers on the sugar plantations.


The Korean Methodist Mission Church is founded by the first group of immigrants from Korea in Hawai‘i. It is the first Korean church outside of Korea.


Syngman Rhee (1875-1965), leader of the Independence Club in Korea, arrives in the United States. He earns a Ph.D. from Princeton University, the first Korean to receive a degree from an American institution of higher learning. He becomes a leader in the Korean Independence Movement and organizes the Korean Methodist Church and the Korean Christian Institute.


The Korean Evangelical Society is organized in San Francisco. The society soon begins publishing the first Korean language newspaper.


Sara Choe is the first of 951 picture brides to come to the United States from Korea.


European American farmers drive 11 Korean apricot workers out of Hemet, Calif. The Japanese consul general offers to help the workers, but the Korean association leaders refuses Japanese assistance. The Korean associations in California then band together to assert their separate identity from the Japanese Americans.


The Korean Youth Corps, which had established a voluntary program offering military training, in Hastings, Neb., under the leadership of Park Yong-man, graduates its first class of 13 students. Park is active in the Korean Independence Movement and believes in the military training of Koreans in the United States.


Fifteen Korean fruit pickers about to start a job in Riverside County, Calif. are surrounded and driven off by a mob of angry unemployed European Americans when they arrive at the train station.


Feb. 20, the School of Aviation is founded in Willows, Calif, when Kim Chong-nim, a successful Korean American rice farmer known as the “Rice King” donates three airplanes. Future pilots are to be trained there to fight against the Japanese empire in the Korean struggle for independence from Japan.

News of the Korean Independence Movement and Japanese suppression mobilizes nationwide demonstrations by Korean Americans. The Korean National Association launches a fund raising campaign for independence and collects $10,000.

On April 14-16, 150 Koreans in Philadelphia attend the first Korean Liberty Congress, designed to draw attention to the plight of Koreans in Japanese-dominated Korea.


A group of Korean students in New York begin publishing the Samil Sinbo newspaper. Among them are Chang Dok-su, Yun Ch’I-yong and Ho Chung, all of whom would play vital roles in South Korean politics after the end of World War II.


Ahn Ik-t’ae (1906-1965), a Korean composer in Philadelphia, completes his composition of the Korean national anthem.


Korean Americans picket in Los Angeles against U.S. scrap iron and airplane fuel shipments to Japan, marking the first public demonstration in the United States against Japan’s invasion of China.


On Dec. 4, Military Order No. 45 is issued, exempting Koreans in the United States from enemy alien status.

The Korean National Revolutionary Party of Los Angeles begins publishing The Korean Independence newspaper. The paper’s politics comes under investigation from the Department of Justice, and deportation proceedings are carried out against the staff.


The United States War Department sets the 38th parallel in Korea, dividing Soviet-occupied North Korea and American-occupied South Korea.


Sammy Lee, a Korean American, wins the gold medal in the men’s diving division at the London Olympic games. He breaks a diving record and goes home with another gold at the 1952 Helsinki games.

On Aug. 14, the new Republic of Korea (South) is inaugurated in Seoul, Korea, with Syngman Rhee as its founder and first president.


The Korean War begins on June 25 when North Korea invades South Korea.

U.S. forces join United Nations troops on June 27. General Douglas MacArthur, who commands U.N. forces during the Korean War, makes plans to assign more than 20,000 Korean Army recruits to U.S. Army units during the war, known as the Korean Augmentation to U.S. Army Program.


May 2 is declared Korean Day in the United States, and U.S. citizens are encouraged to donate money and aid to war-torn Korea.

The truce that ends the Korean War is signed on July 23, 1953.


Harry Holt returns from Korea and brings back eight orphans to his residence in Oreswell, Ore. He establishes the Holt Adoption Agency, which will bring thousands of Korean orphans to the United States.


President Nixon appoints Judge Herbert Choy, a Korean American, to the U.S Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Choy is the first Asian Pacific American to be named to a federal court.


Sue Ann Kim becomes the first Korean woman to receive a doctorate from UCLA. Kim was born in South Korea and came to the United States as a Fulbright Scholar in 1959.


The nonprofit Korean American Coalition (KAC) is formed to facilitate the Korean American community’s participation in civic, legislative and community affairs.


The Korean community in Los Angeles suffers devastating losses following four days of rioting in response to the Rodney King verdict. Nearly 2,500 Korean businesses are damaged and destroyed.

Korean American businessman Jay Kim is elected to Congress, representing the 41st District of California. He becomes the first Korean American member of Congress.


Margaret Cho becomes the first APA to star in her own television show, All American Girl.


Harry Kim, a legendary defense director, becomes one of the nation’s first Korean America mayors, in Hawai‘i.


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