Volume 3 (1997)

Volume 3

Korean American Historical Society Occasional Papers

Volume Three begins with the eleven sketches of an extended family whose members served in the US Armed forces during World War II; the children of Sung Long Chun (Marian, her husband Larry Song; Mary and David Chun, and Raymond Lee) and their cousins (Mary Yue, her husband Joe; Cheeda and his wife Helen Yue, and Inchoon Yue). Sun Long Chun emigrated to the US in 1904, married a picture bride named Bo Wha Yoon, and worked as a migrant farm worker in California in the 1920s. When his wife died in 1927, the children were placed into foster care while the youngest, Raymond, was adopted by a Chinese family. They speak of their family and life in the United States leading up to and during WW II, discussing their experiences of racism and some of the intergenerational differences between them and their parents. Larry Song, David Chun, and Inchoon Yue served in the Army Air Corps, Joe Kim in the Navy Seabees, and Cheeda Yue in the Army.
Next, we read the oral history of a Korean who emigrated from South Korea as part of a wave of 7,936 emigrants to Germany between 1960-1985 to work as miners and nurses. His story typifies the immigrant experience of coming to a country and the struggles it entails. Kwang-Chung Kim left for Germany at the urging of his wife, Ock-Hee Oh, hoping to make a better living for themselves. After undergoing many trials--the strains of living apart, of working in a difficult industry, of failing at attempts to improve their living situation, and of language and cultural barriers between him and his children--he comes to accept his life. This is the first of a series of interviews; volume 4 follows with the story of Ok Ji Kim, a nurse.
Go Congress organizer and longtime Seattle Go player Chris Kirschner then writes of the history of the Go (Badook or Baduk) playing community in Seattle, and of the influence of Korean players in being instrumental to the community's growth from the late 1960s on. In addition to his thoughts on the development of Go playing in the Pacific Northwest, Mr. Kirschner provides interesting insights into the culture of Korean organizing, and of the lasting friendships created around this ancient and complex game.
From this picture of harmony, Kun Hong Park then moves us to one of discord, where Korean welders are resented and subject to racial slurs and discrimination despite their hard work, in the shipyards of Seattle during the close of the 1970s. Their failures in organizing the community lead into University of California, Berkeley Professor Elaine Kim's essay on the need for Korean Americans to build coalitions with other minorities, exploiting their connections among mainstream society to improve the socioeconomic standing of all.
We then jump back in time to a letter written by Soon Hyun, a minister and leader in the Korean independence movement. His letter regarding the Methodist work on Kauai provides a snapshot of the beginnings of the Korean American Christian community in the Hawaiian islands.
Book reviews of John Lie and Nancy Abelman's Blue Dreams, and Easurk Emsen Charr's autobiography, The Golden Mountain, and Ai Ra Kim's Women Struggling for a New Life follow, by Los Angeles unrest expert Edward Chang, and literary scholar S.E. Solberg, respectively. We close with a review by Soyon Im of Yellow, a ground-breaking feature-length film about teens coming-of-age which touches upon relations between first and second generation Korean Americans. An interview of Chris Chan Lee, the director and producer is included.