Volume 5 (2000-01)

Volume 5

Korean American Historical Society Occasional Papers

Volume Five begins with the oral history of Anna Charr Kim, daughter of Easurk Emsen Charr. At the age of twelve, Easurk Emsen Charr emigrated to the United States in 1904, where he worked in the plantation fields of Hawai'i. Despite his service in the US Army during World War I, he was denied citizenship. His wife, Evelyn Kim--an exchange student who emigrated in 1926--, was threatened with deportation several times. Thus began their more than 30-year struggle for naturalization. A resident of Portland, Mr. Charr later worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and in 1961 published an autobiography about his experience entitled, "The Golden Mountain."
Their story now continues as their daughter, Anna Charr Kim, shares the story of her life and family. In adding to her father's story by bringing her perspective to her parents' experiences, Dr. Kim also articulates the life story of her mother. Her perspective of a second-generation Korean American who grew up during the 1930s and 40s is one that will become increasingly scarce in the years ahead.
We then continue with the latest in a series of oral histories of Koreans who immigrated to Germany in the 1970s. The series, which began with a miner in volume 3, ends with a female nurse, Ok Ji Kim. Here she speaks of her and her husband's experience, the effect it had on their marriage and relationship with their daughter.
Next follow three essays on Korean American identity and heritage, lyrically reflecting on "The Use of Heritage," persuasively complicating our definition of Korean American feminism ("Contesting Cultures and Liberating Korean American Identities"), and strategically situating Korean American identity formation as part of the larger American political culture ("Second-generation Korean American Identity: Reinterpreting the Meaning of Korean-ness").
In Community Reports, we present the results of two studies on Korean American youths conducted by prominent scholars of Korean American sociology ("Pluralistic Accommodation and Ethnic Identity of Korean American Young Adults," by Kwang Chung Kim, Young In Song and Ailee Moon)and social work ("Culture and Ethnicity in Parenting: Korean American Parenting Styles and Adolescent Problem Behavior," by Eunai Shrake). Both reports suggest a shift from a Korean identity that is monolithic, to one that is more pluralistic. Dr. Shrake's study also reveals the need for culturally sensitive approaches to understanding parenting styles in addressing adolescent problem behavior.
Lastly, we once again hear from sports historian Joseph Svinth, who follows the careers of Walter Cho, Richard Shin and Kim Messer, in "Fighting Spirit II." With rare photographs, their experiences reveal the contributions of Korean Americans to American sport and entertainment during the first half of the 20th century.
Finally, book reviews that offer evidence to the growing literature on the Korean American experience and diaspora include Heilie Lee's Still Life with Rice, Wayne Patterson's The Ilse: First-Generation Korean Immigrants in Hawai'i, 1903-1973, and Jung Sook Yoo's Korean Immigrants in Germany (Koreanische Immigranten in Deutschland: Interessenvertretung und Selbstorganisation). While all three reviews point to the expanding literature on Korean and Korean American studies, the reader will be reminded of how much more the field of Korean and Korean American studies can grow in the future.