Recognizing the contributions of Korean Americans


Rin Ryu

Korean American Day recgonizes folks of Korean descent starting from the first wave of immigration. Pictured above are traditional Korean foods, songpyeon (송편), dried persimmon, and yakgwa (약과).

Rin Ryu, Staff Reporter

Korean American Day, a day to honor those of Korean descent and their contributions since the first wave of immigration in 1903 is Wednesday. It was during 1903 that the first 100 Koreans arrived in the United States. Now, the number has exponentially grown over the years.

The history of Korean immigration can be split into three periods. It all started in Hawaii in 1903, where Koreans immigrated to escape the political wars of Korea. During 1950-1964, often referred to as the Second Wave of Korean Immigration, after independence from Japan, South Korean “contributed to a steady increase in the annual number of Korean immigrants beginning in 1950,” according to Pyong Gap Min. Finally, post-1965, or The Contemporary Immigration Period, characterized by The Immigration Act of 1965, leda large influx of Korean immigrants.

However, It’s a day many people on campus are unaware of. 

“Honestly, I never knew there was such a thing as Korean American Day because it is not as celebrated as other observations,” freshman Al Zhang said.

With the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a day to recognize Korean Americans is important to some people. 

Sophomore Hannah Lee, a first generation Korean American, recognizes the hardship all East Asian people have had in the last year or two.

“So many Asian households were scared to even go outside because they were scared of what could happen to them,” Lee said. “Of course, the racism and hate crimes against Asian people is nothing new, but nothing can compare to the spike of crimes 2021 had.”

Through individuals like Sammy Lee, the two-time Olympic gold medalist in diving, and architect David Hyun, Korean culture has left a “sizeable footprint in the U.S.,” according to National Today. Most notably, the Korean entertainment industry has seen a huge spike in popularity over the years. This, however, still comes with difficulties; many individuals can’t look past the popularity K-pop and K-dramas hold on the U.S.

“A lot of people only see me because of my race,” Lee said. “I’ve seen a bunch of Asian fishing on social media platforms, people mocking the femininity a lot of male K-pop stars have, and claiming to change races to be Korean. There is so much more to Korean culture than just K-pop.”