By Linda Kim
What is Korean American Day? How do you celebrate it? Why January 13? These are questions I often receive when I discuss Korean American Day with friends.
Well, first the easy part. January 13 was designated as Korean American Day in 2003 by the Centennial Committees of Korean Immigration and by the United States Congress. This day was chosen in honor of the 102 Koreans that travelled to America on January 13, 1903. Their decision to move to the United States has led to the countless contributions Korean Americans have made in the past 109 years and the contributions the 1.4 million Korean Americans continue to make today.
Moving on to the not so easy part: how does one celebrate Korean American Day? This is a question that I find myself having a difficult time answering. To be honest, I normally answer along the lines of “it’s a day to honor all Korean Americans and recognize the contributions made by Korean Americans.” I then begin to list examples of some of these said contributions.
However, Korean American Day is more than just recognizing the achievements made by Korean Americans, it is also a day to honor the Korean heritage, to reflect on how far the Korea American community has developed since 1903 and perhaps most importantly, a day in which all Americans can become even more exposed to and educated about Korean culture and the ways Korean Americans have contributed to the fabric of America.
Today is about the many Korean Americans who serve and continue to serve alongside their comrades during every major outbreak since World War II; it is about Philip Ahn who broke down the Hollywood barrier and became the first Asian American film actor to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; it is about David Chang who has provided his own Korean perspective on food; it is about Hines Ward and Michelle Wie who give hope to the many aspiring athletes; and it is about how Korean Americans have engrained themselves in America, while also providing their own perspective towards bettering the United States.
Americans across the country are celebrating Korean American Day by hosting events featuring Korean culture, discussing the history of Korean Americans and recognizing the many achievements of Korean Americans.
So now, I leave you with a question – how are you celebrating Korean American Day?
If you interested in learning more about Korean American Day, take a look at Arirang Education.
Linda Kim is the Associate Director Programs for the Korea Economic Institute. The views expressed here are her own.
The photo is of Korean Americans at KEI who are helping to answer Linda’s questions.