January 13 marks an important day for Korean-Americans in the United States of America as it marks the 11th annual National Korean-American Day. As Korean communities all around the U.S. come together to celebrate, the focus of this day is to celebrate the first documented Korean immigrants who came to the U.S. on January 13, 1903 as well as the many contributions Korean-Americans have made in the community.
In 2005, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives unanimously passed the resolution to consent for what Korean-American Day stands for and its aspirations. It is a day to commemorate the 115th anniversary of the arrival of the first Korean immigrants as well as to encourage all Americans to commemorate the contributions Korean-Americans have made. These people include but are not limited to athletes, inventors, educators, artists, as well as those who have served in the armed forces.
While communities have been trying to promote this day throughout the U.S., many are still unaware of the importance of the 13th of January. As the previous generations of Korean-Americans start to pass down the responsibility of representing their heritage, many of the younger Korean-Americans still tend to be absent from the community scene. Chef and owner of Seorabol restaurant in Philadelphia, Chris Cho, has been a hot figure promoting Korean culture through his love of food on his Instagram @chefchrischo. While trying to reach people’s hearts through their stomachs, others are reaching through music, such as this remix of “Arirang” by New York City songwriter Janet Noh with Joe Kye, which they put together for the Korean-American Coalition of Chicago (KAC-Chicago) in 2017. Since music is a powerful tool, like the more recent wave of K-Pop in the United States, there is a hope that it can shine a light on the many influential Korean-Americans in the States.
Many around the U.S. are getting together to celebrate their history in the U.S., such as Korean-American communities in Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, and many more. People come together to celebrate by enjoying delicious Korean foods, listening to and singing songs, and enjoying performances to celebrate community members who are working to make a difference.
The Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI) held a luncheon to recognize three influential Korean-Americans in Washington, DC. With a focus on journalism, KEI honored director and producer of documentary Free Choi Soo Lee Julie Ha, photojournalist for the New York Times Chang W. Lee, and correspondent and founder of Lotus Media House, LLC, May Lee. Check out KEI’s website for more information on these influential Korean-American figures.
Happy National Korean-American Day!