The first Korean to immigrate to the United States is Philip Jaisohn who arrived in Philadelphia in 1885 as a student, and became a US citizen in 1890. A larger scale immigration took place in 1903, when 102 Korean laborers arrived in Hawaii to work in the sugar plantations. The next wave of Korean immigration took place in the 1950’s, immediately after the Korean War. They consisted of brides of US soldiers who were stationed in Korea, and the orphaned and abandoned Korean children who were adopted by families in the US.
However, the vast majority of Korean immigration took place after the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which abolished the national origin quota that had been used to limit Asian immigration into the US. This resulted in dramatic influx of Korean immgrants during the past 45 years, and today it is estimated there are over 1.7 million Koreans-Americans in the United States.
We at KoreanAmericanStory.org, Inc., a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit corporation, believe that this is an important time in history to reflect on the contributions Koreans have made to the fabric of American society. By collecting and sharing the stories from Korean-Americans from all walks of life, we wish to educate Korean-Americans and American society at large regarding the connected but varied stories of Koreans in America, and in the process empower Korean-Americans with greater pride and a stronger sense of ownership of their adopted country. Our objective is to enable Korean-Americans to share their common experiences as immigrants and the children of immigrants, while discovering and celebrating the diversity of their community.
In every community, there are those who have been left on the fringes, usually intentionally by the majority in the community. Korean-American community is no exception. The goal of KoreanAmericanStory.org is to collect and share the stories of ALL Korean-Americans. Therefore, we are in the process of making a concerted effort to include the stories from the following communities which have not been included in mainstream Korean-American community: Korean adoptees, mixed race Korean-Americans, those who are gay/lesbian.
Our mission is to collect, support and create works of art, literature, photography and video that document the stories of the Korean-American community. This mission will be accomplished in part by collecting and making available to the public images, videos, literature and art that depict the life of Korean-American life for the past 115 years. We expect that non-fictional writings, oral history and documentaries will always be an important core of the works collected, facilitated and shared by KoreanAmericanStory.org. We also believe, however, that creative works are an essential means to relay and share experiences and wish to promote the arts in this regard. Accordingly, another avenue for accomplishing the organization’s mission will be to encourage, facilitate and fund the creation of artistic works that will leave behind a historical and cultural legacy of Korean-Americans.