Celebrating a century of Korean immigration

An international conference at the East-West Center and a festival of food and music at Kapiolani Park are just two of the events in January that will celebrate Korean-American history. Next year will mark a full century since Korean immigrants first came to Hawaii and the United States, and the centennial will be celebrated in the islands throughout 2003.

From January 6-8, 2003, the East-West Center is convening a Korean Centennial Conference: “Enhancing the Partnership Between Korea and
the United States in the 21st Century.” This conference will bring together scholars from Korea and the U.S. — recognized for their contributions to Korean studies and the promotion of Korea-U.S. relations — to assess the special relationship between Korea and America.

The Centennial Committee of Korean Immigration to the United States, The Asia Research Institute of Korea University, the University of Hawaii’s Center for Korean Studies, and the East-West Center‘s Northeast Asia Development Program are jointly sponsoring the conference.

Then Saturday, January 18, 2003, the 2nd Annual Korean Festival will be held at Kapiolani Park. From 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., the renovated Kapiolani Bandstand will be surrounded with live entertainment, food, cultural exhibits, kids activities, and souvenir T-shirts and other special items. Organizers also plan to introduce a celebrity chef from Korea.

Festival co-chairs Alice Park and Andre Lee say this second festival should be bigger and better than the first. The inaugural event drew more than 10,000 people to the park last year.

Other events include a Korean dance performance at UH in February, a Taekwondo championship in March, a K-pop concert at the Waikiki Shell at the end of May, a Korean art exhibit at UH in September, and a Christmas parade in Waikiki on Dec. 20.

The first Koreans arriving in America disembarked in Hawaii on January 13, 1903 from the ship Gaelic, and earned a wage of $1 per day doing mostly hard labor. Today there are an estimated two million ethnic Koreans living in the United States.

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