Riverside Claims It Is "First Ever Koreatown"! What Happened to San Francisco?
August 2015 - Dosan Memorial Foundation Chairman Dr. Mike Myung Ki Hong explaining to Korea Times Reporters that Riverside is the "First Ever Koreatown". Surprising to find out a person who is supposed to know Korean and Dosan hisotry better than most is completely wrong with his facts. The Dosan Memorial Foundation has not been following Dosan's legacy efficiently or accurately. Since Hong took over the Foundation has been lacking to effectively improve knowledge of Dosan's actual history. There should be no question San Francisco holds the title Riverside wants to claim.
Dosan Memorial Foundation and UC Riverside Young Oak Kim Center claim Riverside, California is First Ever Koreatown. Starting in August of 2015 Dosan Memorial Foundation Chairperson Dr. Mike Myung Ki Hong laid claim that his hometown of Riverside is the first Koreatown. The photo is from the article in the Korea Times reporting Dr. Hong's claims.
June 2016, Professor Ed Chang Director of the Young Oak Kim Center at the University of California Riverside joined Dr. Mike Myung Ki Hong in a presentation to the City of Riverside City Council Historical Preservation Committee convincing its members Riverside was the "First Ever Koreatown." The Committee unanimously believed what was presented at the hearing approving the "resolution". The matter is pending presentation to the Mayor and City Council Members for their review.
The suggestion that Riverside is the "First Ever Koreatown" is wrong and it is based on incorrect historical information provided to the City of Riverside.
It would be a serious revision of history to change the long time understanding that San Francisco holds the claim Riverside is attempting to make.
Key activities related to Dosan's legacy supports San Francisco. Historical records do not support Riverside. There were already Koreans in San Francisco when Dosan and Helen arrive on October 12, 1902. By 1903 Koreans began to come from Hawaii to get out of plantation work. Dosan started the first Korean Community organization there called the Chinmokhoe (Friendship Association) in 1903, organized the first prayer group, established both the headquarters of the Kongnip Hyophoe (Mutual Assistance Assn.) and the first Korean newspaper in 1905. Dosan established an employment agency in San Francisco. Dosan then went to Riverside with Yi Kang who had run labor camps in Hawaii. They set up Pachappa Labor Camp styled after the Hawaii Labor Camps. Almost every Korean organization had its headquarters in San Francisco. Can anyone recall Riverside having a port of entry for Koreans? What do you call the community that developed there? Can the Pachappa Labor Camp meet the definition of a "town"? One thing that is becoming clear is people in Riverside are mistaken about Korean history.
June 15, 2016 Wrong facts presented again! Dr. Mike Myung Ki Hong Chairman of the Dosan Memorial Foundation and Ethnic Studies Professor Ed Chang of Young Oak Kim Center at UC Riverside present incorrect details about Dosan and the other Korean laborers who used the Pachappa Labor Camp. It was not a "Koreatown". However, the City Of Riverside Historic Preservation Team believed the wrong information given by Hong and Chang's testimony. Professor Chang is not a Historian. Chang's book about the Willows Korean Air School has some serious errors indicating an incorrect understanding of Dosan's work in Riverside and most everywhere else. It is also dissapointing to realize the City of Riverside itself has no academic concept of the man's life whose statue stands in the Riverside City Plaza. After 15 years people who run the City should know the truth about Dosan's limited time and activities in Riverside. However, if Chairman Dr. Hong and UC Riverside Professor Chang can't get facts right why would the City of Riverside get the facts right? The Historical Preservation Team ALL approved the incorrect history of Pachappa. Why are they even trying to make this far reach to claim something not true?
Dosan, his wife Helen and his family did not live in Riverside continuosly. Many Korean laborers moved from Pachappa Labor Camp to other areas to keep working. See the Helen Ahn envelope images below.
1913 - Envelope to Helen Ahn after she left Riverside with Dosan and her family for Los Angeles.
Helen Ahn did not live in Riverside at Pachappa Labor Camp continuosly. She move around as other Korean laborers did to keep making money for the Indpendence Movement and her family. She had her first son Philip in 1905 in Highland Park near Los Angeles. The heavy freeze in Southern California in 1913 shut down the agriculture industry. The Ahns left Riverside for Los Angeles. Most Koreans left Riverside, as well.
Letter to Helen Ahn in June 1907 to Redlands where she moved from Pachappa Labor Camp with Korean workers to Redlands Labor Camp.
In 1902 when Dosan and Helen Ahn arrived in San Francisco there were a few Koreans there. When Dosan first left to go to Los Angeles and Riverside there were more than 20 households in San Francisco. Helen did not leave San Fransico with Dosan and stayed in the community there. The 1920 Census reports many Koreans in San Francisco and Los Angeles with only four Korean households in Riverside. None of these people or other Koreans lived in Pachappa Labor Camp.
Heritage and History
For the past twenty years one day each Summer the KW Lee Youth Leadership Training program presented a session on heritage. Most Summers the program placed about twenty high school and college students in the program. You had to respect these young folks because they gave up most of their vacation to be in leadership training. There was no doubt that these students were sincere about learning and cared about their heritage.
The first session was about the Pioneer Generation of the Independence Movement era - the first Korean Americans. These are the Korean families outside of Korea who fought the Japanese to keep Korea from being wiped off the face of the earth. Without these peoples' sacrifices Kpop, Korean dramas and Ktown and everything else K would not exist. Everything could have been J.
However, very rarely was there a student who knew how to embrace their heritage. Dr. Ikhwan Choe of the University of Washington explained: "... the love of one's heritage... is not the same thing as a blind acceptance of it." The majority of students as well as the staff and the program organizers we're in the blind corner. The session about their heritage gave them a reason to have a little "love".
Throughout the Korean American community this vague sense of heritage is a typical situation. Dr. Choe's essays on heritage spell out the importance to grasp it. "Our heritage is the form in which our past is bequeathed to us. When we talk about the use of heritage, we are really talking about the use of the past." So we are talking history - Korean American history in this case. Choe makes it pretty clear: "One dishonors Korean heritage if one allows it to degenerate into a quaint badge of one's marginal existence in the larger society." Korean American heritage is full of people who left meaningful and inspiring legacies. Within that Pioneer Generation there are some amazing stories worth knowing well.
So... How well do you know Dosan? Historically for thirty plus years, he was the central figure of Korean and Korean American history until he died in 1938. Freeway? Post Office? Satue?
And... What do you think about revisionism that manipulates the historical truth? Does it impact your heritage if it changes the truth? What or who leads you to believe what you believe about KHsitory?
Dr. Choe wrote: "As an individual and as a species, we construct the world we inhabit by endlessly telling stories to one another." These days too many stories have too little truth. Abe Lincoln said: "History is not history unless it's the truth." Protect your heritage, your history - learn the truth.
Comfort Women Agreement is not Justice. US, Japan and South Korea are whitewashing history!
Together we stop the liars Together we stop the lies
Dosan's Death Day - March 10th
Dosan in 1903 in San Francisco when he was 25 years old.
March 10 is Dosan's Death Day. He was killed by the Japanese. In 1937 the Japanese police arrested Dosan and jailed him at Sodaemun Prison in Seoul. They tortured him, as they had done many times before during his previous arrests. According to Dr. Won Tai Sohn the Japanese guards ground up glass and put it in Dosan's food to finish him off. Dosan already had internal health complications from torture. After Christmas of 1937 the Japanese realized Dosan was nearing death. They took him out of prison and put him in Seoul National Medical Hospital. The Japanese knew if Dosan died in prison that would spark patriotism and fuel anti-Japanese emotions among Koreans. He spent the last couple months of his life ailing and suffering. The Japanese would not let many people see him. They limited his visitors. Dosan finally died on March 10, 1938. After he died they buried him up in the hills of Mangwoori outside of Seoul where it was difficult for people to pay respects. The Japanese guarded the pathway to Dosan's grave.
From his early years to his last days he lived and died for Korea and its people. He loved Korea more than life and more then his family he left in California for the last time in 1926. He gave his all to be of service to Korean people and died for their Independence.
All people who have a drop of Korean blood no matter where they are were influenced and are influenced by Dosan's life. Without the sacrifice Dosan made to fight off Japanese plans to obliterate Korea - Korea and Koreans would not have its success as a nation today. All Koreans owe Dosan their respect forever.
Dosan was the most sincere Korean patriot, ever.
Dosan's last Prisoner ID Card from Sodaemun Prison in Seoul in 1937
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Do not recognize anyone as a leader based on vanity... Examine his qualities not by rumors that go around but by looking into his history and actions. »Dosan