Dosan's Mug Shot from Sodaemun Prison in 1937. Dosan was arrested in the Donguhoe Incident.
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.
Heritage and History
I speak about Dosan's Legacy to students of all ages - from Kindergarten to Graduate School. I meet with Professors and educators. Wherever I am in US and in Korea I meet people who have a limited knowledge of Dosan. Most of the time I speak at programs where students give up their time to hear me. I truly respect these young folks because they give up their time to learn about Dosan. Most of the students are sincere about learning history and care about their heritage.
I speak 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 really knew how to embrace their heritage. I try to humanize Dosan and show students learning about him is a path to a foundation ot 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 and quite a few teachers were in the blind acceptance group. Nobody really taught them enough about their heritage to give them a reason to have a little "love" for it.
Throughout the Korean American community there is this weak sense of heritage. 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. The Pioneer Generation is rich with amazing stories worth learning.
So... How well do you know Dosan? Historically, he is the central figure of Korean and Korean American history. Freeway? Post Office? Statue? Park? He did something to have all these!
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 K-Hsitory?
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.
New KTOWN Dosan Mural at 1053 S. Vermont below Olympic 1937 Ahn Chang Ho's Prison Picture
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.
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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