Today commemorates the 113th year of Korean immigration to the United States.
On January 13, 1903, a group of 102 Koreans arrived in Honolulu from Japan aboard the steamship RMS Gaelic to work in the Hawaiian sugar cane fields. This date is traditionally regarded as marking the first Korean immigration to the United States and celebrated as Korean American Day, although several individual Koreans had immigrated to the United States earlier, including Philip Jaisohn (Seo Jae-pil), a journalist and medical doctor and a noted champion for Korea’s independence and democracy, who in 1890 became the first Korean to become a naturalized U.S. citizen.
From these humble beginnings, a large and vibrant Korean American community has grown, now numbering nearly 2 million people of Korean descent in the United States, including nearly half a million people in California, and more than 13,000 Korean Americans living in Irvine.
Irvine is proud to celebrate our thriving Korean American community. Each year Irvine holds our annual Irvine Korean Cultural Festival, designed to share Korean culture with the entire community by showcasing its customs, heritage, arts and cuisine.
Our city has adopted the South Korean city of Seocho-gu as one of Irvine’s four “Sister Cities,” and has begun planning for the construction of a traditional Korean garden in Col. Bill Barber Park next to Irvine City Hall.
As the proud daughter of a Korean War veteran, and as a proud resident of Irvine, I feel a deep appreciation for the vital contributions that Korean Americans have made to our city, our state, and our country.
I am proud to live in a city that celebrates and treasures our tremendous diversity, including our vital Korean American community, and I join my Korean American friends and neighbors in celebrating Korean American contributions to our shared American heritage and way of life.
Happy Korean American Day!