The Centennial Committee of Korean Immigration to the United States – Greater Washington was established in October 2001 as a Virginia non-profit organization to provide programs relating to the history and future of Korean immigration to the United States, and to engage in other educational and cultural activities.
The organization was recognized as tax-exempt under IRC Section 501(c) (3) in June 2003. The organizational name was changed to the Korean American Foundation – Greater Washington (KAF-GW) on January 2004. KAF-GW at the time was vigorously seeking the designation of Korean American Day as January 13, the date that the first Korean immigrants arrived on the shores of America in Hawaii in 1903.
This goal was realized in 2005, when the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate passed resolutions designating January 13 as Korean American Day. Since then, the foundation has been actively supporting and organizing special events on January 13, Korean American Day.
On October 20, 2005, the Senate of the United States passed Senate Resolution 283 of the 109th Congress. It states that the Senate –
(1) supports the goals and ideals of a ‘Korean American Day’;
(2) commemorates the 103rd anniversary of the arrival of the first Korean immigrants to the United States; and
(3) encourages the people of the United States to –
(A) share in such commemoration in order to greater appreciate the valuable contributions Korean Americans have made to the United States; and
(B) to observe ‘Korean American Day’ with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.
On December 13, 2005, the House of Representatives of the United States passed House Resolution 487 of the 109th Congress. It states that the House of Representatives –
(1) supports the goals and ideals of a Korean American Day;
(2) urges all Americans to observe Korean American Day so as to have a greater appreciation of the invaluable contributions Korean Americans have made to the United States; and
(3) honors and recognizes the 103rd anniversary of the arrival of the first Korean immigrants to the United States.
- We strive to honor and increase awareness of the accomplishments and contributions of the Korean American community since January 13, 1903, when Korean immigrants first arrived in the United States.
- We aspire to cultivate an appreciation among present and future generations of Korean Americans for the efforts of our pioneering predecessors in establishing our roots within the American homeland and its culture.
- We endeavor to build and strengthen relationships between the Korean American community and the diverse communities of the United States while maintaining strong bonds with the people and the rich and ancient traditions of Korea.
- A major part of our effort to realize these goals shall include organizing a public event on Korean American Day, January 13, in Washington, D.C., that invites distinguished Korean Americans and friends of the community to gather together in celebration of this day.
Michelle Lee 9th President
I was born in Daegu, South Korea and grew up and completed my primary and secondary education in Pusan, South Korea. I completed my Bachelor of Arts degree in Seoul at Duksung University. I then completed 2 years in the graduate business school at Dongkook University in Seoul. I worked for 2 years as an Art teacher in a remote part of Korea.
John Yoo, MBA Vice President
John Yoo was appointed the Chief Executive Officer of the Virginia University of Integrative Medicine (VUIM) in April 2019. He is responsible for setting financial policy and for overseeing the operational and financial affairs of the University including both the academic institution and the academic teaching clinic.
Dr. David Kim Secretary
David Kim is an Oriental Medicine Doctor (DAOM) and has been practicing Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine for over 19 years in Glen Burnie Maryland. Graduated from MITCM in 2002 and received his doctoral degree from VUIM in 2020.
John Yoo, MBA Treasurer
Message from the president:
I am honored to serve as the 9th President of the Korean American Foundation-Greater Washington for the next two years.
As a first generation Korean immigrant arriving in the U.S. in 1988, I had to restart my career by enrolling in various training programs. I eventually enrolled in an accounting program for college graduates of other majors (Art at Duksung Women’s University in Korea in my case). This led me to eventually obtain a position at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) as a senior accountant before recently retiring. During my tenure at MICA, I was able to organize many community engagement and artistic performance events held in the community and at MICA. I was the first recipient of MICA’s Riley Hawkins Award for community service to Baltimore.
I was also able to co- establish the Baltimore Changwon Sister City Committee (BCSCC) in 2017 under Baltimore Sister Cities, Inc. I currently continue as co-Chair of BCSCC. Mayor Huh of Changwon City and his delegation were invited by BCSCC to visit Baltimore in 2019, during which he signed an agreement with Baltimore Mayor Jack Young. Last year, I joined the Korean American Foundation-Greater Washington (KAF-GW) as co-Chair of the steering committee.
I see my role as President of KAF-GW as transitional, during which I and colleagues will prepare the organization for a next generation President. We will do our best to preserve the legacy of our past organizational leaders, to continue to build awareness and respect for the accomplishments of our predecessor Korean immigrants, and to increase and strengthen relationships between the Korean-American community and American society.
We welcome all to join us for the hybrid (in person and live streamed) celebration of Korean American Day on or about January 13, 2021 (exact date to be determined) at the U.S. House of Representatives Rayburn Office building. More details and updates will be available on this website as our preparations progress.
Please be safe as we fight our way through this Pandemic.
October 14, 2020
Sekwon Chong 1st / 2nd / 3rd President
Eun Ae Lee 4th / 5th President
I was born in Busan, South Korea and immigrated to the United States in 1982. I have been working with all my passion to help Korean American society for over 30 years.
Ben Hur 6th President
I grew up in Cheonan, South Korea and received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Diplomacy from Kookmin University in Seoul, South Korea. I served as a 154th Korean Navy Recruiter and worked for the Overseas Development Corporation in Korea. In 1981, I came to the United States for a graduate program at Coppin State University in Baltimore.
Mi Schill Kim 7th / 8th President
Ms. Kim was born and raised in Taegu South Korea. She moved to the United States in 1982, after arriving in New York City she graduated CUNY College in 1988 computer system analyst and attended St. John University studying Business then moved to Maryland in 2000.
Summary of Korean American Immigration History
Korean Immigration 1903 – Present
First Wave: 1903 – 1949
The first significant wave of immigration started in 1903, when Koreans arrived in Hawaii to work on pineapple and sugar plantations. By 1905, more than 7,000 Koreans had come to Hawaii to escape the famines and turbulent political climate of Korea. Eventually, about half of these Korean workers moved to the mainland and established businesses such as laundry and nail salons, with the remainder returning to Korea. From 1905 to 1924, approximately 2,000 additional Korean immigrants moved to Hawaii and California as picture brides. The mass immigration abruptly ended in 1924 when Congress passed the Oriental Exclusion Act of 1924.
Second Wave: 1950 – 1964
After Korea was liberated from Japanese occupation in 1945, Korea was divided in 1948 into the South and the communist North. During the Korean War (1950-1953), about 15,000 Koreans moved to America. The McCarran and Walter Act of 1952 nullified the 1924 Asian immigration ban and made Asians eligible for citizenship. After the war, Korean wives of American soldiers, war orphans adopted by American families, and others migrated to the U.S. Most of the war brides were initially required to live on military bases. The war orphans were mainly of mixed race having American servicemen as fathers. The others, mainly students, professionals, and academics, successfully integrated into American society.
Third Wave: 1965 – present
The 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act revoked the national quota system. The annual number of Korean immigrants steadily increased beginning in 1965. Conditions in Korea caused massive numbers of Koreans to immigrate in the 1960s through the early 1980s. Their children, known as the second generation, comprise the major component of the current Korean-American community. Unlike previous immigrants, this wave was mainly white-collar workers in Korea who voluntarily moved to America.
Fig. 1. The S.S.Gaelic brought the first 102 Korean immigrants to Hawaii on January 13,1903.
Fig. 2. Korean immigrants working in a Hawaiian sugar plantation.
Emperor Gojong (reigned 1863-1907)
King Gojong of Korea dispatched Bobingsa , the first official Korean delegation to the United States in July 1883.
The official Korean delegation consisted of 10 members, led by the Chief Minister, Min Young-Ik, Vice Minister Hong Young-Sik, and Percival L. Lowell, who acted as the foreign secretary and counsellor. By virtue of his international experience by studying at Keio University in Japan in 1881, Min Young-Ik recommended Kil-Chun be included among the 10 delegates sent to the United States. The Korean delegation arrived in New York on September 17, 1883, having travelled across the country from San Francisco. The next day they met the American President Chester A. Arthur at 11 o’clock in the morning. Stopping in New York only to meet the President, the group travelled on to Boston. They spent a week in the city, visiting schools, companies, and industrial exhibitions, before leaving for Washington,