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Korean Immigrants To America Essay

1253 words - 5 pages

Korean Immigrants to America

On January 13, 1903, the first Korean Immigrants set foot in Hawaii. There were eighty six people on that first voyage, and since then there have been over 550,000 Koreans who have made the journey to the United States over the past 100 years. The original immigrants and their descendants now total over 1.6 million. Korean Americans make up one of the most prominent Asian communities in the United States. Many elements of Korean Culture, ranging from Kim Chee to Tae Kwon Do, have made their way into the American Lifestyle. There have been many events that have shaped the Korean American community and there are many current issues that affect Korean Americans.

Aboard the S.S. Gaelic, the first ship to bring Korean immigrants to the United States, there were only 102 men, women and children (Chow). However, over the next two years, over seven thousand Koreans moved to Hawaii (Kim, 367). Most were young men who came to look for a new life on the sugar cane plantations that needed labor. These plantation workers had hard lives, working to save money to bring their families over from Korea or in hopes of someday returning to their homeland.

The period from 1905 to 1924 is characterized by quite a different group of Korean Immigrants. One part of this group was made up of Koreans who were running from their government and students who were studying in the US. Syngman Rhee, who would become the leader of South Korea during the Korean War, was earning his Ph.D. at Princeton University during this time. About 500 students and political refugees arrived in America (Kim, 367).

The other half of the group was consisted of Korean picture brides. In 1910, the first Korean picture bride arrived in the United States. When a Korean man wanted a bride, he would send his picture to a matchmaker and find a woman in Korea willing to marry him. Most often than not, the man would send a false picture of himself and the woman would have no choice but to marry him once she arrived in America (2-3, script). Approximately 800 picture brides went to Hawaii and 200 went to the mainland during this period (Kim, 367).

Another large group of immigrants arrived in the United States during and immediately after the Korean War, from 1950 to 1965. Some were fleeing the horrors of war and had faced the loss of family members. Most were Korean women who had married American soldiers during the war. There were 50,000 Korean wives of American soldiers by 1980 (Coming to America).

The final big wave of Korean Immigrants arrived between 1965 and the present. At the peak of this period, from 1976 to 1990, there were was an average of 30,000-35,000 immigrants every year (Coming to America). This massive number of immigrants was due to the Immigration...

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