Heritage & 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.

Flip Cuddy