Heart and Seoul

A new digital archive lays bare the roots of Korean expat culture and the emerging Korean-American community.

TO KOREANS, MARCH 1 is synonymous with Independence Day. On that day in 1919, 2 million citizens took to the streets in peaceful national protests against Japanese rule. What better day, then, to unveil USC’s newest digital archive – one devoted to the study of Korean expatriates in the United States?
The Korean American Digital Archive (KADA), which was introduced March 1 before a crowd of Korean and Korean-American well-wishers, contains papers and images from the Korean National Association Building, the Los Angeles headquarters of many Korean-American civic and political organizations. Together, these organizations document many of the major events of the first 60 years of Koreans in America.
KADA (www.usc.edu/isd/locations/cst/idala/ collections/collections_kada.html) also gives searchable Internet-based access, often in graphic format, to other important private document collections, as well as MP3-format sound files from an oral history project of the Los Angeles-based Korean American Museum. In all, KADA currently comprises some 11,000 pages of documents, 1,300 pictures and the sound files.

Above: Children in the 1920 March First parade held in Dinuba, Calif., a large Korean enclave near Fresno. Above left: “Picture bride” Kang-Aie Shinn with daughter Sonia Shinn Sunoo (now a noted Korean oral historian), c. 1915.

Many hundreds of documents, written and pictorial, relate to Rev. Soon Hyun. Hyun was a key participant in the March First Movement of 1919 and later served as Minister Plenipotentiary from the Korean Provisional Government in Shanghai to the United States.
A Methodist clergyman, he spent much of his life in exile, working for Korean independence and democracy. Hyun died in Los Angeles in 1968.
“This digital archive represents an important part of the cultural patrimony of the overseas Korean community, one that has previously been largely unavailable to researchers,” says Ken Klein, director of the USC East Asian library, which houses the USC Korean Heritage Library. “By placing it online, we have opened it to interested community members and researchers, not just in Los Angeles but in Korea and the rest of the world.”
The Korean Heritage Library already contains one of the most significant collections of Korean materials in North America. KADA underscores “the library’s role as a major center for Korean and Korean-American studies,” says Klein.

– Eric Mankin

Requiem for Radio?

SWhat to do about the 115 million Americans starved for media distraction along their daily commute? That’s the challenge facing a radio industry on the eve of revolution. Next spring, American carmakers will begin pumping 100 channels of sound from orbiting satellites into every new car, reports American Journalism Review. Only trouble is, “there is a lack of unique programming,” says USC communications scholar Titus Levi, who compares this time of rapid change to the 1940s and ’50s, when FM radio debuted amid hoopla and hours of dead air. A third of U.S. radio stations already offer their sound via computer, and Levi predicts Web-stream radio will be a mass medium in two more years. Here’s hoping it brings better fare than Howard Stern and Don Imus.

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lIlustration by A.J. Garces / KADA photos courtesy Korean Heritage Library

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