YOK Center Awarded $135,000

Grant from Academy of Korean Studies will support research on Korean American heroes, identity

logo with Col. Kim

The Young Oak Kim Center has received a $135,000 grant from the Academy of Korean Studies.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — The Academy of Korean Studies has awarded the Young Oak Kim Center for Korean American Studies at UC Riverside a $135,000, three-year grant to support research on Korean American heroes and identity.

That research will support development of a new course at UCR, an oral history project, and a book about the history of Korean Americans in the United States from the late 19th century to today.

“We are very honored to be the recipient of this generous grant, which will support the Young Oak Kim Center’s mission to raise the voice and identity of Korean Americans,” said Edward T. Chang, professor of Korean American Studies and director of the YOK Center.

Chang and a board of Korean American leaders will identify individuals whom Korean Americans regard as heroes, such as Col. Young Oak Kim, a highly decorated U.S. Army veteran of World War II and the Korean War who became an advocate for Asian Americans; Dr. Sammy Lee, the first Asian American to win an Olympic gold medal for the United States and the first man to win back-to-back gold medals in Olympic platform diving; and K.W. Lee, the first Asian immigrant hired as a reporter by a mainstream American newspaper who became known for covering the Civil Rights Movement in Jim Crow South.

The center also will produce a short documentary, website, and a book about the history of Korean Americans. Also planned during the three-year grant are speakers, seminars and conferences.

“There are academic books with slices of Korean American history, but very few about Korean American heroes or a timeline of the arrival of Korean immigrants and their movement from one community to another,” said Carol Park, a research assistant at the YOK Center.

Separate from the grant, the YOK Center is developing a children’s book about Col. Kim, and this fall will roll out a census data project that tracks the migration of Korean Americans in the U.S. between 1980 and 2010. The interactive mapping project will include brief storylines, for example, why Korean Americans moved in such large numbers from Los Angeles County to Orange County toward the end of the 20th century.

The YOK Center opened at UC Riverside in September 2010. It is dedicated to understanding what it means to be a Korean American in the 21st century, the history of Korean Americans, the Korean diaspora in the United States and globally, and the role of Korean Americans in the reunification of South and North Korea.

The Academy of Korean Studies, located in Seongnam, just southeast of Seoul, is a research and educational institute established in 1978 by South Korea’s Ministry of Education and Science Technology. It supports research on Korean culture, education, and training for Korean Studies researchers.

Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-7847
E-mail: bettye.miller@ucr.edu
Twitter: bettyemiller

Additional Contacts

Edward T. Chang
Tel: (951) 827-5661
E-mail: edward.chang@ucr.edu

Carol Park
Tel: (951) 827-5661
E-mail: carol.park@ucr.edu

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