January 9, 2003 Readings at Library Of Congress Celebrate Centennial of Korean Immigration To United States
First Immigrants Arrived in Honolulu on Jan. 13, 1903
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The Library of Congress celebrates the 100th anniversary of the landing of the first immigrants from Korea in the United States with a reading of poems by Korean-American poets at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 17, in the Mumford Room, sixth floor of the Library's James Madison Building, 101 Independence Avenue S.E., Washington, D.C.
Yearn Hong Choi and Haengja Kim will read from their own works in Korean, and K.S. Kwon will read poems of Nam Soo Park (deceased), also in Korean. Prosser Gifford, head of the Library's Office of Scholarly Programs, and Jennifer Rutland, special assistant in the Poetry and Literature Center, will read the poems in English.
Born in Young-dong, South Korea, Haengja Kim has received numerous awards for her poetry, including the Editor's Choice Award from the National Library of Poetry in Maryland (1996). Her first book of poetry, "When I Close My Eyes, You Are," was published in 1995. Yearn Hong Choi is founding president of the Korean Poets and Writers' Group in the Washington area and was the executive director of the Korean PEN Center and managing editor of "Korean Literature Today." His book "Autumn Vocabularies" was published in 1990.
Nam Soo Park wrote 324 poems during his lifetime. His poetry was published in Korean: "Lantern," in 1940, and his last book, "Narrow Road," appeared in 1994.
This event is one of many across the nation commemorating the arrival of 56 men, 21 women and 25 children in Hawaii (then a U.S. territory), who left Korea and traveled across the Pacific Ocean on the S.S. Gaelic, landing in Honolulu on Jan. 13, 1903. They and their descendants went on to create Korean-American communities across the nation in the years that followed. In the words of H. Con. Res. 297, approved 417-0 by the U.S. House of Representatives on Sept. 25, 2001, Korean-Americans "have taken root and thrived in the United States through strong family ties, community support, and hard work."