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[Feature]Korean Immigrants In America⑦

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작성자 minjok 작성일02-01-18 00:00 조회1,852회 댓글0건

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Chapter Seven: EDUCATION FOR EARLY IMMIGRANTS


sunwoohakwon.jpg Regardless of their primary motivations for coming to America, all the interviewees wished that they had had a chance to be educated. Most of them, however, failed to attend school once they arrived in America. Not only did they have to earn their living but the American school system was so discriminatory they were not allowed to attend and study with the white pupils at that time. For instance, in 1906 the San Francisco School Board passed a resolution requiring all Orientals to attend a segregated Oriental school in Chinatown. A local newspaper explained: (Kitano, H. Japanese-Americans, p. 29)

California has a law which makes it obligatory on her school board to provide schoolhouses for children of Indian, Chinese, or Mongolian blood. That law still stands on the statute books. It is a duty of the school board to enforce it. They are enforcing it. They will continue to do so.

Under the circumstances, the children of the Korean immigrants had a very difficult time to get a proper education. Youngsters had to be out on the farm with the older folks from sunrise to sunset. A young 16 year old immigrant, Kim Jin-sung, began picking tomatoes and oranges in Upland, California as soon as he arrived in America, and he never had received a formal education even though he spent his entire life in America. A 12 year old immigrant, Ahn Young-ho, was sent to study at a Korean institute in Honolulu, but not a regular American school. The Korean compound was established by the Methodist Church for the education of the Korean immigrant children. It was a boarding school with about 120 boys and girls. The Korean plantation workers sent their children to this school paying $6 a month. After a couple years, the young immigrant Ahn Young-ho had to find a job in a tailor shop.

Another young immigrant, Paik Myong-son, had spent about a year and a half in school after he arrived in Hawaii at the age of 7. That was his formal schooling and he came along with his parents to the mainland. Life on the mainland was no easier than in Hawaii. He wanted so much to go to a seminary and become a minister like his father and return to Korea. But the opportunity never arrived for Myong-son. We asked him about the situation.

Q. What stopped you?
A. Well, I"m the oldest son of ten children... I could see that my father and mother needed my help so I just pitched in and as long as I live, I"ll help them.

His parents needed him since Myong-son was the only member of the family who spoke English and could make outside contact. He did all the shopping for them, too. Since he was not able to give himself an education, he was determined to educate his children at all cost, and he did. He had been a common laborer but he wanted his children to have a college education. The spirit of self-sacrifice to educate their children was a common character among the early Korean immigrants.

Emsen Charr, another young immigrant, came to Hawaii in 1905 at the age of 12 with his cousin who was ten years older. Being a Christian, baptized by Rev. Samuel Moffitt the first American Presbyterian missionary to Pyong-yang, Emsen had contact with Americans before he came to Hawaii. As a matter of fact, the young immigrant brought a letter of introduction from Rev. Moffitt, To Whom It May Concern, which he treasured. He got on a Japanese boat at Chinnampo with several other immigrants, some were added at Chemulpo, and more at Pusan before they arrived at Yokohama. At Yokohama they transferred to S.S. Manchuria for Honolulu. Of course, all the expenses were paid by the Hawaii Development Company.

Unlike the case of Ahn Young-ho, the young immigrant, Emsen, had to be assigned to a plantation immediately with the rest of some 350 Korean immigrants who were with him. Emsen was sent to the Ewa Plantation just west of Honolulu with most of his original company from Pyong-yang including his cousin while the rest of them were sent to the island of Hawaii, the biggest of the islands.
The plantation was divided into three separate camps: the Korean camp on the east side; the Chinese camp to north; the Japanese camp on the west side--all centered around the mill and the camp headquarters and stores.

The young 12 year old immigrant went out to work for the first time after a couple days of rest and preparation. He was sent to a place where they were making a new field out of the wasteland full of bramble brushwood. A mansize pickaxe was given to him with which to work. He was to cut down the brushwood and to dig up the root. The pickaxe was so big and heavy, his hands so small and tender, that pretty soon both his hands began to bleed. The boy had never worked in his life for he was to have become a scholar, not a hard working laborer. Emsen was, however, lucky. His foreman, Mr. Yun, who was also from Pyong-yang, bandaged up his hands "with his own handkerchief", and changed his job for a day. He became a "hori hori" boy or discarding the old leaves off the sugar cane which were touching the ground. The work was not quite as bad as with the pickaxe work. He earned an average of fifty cents a day or about $15 a month working ten hours a day. It was a hard work but he was happy because he felt like a man, now. He was paid as was his cousin and everybody else at the plantation. One thing was sure, he would not get rich very quick over there. He was willing to work every day and save every nickel he earned to go to San Francisco as soon as possible. After all, in his mind, Hawaii was only a stepping stone to San Francisco.

Soon, the sugar cane fields were ready for harvest... to be cut and gathered and hauled to the mill, then to be made into white granulated sugar. The cutting was about the hardest work in the fields. It required a person to handle a long and big topping knife, called a machete, which is half knife and half clipper with upturned hook at the point that both cut and pulled. Young Emsen could not handled it. His foreman again assigned him to gather up those that were already cut and carry them to the flat cars that were waiting on the tracks. It was harder than it sounds. He remembered the pains when the needle-like bristles falling off the dry leaves pricked his sweating skin with stinging pain and the cloud of dust choked his throat in the steaming hot sun, and his foreman who was either a native or a Portuguese at that time, urged him along hollering "hurry, hurry."

Six months had passed. About that time, his father in Pyong-yang sent him $15 in care of his cousin"s wife and asked Emsen to go to San Francisco as soon as possible. $15 was, however, not enough; it required $31. So his cousin made up the balance to buy a ticket for him. Emsen was excited about going to America, but "how can I go alone without you?" he said to his cousin. His cousin encouraged him saying: "You shouldn"t worry about that, since you will have somebody over there who will look after you after you get there. I"m sure Mr. Ahn Chang-ho, the great Korean patriot, and Mr. Kim Sung-moo, my wife"s brother... will take care of you."

Emsen arrived in San Francisco on June 26, 1905 with several other Korean immigrants from Honolulu. He now landed in the city of his dreams and he thought that San Francisco was similar to the city of Pyong-yang in her geographical and topographical setting. Anyway, he enjoyed the natural beauty of the city and also thrilled with the realization of his lifetime dream.

Young Emsen was led to a Korean hotel on Filbert Street which was located on North Beach where most of the residents had been the Italian immigrants. He was happy to find a couple of other young immigrants who were also from his native city including an old schoolmate. On first Sunday, all of them attended Sunday service in the lobby of the hotel. It was his first worship service in America and he was thrilled. He sat between his two pals facing the window while Mr. Pang was conducting the service. Mr. Pang who became a preacher conducted the entire service in Korean and Emsen was impressed. A strange thing happened just about the time the service ended. A fist-sized rock banged through the front window, barely missing Pang and young Emsen who were just inside the window. The service stopped right there, and someone went outside to check. There was no evidence of anything. Everyone was stunned and startled. Emsen couldn’t believe that such a thing could happen in America. It was the time of an anti-Oriental labor movement in California and the singing of a Korean hymn had probably attracted outsiders. It made no difference to those who hated the Orientals whether they sing Christian hymns or chanted Buddhist songs, the white workers considered the Oriental workers competed for their jobs. How would Emsen know that? The young dreamer experienced more serious incidents which began to occur more and more frequently. Personal insults by calling them "Japs,” or “Scaby,” were common occurrences, schools were segregated, services were denied, and mob violence threatened them. Emsen remembered that a house where the first Korean laborers lived in was threatened with mob violence in a southern California town but the situation was saved by the church people in town. Another incident occurred in San Francisco in 1914. Rev. Lee of the Korean church made an appeal to the Secretary of State in Washington asking for his intercession and Mr. William Jennings Bryan helped stop the mob violence against the Koreans in town. Nevertheless, the anti-Oriental law of 1924 became a reality.
Young Emsen started his schooling at a night school in the Riverside Korean camp then moved to a public school starting with the Third Grade. He was fortunate that one of their night school teachers, Miss Patterson, was also the Principal of the school and inspired him to learn English. Riverside was the largest Korean community for a period of time since most of the Korean immigrants lived there while working on the farms. Ahn Chang-ho, as their leader, maintained the night school for the youngsters with assistance from the church, and kept the community well in order. Emsen, like other immigrants, received special counseling from Ahn Chang-ho. He spent most of the time working and tried to save money for his education but he only got through the Eighth Grade in the three years after he arrived in San Francisco. His work came before his school. He confessed that “I tried to earn a dollar a day to save it for five years, in vain.”

A chance for an education for young immigrants did arrive one day. Dr. George S. McCune, an American missionary to Korea, had just returned to the States on his first furlough from Sunchun, Emsen’s hometown. Emsen met Dr. McCune for the first time in San Francisco as he had left his home before Dr. McCune had arrived there. Dr. McCune visited the headquarters of the Korean National Association where Emsen was employed as a type-setter for The New Korea, a weekly newspaper published by the KNA. When Dr. McCune found out about young Emsen, he advised him to go to Park college to study. Dr. McCune was the son-in-law of the founder of Park College, Dr. John A. McAfee. With his recommendation, Emsen became the first Korean student to Park College in Missouri. He enrolled as a freshman in the college’s Academy in 1913 and entered the college in 1916. At that time he began the education he had dreamed of ever since he left Korea in 1905.

As Emsen said, “Henceforth, I lived as an American, not only on food, but in life and soul... I was trained as a Christian American.” His education, however, had to be interrupted. It was the time of World War I. In April, 1918, he was drafted into the United States Army while he was still in the Academy. His draft board in Pomona, California where he had originally registered asked Emsen whether he would rather not be drafted since he was not an American citizen. But Emsen wanted to be drafted since he was so inspired by President Wilson’s war message to Congress, when on April 2, 1917, the president said, “We are glad... to fight thus for the ultimate peace of the world, for the liberation of its peoples, including the German people; for the rights of nations great and small and the privileges of men everywhere to choose their way of life and obedience. The world must be safe for democracy.”
He wanted to join the service not only because of Wilson’s inspiring message, but also because of his early ambition to be a medical missionary to Korea. He explained the situation in the following manner:

I had come to study medicine in order to return to Korea as a medical missionary and I heard of the Army medical corps. I thought I could study some medicine while I am serving, so I wrote to Washington, and asked to be sent to Army Medical Corps, and they did. So I was sent to Ft. Ogglethorpe, Georgia; that is the medical officer’s training camp. I stayed there 10 days, then they sent me to Army engineers camp.

It was a small camp where they were building a new camp a couple miles out in the woods called A. A. Humphry, Emsen recalled. They built a huge hospital the size of a big city block. Then began that terrible epidemic, the Spanish influenza. They brought in patients from all the different camps--some camps didn’t have any hospital facilities--and Emsen remembered that every day half a dozen people died. He worked in the pharmacy section where he was assigned to give out medicines. All he did was “wash out medicine bottles.” He said, “That was my job until the end of war.” He did not get what he hoped by joining the Army. He returned to Park College and continued his education. He graduated from the college in 1923. Not many Korean immigrants had a college education in those days. He got a job at the Rand McNally map publishing company in Chicago where he worked until 1931.

Emsen met his wife in Chicago while he was working there and three years later their first child, Anna Pauline, was born. It was a happy occasion. The Charr family, however, was confronted with a serious problem.

Mrs. Charr was about to be deported because neither of them was a U.S. citizen. Emsen joined the Carl Wenderly Corps of the American Legion right after he graduated from the college and became a charter member of the corps but he was not a citizen.

While he was in the Army, one morning “Sgt. Johnson told me to go to the office because they were giving citizenships to all the draftees...” said Emsen. So he applied for a citizenship following Sgt. Johnson’s advice. But Emsen’s application was turned down due to his Korean nationality. The man at the counter told him that “you are not eligible.”

Now they were in trouble. So Emsen wrote to the national commander of the American Legion and told him: “I was an honorably discharged soldier of the Great War, will you give me citizenship? I am married to a Korean woman and we have two children but she is about to be deported.” With a help of the American Legion’s legislative committee in Washington, Mr. Charr received his American citizenship. Congress passed a special law permitting the Charrs to stay as American citizens.

Mr. Charr was so appreciative for the support of the American Legion that he became an enthusiastic supporter of it. Wearing his American Legionaires cap and singing “My Old Kentucky Home,” Emsen shows unhesitantly that he is as good an American citizen as any one. He was retired from civil service--The Soil Conservation Service, and is living a happy life in Portland, Oregon forgetting all about the early hardships and discriminations he had experienced. He was, indeed, one of the happiest among our interviewees.

Dr. De Young (Chung) is one of the most successful Korean immigrants who achieved what he came for. He finished his Ph.D. in Political Science at the American University, Washington, D.C. in 1915 and served his native country as the first minister to Japan under the Syngman Rhee regime in 1948. He was also one of the three Korean delegates to the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 and has published two books on Korea: The Case of Korea, and The Oriental Policy of the United States.

He left Korea for the United States in 1904. How can such a young child leave home without his parents to go to America? He explained that he was a rather precocious child and studied the Chinese classic all those years when he heard about America through Park Yong-man who had been to America and was closely associated with the Progressive group of Kim Okkeun. Park came to our school one day and told us about America. He was one of the pioneers who tried to overthrow the conservative government and establish a modern democracy, but they were not successful in their attempt.

Young Henry landed in San Francisco where he was welcomed by four Koreans, one of them was Ahn Chang-ho who guided him later to school. In San Francisco Henry met the returned Korean missionary who advised him to move to Los Angeles. In those days the anti-Japanese sentiment was very high in San Francisco and it was not safe for any Oriental to go out on the streets. “You boys better go down to Los Angeles, it is not so bad as San Francisco. Right now Los Angeles is just about the last of anti-Oriental center.” So Henry went to Los Angeles.

He stayed in the Korean mission on South Hill Street. Shin
Hung-woo (Hugh Cynn) was pastor of the mission and Mrs. Sherman was superintendent at that time. He immediately looked for a school boy job and moved around from one place to another. He recalled, “I had an awful time.” But there was nothing he could do about it, as he said, “I asked for it and got it.” He spent one year as a school boy in Los Angeles. At that time, Park Yong-man’s uncle arrived in the city and recommended to his American friend in Nebraska. With Hugh Cynn’s advice, Henry left Los Angeles for Nebraska in 1905. There were Koreans already in Nebraska. Park and his political associates were there.

Young Henry started his schooling in the 4th grade. He spent the whole year learning the language and the next year he was promoted to 5th grade. That year he jumped from 5th to 7th grade and 8th grade all in one year. He spent one full year in reviewing before he moved to high school. He finished the four years of high school in three years and he was elected senior class president and also chosen to deliver the oration as the class valedictorian.

Thus he graduated from high school with high honors. After that, he entered a teacher’s college-two year system in town then moved to the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. After receiving his B.A. degree, he went to Northwestern University on a graduate fellowship and got a Master’s degree in Political Science and Economics. After that, he got another fellowship to the American University and there he got his Ph.D. in Political Science. Among the fellow Koreans, he was the only young man who went all the way to get the highest academic degree in the country.

The 90 years old pioneer recalled of the event, “Well, anyway, I was the second Korean to get a Ph.D. in this country. Syngman Rhee was the first one. He got the degree from the hands of Woodrow Wilson at Princeton University...after that, well, even a man with a Ph.D. degree had to eat. I had to do something. So I went out and free-lanced.” He was a coming star in Korean leadership. Not knowing what to do to earn his living after he finished the doctorate degree, he was asked to serve as a member of the Korean Peace Delegation to Paris by Ahn Chang-ho who was the head of the Korean National Association, the only socio-political organization of the Korean community at that time in the country.

Dr. de Young said about the problem confronted with the American government at that time:

The fellow in charge of the department of the bureau head said, “We’ll send a wire to Secretary of State Lansing in Paris. He’s there right now. If he approves, we’ll give you an exit permit.” When we called on him a few days later, he said, “Yes, we’ve heard from the Secretary, and he said that it was not advisable for Korean delegates to come at this time.” He was a little afraid that we fellows might go over there, make a lot of noise, and agitate. He didn’t want any of that. So we didn’t succeed in going there and then I thought it was our duty to stay in the U.S. and do our propaganda work.

Dr. de Young and Dr. Rhee tried to convince some of the legislators that Korea ought to be granted a self-determination as President Wilson had declared, but they were not very successful. The leaders of the United States were not interested in Korean independence, and they were more interested in Asian matters with Japan as a partner. The spirit of the Taft-Katsura Agreement was still dominating the relationship between the United States and Japan.
Actually, both Dr. Rhee and Dr. de Young were not asking a full independence of Korea at that time, but for a League of Nations mandate, Dr. de Young said:

We never told Koreans we’ll have our independence, but that we would have it at some unknown date...indefinite. It’s pretty hard to get people together and have them contribute toward our support with such indefinite proposition. That’s pretty hard.

The issue of a League of Nations mandate of Korea caused later Dr. Rhee to resign as the President of the Provisional Korean government in Shanghai. The Korean leaders in exile condemned Dr. Rhee that his idea of an international mandate of Korea was contrary to the aspiration of the Korean people and Dr. Rhee acted as the head of the delegation independently without consulting the government leaders in Shanghai.

Dr. Rhee was, however, forgiven by the Korean leaders when the second world war started. The United Korean Committee was organized including Dr. Rhee’s Dongji-hoe and sent him to Washington with Dr. de Young in order to start diplomatic activities on behalf of Korean independence. Dr. de Young said:

I went to Washington and took over the old job. We stayed together and since the Cairo Declaration, the very attitude of Washington government changed toward us. We got the most friendly reception wherever we went and they took us in as “unofficial allies.”

Dr. de Young was sent to San Francisco to attend the organization of United Nations as an “unofficial delegate.” He did most of the work including the memorandum which was presented at each of the meetings although it didn’t mean much. He said, “Those fellows were polite enough to accept it, but they wouldn’t put it into action.”

By coincidence, Major General Lerch who was a classmate of Dr. de Young in high school was appointed to the American Military Governor to South Korea at the end of the war. Dr. de Young made a lunch date with him in Washington before his departure for Korea. Dr. de Young asked, “Now will you arrange for me to make a trip to Korea? Because I want to go back to Korea to examine the condition.” The General said, “Well, I’ll tell you. Cable to my deputy in Korea, tell him, and he’ll send your name in, and sort of draft you, and have you come in.” So finally, Dr. de Young went to Korea. That was the first time he had set his foot in Korea since he left in 1904. He met four relatives who had been born and raised there after he left Korea. They informed him that his brothers and close relatives were all dead.

In view of his close association with Dr. Rhee, he could have stayed with Dr. Rhee but returned to his home in Colorado Springs after serving as the first Ambassador to Japan for just three months. Even just the three months, he served rather reluctantly. Dr. Rhee had to ask him as a favor. Dr. Rhee told him that “You just stay there, establish the thing, then somebody else can take your place later.” Under that condition, Dr. de Young accepted the appointment. He returned to the States after he established the Korean embassy in Tokyo. He even brought a Korean orphan with him.

Not only Dr. de Young achieved his education as he wished as a young immigrant, all of his children too received higher education like their father. All three children became college professors: one is in Chicago, the second one is in the San Francisco area, and the third one is in West Virginia. And the fourth child--the orphan--is working for Braniff Airlines.

Reminiscing were his long service to his native country, he commented affectionately of two former colleagues: Dr. Syngman Rhee and Dr. Kieu-sick Kimm. A question was asked: You worked with Dr. Rhee for a long time, did you have any disagreement with him? He replied in following:

Oh, yes, plenty. I never let those minor petty things interfere with great ideals before us. One thing I do know is that no matter what he did, he did not do it for himself. It just nearly broke my heart when I read that the Korean mob came in with Park Chung-hee crowd and they even tore down his statue in Namsan and dragged down along the way of the road.


Dr. de Young had no reservation about Dr. Rhee’s patriotism. He said, “That part I can swear by. That’s why all the small faults I overlooked. Dr. Rhee lost many of his early associates: Harry Hyong-sun Kim, Warren Won-yong Kim, Won-sun Lee, and others due to his stubborn, uncompromising, dictatorial attitude but Dr. de Young stayed with him from the beginning to the end.

Another great Korean patriot of Dr. de Young’s contemporary was Dr. Kimm. Dr. de Young spoke of Dr. Kimm in the following manner:

He was a truly fine man. He was much older than I was. When the communist army started their Southwest drive, Kimm, along with a few others, stayed in Seoul. Kimm always had a little communist tendency...they are idealists, revolutionaries, I think their ideals were good. Naturally, if anybody reads Communist Manifesto, it is most idealistic. And they had wrong idea that they could convince them (communists) of advisability of unifying Korea as one nation.... Kim was one of those unfortunate fellows that was taken by them. And nobody knows what became of him.

In spite of such tragedy, Dr. de Young insisted that the unification of Korea was entirely possible. He wished that he were younger, so he could advocate such a theme again. He said, “If I were twenty years younger, I’d send a letter to the New York Times, Washington Post, as I used to do in the days gone by--time is ripe.” He has explained why the unification is important for the Korean people.

The thing is, the northside has natural resources, southside agricultural, each side needs the support of the other. Right now, as I think, if a man of Kissinger’s caliber should come out and advocate Korean unification...

The situation in Korea has never been solved. It’s hanging in the fire and they’ve never had a peace settlement. You’ve got to have a peace settlement to do anything. They had an armistice and that’s all... they never got any kind of an agreement.

Dr. de Young was on a lecture program from time to time whenever he could manage from his political activities, but he is most happy just being home now. He lives a quiet life with his wife in Colorado Springs.
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