Koreans in Los Angeles and U.S.—A Beacon for the Future

“A passion for hard work and education is our mantra…”


  New Book Release Due 2017

The South Korean company of Korean Air and Hanjin Group is spending $1.5 billion to erect the tallest building west of Chicago in downtown Los Angeles. But in the eyes of Chairman Yang Ho Cho the project is much more than an emblem of his family companies. “This will be an icon of the Korean Community for Los Angeles,” he said when he gave an initial go ahead for the tall building which will be dedicated in 2017.  The Korean Community? Cho speaks of  immigrants “who came here and started businesses and learned trades.” He talks of Los Angeles as a “microcosm of the United States--a land built of immigrants who want to do one thing: improve their lives.”

       This book will tell of struggles and contributions of Korean immigrants Angel_Island_Immigration_band their families over the last century who contributed significantly to Los Angeles and California, to New York and northern New Jersey, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas and other cities across the country.  It will tell of their Korean culture and history and as importantly how they have adapted to the American culture of E Pluribus Unum, one from many, a new, diverse concept of a nation.   At a time of difference and debate about immigration, the Koreans demonstrate the promise of the American mosaic, which remains a beacon to the world.

     Korean Americans today, at 1.7 million across the U.S., are a relatively small group compared to new Americans from China, the Philippines and India.  But with energy and drive, Korean Americans are building landmarks in New York as well as L.A., lobbying for causes in Washington and founding businesses, heading universities and hospitals and holding public office in all parts of the U.S.  They are working for affordable housing and family services through more than 7,000 Korean churches across the country. 

      Jihee Huh, a prominent Korean American woman who has won commendation from the U.S. Congress, sums up the Korean Community this way:  “We are a very eclectic people with many talents but most importantly focus on education and hard work as our collective mantra.” Her reference to education reflects the history of a class system in Korea that denied education to all but the aristocracy or Yangban class who could be educated and thus serve in government and the leading agencies of society. Indeed, in the Confucian social codes that ruled ancient Korea, women could not be taught to read and write.  Since Korea became an independent country at the end of World War II, its people have become fierce about education for their children.

    And now they are aiming even higher. Jim Yong Kim, now head of the World Bank, was born in South Korea, raised in Iowa, trained as a medical doctor at Harvard University, founded a doctors organization that fights disease in Haiti and other poor countries, headed the World Health Organization and served as president of Dartmouth College before assuming his World Bank post in 2012. He told a Council of Korean Americans dinner audience in Washington last year that  “We Korean Americans have the ability to make an outsized impact on how this country evolves and sees itself as a multicultural society.  As hybrids, we Korean Americans have the opportunity to make a huge impact in moving this country forward.”


Smile Southern California, You're the Center of the Universe: The Economy and People of a Global Region

Stanford General Press - Hardcover

by James Flanigan

  Thirty-five years ago, a billboard announced to the world: "Smile Los Angeles! You're the Center of the Universe." Hyperbolic at the time, today, this exaggeration comes close to reality. While Southern California is not at the literal center of the universe, it is nevertheless an eye-popping illustration of our globalizing world.

  Throughout the book, Flanigan weaves in numerous interviews that bring to life the economic forces that he describes. Most valuable are the stories that he shares of businesspeople—well and less known—who demonstrate where our economy stands and where it is heading.

  Smile Southern California! delivers more than a "pat on the back" for the inhabitants of Los Angeles and its environs; it offers an insider's view on Southern California, valuable insights for readers with an eye on the economy, and an exciting story full of real people and triumphs to boot!