Esther Park was born October 18, 1902, in Pyongyang, Korea. She arrived in Hawaii on board the S.S. Mongolia with her parents (Chong Soo Park) on September 26, 1904, entering as Po Pai Pak. Educated at Mid-Pacific Institute (1918-1922) and the University of Hawaii (1922-1926), Park taught at Kohala Girls School for one year. She subsequently worked with the Honolulu YWCA for nineteen years. The National Board of New York YWCA sent her to Korea in November 1947. There she served as American advisory secretary for the Korean YWCA, which had been established during the 1920s by Dr. Helen Kim. Park became an American citizen on April 22, 1955. She retired from the Korean YWCA in 1977 and returned to Honolulu, where she died on January 30, 2001, at the age of ninety-eight.
A guide to the Park papers is available here.
More About Esther Park
For additional biographical information about Esther Park, see:
- Hyun Ja Kim Oh, P’ungyohan salm–Pak Esutŏ Sonsaneng ŭi saeng’ae [Life Abundant–Life of Miss Esther Park] (Seoul: Taehan YWCA Yŏnhaphoe, 1979).
- J. Harry Haines, Ten Hands for God (Nashville, Tennessee: The Upper Room, 1982), 41-48.
- Esther Park, “Doing God’s Work,” in Passages to Paradise: Early Korean Immigrant Narratives from Hawai’i by Daisy Chun Rhodes (Los Angeles: Academia Koreana, 1998), 247-251.
- Anne Soon Choi, “‘Hawaii Has Been My America:’ Generation, Gender, and Korean Immigrant Experience in Hawai’i Before World War II,” American Studies, 45, no. 3 (2004): 5-29.
- Interview with Esther Park in the Roberta Chang Collection, videocassette 3.