Videotaped interviews of descendants of the first Korean immigrants in Hawai‘i, 1903–1905, conducted by Roberta W.S. Chang.
Twenty-five descendants of the first Korean immigrants who came to Hawai‘i between 1903 and 1905 were interviewed between 1998 and 2000 as a project sponsored by the Center for Korean Studies. Nearly all interviewees were over the age of seventy and had lived in Hawaii nearly all their lives. Twenty-five more were added by Roberta Chang.
The interviewees were asked to prepare for questions regarding their parents: their names, from what part of Korea they came, under what circumstances they came to Hawai‘i, how old the parents were when they arrived, what was the family configuration, where they worked, places where they lived, community activities in which they took part, to what church and organizations the parents belonged, who they remember as leaders, any special events, and any other memories.
Interviewees were selected randomly, although attempts were made to have a fair number of interviewees from the Korean Christian Church and the Methodist Church.
Please note that interviewees were asked to speak of two major organizations that were begun by the first generation: the Korean National Association (also known as Kuk Min Hur) and the Dongji Hoi. Both organizations are generally associated with the respective churches: the Korean Methodist Church and the Korean Christian Church.
Interviewees talked about other organizations such as the Korean University Club; the Tae Kuk Club; the Delta Frat and Sorority; and the Korean American Club. The latter club began in 1926. It was established by a first-generation immigrant and was quickly taken up by the second generation. The first generation left a hefty endowment to that club.
List of Interviews
|Chang, Judge Robert Won Bae||5|
|Chang, Dr. Rosie||17|
|Choi, Emily Lee||5|
|Choy, Mary Whang||12|
|Chun, Agnes Rho||18|
|Chung, George M.Y.||12|
|Chung, Hazel Pahk||1|
|Chung, Julia Chang||19|
|Chung, Dr. Nam Young||9|
|Dunn, Minnie You||6|
|Han, Mary Moon||10|
|Hong, S. Y. Skip||2|
|Hong, Tai Sung||19|
|Hong, Patricia Kim||19|
|Kanada, Caroline Lee||15|
|Kang, Yong Ok||11|
|Kim, Margaret Yang||17|
|Kim, Marian Lyu||7|
|Kim, Walter Tae Bong||19|
|Kim, Dr. Yin Kim||11|
|Kobayashi, Katherine Kwon||14|
|Kwon, Agnes Pahk||14|
|Mack, Ruth Lee||4|
|Min, Dr. Thomas||25|
|Ome, Esther Lim||23|
|Owen, Phillip George||1|
|Yang, Margaret Kim||7|
|You, Dr. E. Won Sik||6|
|You, Eleanor Chun||24|
|You, Richard of Hilo||16|
|You, Dr. Richard You||24|
|Young, Dr. Jackie||15|
|Yu, Pun Cho||21|
|Discussion on various topics by Charles Chung, Dr. E. Won Sik You, and Skip Hong||22|
|Rev. Samuel Lee||22|
|Dr. Robert Wong, neighbor of Dr. Syngman Rhee in Hilo around 1925 to 1929||3|
|Total individual interviews||52|
George Owen and Philson Owen
Background: These brothers live in Los Angeles at present but have deep roots in Hawai‘i. Although they are the brothers of Philo Owen, who was also interviewed, the memories of their past differ. Philo was interviewed first separately before his older brothers came for a vacation. George is the oldest among them and seemed more knowledgeable about the past.
Family: Mother Hae Goon Lee Owen Park came to Hawai‘i at age one, with her parents, in 1903. Later her grandmother joined them. Worked on the Big Island. Father Cloud Owen (a modified name from Oh Won, which means cloud) first went to the U.S. mainland. He was from Pyongyang and Seoul. Married twice before marrying their mother, once in Korea and once to a Caucasian in the United States.
Sketch of interview: Talks about father’s travels before coming to Hawai‘i. Father is founder of the Korean American Club, and as such the sons have to do the chores of preparing for meetings, parties, and caring for the gravesites of deceased members as part of the members’ privileges of paying a large initiation fee to the club. Describes the courtship of their mother opposed by her family. Sons were obliged to learn musical instruments to play at functions. Attended Methodist Church.
Background: Born 1925 Honolulu. Well-known among Koreans in Hawai‘i. The only son who did not leave Hawai‘i, he became president of the Korean American Club and president of the Korean Community Council. He retired from the Honolulu Police Department as an investigator.
Family: As above. Philo says his maternal uncles and aunts were school teachers.
Sketch of interview: Gave details of the Korean American Club activities and his father’s business acumen, buying property and opening a store. Spoke about the “up” and “down” churches, about Tae Kuk Club, and Yong Kang.
Hazel Pahk Chung
Background: Born in Hawai‘i on Kaua‘i. Married to well-known Methodist minister, the Rev. Echio Chung.
Parents: Came as a family in 1903 to cook for the plantation workers. Sent by the Methodist missionaries in Korea.
Sketch of discussion: Speaks about her husband’s family and experiences as an alien, having come after the annexation. As a minister’s wife, Hazel knows a great deal about the picture brides and life as a community woman.
Skip Soon Young Hong
Background: Born 1918 in Hawai‘i. Oldest of four sons. Lived in Waialua, Wahiawa, and, at present, in Honolulu. President of Kuk Min Hur 1992–1997.
Parents: Father Chul Soo Hong came in 1911 to work on the plantation. Mother: Sook Ja Lee came as a picture bride in 1917, a person many remember as a vibrant member of the Korean Women’s Society.
Sketch of interview: Highlights his mother’s participation in the liberation movement. Mother knew Pak Young Man, the famous Korean military commander in Hawai‘i, very well. Describes his own knowledge of Pak Young Man. Talks about Dr. Fry, the superintendent of the Methodist School.
Background: Born June 10, 1917, in Hawai‘i (eighty-two years old). Very active in Korean community activities and has been a member of the Korean Christian Church for many years.
Parents: Father: Young Soo Hong, came at age nineteen from Cheju Do. Mother: Anna Lee was from Seoul and came to Hawai‘i as a picture bride for her first husband, Young Sik Kang, who returned to Korea with their youngest son of six children. Second husband is Esther’s father. Esther was the oldest of another six children.
Sketch of interview: Highlighted her unique family situation. Story of hardships is very impressive. Describes her husband’s family also.
Mary Hong Park
Background: Born in Korea. Mary Hong Park is one of the best-known among the locally born Koreans. She is ninety-four years old and has the best memory of the past in details.
Parents: Came in 1911 with Mary and a son. The Rev. Han Sik Hong was sent to Hawai‘i by the Methodist Church.
Sketch of discussion: Mary Hong Park knows in detail the happenings at the Methodist Church. Spoke about the activities of the second generation.
Dr. Robert Wong
Dr. Wong was interviewed because Mary Hong Park said that Dr. Wong was a neighbor of Dr. Syngman Rhee when Dr. Rhee opened a business on the Big Island and knew Dr. Rhee personally. He showed the area on a map where Dr. Rhee settled.
Background: Born in Korea. Known as the Y.W.C.A. woman both in Hawai‘i and in Korea.
Parents: Park Chang Soo came to Hawai‘i with his wife and two children in 1904. He was known to be second in command of the Korean army in Hawai‘i. Strong Methodist and Kuk Min Hur member.
Sketch of discussion: Describes the family and her Y.W.C.A. work.
Ruth Lee Mack
Background: Born in Wahiawa. President of the Korean American Club for many years.
Parents: Same as Mary Moon Han.
Sketch of interview: Detailed Korean American Club activities and its formation. Described the growth of the Korean Christian Church in Wahiawa. Talked about Dr. Rhee. Various Korean organizations. Very knowledgeable of the Korean community in Wahiawa.
Korean American Club Christmas Party 1998
This is a traditional Christmas party for the club. The highlight of the club is to give scholarships. The Christmas event includes the traditional playing of bingo. Families of the club were introduced. Jonah Lee gave a brief background about his parents.
Emily Kim Choi
Background: Lived in Wahiawa during childhood. Lifelong member of the Korean Christian Church.
Family: Father: Hung Soon Kim came to Hawai‘i in 1904. Mother: Young Chin Park came to Hawai‘i in 1913. Have always been followers of Dr. Syngman Rhee and may have been a charter member of the Wahiawa Korean Christian Church.
Sketch of discussion: Describes family life. Korean-American Club and other Korean organizations.
Background: Born in Kunia 1917. Studied aviation. Has been very active in the Korean community for many years. Strong member of the Korean Christian Church.
Family: Parents came to Hawai‘i in 1903 with a son. A daughter was born on board ship. Father worked on the sugar plantation on Kaua‘i. Supporters of Dr. Syngman Rhee. Brother of Wilbert Choi, who was one of the wealthiest Koreans during the 1960s.
Sketches of interview: Family moved from Kaua‘i to Kunia to Waialua and then to Wahiawa. Talks about Rhee as a guest in the house. Mother’s name was Maria before she came to Hawai‘i. Talks about being on the Friendship Mission as a delegate of the Korean Community Council, of which he was president. Very good discussion about the Korean American Club although not a member. He is knowledgeable of other Korean organizations. Highlighted his brother Wilbert Choi, a very successful businessman, who rescued Dr. Syngman Rhee by sending a chartered plane to bring Rhee to Hawai‘i when he was deposed.
Robert Won Bae Chang
Background: Born in Palama area. Was elected to the House of Representatives, State of Hawai‘i. Was Circuit Court judge. Was selected as a delegate to the Friendship Mission sponsored by the Korean Community Council.
Parents: Father: came from Pyongyang. Arrived in 1904. Mother was a picture bride from Pusan for another man, with whom she had two children. She divorced and married his father.
Sketch of discussion: Describes family life, his mother’s early death. Neither parent attended church but made sure that the children attended Korean Christian Church, which was near their home. Describes his faithful attendance at church and at the language school. Explained his involvement in a law suit involving a power struggle in the church. Describes Nakata Camp, where they lived.
Minnie You Dunn
Dr. Won Sik You
Margaret Kim Yang
Background: Born on Maui. Attended Korean Christian Institute, which was a boarding school. Wife of Kil Chai Yang, the younger brother of Ambassador Dr. Y. C. Yang, one of the well-known successful early Korean families in Hawai‘i.
Family: Mother was Emma Lee Kim, who left the family. Margaret and her sister were placed at the Maryknoll boarding school called St. Anthony School on Maui. Margaret does not know her father well.
Sketch of interview: The girls were then transferred to the Korean Christian Institute in Honolulu. Describes her growing-up years with her sister at the Korean Christian Institute from 1926 to 1930. She remembers Nodie Kimhaekim, school superintendent, and the controversy over an illegitimate child in detail. Years later because of her brother-in-law there were many contacts with esteemed leaders of the Territory and Korea when World War II was over.
Marian Lyu Kim
Background: Born 1914 in Hawai‘i. Retired school teacher, one of the first professional Korean women in Hawai‘i. Recognized by the Korean community and was chosen as a delegate in the esteemed Friendship Mission. Korean Christian Church member.
Family: Father came in 1903 when about twenty-seven years old under very interesting circumstances. He came alone, leaving wife in Korea. He sent for her ten years later. Mother: Sung Hwa Kim. About four of their children in Korea died before coming to Hawai‘i. Father-in-law: Kim Kyong Ju.
Sketch of interview: Very descriptive narrative on life on the Big Island, where father owned coffee plantation. Later grocery store, papaya farm, and laundry work. Father made plans to return to Korea, but a sad circumstance prevented it. Went to UH while parents still on Big Island. Talked about the Rev. Kingsely Lyu incident at the Korean Christian Church. Father was friend of Dr. Rhee. Worked for Rhee on the Dongji Chon—the business company that Dr. Rhee began on the Big Island. But business failed. Knows details about it. Talks about various organizations. She was one of the first Korean women to go to the University of Hawai‘i. Graduated in 1936.
Background: Born in Hawai‘i (1917–1999), attorney, president of Korean National Association, Kuk Min Hur 1960–1969.
Family: Grandfather came in 1904 or 1903 with his wife and two children. There were other children born in Hawai‘i. Oldest child was Edward’s mother. Grandfather worked on the sugar plantation on Kaua‘i. Grandmother died by drowning in an irrigation ditch. Grandfather remarried. There are many highly educated descendants among the second and third generations. Edward’s father came to Hawai‘i in 1909 and was immediately hired by the Korean National Association (Kuk Min Hur) as the editor of the organization’s publication, the Kuk Min Bo, because the elder Mr. Kim was a highly educated man.
Sketch of interview: Edward first outlines his family configuration and then tells the story of his personal knowledge of the Korean community and of Rhee Syngman, who visited his father frequently because of his father’s position as the editor of the powerful newspaper, Kuk Min Bo. Talked about Kuk Min Hur’s role in the community and the struggle between Kuk Min Hur and Rhee are highlighted. His father remained faithful to Kuk Min Hur. Edward traces his family’s settlement in Kaua‘i and Honolulu. He was president from 1960 to 1966. He was also president of the Korean University Club.
Background: Born in Korea but conceived in Hawai‘i in 1920. Episcopalian since birth.
Family: Father: Shi Ho Kim, born in Pyongyang in 1878. Mother: Choo Chei Lee, born 1897 in Pusan. Mother was a picture bride in 1916 while a teenager. Father had been in Hawai‘i since 1903.
Sketch of interview: Describes mother’s homesickness and return to Korea in 1920, unknowingly pregnant with Mary. Shortly after mother gave birth to Mary in Korea they returned to Hawai‘i with mother’s two younger sisters, who became picture brides. They became close with other picture brides who were also members of Episcopal Church. Describes family allegiance to clubs. Speaks of Whang Ha Soo and other community personages. Father was not political.
Background: Son of Mary Halm, born in 1942 in Hawai‘i. An attorney now living in Los Angeles. President of the Korean American Coalition.
Family: His father, Dr. Samuel Halm, was a second-generation dentist, son of Sam Ho Halm, born in 1857 in Pyongyang, and Mary Hong, born in Seoul in 1869. Grandparents came to Hawai‘i together from Inch’on and arrived in Hawai‘i 1904.
Sketch of interview: Describes his father’s side of the family. Father was a teacher but worked in the sugar plantation for a short period of time. Expressed some very personal feelings about community work.
Dr. Nam Young Chung
Background: Born in Waialua, Hawai‘i. Well-known veterinarian.
Parents: Father, Chung Doo Ok, came to Hawai‘i with his parents in 1903 or 1904. Methodist family.
Sketch of discussion: Covers a wide range of experiences and memories of the past because his father was a particularly dedicated Kuk Min Hur member. In-depth coverage of plantation life, father’s role in the Korean community, and the family’s growth.
Mary Moon Han
Background: Born in Hawai‘i 1918. Mother of Chief Justice Ronald Moon. Prominent woman in her own right in Korean affairs. Lives in Wahiawa, where she grew up. Korean Christian Church member. Sister to Ruth Mack, president of the Korean American Club.
Parents: Father: Man Kee Lee, came to Hawai‘i in 1903 alone, leaving wife and daughter in Korea. Mother: Si On Paik Lee joined her husband in 1918, bringing their daughter also.
Sketch of interview: Talks about sister’s coming to Hawai‘i at age seventeen and being sent back to Japan because of an eye infection. This sister returned and married her father’s friend, who became one of the Korean community’s most successful businessmen. Describes the “up” church and the “down” church. Mentions Gertrude Lee, Jacob Pyo, Nodie Shon, and Dr. Rhee.
Charles Tae Bong Lee
Background: Born 1916 in Wahiawa, where he lived nearly all his life. His mother was a strong supporter of Dr. Syngman Rhee and the Korean Christian Church.
Parents: Father: Chung Sur Lee from Chollado, who came 1905 or so. Mother: Kim Sil Pae was a picture bride from Pusan who had two daughters. She brought the youngest daughter with her around 1915.
Sketch of interview: Talks about the family sojourns looking for work. Father dismissed from laundry work on the “Post.” Father died in 1934. States he personally does not know anything about the Korean community, but his mother was active in the Korean Christian Church. Talked about finding lost relatives in Korea.
Yong Ok Kang
Background: Kang Yong Ok is known for his photography. Most of the pictures in the book Their Footsteps were from his collection. He was ninety-two years old when interviewed and remembered his family very clearly. This is one of the most amazing stories of the early Koreans. When I went to Los Angeles in 1999 to interview immigrants who had spent some early years in Hawai‘i, by chance I met an eighty-year-old nephew of Mr. Kang, Dr. Yin Kim, who lost contact with his uncle and knew very little of relatives in Hawai‘i. He remember his grandmother vaguely. Both Mr. Kang’s mother and his sister were true patriots of Korea.
Family: Came with mother, seventeen-year-old brother, and a sister, who was the oldest.
Sketch of discussion: Talks about rich father left back in Korea with his concubines. Has picture of the rich father. Mother is mentioned in Korean history.
Dr. Yin Kim
Background: Dentist in Los Angeles, retired. In his eighties.
Family: Mother came from Korea via Hawai‘i. Father also. Maternal grand mother and uncle remained in Hawai‘i. Brother also dentist and another brother highly recognized artist, especially in music.
Sketch of discussion: Describes the family’s movements on the mainland. His mother receiving the patriot medal from Korea in 1999. Experienced racial discrimination.
John Myong Won Han
Background: Born 1924 in Hawai‘i. Raised in Wahiawa.
Parents: Father: Kyong Sun Han came to Hawai‘i in 1904 alone, from Suwon, Kyonggi Do. Worked on Kaua‘i. He returned to Korea to marry Kyung Hee Lee from Kupo near Pusan in 1919, a widow with a daughter.
Sketch of interview: Talks about his father’s background. Siblings. Spoke about the Methodist Church and the relationship with the “up” church. Both parents active and strong Methodist. Talked about growing up. Military life and his sojourn to Korea after World War II to find relatives. Talked about aftermath of war. Talked about his aunt, Marita Kim.
Background: Born February 22, 1921, in Hawai‘i.
Parents: Father, Yoon Pil Chung, came with wife Martha Choy Chung, date unknown. Worked on Kaua‘i. There were eight children.
Sketch of interview: After plantation work, owned and managed Hydong Hotel in Chinatown. Mother managed a store also and father drove a taxi. Dr. Rhee visited their home because mother was a good cook.
Mary Whang Choy
Background: Descendant of immigrants who came in the 1910s. Born in San Francisco in 1920s and came to Hawai‘i when she was about four years old with her sister, who was about two years older. They came to live with their famous aunt in the Korean community, Ha Soo Whang. Mary herself became a prominent woman, especially in the activist circle for civil liberties in Hawai‘i.
Parents and Family: Father: The Rev. Sa Sun Whang of San Francisco went to San Francisco from Korea via Russia 1914 following his older brother, the Rev. Sa Yong Whang. Mary’s mother died when Mary was around three years old, and she was sent to live with Aunt Ha Soo in Honolulu, who “became mother and father” to her for her entire life.
Sketch of interview: The focus of the interview was on Ha Soo Whang. The dialog is very rich with background scenes of the first immigration. Note that the family immigrated after Japan annexed Korea; therefore, the father had firsthand knowledge of Japanese control. Describes Ha Soo Whang’s Y.W.C.A. activities.
Col. Bryson Jhung
Background: Although Col. Jhung is less than seventy years old, he was interviewed because his father, Walter Jhung, was very active in the community in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1950s yet remains a mystery man.
Family: Grandparents came together sometime before 1905. Walter Jhung was born in Hawai‘i.
Sketch of interview: Describes growing up.
Background: Born in Hawai‘i in 1907, one of three children. Was president of Kuk Min Hur from 1986 to 1990. Before he became a member of Kuk Min Hur, he was a member of the Korean Christian Church.
Family: Parents came together from Korea in 1904, bringing two children.
Sketch of interview: Talks a great deal about Dr. Syngman Rhee and his personal contacts with him. Describes his strong feelings about the Methodist Church in the early years.
Background: Born October 1, 1916, in Honolulu. Husband Joshua Lee was prominent leader, community man in Waialua for many years where Angeline is still living. Daughter is Wendy Lee Gramm, wife of U.S. Senator Gramm.
Parents: Father: Dai Soon Lee. Born March 15,1880, Seoul. Came to Hawai‘i in 1903. Mother: Soon Nam Char, picture bride around 1915 (later divorced and married Louis Mederois).
Sketch of interview: Interpersonal relationships with other Koreans. Susannah Wesley School. Father’s banana farm in Kalihi. Other types of employment. Her mother’s changing religious affiliations. Described her husband’s family, their patriotism, newspaper clippings about their extraordinary lives.
Katherine Kwon Kobayashi
Background: Born in Hawai‘i of a Spanish mother. Sister to two brothers who identified themselves as Koreans and active in the Korean community.
Parents: Parents married on the plantation. Separated after the third child was born. Father raised the older children. Brother is Manuel Kwon, who is not able to speak because of a stroke.
Sketch of discussion: Talks about father in detail. Their up-bringing Korean style.
Agnes Park Kwon
Background: Born second to the youngest of ten children on Kaua‘i.
Parents: Came together around 1903 to work as a cook on the plantation; sent by the Methodist mission in Korea. Mother died when Agnes was still very young.
Sketch of discussion: Spoke about the family hardships and growth. Describe her own family experiences when her husband and she were caught on the mainland during the outbreak of World War II
Background: Born 1930 in Wahiawa, Hawai‘i. Accountant. Well-known Korean community worker. Korean Christian Church and Dongji Hoi member.
Parents: Father: came between 1903 and 1905 at age twenty-three from Pyong An Do. Mother was a picture bride from Pusan and came in 1923 at the age of seventeen.
Sketch of interview: Mainly described his mother as a hard worker who therefore could not take part in Korean activities much. Vegetable farm, rooming house, carnation farm in Kulioo. Lived primarily in the Kalihi and Palama areas. Parents were not members of Dongji Hoi. Bob became active in Dongji Hoi by his own initiative for the past thirty-five years. Talks about what he heard about Dr. Rhee, Mrs. Rhee, KCI, and the Old Folks Home.
Caroline Lee Kanada and Willie Lee
Background: Siblings. Children of the well-known Nam Soo Lee, a picture bride of Dong Sung Lee.
Parents: Father’s arrival in Hawai‘i is unknown. Born in Pyongan Do, 1888. Mother Nam Soo Lee was from Pusan and came in 1922, arranged by her sister, Hannah Park Lee, who was already in Hawai‘i.
Sketch of interview: Talks about mother’s many activities with the Kuk Min Hur ladies. Father had unique employment. Devout Methodists. Strong anti-Rhee. Father was accused of being communist.
Dr. Jackie Young
Background: Born in Hawai‘i, third generation. First Korean woman to become a state legislator and speaker of the House.
Family: Grandparents came to Hawai‘i as a married couple before 1905. Grandfather Cho Byong Ho was a minister in the Episcopal Church.
Sketch of discussion: Speaks of grandfather’s role in the Kuk Min Hur organization. Personally witnessed the happenings in Kuk Min Hur and the Episcopal Church.
Background: Born in Hilo around 1914. His mother died when he was three years old. His father left him with a Korean family and never retrieved him. After his father died, Richard discovered that his father was married and had a son before he came to Korea and before he married Richard’s mother. Richard also found his mother’s passport and based on that passport went in search of relatives in his mother’s hometown in Korea.
Sketch of interview: This recording is not an interview, but rather we followed Richard You in search of his mother’s family in Masan, Korea. All his life he had not met a single relative, although he vaguely remembered being told that his mother, who was a picture bride, also had a sister on O‘ahu, Hawai‘i. In 1996 Richard met a cousin for the first time who lived in Wahiawa. In Korea three government agencies helped him locate the missing relatives in Masan. We filmed the agencies and the meeting with his cousin.
Margaret Yang Kim
Background: Born in Kunia, O‘ahu, Hawai‘i, 1924. Lives at present in Mililani. Grew up in Wahiawa. Belongs to the Olive Methodist Church, formerly the Korean Methodist Church. Served in the U.S. armed forces.
Family: Father: Ki Choon Yang (also known as Kap Do Yang), came in 1904 from Cholla Nam Do and perhaps originally from Cheju Do; assigned to work on the island of Kaua‘i. Mother: Song Bae Kim came to Hawai‘i at age fourteen in 1911 to join her parents, who were already on Kaua‘i working on the plantation. Song Bae’s parents had come with their oldest son and later had four more sons and seven daughters born in Hawai‘i. Margaret’s maternal grandfather was Sung Dai Kim. Song Bae later married Ki Choon Yang. There were twelve children in the family.
Sketch of interview: Described the Wahiawa Korean Christian Church in detail. Discussed the “up” church and “down” church in Wahiawa. Talked about Dr. Rhee and Mrs. Rhee. Mentioned anger of the first generation when they could not go to Korea after the war. P. S. Lim a figure of their time.
Background: Husband of Margaret Yang Kim. Born in 1914 in Honolulu. Lives in Mililani. Known for having a beautiful tenor voice.
Family: Father: Pyong Suk Kim came to Hawai‘i before 1906 from somewhere in the northern part of Korea. Father ran away from home and went to Russia, where he worked for a royal Russian family. He spoke Russian well. He died in the 1960s. Mother: “Mari” (Mary) Ahn came from Cholla Nam Do as a picture bride, most likely in 1913. She died in the 1980s.
Sketch of interview: Talked about being a “town boy” and felt displaced in Wahiawa when parents moved there to work in various types of employment. (But Jimmy was very popular in his young adulthood.) He was in high school when they moved to Wahiawa. Mentioned Yong Kang, community dissentions, Korean liberation, Richard Choy the “Banjo King,” alienation between the “down church” and the “up church,” P. S. Lim, Moses Lee, and Epworth League.
Dr. Rosie Chang
Background: Born in Honolulu. Highly educated, recognized professional nurse.
Parents: Mother came as a child at age five with her widowed mother in 1904. Grandmother worked on the plantation in a laundry and as a cook. Father died at an early age. Mother remarried to a man noted in the Kuk Min Hur registers.
Sketch of discussion: Her family’s past. Her education and positions in the community.
Agnes Rho Chun
Background: Born in Hawai‘i June 9, 1925.
Parents: Father: Hee Chang Rho (also known as Rho Hee Kyung), born 1879 in Kwanghae Do. Came to Hawai‘i in 1903, leaving his wife, Young Hee Chee, in Korea after three sons died. She joined him in Hawai‘i 1913.
Sketch of discussion: Describes father’s coming to Hawai‘i on an impulse with a friend, Lee Hong Gee, without letting wife know. Both men worked in sugar fields on Kaua‘i very briefly, and by the time mother came in 1913 he was living in Honolulu. Strong supporters of Syngman Rhee and Korean Christian Church. Father died when children were young. So mother worked hard and older children helped support. Very clear account of family movements, life, Korean community, including many Korean Episcopalians. Described husband’s family also (Soon Ho Chun, son of Chi Hwa Chun—see Eleanor Chun You interview).
Walter Tae Bong Kim
Background: Born on the Big Island of a picture bride. Lived mainly in Waialua.
Parents: Father died after four children were born. Mother from Pusan remarried and had four more children.
Sketch of discussion: Described life on the Big Island, his mother’s second marriage from which Judge Tany Hong was born. Very detailed description of his stepfather’s love for all the children.
Tai Sung Hong
Background: Born in Hawai‘i. Half brother to Walter Tae Bong Kim.
Family: Mother a picture bride from Pusan. Father second marriage of his mother.
Sketch of discussion: Describes the family’s life in Waialua in detail.
Short sketch about life in Wahiawa.
Julia Chang Chung
Background: Born on Kaua‘i, Hawai‘i, 1916.
Parents: Father Keum Whan Chang came in 1904 from Pyongyang. Mother Do Yun Hong, a picture bride from Masan.
Sketch of discussion: Describes family movements, father’s activities in the Kuk Min Hur.
Background: Born in 1923 in Wahiawa. Moved to Honolulu with family in 1937. One of seven sons and one daughter. Most of the sons became public figures, doing community work. Herbert Minn was president of the Korean Chambers for many years and very active in Korean activities, as well as athletic associations in the civic community. He became a Methodist because of his wife.
Parents: Father: Eui Shik Minn came to Hawai‘i without family most likely before 1905. He was from Seoul. Mother: Ham Na Lee came from Pupyong, sent by either Eui Shik Minn’s brother or by an uncle. Mother was Korean Christian Church member at one time. Changed to Methodist, mainly because she moved closer to that church and her friends went there.
Sketch of interview: Described family movements in Hawai‘i. Detailed description of his father, who was a yangban. His parents were not active in any organizations. Talks about Kuk Min Hur at length and the various organizations. Outlined his own independent involvement in the Korean Methodist Church at a crucial period in the 1950s and 1960s. His brother, Philip Minn, was the first Korean state representative in Hawai‘i.
Pun Cho Yu
Background: Spoke mainly in Korean and was one hundred years old when interviewed, believed to be the last picture bride of the first immigrants. She was very alert and delightful to interview. Born in Korea August 29, 1900, in Miryung, near Masan, Korea. Came as a picture bride on December 11, 1919. Generally, considers herself as a Korean Christian Church member, although she did not attend church regularly and now is a member of Agape Korean Church.
Husband: Yu Do Bun, twenty-two years older than she. Came to Hawai‘i around 1905. He was from Taegu.
Sketch of interview: Husband was ill with TB and unable to work a few years after she arrived. Her great grandson has written her life story in detail. What is not in the biography is our discussion of the other picture brides. She gave testimony that most of the picture brides were not involved in local Korean politics. She belonged to one of the most vibrant women’s organizations, called the Young Nam Buin Hoi (The Southern Women’s Society)—that is, only wives who came from the southern provinces in Korea belonged to the society. Women from both opposing churches and organizations joined this society, no matter how strongly political their husbands were. Their main purpose was to relax and have a good time meeting mainly in the park near beaches. She spoke of how lonely it is to be the last picture bride.
Phyllis Ahn Dunn
Background: Spoke in Korean. Born in Korea, came as a picture bride of Daniel Dunn in 1924. She was about fifteen years old. Died a year after the interview.
Family: Mrs. Dunn married into one of the “first families” in the Korean community, meaning that the Dunns had come to Hawai‘i before 1905.
Sketch of interview: She describes her arrival in Hawai‘i. She claims to have come on the last ship from Korea bringing picture brides. She and the Dunn family were Episcopalians. They were strong members of Kuk Min Hur, the Korean National Association.
Discussion about the Past
Charles Chung with Dr. Won Sik You
What Does Kuk Min Hur Mean to You?
Dr. Rosie Chang
The Rev. Samuel Lee
Pastor of Korean Methodist Church
Professional Korean Writers’ Presentation
Esther Lim Ome
Background: Born April 2, 1912, in Lihue, Kaua‘i. One of ten children. Esther Ome spent many years as a community leader in a prominent way since the 1940s.
Parents: Father: The Rev. Choon Ho Lim came to Hawai‘i in 1903, born in Seoul, Korea, October 16,1874. He arrived with his wife, Mary Doh, and a daughter. First assigned to Ewa sugar plantation.
Sketch of interview: This is one of the most powerful testimonies regarding the hardships of a large family of a minister on the plantation. Described how the custom of favoring sons impacted the daughters. Spoke about the part her father took in the sugar strike and his good relationship with a plantation manager. She unwittingly described the impact of the Korean community strife on her life as a leader. She said she finds herself saying painful things during this interview she had not thought of for many years.
Chang, Judge Robert Won Bae
Choi, Emily Lee
Chun, Agnes Rho
Han, Mary Moon
Jhung, Col. Bryson
Kim, Margaret Yang
Kim, Marian Lyu
Kim, Walter Tae Bong
Mack, Ruth Lee
Owen, Phillip George
Yang, Margaret Kim
You, Eleanor Chun
Yu, Pun Cho
The copyrights for the following videotaped interviews are reserved by Roberta Chang. No interview or portion of the interviews may be copied. But reference to them for academic purposes may be made.
Chang, Dr. Rosie
Choy, Mary Whang
Chung, Hazel Pahk
Chung, Julia Chang
Chung, Dr. Nam Young
Hong, S. H. Skip
Hong, Tai Sung
Hong, Patricia Kim
Kanada, Caroline Lee
Kang, Young Ok
Kobayashi, Katherine Kwon
Kwon, Agnes Pahk
Kim, Dr. Yin
Min, Dr. Thomas
Ome, Esther Lim
Park, Mary Hong
Wong, Dr. Robert
You, Dr. E. Won Sik
Young, Dr. Jackie
These other types of interviews are also reserved:
Discussion on various topics by
Dr. E. Won Sik You
Rev. Samuel Lee
Documentary on Dr. Richard You “Remembering Dr. Richard You”
Documentary on “Mollie Min and the Reverend Chan Ho Min”
Last Updated on Thursday, 27 May 2010 09:03