Legacies of the Korean War: Korean Americans Recall the Forgotten War

Christine Hong
Literary Journalism
UC Santa Cruz

Elaine Kim
Ethnic Studies
UC Berkeley

“Legacies of the Korean War” remedied the absence of a centralized archive that documents Korean American survivor, witness, participant, and multigenerational experiences of the Korean War. Focusing on the war memories of the Korean immigrant community in California, home to the largest ethnic Korean population outside Korea, this oral-history project created a participatory site of community reflection and self-narration. Premised on the idea that community-based testimonies are essential to understanding the war along humanistic lines and intervening into standard historiographies of the Korean War, which overwhelmingly privilege state actors, U.S. veteran perspectives, and top-down military frameworks, “Legacies” highlighted the testimonies of Korean American war survivors and their descendants. Representing the collaboration of California-based Asian Americanist and Koreanist scholars, Asian American filmmakers, and Korean American community organizations, this project culminated in an oral-history website, intended for public educational purposes, and a public symposium.