Legacies of the Korean War

Korean Americans Recall the “Forgotten War”
The Korean War has left a hidden legacy in the United States: the memories and experiences of Korean American survivors, their descendants, and other members of the war-formed Korean diaspora. First-generation Korean American survivors of that war are now in their eighties and nineties. The time is ripe to highlight their memories as vital to both the historical record and community reflection. By honoring and giving voice to the memories of Korean Americans whose lives were shaped by the war, this archive seeks to foster peace and reconciliation in our communities and in Korea. We present their stories.

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Story Archive

“Then war broke out…I think it was American or a United Nations fighter planes. They came and dropped the bombs…. But when they passed by, I was happy to see them, you know, the planes, because oh, they are on our side. But second thought was “Well, they wouldn’t know what I am, so they can drop a bomb on me, too.” You know, I was kind of scared.”

Rev. Duk Joong Won
Los Angeles, CA

“(During the war) Sometimes you exchange your labor with some wealthy family…. I was young and nobody would trade my labor and I was so upset. [So I say to them] I show you how much I can do and then you talk to me…. So, by then, I was twelve and then they test me. Test me and then they accepted my labor. Yeah, yeah. I was good enough to exchange my labor so I took my mom’s place. Yes, I was determined to help my mom in any way I could.”

Songja Park
San Francisco Bay Area

“There’s an area [U.S. military base] where leftover food from the army mess hall is dumped into big pails. That’s what they’re selling. In there you have toothpicks, napkins…prunes, meat, everything, and I have a very sensitive stomach. I couldn’t eat it, but he tells me to buy it anyway and bring it over. Then they cook it and eat it. That’s how we lived.”

Helen Daniels
Petaluma, CA

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Korean War Timeline

The lead up to and course of the un-ended Korean War.

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Keep memory alive by supporting our ongoing work to document and publicly archive Korean American legacies of the Korean War.

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Legacies of the Korean War