Last year marked the sixtieth anniversary of the signing of the July 27, 1953 Korean War Armistice Agreement. In this historical juncture in which first-generation Korean Americans, many of whom are part of the generation of living memory, are rapidly passing, the Legacies of the Korean War project seeks to tell the story of the war from a much-needed testimonial lens and to record these invaluable perspectives for posterity. With a start up grant from the California Council for the Humanities, this Korea Policy Institute (KPI) project brings together a team of Korean Studies and Asian American Studies scholars and filmmakers with the aim of creating an online, interactive website that collects and shares California-based Korean American survivor memories and legacies of the Korean War.
Aimed at educating the wider public about the Korean War, this 18-month oral history project, initiated in summer 2013, will result in an online archive that documents survivor, witness, and participant experiences, focusing primarily (but not exclusively) on the first-person stories of the Korean immigrant community in California, the second largest ethnic Korean population outside Korea. The initial phase of the project will include creating a handful of professionally shot video shorts of testimonies of elderly Korean Americans as well as select second- and third-generation accounts.
For an example of the work produced by filmmakers Deann Borshay Liem and Ramsay Liem, two of our team-members, please see the video clip of the documentary film, Memory of Forgotten War.
The project seeks oral histories of community members to complement the filmed stories. We invite California-based Korean Americans to help create these resources by doing any of the following:
- INTERVIEW: These can be of a parent, grandparent, other relative or community member about their memories of the war. These can be audio- or video-recorded and/or simply transcribed.
- TELL YOUR OWN STORY: Any account—diverse formats welcome—that conveys a Korean American family’s experience of the Korean War.
- REFLECTION: A first-person account that centers on what the war means to first-, 1.5-, second-, or third- generation Korean Americans.
- CREATIVE PROJECT: A video essay, an art piece, a poem, etc.
- FOUND OBJECTS: A scanned or photographed family or community member’s memento of the war (e.g., a photograph, a letter, a diary entry, an article of clothing, a medal) accompanied by an account of the meaning (historical, familial, personal) attributed to it.
These submissions will be reviewed and possibly edited (in conversation with the contributor) for inclusion and non-exclusive publication on the Legacies of the Korean War website. The final date for submissions is September 1, 2014.
For more information about this Cal Humanities project and to submit your materials, please feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org to reach the following three point-people for this project: Christine Hong (UCSC), Namhee Lee (UCLA) and Deann Borshay Liem (Mu Films). Soon, there will be a site that materials can simply be uploaded to. *Note: if you attempted to email previously, please try again. There was a misprint in the email address previously.
This project has been partly supported by the California Council for the Humanities, and further funds are needed. If you are interested in supporting this project, please make a donation to KPI and specify that your donation is for the Legacies of the Korean War project.