On Saturday, September 21st, the Orange County Korean Federation hosted a presentation in honor of Dosan Ahn Chang-Ho in Garden Grove, California, where high school students and Los Angeles residents gathered to learn more about Dosan Ahn Chang-Ho’s legacy. Wan-Joong Kim, the Consul General of the Republic of Korea of Los Angeles, spoke about the history of Ahn Chang-Ho.
The attendees of the presentation were approximately 25 high school students, from Whitney, Cerritos, and Sunny Hills High School, as well as many parents, all of whom were listening keenly throughout the lecture. Consul General Kim led these students in the singing of the Korean national anthem, Aegukga, which is believed to have been co-written by Ahn himself. The attendees organized themselves in a circle formation and held hands while singing, honoring all that Ahn has done for South Korea.
The Consul-General explained the significance of Ahn’s pen name, “Dosan,” which means “island mountain”; the liberator believed it was his duty to rise steadfast and strong, like a mountain, to modernize Korea and implement a democratic government. During his years at the “Save the World School (Gusae Hakdang)” in Seoul, Ahn recognized the necessity of modernizing the corrupt government and feudalistic economy of Japan-occupied South Korea, which was only possible through Korea’s self-government. He began his mission after the first Sino-Japanese War began by founding chains of bookstores, schools, businesses, and patriotic organizations. Ahn Chang Ho became a social activist who formed the “New Korea Society” (Shinminhoe), an immigrant-community organization that protested against Japan’s occupation of Korea.
When Grace Ahn, a parent of a student volunteer who was attending the presentation, was asked what her favorite part of the event was, she answered: “I was proud to be a resident of California when Consul Kim stated that a small group of Korean-Americans in California used grassroots fundraising techniques to gather $80,000.” During the 1940s, this small fortune, now valued now over $1,000,000, was used to fund Dosan Ahn Chang Ho’s plans of modernizing South Korea.
According to Consul General Kim, he states that he is aiming to “make the utmost effort to further strengthen ROK-US cooperative relations,” and promote diplomatic relations between the two nations. He frequently holds conferences open to the public to educate Koreans of their rich history. With his work, he, like Dosan Ahn Chang Ho, is improving the lives of Koreans today.
Stella Hong, Grade 11
Whitney High School