Growing up as a Korean in the US, I cannot help but be interested in landmarks and monuments that are named after famous Koreans or related to the country’s past. From this September, Koreatown in Los Angeles will have The Korea Daily Square between Wilshire Blvd and Normandie Ave and the official sign will be put up next month. The Korea Daily, is a nationally published newspaper in Korean of local and international news and the LA City Council, in giving praise to the accomplishments of The Korea Daily, has named the city square after it.
Similarly, there are the Hankook Ilbo Korean Times USA Square on Wilshire Blvd and Western Avenue and the RadioKorea Square in Wilshire Blvd and Serrano Ave. All great symbols of the accomplishments of the Korean community here in Los Angeles.
A few of the more significant landmarks are Ahn Changho Interchange and Ahn Changho Post office. The Ahn Changho Interchange starts in southern Downtown LA all the way to the city of Riverside. Ahn Changho was a Korean independence activist who lived in California in 1904 in the Riverside area. Born in Pyongan, South Korea, Ahn came up with the Korean National Reconstruction that stated that the people, government, and society needs to change for independence, and followed his beliefs and actively helped his people through building schools and giving speeches.
Young Oak Kim Academy and the Colonel Young Oak Kim Memorial Highway are other examples of important memorials. Young Oak Kim was a US Military officer who led during World War II and the Korean War. He was a member of the US 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and a combat leader in Italy and France during World War II. Known to be the first Asian American military officer, Kim was a great influence on the military during the Second World War and Korean War when he came back after a break from his injury.
Another example is the Peace Monument. Known as Sonyuesang (literally meaning, Girl Statue in Korean), the Peace Monument stands in the garden of LA Glendale Library. The monument states “In memory of more than 200,000 Asian and Dutch women who were removed from their homes in Korea, China, Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, East Timor, and Indonesia, to be coerced into sexual slavery by Imperial Armed Forces of Japan between 1932 and 1945”. The Peace Monument regarding comfort women was first built abroad in Glendale in 2013.
Many Korean Americans who grew up in the States tend to be unaware of Korea’s dark pasts, and at times, even unaware of these monuments. With such rich history surrounding us, what’s most important is the understanding of the past and usage to move on for a better future.
Minseo Park, Grade 11
Crescenta Valley High School