First-ever Korean American Day held at City Hall

By Madina Toure

City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) and Korean-American community groups celebrated the first Korean American Day on the steps of City Hall Tuesday morning.

The City Council unanimously adopted Resolution 417, sponsored by Koo, which recognizes and commemorates Jan. 13 as Korean American Day in the city. There are roughly 96,741 New York city residents of Korean descent, according to the 2010 United States Census.

Koo credited the Korean community for what it has given to the city, saying a majority of the businesses along Northern Boulevard in Flushing are owned by Koreans.

“We want to thank them for their contributions because they excel in many areas like science, arts, music, almost every field,” he said. “They are outstanding citizens doing a lot of things for our community.”

Well over 20 Korean community groups participated in the ceremony, including the Korean American Association of Queens, the Korean American Parents Association of Greater New York, the New York United Senior Citizens Boaters Association, the Korean Family Service Center, the Korean American Veterans Association and the Korean American Navy Foundation.

City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside); City Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens); Nisha Agrawal, commissioner for the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs; City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside); and City Councilman Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan) were also present.

“We have the Korean Parade in October, but this is the first-ever city-recognized Korean Day,” said Christine Colligan, co-president of the Korean American Parents Association of New York. “So it means a lot and we’re really happy and appreciate that the city recognizes Jan. 13 as Korean American Day.”

On Jan. 13, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, including U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and U.S. Rep. Charlie Rangel, celebrated Korean American Day to recognize the111th anniversary since Korean immigrants first arrived in the United States, according to the legislation text.

In December 1902, 56 men, 21 women and 25 children left Korea and traveled across the Pacific Ocean, landing in Honolulu Jan. 13, 1903.

Going forward, the Korean community will host a celebration every Jan. 13 at the Dae Dong restaurant on 150-24 Northern Blvd. in Flushing that will feature famous Korean entertainers, Koo said.

Colligan said she hopes that the Korean community will communicate with other communities and foster more dialogue and collaboration.

“The reason why New York is the best city in the world is because of our dynamic diversity,” she said.

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour‌e@cng‌local.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.