Korean National Association: It Needs to be Rescued
The current situation at the Korean National Association Memorial Hall is a problem. The old headquarters on Jefferson Boulevard near University of Southern California in Los Angeles is a place that should tell a wonderful story of patriotism and immigrant history. It falls way short of what it should be and is not telling the true story of the KNA and its role in history. There are many aspects of the program including the displays and accounts presenting the KNA history that are not accurate and actually disrespect the patriotic people who created and ran this important Korean Independence Movement organization.
Part of the problem comes from the people who run the Korean National Association Restoration Committee and the scholars they chose to provide the information about the history of the KNA. Another part of the problem is the descendants of the KNA members who don't know their heritage and are allowing people who never had any connection to the KNA to rewrite the facts misrepresenting the truth. One strong example of shameful activity is how precious KNA original documents were sold to people in Korea by Kim Woon Ha who had no rights to any materials in the KNA collection of artifacts. When the problems were brought to the public nobody would do anything.
The upcoming January 31, 2009 100th year recognition of the KNA is an affair that is run by community opportunists, ignorant scholars, people who care nothing about historical accuracy and surviving KNA descendants who should know better than to participate in events that are disrespectful to their families and the real KNA story.
One of the main organizers of the KNA Restoration Committee is a Syngman Rhee man and has allowed Dongjihoe and Rhee's history to be included in the KNA story in an inappropriate manner. This man also comes from a family of Japanese collaborators. There is no way anyone with this background is capable of properly doing anything to honor the KNA legacy in a truthful productive manner.
If the KNA Legacy was in the care of the right people it would be an asset to Korean and Korean American history. It's not in the right hands. It's no wonder young Korean American and Korean people have a difficult time trying to learn about their history and heritage the right way.
Dosan Ahn Chang Ho was the President of the Central Congress of the Korean National Association which made him the leader of all KNA branches and all people outside of Korea at that time. He forged the backbone of the KNA on his beliefs in the strength of honesty and civic responsibility.
The idea of vigorous truth-seeking is well elaborated in Dosan's own words: "Let there be no deception or telling of lies, and let honesty be our guide to action, such that we will be able to collectively build a capital of credit."
Dosan's famous slogan mu shil yok haeng - living truth, energetic action - embodies his philosophy and is his base of all ethics.Though Dosan did value the external display of morality, he more urgently prioritized a program of moral discipline for the self.Broadly understood, this approach meant the individual embraces a thoroughly honorable stance toward the society and nation to which one belongs. Dosan believed only when such a condition is met can social activism and nationalist movements escape the trap of zeno-phobia to embrace the larger world and achieve the ultimate goal of world peace and shared prosperity.
How can anyone who says they follow Dosan's ideals be corrupt, manipulative and opportunistic? How do people who mislead others take an honorable position in the Korean American community and Korea?
If you educate yourself about real Korean American history you will find most people invovled in the KNA restoration activites today are questionable when they say they respect Dosan and are doing the right thing.