President Dokko Youngsik, “Our records will become history when the sun goes down”
President Dokko Youngsik, “Our records will become history when the sun goes down”
  • 이종환 기자
  • 승인 2022.05.06 17:55
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By Jongwhan Lee

Seoul, May 6(World Korean News)= When I visited the home of Youngsik Dokko, President of the Federation of Midwest Korean American Associations, who lives in Kansas City, I was surprised that past records were carefully written and kept.

He served as the 25th President of the Korean American Society of Greater Kansas City from 2003 to 2004. He kept records such as photos and publications when he was the President of the Korean Association on the basement floor. The basement floor was, so to speak, the Archives.

On the four walls of the room on the basement floor, photos were posted like magazine pages. Materials such as event posters and notices were also kept in binder books.

The Korean Bulletin issued at that time was also kept carefully. He took out several books and showed them, introducing, “I issued it quarterly, and when the manuscripts came in, Insook Dokko, the editor-in-chief, typed them out.” Editor-in-chief Insook Dokko is Dokko's wife.

“On Sunday afternoon, the unveiling ceremony of the centennial tower was held at Pawaa Park in Hawaii. The memorial tower consists of a large rock tower that symbolizes Korea, a stone island that symbolizes Hawaii, and a ship that symbolizes Galic. The unveiling ceremony of the memorial tower was held in a grand manner with various lawmakers and celebrities gathered. After the unveiling ceremony, we marched through the city from the point where our ancestors took their first steps to the southwest end of the island. A naval band from South Korea played music. Walking from the hotel, it was more than eight miles back and forth.”

These articles were also included in the Korean Bulletin. The article was contributed by Kim Young-ryul, an advisor to the Korean Association, who served as the sixth president of the Kansas City Korean Association. He participated in a ceremony in Hawaii to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Korean immigration to the United States. There was also an article titled “Recollections and Prospects of the Kansas City Korean Society.” It was written in English and Korean by Bae Young, the third president of Korean association.

“When the Korean gathering in Kansas City began in 1965, there were about 30 people, including students... Asians, including Koreans, could only receive U.S. citizenship when the Civil Rights Act was enacted in 1965.”

The Korean Bulletin also contained the inauguration speech of Chairman Dokko Young-sik as follows.

“This year marks the 54th anniversary of our immigration to Kansas City. In 1949, Lee Jae-shin and his wife, the first Korean president, came to study, and immigration began. The Kansas City Korean association was officially started in 1968

As I turned the page of the Korean Bulletin, I could see what interests they had at the time, what events they had, and even who paid and how much donations. The Korean Bulletin also contained names and contact numbers such as Sangnokhui presideng Kim Chul, Commerce president Ahn Kyung-ho, Doctor Chairman Lee Jae-myung, Pastors Council Chairman Kim Sam-young, and Korean School Principal Son Dong-ran.

Looking at these records, I remembered the words of novelist Lee Byung-joo. He said, “If it fade in the sun, it become history, and if it dye in the moonlight, it become a myth.” The inscription, hung at the Lee Byeong-ju Literature Museum in Hadong, Gyeongsangnam-do, is a preface to the epic novel “Sanha.”

President Youngsik Dokko's Archives also had Address Book of the Federation of Midwest Korean American Associations in 1991. In addition, an old newspaper article titled ‘The preservation of immigration history is the responsibility of both Koreans and their home countries’ was also kept. President Youngsik Dokko seems to have kept the records at the responsibility of the Korean community.

He published the Address Book in December 2004. The book also included a review of Dokko's wife, Insook Dokko, editor-in-chief of the Korean American Society of GKC.

“I sympathized with the president Dokko's words, ‘There is no choice in the past, but I can choose the future with my will.’ I stayed up all night and made an address book. I hope this address book will help korean business.”

The next day, I visited the Korean War Memorial Monument with president Dokko. When the monument was built, the Korean community in Kansas City also raised $20,000 to donate it. Dokko also kept a panel used to deliver donations at the time.

The Korean War Memorial was located on the side of a road with relatively large traffic flow. He said, “The city government gave us a really good position.” He also added, “At the time of June 25, the Korean Association also participated in the event.”

Kim Sung-bae, the current president of Kansas city korean association, also accompanied him on our visit to the Korean War memorial. President Kim will serve as the president of the Korean-American Association for a two-year term starting this year.

The semi-circular monument was engraved with the words “Freedom is not free.” Below it were the names of veterans and the veterans' units. The names of those who donated to the monument were engraved on the ground.

Behind the monument stood a signpost. “In the 1950s, Korea was a barren landscape full of stones and rocks. Many casualties were caused by the battle on stone mountain. On top of this, we make a stone mountain and reminisce about the memories.“

President Dokko Young-sik and president Kim Sung-bae toured the hills made of piles of stones, saying, “There used to be many veterans participating in the 6.26 ceremony, but now it has decreased a lot.”

After breaking up with president Kim, I went to another place with Dokko. We went to Missouri Park University, where Koreans such as Baek Nak-joon and Kim Maria studied, and also visited the Korean War Memorial Tower in front of Kansas City Union Station.


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