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County honors Korean- Americans

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Published on: Thursday, January 10, 2013

By Brian Compere

On Jan. 13, 1903, Korean immigrants arrived in an American territory for the first time in Hawaii.    One hundred and ten years later, in honor of this, Montgomery County will recognize January 13 as the first Korean American Day.

Councilmember Valerie Ervin was the lead sponsor for legislation that passed in March to recognize the day. She will, along with Maryland State Delegate Susan Lee (D-Montgomery) and others, appear at an event Wednesday – at 10:30 a.m. in the third floor conference room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. – aimed at raising awareness of the commemorative day.

According to a Council memorandum of the bill, Korean Americans make up about three percent of the county’s population.

Ervin said that a “Days of Commemoration” law meant to recognize days of cultural importance had not included Korean Americans. When she was approached about changing this, she said she would absolutely help.

“It’s a growing community, and they’re very proud of their heritage,” she said. “I got lots of pleasure with working with them because they do have an agenda to help make their community stronger.”

The day is meant not only to commemorate Korean Americans’ first entry into the U.S. but also to commemorate Korean Americans’ contributions to life in Montgomery County and the country as a whole.

“They have been very instrumental in the electoral process,” Ervin said. “They’re very much into participatory democracy and they participate by supporting candidates of their choice, and they’re very involved in issues that affect them. They are very much on top of these issues.”

The presidents of several Korean organizations will join Ervin and Lee on Wednesday, including the Korean American Association of Maryland, the Korean American Women’s Chamber of Commerce and the League of Korean Americans, as well as commissioner Chung Pak of the Maryland Higher Education Commission.

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