Korean American Day

Korean American Day is a holiday observed on January 13th annually and commemorates the arrival of the first Korean immigrants to the U.S. It was first established as a holiday in 2003—on the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first Korean immigrants to the United States in 1903, and it has been celebrated enthusiastically ever since.

The History Of Korean American Day

To fully appreciate this holiday, it’s probably helpful to consider the history surrounding the first immigrants to the U.S. Although there were many Koreans who visited the United States after the 1882 treaty was signed between Korea and the U.S., few of them stayed in the country permanently. This would change in December of 1902 when the SS Gaelic departed for Honolulu, Hawaii. These were the first wave of Korean immigrants that would permanently settle in U.S. possessions. Over the next two years, over 7,500 Koreans would immigrate.

The Koreans who arrived in the U.S. became a big part of their communities. They helped with economic development by establishing businesses, and they fought for the U.S. during WWI, WWII, and the Korean War. They were such an important part of their communities and contributed so much to the U.S. through their service and hard work, U.S. President George W. Bush proclaimed January 13th, 2003, as a day to honor the 100th anniversary of their arrival. The U.S. Congress would make it official in 2005. Since then, people all over the U.S. have celebrated Korean American Day.

Notable Korean Americans

During our research, we decided to go through a list of some of the most notable Korean Americans, and while that list is too big to list in this holiday guide, we can list some of them below. Below is a cross-section of notable Korean Americans who have made important contributions to business, law, government, and entertainment over the past few years.

  • Ilhan New: Founder of La Choy
  • Philip Ahn: Actor
  • Moon Bloodgood: Actress
  • Steve Byrne: Comedian & Actor
  • Daniel Chun: Writer, Co-Producer of The Simpsons
  • Grace Kim: Playboy Playmate
  • Virginia Cha: CNN News Anchor
  • Judge Herbert Choy: U.S. Court of Appeals Judge for the Ninth Circuit
  • Ronald Moon: Chief Justice of the Hawai’i Supreme Court
  • Anna Song: Santa Clara County Office of Education Trustee
  • Leonard Chang: Novelist, TV, and Short Story Writer
  • Mike Kim: Author
  • Susan Ahn Cuddy: First Female Gunnery Officer of the U.S. Navy
  • Fred Ohr: WWII Fighter Pilot

Observing Korean American Day

Probably the single best way to observe Korean American Day is to take a few moments and learn about the history of Korean migration to the U.S. and Korean Americans who have made invaluable contributions to the U.S. over the years. Anyone celebrating this holiday might also want to use the hashtag #KoreanAmericanDay on their social media accounts to spread the word about this holiday and let everyone know that they’re celebrating it.

When is it?
This year (2024)
January 13 Saturday
Next year (2025)
January 13 Monday
Last year (2023)
January 13 Friday
Culture & History