From the Land of Morning Calm

I love history; it has always been my favorite school subject. But I don’t remember learning much about people of color in school–either about their history in America or about the histories of other countries (in modern times). So since our son’s been home, I’ve been reading a lot about Koreans and Korean Americans.

From the Land of Morning Calm: The Koreans in America by Ronald Takaki is written for young readers (grades 6-10), but still I learned a lot from it. It details the first wave of Korean immigration, discusses experiences of Korean Americans both in Hawaii and in mainland America, tells of how Korean Americans worked here against the Japanese control of Korea, and includes how both World War II and the Korean War affected Korean Americans. The last chapters of the book talk about the opening of immigration in 1965 to Asians and how conflict between Korean Americans and African Americans played a part in the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

For me the last chapters, in particular, were interesting because it was history I remembered–the L.A. riots–but had never heard the full stories. Takaki uses personal narratives to tell the stories, making them come alive for the reader.

The book is older (copyright 1995, I believe) so some of the statistics or projections included are outdated. But the personal accounts make it timeless and definitely worth reading. Sadly, the book is out of print but many libraries have it and you can find it from the used book sellers on Amazon.com.

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