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  • P-ISSN1229-0076
  • E-ISSN2773-9351

Political Reconciliation through the Performing Arts: Selected Activities of Koreans in Early Twentieth-century Hawai‘i

The Review of Korean Studies, (P)1229-0076; (E)2773-9351
2021, v.24 no.1, pp.239-264
https://doi.org/10.25024/review.2021.24.1.008
최희영 (Northern Illinois University)
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Abstract

This study examines ideological conflicts prevalent among Korean Hawaiians during the early twentieth century and cultural activities that unified the divided Korean communities. Previous studies have focused on struggles among Korean political refugees, prompted by conflicting strategies for Korean independence from Japanese rule (1910-1945). To date, no prior studies have explained how the political factions affected the everyday lives of non-political Korean Hawaiians—those who came to Hawaiʻi as plantation workers, picture brides, and their children; moreover, the discussion of their cultural activities has received limited attention. This study expands previous perspectives by focusing on the sociocultural activities of multigenerational Korean Hawaiians. Findings from archival resources reveal that political conflicts led to divisions among Korean churches, female social organizations, and second-generation Korean Hawaiians. Despite such challenges, Koreans actively participated in multicultural events such as the Balboa Day Festival and showed Korean traditional performances, through the orchestrated efforts of the first-, 1.5-, and second-generation Korean Hawaiians representing both sides of political factions. This study emphasizes that Korean Hawaiians, regardless of political, religious, and generational divisions, had common ground with the need to preserve Korean ethnic identity and to confirm their local identity by showing their presence to the multiethnic audiences through musical activities.

keywords
Balboa Day diasporic identity early twentieth-century Hawai‘i Korean diaspora Korean music political faction

The Review of Korean Studies