On March 19, 2014,Professor Edward Taehan Chang of the University of California at Riverside gave a presentation at the Korean Community Services (KCS) Auditorium, 35-56 159th Street, Flushing, NY 11358. Professor Chang gave a very interesting lecture, and thirty people attended his presentation on the second-generation Korean-American war hero, humanitarian, and global citizen, Colonel Young Oak Kim. Those in attendance responded very positively to Professor Chang's talk.
The presentation, which was part of the Research Center for Korean Community's ongoing lecture series, focused on the book, Unsung Hero: The Story of Col. Young Oak Kim, which was written in Korean by Woo Sung Han and translated into English by Edward Taehan Chang. Colonel Young Oak Kim was a highly-decorated U.S. Army combat veteran, having fought in World War II and the Korean War. Born in Los Angeles, California in 1919, Colonel Kim received 19 medals and awards from the U.S., France, Italy, and South Korea, including the Distinguished Service Cross, two Silver Stars, three Purple Hearts, the Légion d'honneur, and the Korean Taeguk Cordon of the Order of Military Merit. In addition to his military accomplishments, Colonel Kim was also an active humanitarian and he supported and founded numerous Asian-American civic organizations. Colonel Kim was initially excluded from the U.S. Military due to discriminatory laws, but he was drafted into the military in 1941, shortly after U.S. Congress enacted a law subjecting Asian Americans to conscription. He commanded and fought alongside Japanese-American troops in the 100th Infantry Battalion, despite the hostile history between Koreans and the Japanese, claiming that they were all Americans and that they were going to fight the war together. Colonel Kim passed away at the age of 86 on December 29, 2005, of complications from cancer, but his legacy lives on through his accomplishments, the Korean-American research center that bears his name at UC Riverside, and his biography.
Professor Edward Taehan Chang is an Ethnic Studies professor and founding director of the Young Oak Kim Center for Korean American Studies at UC Riverside. He earned his B.A. (1982) in Sociology at UC Berkeley, his M.A. (1984) in Asian American Studies at UCLA, and his Ph.D. (1990) in Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley. Professor Chang is considered as one of the foremost interpreters of the Los Angeles civil unrest and race relations, and he is the author of four books, four edited volumes, and numerous articles.