Bringing to Light Untold Stories from Korean Diaspora Communities Around the World…

The movement of the Korean people throughout the world in the last few centuries has been driven by countless and profound factors—as numerous as they are different. But to discuss the Korean diaspora, it is important to not only learn why and how certain peoples migrated, but to also discover how they interacted and reintegrated themselves in wholly new environments, often at the expensive of their own identities. The story of Korean migration is consequently one made up of innumerable yet invaluable individual narratives that, taken together, amount to a powerful collective understanding of a given moment in history.

Even in an age where information and interconnectivity seemingly reign supreme, there is often a tendency to accept the present-day without fully reflecting on the obvious or hidden forces that propelled us here in the first place. We either assume and pretend things have always been like this, or only superficially question the origin of the diverse communities we may live in. As such, there is only a vague awareness of migration patterns and the rich, yet complex, past associated with the movement of the Korean people and their culture. With the passing of time, the unique stories and backgrounds that have connected communities across disparate cultures and locations will gradually disappear and fade into obscurity.

But as Yale Professor Lisa Lowe suggests, it is important to consider the underlying connections tying immigrants and civilians across countries and “to imagine a much more complicated set of stories about the emergence of the now” (Lowe 208). These fading stories are not merely mementos of the past; rather, they are indicators of the kind of present world these immigrants and their descendants inhabit, and the potential avenues that may exist in the future.

In this way, the East Foundation hopes to holistically and thoroughly archive the expansive history of the Korean diaspora. Our committed goal is to preserve real life stories of migration that are at risk of being lost and to share these incredible untold stories with a larger, worldwide audience. Through cross disciplinary research—and vis-à-vis artistic artifacts, exhibits and documentaries—we wish to learn more about notions of national and racial identity, accounts of social inequalities, and questions of “homeland” experienced by the diverse Korean migrant groups. Furthermore, our goal is to also demonstrate how these communities are still living and changing; they are continuing to engage and contribute to an ever-expanding narrative.