Celebrating Our Diversity
Korean American Day – January 13, 2021
Ahn Changho & Family
Meet the Ahn family. Pictured here are Ahn Changho (안창호), his wife Hye Ryeon Lee (이혜련), and four of their 5 children. Commonly known as Dosan and Helen, they were the first married couple to emigrate to the United States from Korea in 1902. Dosan was a Korean independence activist and one of the early leaders of the Korean-American immigrant community in the United States. We celebrate them today, Korean American Day. He spent his life fighting Japanese occupation of Korea and ultimately gave his life for his cause. In 1913 he established the Young Korean Academy in San Francisco and, in Korea he pushed for Educational reform and modernizing schools. It is believed that he was one of 2 men to have written the lyrics of "Aegukga", the South Korean national anthem.
Helen was a force as well. She was considered the pillar of the American Korean community during its pioneer time in the United States. "People would seek out her advice on what to do and resolve familial disputes. Her word was law." She provided job training and "survival skills" to Korean newcomers in America and she also raised five notable children, the youngest as a "single mother" due to her husbands return to Korea and subsequent death.
Philip Ahn, was first-born and a well known actor, often considered the first Korean American film actor in Hollywood, remembered best for his role as Master Kan on the television series Kung Fu. He was posthumously awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Philson Ahn, was the second born child and was also an actor. Susan Ahn was the third born child and the first daughter. After Pearl Harbor was bombed she enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was not only the first Asian-American woman serve, but also became the first female aerial gunnery officer. Entrepreneur and restauranteur Soorah Ahn was the fourth child born in the Ahn family who, alongside her brother Philip, ran Moongate Restaurant for more than 30 years. Finally there is Ralph Ahn, the baby of the family and probably the most well known member to mainstream America because of his prolific television career, beginning in 1952 and most recently appearing as Tran in the hit TV series, New Girl.