Summary of Presentations from the 2017 KAC National Convention: BUILD


History and Impact of KAC by Delegate Mark Keam

Delegate Mark Keam urged Korean Americans to engage in civic life and work together to make government serve our needs. Although there are successful Korean Americans in all industries, their success has been mostly at the individual level and has not always helped the rest of the community. Our immigrant parents have worked hard and built businesses, but all too often, they behaved as if the country did not belong to us, telling us to not do strange things because we are foreigners here. KAC is a civic organization founded in 1983 to advance the claim that we are just as American as other people. When the Russians shot down a Korean Airlines flight in 1983, KAC was one of the few voices that spoke up for the 300 innocent victims who lost their lives. During the 1992 LA Riots, KAC stood up to the mainstream media that sought to pit us against other racial minority groups. When the Environmental Protection Agency targeted dry cleaners owned by Korean Americans that used the same practices as other dry cleaners, KAC lobbied against unfair regulatory burdens. Today, Korean Americans must speak up and share our story to counteract white supremacists who believe in their narrow view of America. Moreover, our voice can promote the peaceful reunification of the two Koreas. We have a special role in preventing another war-torn conflict on the Korean peninsula and in making sure there's not one bullet shot because of ideology. Delegate Keam highlighted the importance of a strong, robust KAC where the members are organized, educated, and empowered.


Korean American Identity and Historical Consciousness

Professor Edward Chang

Professor Edward Chang motivated Korean Americans to learn history, as it is a source of identity and power. History illustrates what it means to be a Korean American and why we should care about our community, as exemplified by the life of Young Oak Kim. Young Oak Kim grew up in the Korean American community in southern California in the early 1900's. During World War II, when he joined the U.S. Army, Young Oak was assigned as Second Lieutenant to the U.S. 100th Infantry Battalion, comprised mostly of Japanese Americans. At that time, Korea was fighting for independence from Japan, and fearing a potential conflict, his superior officer gave Young Oak the option of serving in a battalion without Japanese Americans. Young Oak replied, "We are all Americans and we're fighting for the same cause." As an officer of the 100th Infantry Battalion, he led efforts to rescue Rome, Belvedere, and Pisa. He successfully helped liberate these cities from German occupation. When his military career ended, he founded several non-profits in southern California, including KAC, the Japanese American National Museum, a Korean American museum, a shelter for battered women, and a Japanese American veterans’ association. While seeing himself as 100-percent American and 100-percent Korean, Young Oak devoted his life to the betterment of humanity. Professor Chang also described how knowing history can help Korean Americans today to build multi-racial coalitions. Both African American and Korean American communities have a shared background of oppression and suffering and are mostly Christian. These commonalities can help us communicate with each other and build trust.

Additional lectures and other videos mentioned by Professor Chang can be found here.


Women in Leadership Ms. Mari Watanabe

Ms. Mari Watanabe advised Asian Pacific Islander (API) women on how to attain leadership positions. Although APIs are projected to represent 10% of the population by 2050 in the U.S., and 46% of women say they want to make it to the top of their profession, API women are significantly underrepresented as executives. They hold just 0.2% of CEO positions and less than 1% of board seats in S&P 100 companies. To improve these statistics, women can do the following: 1) Find mentors who emulate their values and principles. Then, follow the mentors' advice, even if it means getting out of their comfort zones. Mentors should not be the boss or someone else in the company. 2) Network and build partnerships with professionals of diverse backgrounds. 3) Become a board member. Women can volunteer for positions and don't have to be asked. 4) Achieve Professional Development. Opportunities for training are available through Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Center for API Women, EDI - Executive Development Institute, and Toast Masters. 5) Apply for positions even when they don't meet all of the requirements. Ms. Watanabe described how although women usually do not give themselves enough credit. Women are just as capable as men in leading. When women become leaders, they encourage girls, who see people that look like them in positions of authority and power.

2017 KAC National Convention: BUILD Sponsors

We would like to thank all of our sponsors and partner organizations for their generous contribution.   Scholarship programs for 42 college students, community organizers, and recent graduates were funded by Jin and Julieann Park, Roy Kim, and Oregon Korea Foundation.

2017 KAC National Sponsors 2.jpg
2017 KAC National Sponsors 3.jpg

2017 KAC National Convention in Portland

We are excited to announce that KAC Oregon will hosting the 2017 KAC National Convention in Portland. 

The KAC National Conference will welcome and host Korean American community leaders and students from all over the country as well as our community partners,  If you are interested in helping us plan this event or have any ideas or suggestions for the program content, please drop us a line.


Graphic, Trung Bao   |   Publisher, Michael Minsung Do  |  Photos, Justin Lee

Changed after NCLC

First off, I did not expect to be accepted to this conference because it seemed like something for very extroverted, talented, and special students. But, I wanted more than anything to be part of it and something told me that it would end up being a very special experience. I had no previous knowledge about the Korean community before, and knew nothing about Korean-American history. Listening to so many active Korean-Americans and their stories not only to success but a happy, fulfilling life were both inspirational and motivating, and encouraged me to be more mindful by reflecting on my own life and how I envision my future. I reminded myself to be grateful for what I have and everything that earlier generations of Koreans have gone through to allow me to get to this point. I did not have any Korean-American friends previously, so to suddenly be surrounded by nineteen of them was really something. I had hoped to leave Portland one person, and return a different one. Not only was this the case, I also went home with a support group of students just like me! I can safely say that NCLC has been a heart-warming, unforgettable, life-changing experience.

Mindy Kim is currently a sophomore at Lewis and Clark college and plans to double major in International Affairs and Foreign Languages.  She was born in Seoul, Korea and grew up in Singapore, Taiwan, the US, and Japan.  She attended KAC's National College Leadership Conference (NCLC) in Los Angeles along with students from all across the US.


Apply for 2016 KAC NCLC

KAC Oregon is pleased to announce the 36th KAC National College Leadership Conference (NCLC).  NCLC has brought together young leaders in a fun, dynamic, exceptional Korean American teaching experience since 1980.  Participate in this long-standing and successful leadership development program and you will be joining a community of current and future Korean American pioneers in a variety of career fields, including government, finance, non-profit, art, technology, law, entertainment, and many more.

NCLC is an excellent opportunity for young Korean Americans to meet established professionals in their field of interest, learn essential leadership skills to assist them in their future professions, and make friends of other bright, ambitious Korean Americans. The leadership conference builds awareness of current and past issues facing the Korean American community, with an emphasis on the importance of participation and cultural identity.

Past participants include World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and Korean American Actor Ki Hong Lee (Maze Runner).

DATE:  Monday through Friday, June 20 – June 24, 2016

LOCATION: “Paradise Springs” is 135 acre private retreat located less than 30 minutes from both Palmdale and Wrightwood and approximately 90 minutes from Downtown Los Angeles.

COST: The conference, including room and board, costs $690 per attendee.  KAC Oregon will fully sponsor the conference fee and travel costs for up to 2 Oregon college students accepted into the KAC NCLC Program.

HOW TO APPLY: Fill out the 2016 application by Friday, May 27, 2016.  Upload and submit your resume here.  Apply as soon as possible to increase your chances of selection. Only completed application packages are reviewed.  Please email once you have completed the online application and uploaded your resume.  We will follow up with the application review committee and track your application for you.  This will also allow us to work with them to sponsor your conference fees and travel costs.

Selected attendees will be notified no later than June 13, 2016.


Learning to network...

Korean American Healthcare Professional Alliance (KAPHA) and KAC Oregon hosted a professional networking and mentoring session today at PSU.  24 students from PSU, PCC, and Lewis and Clark College attended event and met with professionals from a variety of fields.  In case you missed this event, we will continue to hold a similar mentoring event once or twice a year, so keep an eye out for upcoming events on our website.

Professional mentors with college and graduate students

Professional mentors with college and graduate students

Korean American Day - January 13, 2016

Anna Choe and Don Lee, our KAC Board Members, researched, wrote, and put together this wonderful information sheet on Korean American Day which is coming up this Wednesday, January 13, 2016.  This year, we are celebrating Korean American Day tonight, January 9, 2016 at 5 PM at Portland Central Church with Korean Society of Oregon and hope you will join us.

KAC Oregon will be organizing Korean American Day celebration on January 13, 2017 with Korean Society of Oregon.  If you are interested in getting on the planning committee, please contact us.