Annotation: Lili Kim’s “Doing Korean American History in the 21st Century” (2008)

Peer-Review: 0

Kim, Lili M. “Doing Korean American History in the Twenty-First Century.” Journal of Asian American Studies. 11.2 (2008): 199-209. Print.

Kim argues that despite the blossoming field of Asian American history in the past several decades, there is a considerable dearth of scholarship in Korean American history in comparison to that produced on its East Asian American counterparts.  This dearth, she argues, is perpetuated not only by a lack of interest in grad students to pursue this field, but it also impedes further scholarship due to the difficulty of researching works already produced.  Analyzing several works produced on the history of Koreans in Hawai’i, Kim illustrates that the task still remains one of “filling gaps” (202).  The same is true, she demonstrates, regarding the invisibility of gender in these narratives.  Kim points to the role of literary production, especially memoirs, as an intervention in voicing Korean American women’s experiences.  In further examining root causes of the dearth in scholarship, Kim posits that the dominant transnational approach at times leads scholars to place too much emphasis on Korea while undermining experiences in the U.S.  Nevertheless, Kim argues that transnational analyses are crucial as international politics constituted a significant role in Korean immigration to the U.S.  Due to the significant lack of documentation regarding Korean immigrant experiences, scholars find themselves actually writing in these histories.  She concludes with underscoring the urgency of producing these works and documenting Korean American history, along with the many exciting new areas of study available to historians, such as the role of globalization in the changing Korean American landscape.