Police chief urges isleBy Susan Kreifels
Korean Americans to
become a force
Honolulu Police Chief Lee Donohue says few people know his mother was a Korean picture bride who arrived here to work on the plantations. Donohue looks more like his Caucasian father.
But last night he said it was his Korean half that was the biggest influence on his life. And he spoke about pride in that heritage in rallying the local Korean community to make a name for itself.
"I felt sad that the Korean community couldn't come together as a strong force," Donohue said at the kickoff of the Hawaii chapter of the Korean American Coalition, a national nonprofit organization started in 1983 to promote Korean-American interests.
Hawaii is the first state to open a chapter outside California, which has four. Its first major project will be to work with the local Filipino and Samoan communities in the next census to be conducted in the year 2000. The group wants to ensure a more accurate counting of minorities here.
Janis Koh, coalition president and project manager of the Oahu Economic Development Board, said in the 1990 census in California alone, 834,000 minority residents were missed. That prevents minorities from getting the attention and services they deserve.
"Policies are set by numbers," Koh said.
Hawaii leaders of Korean heritage were present last night, including Chief Justice Ronald Moon of the Hawaii Supreme Court; Donald Kim, chairman of the University of Hawaii Board of Regents; and Jackie Young, former vice speaker of Hawaii's House of Representatives and campaign director of Protect Our Constitution.
Koh said there are about 40,000 Koreans in Hawaii, where the first Korean immigrants to America arrived in 1903. She said the community has been overlooked in the state.
"We don't promote ourselves," she said.
Howard Halm, chairman of the board of the national organization, said between 1 million and 1.5 million Koreans live in the United States.
Halm, who grew up in Hawaii, said one of the group's goals is to unite first- and second-generation Korean Americans to give them more political clout and recognition.
The coalition has also registered more than 12,500 new voters.
In 1992, the group started the Community Linkage Project with a major grant from the New York Life Foundation. Programs have helped hundreds of Korean-American victims of the 1992 Los Angeles riots.
The coalition has worked to increase communications with other ethnic groups.