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New Home of Korean Institute Dedicated

Restored Dosan Ahn Chang Ho Family House celebrates life of Korean independence leader and nurtures interdisciplinary scholarship at USC College.

By Pamela J. Johnson
April 3, 2006

New Home of Korean Institute Dedicated

Recognized as a symbol of Korean independence, the Dosan Ahn Chang Ho Family House was dedicated March 29 as the campus home of USC College’s Korean Studies Institute.

The dedication came more than a century after Dosan Ahn Chang Ho arrived in California to lead an international movement to free Korea from Japanese colonial rule.

“This is a sign that the Korean American community has come of age,” said Chaibong Hahm, the institute’s director.

“We now recognize the close and vital link between our [Korean] century of history in Los Angeles and the relatively recent transformation of Korea, a small country in northeast Asia, into a contemporary economic powerhouse,” said Hahm, an international relations professor.

The renovated, two-story, red-roofed bungalow housed Dosan’s family from 1937 to 1946 and was moved two years ago from Downey Way to 34th Street.

“We didn’t move it [here] accidentally,” USC College Dean Joseph Aoun told the crowd. “We did it because on one side, to the left, we have the Korean Heritage Library. On the other side, the United University Church, where we had a memorial service for Dosan Ahn Chang Ho.”

Y.H. Cho, a USC trustee and chairman of Korean Air, said, "We recognize that the Ahn House is an important symbol of Korea’s struggle for independence. It has great meaning to the Korean American community.”

The Korean Studies Institute, an epicenter for Korean education and research, serves as an important resource for the Korean American community. It also will become an integral link between the U.S. and Korea, Aoun said.

“The [Korean American] community has been very successful at all levels: financially, culturally,” Aoun said. “It is time now for the community to step up and take a national platform and assume a national role.”

USC President Steven B. Sample noted that Los Angeles is home to the nation’s largest number of Koreans outside Seoul.

“In order to ensure that our students will be equipped to live and work in a global society, USC has been strengthening its international reach and expertise,” Sample said. “On the world stage, USC has become a leader in Korean studies.”

Sample said the Ahn House was an appropriate home for the 10-year-old institute.

“During crucial periods in Korean history, this house was not only a place where the Ahn family lived but a place where members of the Korean community could gather and dream of a better future for Korea,” he said. “This house will once again serve as a vibrant gathering place.”

In Los Angeles, Dosan founded the Hung Sa Dahn (Young Korean Academy) and became the spiritual leader of the Korean independence movement. While her husband worked to mobilize Koreans abroad, his wife Helen Ahn raised their five children.

Dosan was imprisoned and died in Seoul on March 10, 1938.

At the ceremony, Susan Ahn Cuddy, 91, the eldest daughter of Dosan and Helen Ahn, recalled that the family home was always packed with visitors.

“We knew about the Korean independence movement firsthand because all the independence workers came through to see my mother,” Ahn Cuddy said. “My mother was a very stoic person who held up her husband’s principles and teachings.”

Ahn Cuddy said the dedication would have thrilled her father.

“He loved America,” she said. “That was the last thing he said to us when he left. ‘Be good Americans. And never forget your heritage.’ ”