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Asians in Minnesota Oral History Project: Interview with Hyun Sook Han
Description BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Hyun Sook Han was born in about 1938 in Seoul, Korea. She was the oldest of ten children in her family, only seven of whom survived to adulthood. Her parents grew up in a rural area of South Korea but moved to Seoul as young adults. Her father was an office worker for an electric company. In 1945, when she was seven years old, Korea gained independence after 40 years of Japanese rule, but five years later the Korean War began. It was a period of severe hardship for residents of Seoul, who had to evacuate the city in January of 1951 and move with United Nations troops to the south. With widespread starvation and illness among the refugees, the three youngest children in her family died, and none of the others could attend school until they returned to Seoul in October of 1952. Seoul in 1952 was the scene of continuing food shortages and lack of adequate shelter, and although her father had a job, he was not paid initially. In 1958 she entered Ewha Women's University, and remembering the many abandoned babies and children she had seen during the wartime evacuation to the south she decided to prepare for a career in social work. After graduation from Ewha, she married and had a daughter, and in 1964 she accepted a job with International Social Services, an agency that handled American adoptions of racially mixed children born in Korea as a result of the American military presence. In 1971 she was selected by the U.S.-sponsored Council for International Programs for a four-month period of study and training at the University of Minnesota School of Social Work and the Children's Home Society of St. Paul. After her return to Korea she applied for a job at the Children's Home Society, and in 1975 she immigrated with her husband and two children to take a job in the agency's Korean adoption program. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Hyun Sook Han discusses her family background in Korea; hardships of the Korean War period; and the place of adoptions in the Confucian culture of Korea. She also describes the changing roles of men and women in the immigrant community in Minnesota; problems of child-rearing; difficulties for Koreans in forming friendships with Americans; the role of the church; and problems of many Korean wives of American soldiers in Minnesota. COMMENTS ON INTERVIEW: Hyun Sook Han is an articulate representative of the women in the Korean immigrant community and provides valuable information on the changing family structure and special groups such as adopted children and servicemen's wives.
Quantity 1.5 hours sound cassette
77 pages transcript
Format Content Category: sound recordings
Content Category: text
Measurements 01:28:27 running time
Creation Narrator: Han, Ms. Hyun Sook
Interviewer: Mason, Sarah R.
Made in Saint Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota, United States
Subjects Asians
Koreans
Made in Saint Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota, United States
Dates Creation: 01/03/1979
Holding Type Oral History - Interview
ID Number OH 51
Accession Number AV1981.361.23
More Info MHS Library Catalog
Related Collections Oral History - Project, MHS Collection, project: 'Asians in Minnesota Oral History Project'