50 years of Korean Canadian Relations didn’t happen overnight. Or rather, it didn’t take only 50 years to form a friendly relationship that we enjoy today.
In Korea, Canada is imagined by Koreans as the land of freedom, equality, of great wilderness and frosty snow, where air is fresh and people friendly to all. In Canada, Korea is the land of technology, the most peculiar popular culture and dynamic innovation. It’s not hard to meet someone in Toronto who would say “Oh I visited Korea a few years ago” or “Oh I had this and this Korean food for lunch”. On the other hand, it’s not hard to meet someone in Korea who traveled to Canada to study and sightsee. Really, the two countries are, as we Torontonians often say on the streets, “pretty tight”.
As a Korean Canadian, I suppose I am right in between the two countries, and in some ways, I’m the direct benefactor of it. I moved to Canada in 1999, among other Korean immigrants who came to Canada for a new opportunity. For a while I felt like we, the 1990s immigrants, were the first ones to land and that we were the first batch of Koreans to make an impression on Korea to Canadians. After some years (and definitely more books!) I realized that Koreans and Canadians, we actually go a long way. Countless people, endless stories and shared memories, culture, and brotherhood in hardship brought the two countries together as close friend and great partners. So what are these stories? How did we become so close?
What I want to do for the next while is to dig through and discover the “who” and “how” factor of the Korean Canadian relationship. I will be focusing on stories under the mattress of time that are just sitting there waiting to be pulled out and be heard. Some of these things would be:
Who made the first Korean-English dictionary?
Who were the first Canadians in Korea, and what for?
Who is “Suk Ho-Pil”?
What was Canada’s role in the birth of the Korea Republic as a fledgling nation?
When and how did Bloor and Christie turn into Koreatown?
A Hockey Night in Korea? And so much more to come, waiting for us to dig deep.
Next up: Story of Captain Roland Clinton Bacon and the Korean National Army Liaison Unit