Honoring Korean American Day

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff, 

January 13, 1903, commemorates and recognizes the first courageous Korean immigrants who arrived in Hawaii, initiating Korean immigration to the United States. Today, we join other institutions of higher learning in Washington State, as well as Mayor Bruce Harrell, in recognizing this day. We celebrate the contributions of Korean Americans to our nation, region, university, and surrounding community, reaffirming our commitment to advance racial equity and representation of Korean Americans.

The United States is home to the largest Korean diaspora community in the world, and our own Washington State has the fifth-highest concentration of Korean Americans in the country. 2023 will mark the 70th anniversary of the U.S. – Korea Alliance. Our immediate surroundings are also steeped in this history. In 1989, then-Seattle Mayor Charles Royer led a delegation to Daejeon, officially signing the Sister City agreement, symbolized and celebrated by Daejeon Park located near Seattle University. The official recognition of Korean American Day is a significant way that we can celebrate the invaluable contributions of our Korean American community, including students, staff, alumni, and faculty of Korean descent at Seattle University. 

The achievements and contributions of Korean Americans, including recent immigrants, can be seen in all facets of American life including politics, industry, entrepreneurship, volunteerism, arts, and education, in various branches of the United States Armed Forces and law; including Leesa Manion (SU Law '96), King County’s new prosecuting attorney, who is the first Korean American woman to be elected prosecuting attorney in the United States. As we celebrate the profound impact of Korean Americans on our nation, we also must acknowledge the ways in which they have suffered, including, but not limited to, discriminatory and often violent actions taken against them during the global pandemic. Affirming differences and honestly confronting the inhumanity in how we view and value each other is a critical step toward building our cultural awareness and humility. 

As a Jesuit and Catholic university, we honor our commitment to inclusion in educating ourselves, and importantly, taking the actions necessary to fulfill the promise and meaning of days like today. 


Eduardo M. Peñalver

Natasha Martin
Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion