Kim Il Hong, president-elect of Korean American Association of Greater Atlanta (KAAGA), takes the oath of office at the Korean Culture Center in Norcross.
By Anna Kim
A new year of hope has dawned. The Atlanta Korean community is poised to make a fresh leap forward under the flagship of Kim Il Hong, the 33rd president of the Korean American Association of Greater Atlanta (KAAGA).
With Kim Il Hong installed as president, Bae Ki Sung, the last president, bade farewell at the inauguration celebration, which took place in the last week of 2017. The inauguration hit an all-time high drawing in 600 local leading figures and had a variety of events kicked off with musical performances, elaborate entrees, and congratulatory remarks to honor the new president.
The Inauguration event begun with quiet prayer and Mr. Bae delivered brief remarks retracing his steps as a president.
“We successfully retained a paid-in membership of 4,000 through a series of campaigns and embarked on a Scholarship Award for Korean descendants, which had been the Atlanta Korean community’s long-time dream,” said Mr. Bae. “Above all things, the Comfort Women Statue establishment in Brookhaven was hands down a capstone. We all carried through all the turmoil caused by counterforce, and we owe John Park, Brookhaven Councilman, for this historical feat. Without his eagerness, the statue erection would not have been feasible.”
To make a long story short about the Comfort Women Statue, let us flash back to Blackburn Park in Brookhaven, where the city unveiled a memorial statue to honor victims of the sexual enslavement by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II, euphemistically known as “Comfort Women.” John Park, who has a Korean heritage, championed the idea of the establishment and led the charge of the statue’s erection. The unshakable resolution of human rights carried the City Council through the high waters and the City of Brookhaven has become the home of human rights.
John Park was given a standing ovation and granted the first Award for Human Rights of the Year by KAAGA. Some of the participants replayed political support funds to him off the bat to show gratitude and recognize his commitment to the Korean community.
The attendees paid attention to another would-be politician, David Kim, Democrat candidate for Georgia’s 7th congressional district in Congress.
He put an emphasis on why it is time for the Korean community to pull together.
“60,000 Korean votes are enough for us to swing the election and lead to victory. We should march forward for our next generation’s everlasting prosperity. We should gain a solid foothold for our children, children’s children, and the generations that follow in the land of American Dreams, not for the current generation. It’s time.”
The festive inauguration celebration livened up much more as time went on.
Wine aficionados feasted on all the savory wine as the emcee proposed a toast after the flag taking over between the old and new presidents, which is the inauguration tradition of the KAAGA. The attendees made a happy clinking sound at every table, hitting their glasses and blessing one another.
The new president made a remark at peak hours and he inspired the participants with enthusiasm.
“We have arrived at a moment in the Korean community history in Atlanta when qualitative growth should outweigh quantitative one. Our rights and interests to be secured come only after we are treated as a major community, not a minor one,” said Kim Il Hong. “Pulling together, I believe that we the Korean community can achieve the time-honored tradition of more than 100 years, beyond 50 years that we have put in a great deal of effort for prosperity. We made the cut and now more advanced steps are put ahead of us. We have set out on a venturesome journey and we will go over the arduous mountains of wild card, walking together.”
Meanwhile, 10 young scholarship awardees were granted scholarships of $1,000 and plaques, respectively, and the participants had a great big smile with a quality bunch of gifts through raffle ticket drawing. The luck of 2018 has broken for the Korean community in Atlanta.
The inauguration hit an all-time high drawing in 600 local leading figures.
The attendees are making a toast.
The scholarship awardees are showing their delight.