Course Content
Lesson 1: The Korean Diaspora and Korean Americans
Students are introduced to Korean Diaspora and Korean American immigration patterns and experiences. They compare experiences of Korean Americans in the first and second waves of immigrants and consider how these experiences have evolved over the the 20th century. They analyze oral histories and complete a web-based short research project on locations of Koreans and Korean Americans.
Lesson 2: The First Koreatown and the Legacy of Dosan Ahn Chang Ho
Students explore the life of Dosan Ahn Chang Ho, his immigration to the United States, and his life as an activist and community builder. They examine how the first Koreatown was established in Riverside, California, and compare the experiences of Korean, Mexican, and women citrus pickers and packers. Finally, they identify Dosan's contributions to the United States and Korea.
Lesson 3: ​Immigrant Experiences ​of Korean Americans: The Sammy Lee Story
Students are introduced to the experiences of Korean American immigrants through Sammy Lee’s life story. They reflect upon and critically analyze the responses of Sammy Lee and his family to the racism and discrimination they faced as immigrants, consider ways the immigration laws have changed over the 20th century, and identify ways to advocate for Korean American immigrants.
Lesson 4: The Korean Independence Movement and Korean American Identity in the U.S.
Students situate President Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points Peace Program and 1919 speech to congress in the development of the Korean Independence Movement. They engage in a jigsaw activity and examine original documents and news reports from the time period to identify how the Korean Independence Movement shaped and was shaped by the formation of the Korean American identify in the United States. Students compose a letter to President Wilson to encourage the United States to support the Korean Independence Movement.
Lesson 5: Colonel Young Oak Kim: Hero and Humanitarian
Students explore the life of Young Oak Kim, and identify contributions he has made to the United States. They complete a Think/Write/Pair Share/Group Share as they reflect on what it is like to be a Korean American/minority struggling through racial barriers like Young Oak Kim. They explore what kinds of microaggressions Kim encountered and consider how he responded to those actions. Students deepen their understanding of the life of Young Oak Kim as a U.S. citizen, war hero and community activist, and they annotate and discuss an excerpt from the biography, Unsung Hero: The Colonel Young O. Kim Story, by Woo Sung Han. They construct a biopoem and/or an argument essay on his life and contributions to American society.
Lesson 6: Aftermath of the Korean War and Korean Transnational Adoptions
Students explore the ending and aftermath of the Korean War. They learn about the history of the Korean War and what war was like from the perspective of Koreans. Students learn about one of the many groups of displaced civilians whose lives were forever changed by the war, Korean children. They learn how Korean children became central to international aid efforts that led to the advent of transnational adoptions. ​ They analyze an article from 1953 about a Korean transnational adoptee and consider the broader impacts of Korean transnational adoptions on Koreans and Korean-Americans. Finally, students learn about transnational adoptions from the perspective of Deann Borshay Liem, a Korean adoptee.
Lesson 7: Saigu and Social Justice
Students are introduced to 1992 LA Civil Unrest and how it impacted Korean Americans. They reflect upon and critically analyze the responses of various individuals and groups to the unrest, examine issues of justice, and consider the legacy of Saigu for Korean Americans today.
Lesson 8: Korean Americans in the 21st Century
Students explore Korean popular culture in the United States, including K-Pop, Korean and Korean American films, food, and more. They compare and contrast K-POP and American Popular music, conduct short research on an example of Hallyu, analyze films, conduct research for a biographical presentation of a notable Korean American, and compose a memoir essay of their own experiences
Korean American Ethnic Studies
About Lesson

Activity 4.1: How was the Korean Independence Movement Impacted by Wilson’s Fourteen Points?

  Students situate President Woodrow Wilson’s  Fourteen Points Peace Program and 1919 speech to congress in the development of the Korean Independence Movement. They examine the actions of Korean schoolgirls who participate in the protest of Japanese rule. They compose a letter to Wilson to encourage the United States to support the Korean Independence Movement.

Woodrow Wilson Portrait by Harris & Ewing, 1919. (Source: Wikipedia)

 Activity Questions

  • How does the timeline for Korea’s annexation by Japan and subsequent independence movement correspond to that of World War I and World War II?
  • What do Wilson’s Fourteen Points say about imperialism, colonialism, and self-determination? ​
  • How was the Korean Independence Movement Impacted by Wilson’s Fourteen Points?
  • How did the United States government respond to Korea’s hope of independence?

  Instructional Strategies

  • Use the Lesson 4: The Korean Independence Movement (Activity 4.1) presentation to support this lesson.

  Introduction to the Lesson

  • Invite students to share their understanding of imperialism (Imperialism is an ideology of extending the rule over peoples and other countries), for extending political and economic access, power and control, often through employing hard power. Lead them to the understanding that Japan wanted foreign resources in order to fuel their industrialization. 

  The Korean Independence Movement

  • Review the slides that introduce pivotal events in Korea 1905-1919 and the ultimate annexation of Korea by Japan.
  • ​Show the video, how schoolgirls became independence fighters in 1919 (4:18 minutes).  Invite students to share their reactions and let them know they will be studying this movement in more detail during Lesson 4, Activities 4.1 and 4.2.

    Introduction to the Fourteen Points

  • Continue with an introduction to Wilson’s Fourteen Points, situating his speech in the afterward of World War 1. Encourage students to share opinions on the importance of point five and Wilson’s closing remarks.


  • Assign students to complete the Activity 4.1 Worksheet.  This might be completed individually, in pairs, or in small groups. ​​

  Closing Activity

  • Conduct a Think-Pair-Share activity by having students pair up and respond to one or more of the activity questions. ​

  Persuasive Letter

  • Have students take on the persona of Korean schoolgirls and compose a persuasive letter to President Wilson asking the U.S. to take a position in favor of Korean Independence. See directions under Lesson 4 Assessments.



Activity 4.1 Worksheet on 14 Points (PDF)
Video: How Schoolgirls Became Independence Fighters

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