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 6.2: ​Korean War Orphans


Students learn about transnational adoptions from the perspective of Deann Borshay Liem, a Korean adoptee.

In 1966, Deann Borshay Liem was adopted by an American family and was sent from Korea to her new home. Growing up in California, the memory of her birth family was nearly obliterated until recurring dreams lead Deann to discover the truth: her Korean mother was very much alive. Bravely uniting her biological and adoptive families, Deann’s heartfelt journey makes First Person Plural a poignant essay on family, loss, and the reconciling of two identities. (MU Films)

First Person Plural (Source: IMBD)

Activity Questions

  • What are some of the experiences and feelings faced by Korean transnational adoptions?
  • How do conflicting feelings about their identity affect Korean transnational adoptees’ relationships with their American and Korean families?
  • How does war, poverty, race, gender and global relationships influence adoption? 

​Instructional Strategies

  • Use the Lesson 6: Aftermath of the Korean War and Korean Transnational Adoptions (Activity 6.3) presentation to support this lesson.

  Introduce the Film

  • Have students share their thoughts about whether, if adopted, they would want to know their biological parents.
  • Show the film, First Person Plural (Director Deann Borshay Liem, 53 min.). This film follows the journey of a Korean adoptee, from her childhood and high school experience with her adoptive American family to her trip to Korea to find her birth mother.
  • If the film is not available:

  During Viewing

  • Distribute and review the Viewing Questions for First Person Plural. Encourage students to notice information in the film that will help them answer the questions.

  After Viewing

  • After watching the film, place students in pairs or small groups to complete the Viewing Questions as directed. Then review the answers as a class.

  ​Closing the Activity

  • End class with review and discussion of the activity questions.


  • Lesson 6 Teacher’s Guide (PDF)
  • Lesson 6 Presentation (PPT; PDF version downloadable on Scribd bottom right)
  • Video: First Person Plural (available to stream on Kanopy)
  • Website: First Person Plural
  • Handout: Viewing Questions for First Person Plural (Word)
  • Handout: Viewing Questions for First Person Plural (PDF)

  External Resources


Worksheet: Viewing Questions for First Person Plural (PDF)
YouTube Video: Trailer for First Person Plural (1:51 minutes)

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