Los Angeles Celebrates 100th Anniversary of March 1st Korean Independence Movement

Margie Feng
Mar 12,2019
Dancers from the Jean Ballet School (Photo by Margie Feng)Dancers from the Jean Ballet School (Photo by Margie Feng)

Korean American communities took part in a parade on March 9 along Wilshire Boulevard to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the March First Independence Movement against Japanese colonial rule.

The Korean American Federation of Los Angeles (KAFLA) hosted the parade in Los Angeles Koreatown to showcase a mixture of Korean traditional dance, music and arts in honor of the March First Independence Movement, which was a series of demonstrations advocating a free and independent national identity that began on March 1, 1919. Over a dozen Korean American organizations including the Korean American Democratic Committee (KADC) and Korean Veterans Association marched together flying Korean and American national flags. Laura Jeon, the president of KAFLA, said she was happy that so many people made it to the parade despite the chilly weather.

“We have been preparing for the parade for a month,” Jeon said. “The parade symbolizes freedom, justice and the unity of Korea and Korean Americans. The presence of the Imperial Family demonstrates it even more because they were the descendants of the king. The fact that so many people are here symbolizes the spirit of the March First Independence Movement.”

The parade started with a dance performance presented by Jean Ballet School, a Korean American dance institution. Choreographer Janelle Cruz, who is also a K-pop instructor at the dance institution, said it took a month to put the piece together.

The parade attracted political leaders as well, including California State Senator Anthony Portantino and the first Korean American Los Angeles city council member David Ryu. Miguel Santiago, the Democratic member of the California State Assembly representing District 53, also brought his family to the parade. While holding his daughter in his arms, Santiago said he was very excited to support the residents at in the 53rd district.

“The Korean community is very important to the 53rd district, we’ve got community leaders from all over California here,” Santiago said. “We are absolutely excited to be here to support our communities.”

The event not only brought out Koreatown’s community and political leaders, it also attracted people from other parts of Los Angeles. Paul Accachian from Pasadena was brought here by his Korean friends. The parade was the first Korean cultural event he ever attended, and he hopes that more cultural events like this can happen in the future.

“The parade helps us understand each other and each other’s backgrounds,” Accachian said. “It brings cultural relevance to what people bring to the United States.”

The parade concluded with Ralph Ahn, son of the famous Korean independent fighter, Dosan Ahnchangho, saluting the crowd from the stage.

“Thank you for being here, I am very happy to be here with you to honor our ancestors,” Ahn said. “We owe them so much.”