“We are also custodians, if you will, of Korean heritage,” said Charles Yoon, KAAGNY’s current president. “We have a number of programs that are designed for people to have pride in our history.”
On August 15, KAAGNY will celebrate Korean Liberation Day, which is the day Korea gained independence from imperial Japan.
Yoon said they will host a large event at Daedong Manor in Flushing, which is home to a large population of Korean-Americans. The group is also being recognized and honored at City Hall during a separate event.
Every October, KAAGNY also partners with the Korea Times for a parade and street festival in Manhattan’s Koreatown. Streets are blocked off for a day of performances and Korean food.
But Yoon noted that the organization is increasingly acting as a voice for the Korean-American community on important issues.
One prominent issue has been the fate of the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT). KAAGNY took an active role in keeping the community informed about proposed reforms, Yoon said.
He noted that Asian-American communities generally were not consulted with the mayor’s reforms.
“We just want to make sure our voice is heard in the process,” he said.
Another issue of importance is the 2020 Census. Yoon said KAAGNY has been working with Asian-American organizations to make sure everyone is counted.
While KAAGNY has traditionally been a “Korean language-centric” group helping new immigrants adjust to life in the United States, the organization is increasingly focused on second-generation Korean-Americans.
“We are becoming bilingual,” Yoon said. “We have started reaching out to the second-generation community more actively.”