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Korean immigration to hawai'i and the Korean protestant church

Yi M-Y.
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University of Hawai'i Press
From the land of hibiscus, pp.41 - 52
Journal Title
From the land of hibiscus
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With the dramatic growth of the sugar industry in Hawai'i in the latter half of the nineteenth century, the Hawaii Sugar Planters Association (HSPA) was in constant need of laborers to work on the sugar plantations. Throughout most of its boom years, the HSPA relied heavily on cheap labor from East Asia. At first, the sugar planters imported Chinese laborers, and then Japanese. By the turn of the twentieth century, the Japanese workers began to dominate the labor market, allowing them to wage collective actions such as strikes to demand higher wages and better working conditions. To counter this domination by Japanese workers the HSPA looked to Korea for a new source of labor. The conduit between the HSPA and Korea was Horace N. Allen. A medical missionary of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions, Allen first went to China, and from there, he was reassigned to Korea. Having arrived in Seoul in September 1884 as a doctor for the U.S. embassy, he was given an opportunity to give medical treatment to Min Yōng-ik, who had received a serious injury in an assassination attempt in the abortive coup that took place in December 1884. Allen's medical skills saved Min's life and thus won the deep gratitude of the Korean royal family, as Min Yōng-ik was not an ordinary person: he was a favorite nephew of Queen Min. With the support of the royal family, Allen, in April 1885, opened the first Western medical hospital in Korea. In 1887, when Korea dispatched its first permanent diplomatic envoy to the United States, he accompanied the Korean mission as an escort. In 1897, he was appointed the American minister to Korea stationed in Seoul. By this time, Allen had won the confidence of Emperor Kojong and had become one of the most trusted advisors of the Korean ruler. In 1901, when he returned to the United States on leave, he was approached by William G. Irwin, an HSPA agent, who pleaded for Allen's assistance in securing Korean laborers for Hawai'i sugar plantations. Allen consented to this request. © 2007 by The University of Hawai'i Press. All rights reserved.
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