Lecture Video: Paradise Lost of Two Korean Americans

 

Lecturer: Byung Joon Jung and Vladimir Hlasny

This is a story of two Korean Americans who were US citizens but wanted to join the Korean independence movement during the colonial period. Alice Hyun was known as a so-called “US spy” and “Korea’s Mata Hari” by South and North Korea. She was known as the first lover of famous Korean communist Park Hon Young during his stay in Shanghai in the early 1920s. She was involved in the Korean independence movement and became a communist. She served in the US Army during the Pacific War and joined the US Army Forces in Korea after World War II. She was a deputy of the Seoul branch of the Civil Communication Intelligence Group-Korea, a civil sponsorship organ. She was banished from South Korea by the US army authorities and went to Pyongyang via Czechoslovakia in 1949. She was imprisoned in 1953 and may have been executed in 1956 when Park Hon Young himself was executed.

Her son Wellington Chung went to Prague in 1948 to study medicine at Charles University. He became a medical surgeon in 1955 and wanted to re-unite with his mother in Pyongyang but North Korea denied him entry into Pyongyang. He remained stuck in Czechoslovakia. The US embassy at Prague also followed his activities in Czechoslovakia. During that time his mother was being put to death by North Korea and his uncles in LA were summoned to the hearings of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. He struggled to survive in Czechoslovakia under surveillance and restrictions on his activities. He married a Czech woman in 1957, but committed suicide in 1963.

This is a story of Korean American radicals who pursued their dreams to go back to their real motherland. However, there were no such place in reality that they dreamed of and imagined. They denied their identities as US citizens and South Korean nationals and wanted to become “real Koreans,” that is, North Korean nationals. But when Alice arrived in Pyongyang, she faced a strange world where her only reputation was that of a US spy.

Byung Joon Jung is a professor of History at Ewha Womans University. He majored in modern Korean history. He has published several books on Korean political figures and modern Korean history such as Syngman Rhee, Lyuh Woon Hyung, Korean War, Dokdo, and Alice Hyun. He has earned several awards including two times the Hanguk Chulpan Munhwa sang (Korean Publication Culture Award for Academic Book sponsored by Hankook Daily News) and the Wolbong Jeojak Sang (Wolbong Book Award for Korean Studies).

Vladimir Hlasny is an associate professor of Economics at Ewha Womans University in Seoul. In 2015, he served as an economic affairs officer at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia in Beirut. He holds a doctorate in economics from Michigan State University. His main research areas are microeconomics and industry regulation. In History, his topic of interest is the Korean relations with Europe and the United States in the 1940s and 50s.

 

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