The First Korean American

The First Korean American

Written on 08/02/2022

Dr. Philip Jaisohn (a.k.a. SOH, Jae-Pil) arrived in the U.S. in 1885 as a political exile and became the first Korean to be naturalized as a U.S. citizen. He also became the first Korean American medical doctor as well as an influential political reformer in Korea when he returned home in 1896.

He established Korea's first modern newspaper, Tongnip Sinmun (The Independent), and also a political organization called Tongnip Hyeop-hoe (The Independent Club). In 1947, he returned to Korea and became the chief advisor to the commanding general of the U.S. Army in South Korea. 

Dr. Jaisohn was without a doubt the founding father of modernization and democracy in the beloved land of his birth. The following words by Professor Chong-Sik Lee, dedicated to the memory of Dr. Philip Jaisohn, are etched in the marble monument at the Rose Tree Park in Media, PA, which was home to Dr. Jaisohn and his family for the last twenty-five years of his life.

"He loved his native land, Korea; shook it from its slumbers, roused the young and thundered at the old. In exile, he embraced his adopted country, served it with true devotion, healed the sick, and advanced science. But, he never forgot his native soil, spared no effort for her freedom. And, to the end of his life, he remained a dedicated champion of the cause of humanity everywhere." Chong-Sik Lee

Let us know what you think of our stories by leaving a comment.