Skip to main content
Main Content

In 1984, the Korean American Student Association (KASA) was founded at William & Mary. It was the first Asian-American group to organize themselves. At that time, there were only 74 Asian-American students enrolled at the College. Despite their early establishment, KASA was not acknowledged in the Colonial Echo until the 1990s. KASA spent the rest of the decade establishing themselves on campus.

KASA held its first open meeting on October 1, 1985. Throughout the 1980s, KASA organized events to celebrate holidays and educate others about their culture. In particular, KASA celebrated Chusok (Korean Thanksgiving). Chusok included a variety of traditional Korean activities including Fan Dancing, Danso (traditional Korean flute), taekwondo, singing, ssirum (Korean wrestling), jaegichaggi (Korean traditional game), a fashion show, and food.

KASA also hosted "Jhoon Rhee Karate". Taekwondo was not a well-known form of martial arts by Americans in the 1980s. It was only recognized as "Jhoon Rhee Karate" after Jhoon Rhee, the only Korean-American known to practice taekwondo at the time.

KASA found that expressing and showcasing their art was another way to spread cultural awareness. Throughout the 1980s, KASA put on plays, hosted film festivals, and showed popular Korean dramas of the time free of charge.

It was not until the 1990s, when KASA gained more recognition, that the organization seemed to change. Although it still hosts some cultural events, KASA began to put a greater emphasis on events such as dance parties with "exotic foods".



Want to find out more?

To search for further material, visit the Special Collections Research Center's Search Tool List for other resources to help you find materials of interest.

Questions? Have ideas or updates for articles you'd like to see? Contact the Special Collections Research Center at or 757-221-3090.

A note about the contents of this site

This website contains the best available information from known sources at the time it was written. Unfortunately, many of the early original records of William & Mary were destroyed by fires, military occupation, and the normal effects of time. The information in this website is not complete, and it changes as we continue to research and uncover new sources.