KoreAm 25th Anniversary Issue: Publisher’s Note

A ‘Surreal’ Moment in Marking 25 Years


by JAMES RYU, Publisher

My 8-year-old son Michael recently found an old issue of KoreAm Journal in the backseat of our minivan. He flipped through the pages and saw my photo in a Publisher’s Note. “Dad,” he said. “Is this your magazine?” I was delighted to see my son notice the issue and ask me about it. With pride in my voice, I said, “Yes, Michael, this is the magazine that I started 25 years ago.” I could see my son through the rearview mirror as he turned the pages with renewed interest. With Michael, there is an emerging new generation of KoreAm readers. And nothing gives me more pleasure than to witness this generation absorb KoreAm both in print and online.

We are celebrating our monumental 25th anniversary this issue. For me, this is surreal. A lot of hard work and sacrifices were made for us to get to this juncture. From my late father, Jung Shig Ryu, who encouraged and supported me from the day I started this magazine, to every editor, staff writer and freelance writer who has been involved in this publication over the past 25 years, I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am humbled by all your dedication and efforts to contribute to a magazine that you so clearly care about.

On a sad note, my dear friend and first partner at KoreAm, Richard Choi Bertsch, passed away on April 25. He was only 57. Richard both encouraged and helped support KoreAm financially during its first four years. I was looking forward to the conversation we would have had on this 25th anniversary of KoreAm. We would have talked about the old days, when, as young visionaries, we were scrambling to figure out the publishing business. Richard truly cared for the Korean American community and would have been very proud to see us reach this point.

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Yet, supporting KoreAm was just one of many things that Richard did. One could find him in Los Angeles’ K-town on a daily basis, talking with Korean organization leaders about issues affecting the lives of immigrant families. He encouraged many young Korean Americans to get involved in organizations and the political process in the United States. He helped form and shape the Korean American Coalition (KAC) and Korean American Democratic Committee (KADC). He even helped my wife, Tammy Ryu, become the first Korean American female judge in the state of California. His network of friends and contacts were everywhere, from California to Washington, D.C. to Korea. He often used his connections to better the lives of many Korean Americans as well as advance their careers. I, along with everyone in the Korean community, will miss Richard dearly.

Our staff and I are very proud of this 25th anniversary issue, which features the memories and recollections of former editors, plus a retrospective photo gallery of the magazine’s eclectic covers over the years. Seeing the evolution of KoreAm reminds me just how far the magazine has come.

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Here, you will also see photos of the people I had the pleasure of getting to know over the years. Most of these individuals have graced KoreAm’s cover at some point, or have participated in KoreAm’s many events. I got to know many of them early on in their careers, and it has been wonderful seeing them prosper in their respective pursuits.

Lastly, I want to thank you, our loyal readers and advertisers. You are the reason why we continue producing the magazine and updating our website. I look forward to what lies ahead, and I hope you do, as well.

See Also


KoreAm’s 25th Anniversary Editors Roundtable: 

KoreAm June/July 2015 Issue: Editor’s Note


This publisher’s note was published in the April/May 2015 issue of KoreAm. Subscribe today! To purchase a single issue copy of the April/May issue, click the “Buy Now” button below. (U.S. customers only. Expect delivery in 5-7 business days).

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