Hubert Tran, Contributing Photographer

Korean American Students at Yale celebrated its 40th anniversary this past weekend. Hundreds of students gathered for the celebration, which centered around the theme of “inyeon” and recognition of the organization’s establishment in 1984. 

“Inyeon is about the deeply special and mystical relationships that we foster with the people that seem to walk into our lives without reason,” Andrew Lee ’27, KASY’s Cultural Chair, said. “Inyeon is a beautiful testament to the way in which we explore the invisible threads that connect us.”

KASY started its celebration with its annual formal, hosted at NOA on Thursday night. This year’s theme was “A Mid-Seoul Night’s Dream.” On Friday, KASY hosted its annual cultural show with student performances and the screening of the KASY board skit. The show was an ode to Korean and Korean American culture in all of its shapes and forms. 

On Saturday, students had the opportunity to gather in a campfire discussion to decorate cookies with the South Korean flag and the Korean Unification Flag as they learned about the history of the former. On Sunday, KASY weekend closed with a Black Day, an unofficial Korean holiday where single people celebrate their singlehood by eating jjajangmyeon, or noodles in blackbean sauce, with each other. Yale students and staff enjoyed many other Korean delicacies, such as Korean BBQ chicken, throughout the weekend. 

KASY was formed in 1984 by a group of students interested in advancing the cultural, social and political interests of the Korean and Korean American community at Yale. KASY and Korean Language Professor Seungja Choi were instrumental in establishing the Korean Language Program at Yale. As the Korean diasporic community expands, members of the organization hope that the weekend can stand as an opportunity for the Korean American community to explore their identities. 

“This is the first year where we raised both the South Korean flag and the Korean unification flag at our cultural show to honor the diasporic Korean identities, especially those who don’t trace their roots back to South Korea, and the hopes for decolonization and liberation globally,” said Mark Lee, KASY’s co-president.

During the cultural show, student groups such as Yale UNITY, Yale Movement and Yale Taekwondo performed pieces as a recognition of their Korean heritage. 

KASY board also filmed a skit directed and written by Jane Park ’26, who is also a staff reporter for the News. The skit was a take on Celine Song’s “Past Lives” and an exploration of inyeon as Yale students navigate the difficult realm of radical love, resistance and identity. 

“I have not been able to experience a dedicated space to the exploration and formation of Korean culture in the way that I was able to experience it in this year’s cultural show,” Joshua Jin ’27 said. “Acknowledging the distinct identities of Korean Americans and Koreans alike through our collective interests in the arts was a powerful reminder of what our place on this campus can and should be.”

The presence of Korean organizations on campus continues to grow. Yale UNITY, a Korean traditional drumming group, was revived this year. Other groups, such as Hanppuri, KASY, Hangarak, Baram and Movement, are organizations focused on promoting Korean culture. 

While KASY is part of the Asian American Cultural Center, students expressed gratitude for the organization as a dedicated space for the appreciation and recognition of Korean American culture and history. 

“KASY weekend was to not only celebrate but recognize the efforts students and faculty made in 1984 and the years leading up to it as they founded KASY,” said Stella Choi ’26, KASY’s co-president alongside Lee. “For me, Yale is unfathomable without KASY. I can’t imagine what Yale would have been like without KASY.”

KASY was founded in 1984.