After thirty-seven years of service to the USC Libraries, Kenneth Klein was recently awarded the Order of Civil Merit by the government of the Republic of Korea. Klein, who retired last summer as the head of USC's East Asian Library, received the decoration at a December 28 ceremony in South Korea's Los Angeles consulate.
The Dongbaeg Medal—issued by South Korean President Moon Jae-in—recognized Klein's leading role in developing USC's Korean Heritage Library. Upon its establishment in 1986 to support the Korean Studies program at USC, the library represented one of the first major primary source collections devoted to the academic study of the Korean American community. Today, the library richly documents the Korean American experience through oral histories, films, organizational records, and the papers of prominent Korean Americans, including writers, architects, activists, and an Olympic swimmer. Under Klein's leadership, many of the materials were digitized and made publicly accessible through the USC Digital Library's Korean American Digital Archive.
Klein was also recently honored by the Friends of Korea, an organization dedicated to enhancing cultural awareness and friendship between Americans and Koreans, with their fifth-annual Kevin O’Donnell Distinguished Friend of Korea Award.