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Joseph Cho papers

Identifier: 3323

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Scope and Contents

The Joseph Cho papers comprises 11 boxes of mixed materials mostly dating from the 1980s through the 2010s, including 1 box of photographs and photograph albums, 4 boxes of multimedia materials (VHS videotapes, cassettes tapes, CDs, and DVDs), 3 boxes of scrapbooks, and 1 box of printed materials (pamphlets, brochures, and magazines) and 1 box of manuscripts. Topics include the City of Cerritos, City Council meetings, Council members, election campaigns, political events, Korean American society and history, Korean shops, Korean church events, Joseph Cho’s book release events, interviews, events on unification of North and South Koreas, and other topics. One box contains manuscripts of materials collected from the Northeast China (given to him while he was studying at the Yanbian University): Korean folksongs (570 pages), independence fight songs (1018 pages), and two biographies of Korean independence activists in Manchuria (218 pages).


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1982 - 2015

Conditions Governing Access

COLLECTION STORED OFFSITE. Advance notice required for access.

Conditions Governing Use

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Department of the East Asian Library at Permission for publication is given on behalf of the East Asian Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

Rights Statement for Archival Description

Finding aid description and metadata are licensed under an Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license.

Biographical note on Joseph Cho

Joseph Cho (1943 - ) is a Korean American journalist, entrepreneur, and a public servant. Born in Kyushu, Japan, he grew up in South Korea, and received a bachelor’s degree from Seoul National University in 1966. Prior to immigrating to America in 1974, he worked as a high school teacher, and served as an Air Force Officer during his compulsory military service.

He started his life in America working as a janitor and a gas station attendant. By 1975 he found a job as a computer programmer at the Los Angeles County Data Processing Department, where he was promoted to Assistant Manager within three years, a record career progression at the time. He founded his first business in 1978, a real estate company which was highly successful.

After the South Korean Military massacred up to 2000 civilians (exact numbers not known) during the May 1980 Kwangju Uprising in South Korea, he began in 1981 to publish a new magazine called The Korean Street Journal . The weekly publication, based in Los Angeles, served as a leading voice for the Korean Democracy Movement for ten years, all the while struggling to withstand the immense political repression that the Korean military regime employed against Cho and his publication. The publication's goal came to fruition with the Korean Civil Revolution of 1987, which ushered a new era of democracy in South Korea.

For his next venture, he founded a printing business, which was also very successful. Selling the business allowed him to comfortably retire in 2002, before reaching the age of 60. Retirement allowed him to pursue his lifelong dream of going back to school to earn a Ph.D. degree. He earned his Ph.D. degree from Yanbian University in China in 2006. His dissertation is titled 朝鮮半島核問題硏究 [The Nuclear Problem on the Korean Peninsula]. After completing his Ph.D. degree, he and his wife, Lucy, founded the Lucy and Joseph Cho Foundation to give scholarships to promising young students in the Cerritos area.

Joseph Cho then began a career in public service by running for the City Council in his hometown of Cerritos, CA. After two unsuccessful attempts, he won an election in March 2007 for the Cerritos City Council Member. In 2009, his council colleagues voted to appoint him as Mayor Pro Tem, and in 2010 they voted to appoint him Mayor of Cerritos. In 2017, after his retirement from the Cerritos city council, Joseph Cho founded the nonprofit organization KUSPI (Korea-US Peace Institute). The organization’s mission is to educate the American and Korean public about the root cause of the conflict on the Korean Penin¬sula and offer solution to resolve the nuclear crisis and bring peace to the Korean peninsula.

Joseph Cho is the author of numerous books on the crisis in the Korean Peninsula: 북한은 변하고 있는가 [Has North Korea been changing?] (삼민사, 1990); 한반도 핵문제와 통일 [The Nuclear issue and reunification in the Korean Peninsula] (삼민사, 1994); 통일로 가는 길이 달라진다 [Reunification in the Korean Peninsula] (오름, 1998); 북핵 위기와 한반도 평화의 길 [Nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula: A study of nuclear proliferation in North Korea and a road map for peace] (한울아카데미, 2006); and 평화가 먼저다 [Peace first] (한울아카데미, 2013). In 2010 he published his autobiography소명 [My Calling], a condensed version of which appeared as a chapter in a 2013 book containing biographies of several prominent Korean Americans that was published by Queens College in New York. He and his wife have two sons and one daughter and three grandchildren.


12.46 Linear Feet (11 boxes)

Language of Materials




Joseph Cho (1943 - ) is a Korean American journalist, entrepreneur, and politician. He served as a councilmember and mayor of the City of Cerritos. The collection consists of photographs, VHS videotapes, cassette tapes, CDs, DVDs, scrapbooks, correspondence and other documents mostly dating from the 1980s to the 2000s. The items are on the topics of the City of Cerritos, council meetings, election campaigns, Korean American history, events in Southern California, a unification of North and South Korea, and other aspects of Joseph Cho's life.


The collection is arranged in five series:

1 Photos, photo albums, and postcards 2 Multimedia materials 3 Scrapbooks 4 Printed materials 5 Manuscripts

Related Materials

The Joseph Cho papers (collection no. 3323) and the Charles Kim collection (collection no. 3359) both contain VHS recordings of interviews from the KSCI (channel 18) "LA-Seoul" interview series counducted by Young Kim circa 2002-2005.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Jiin Park in February 2020. Processing included arrangement, physical re-housing of materials, and the creation of this finding aid.

  • Seven VHS tapes relating to the KSCI (channel 18) "LA-Seoul" interview series were deaccessioned from the Joseph Cho papers in May of 2023. The deaccessioned duplicates were labeled with the following dates: 12/14/2002 (two tapes), 11/3/2004, 3/6/2005, 5/15/2005, 5/29/2005, and 7/3/2005.
Finding aid for Joseph Cho papers
Jiin Park
2020 February
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Most of the description for this collection is written in English. However, much of the item-level description also includes Korean transcribed from collection material.

Revision Statements

  • 2021 December: Finding aid updated by Bo Doub to include description of a box of VHS tapes that had been separated from the rest of the collection.
  • 2023 May: Finding aid updated by Bo Doub to document a deaccession of seven duplicate VHS tapes from the collection.

Repository Details

Part of the USC Libraries East Asian Library Repository

Doheny Memorial Library
3550 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles California 90089-1825 United States