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Gary Rector Collection

Identifier: 3324

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Scope and Contents

The Gary Rector papers contains 4 boxes of mixed materials mostly dating from the 1960s to 2000s, including 1 box of photos, 1 box of scrapbooks, 1 box of multimedia materials (videotapes, cassettes tapes, CDs, and DVDs), and 1 box of objects and textual materials. Topics include his childhood, the Peace Corps Volunteer, his writings about Korea, Korean traditional farmer's music (Samulnori, 사물놀이), and other Korean music and dance.


  • Creation: 1943 - 2017

Conditions Governing Access

To view materials, contact Joy Kim, Curator of the Korean Heritage Library:

Conditions Governing Use

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Curator of the Korean Heritage Library. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Korean Heritage 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.

Biographical / Historical

Gary Rector (1943-2018) was an American Korean copywriter, editor, translator, and former Peace Corps Volunteer in South Korea. Born on June 11, 1943, in Toledo, Ohio, he spent his childhood in Kentucky and the high school years in Ohio. He attended Kalamazoo College, a small liberal arts college in Kalamazoo, Michigan where he majored in languages and linguistics. During the college years, he studied abroad at the University of Caen, France.

After graduation, Gary worked at the Gibson guitar factory in Kalamazoo before applying to the Peace Corps. He arrived in Korea at the end of 1967 as a member of the fourth class of Peace Corp Volunteers (“Korea IV”), which was the first Peace Corps public health program in Korea.

He served his initial two years in Ch’ongdo, a mountainous remote rural village near Taegu, North Kyongsang Province. When the Korea IV program evolved from general assistance with vaccinations, TB control, and family planning to focus specifically on tuberculosis control, Gary asked for a transfer to a city that had health centers with that mission. He served his third year at a health center and a TB clinic in Taegu. When his three-year Peace Corps service was complete, Gary chose to stay in Korea, moving from Daegu to Seoul. He remained connected with the Peace Corps on some temporary assignments, such as assisting in training programs for later groups of volunteers. He became a naturalized Korean citizen in 1994.

From the 1970s to the 2000s, Gary engaged in various activities applying his exceptional linguistic expertise in reading, writing, and speaking Korean. He was active in the Korea Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, and published a scholarly article, “Accent and Vowel Length in Korean,” in Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch, 75:43 (2000). While working for the Language Teaching Research Center, he helped to create materials for Korean language textbooks. He also worked as a copywriter, editor, and translator for LG Ad (formerly Heesung Advertising). He regularly published columns on Korea for ten years in various media including Lucky-Goldstar Monthly Bulletin, KAFA Friendship , The Korea Times, Newsweek Magazine, etc. For a time, he played the Korean-speaking role of a foreigner in Korea in a television drama/sitcom series.

After falling in love with Korean traditional farmer’s music (Samulnori) in early years in Korea, he spent much time learning and playing Korean traditional music, especially the farmers’ dance and the janggu (a double headed drum in the shape of hourglass) throughout his life in Korea. At the time of his death on September 17, 2018, in Seoul, Korea, he had started on a personal project to publish a book collecting many of his writings for Newsweek.


6.28 Linear Feet (4 boxes)

Language of Materials




Gary Rector (1943-2018) was an American Korean copywriter, editor, translator, and former Peace Corps Volunteer in South Korea. After Peace Corps service as a volunteer, he became a naturalized Korean citizen in 1994 and spent his whole life in Korea. The collection contains four boxes of mixed materials including photos, videotapes, cassette tapes, CDs, DVDs, scrapbooks, correspondence, and other documents mostly dating from the 1960s to the 2000s. The topics contain his childhood, ancestry, service as a Peace Corps Korea Volunteer, his writings about Korea, Korean traditional farmer's music (Samulnori, 사물놀이), and other Korean music and dance.


The collection is arranged in six series:

1 Photos and photo albums 2 Scrapbooks 3 Multimedia materials 4 Objects 5 Textual materials

Processing Information

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


Finding aid for the Gary Rector papers
Jiin Park
2020 March
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.

Repository Details

Part of the USC Libraries East Asian Library Repository

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