The Josh Dynasty

Long, long ago, on an island, a Korean culture club was brought forth into existence. Rumored to have been born out of a rivalry between two members of another Korean club on campus at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, an organization reared its noble head, and sought out members in a crusade to bring together those interested in Korean culture.


And so, HanWooRi Club was born.


The early years remain a mystery to me; only bits and pieces exist from old tales from my elders. Andi, HKC blogger and active member/officer of HanWooRi club in the early days, claims that the membership during its prime years reached around twenty members, and that they would hold picnics together among other events. At first HanWooRi Club was guided by Korean Flagship Program’s students, but slowly it took on a life of its own. My oldest record is a recruitment flier from 2009, featured in the picture above. Somewhere later in its history, membership dropped, and HanWooRi Club appeared to be on its death bed.

The Rise of the Josh Dynasty

Back from the Korean motherland, a new president rose to power, Josh. A new dynasty began. With charisma and the help of many friends, HanWooRi Club’s membership skyrocketed. The population of the members reached over 100, consisting mostly of girls who were quick to join a club with a friendly male president and his close friends. Our foreign exchange student population was high, which also contributed to the number of students from the University of Hawaii (UHM) that joined. It was my freshman year at UHM, and I also joined, not necessarily for the guys, but with the hope that I could speak Korean with these people. I saw the birth of the Josh Dynasty and the power, and watched the fame of the club grow. I relished the events where I was able to meet people who shared common interests.

Next in Line, Michael

The following semester, fate stole Josh away from Hawaii, and landed him an internship in Washington D.C. A successor to continue the Josh Dynasty took the lofty throne. Our own editor of HKC and friend of Josh, Michael, stepped up to the position of president. Nearing the beginning of his reign, membership was also filled with excited girls. Girls that viewed Michael as the silent, dreaming poet. Due to internal officer miscommunication, however, the success of events was not always guaranteed, and so, membership dropped. But never was event attendance below 30 participants. I held on to my involvement, hopeful for the fate of HanWooRi Club, despite being disheartened by the frequent event cancellations.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I Present to You, Keoni Williams

At the end of that spring semester, Michael graduated, and left the next successor to the Josh Dynasty in the strong hands of another friend of Josh, HKC’s own Keoni Willliams. I had new faith in the outgoing spirit with which Keoni commanded a room’s attention. His coronation into the dynasty brought about my own ascendance into a place of power as well. With great surprise, I was brought onboard as vice president. Membership soared again, most likely due to the same handsome-male-president-syndrome induced girls, and Keoni gave HanWooRi Club a new name and a new image. The new Hanwoori Hawaii sought networking and cultural facilitation between UHM and South Korean university students. The events changed from Korean cultural focus to experiencing what Oahu has to offer in the company of students from all over the globe. In the first semester under Keoni, the number of Korean exchange students in HanWooRi club was high, and our membership reached over 100 participants. The second semester was a success due to the growing fame of our club. The executive board was cohesive and ran like a well-oiled machine.  It was at this time I truly felt the power and impact that Hanwoori Hawaii had on members, and I was privileged to be assisting in the magic. For two semesters I smiled brightly, and was a diligent servant to Hanwoori Hawaii and a confidante of Keoni. I was proud of what I had helped make.

The end of Keoni’s reign neared, and his imminent departure to Korea meant that the dynasty needed a new leader. That position fell into my feeble hands.

The Dark Days Have Come

Since then, I have tried to make Hanwoori Hawaii like it was in the glory days of the Josh Dynasty. But I feel that this semester is just a shadow of what the club once was. I am ashamed to admit that the number of members that attended our last event was five. Five people. Keoni tells me now that it’s not about the numbers, but I cannot help but to compare this semester to those of the past. I feel like I must have done something to kill Hanwoori Hawaii.

I believe I am the end of the Josh Dynasty.

Some may say, “The Josh Dynasty ended when Josh left!” I mean the Josh Dynasty is like the Quing Dynasty or something, where the family name continues because members of the family take lead roles. In a way, Josh is the family name and the subsequent presidents are like his relatives and so that’s why I continue to call it the Josh Dynasty, even though he left. We are a family of sorts.

And like all dynasties, there is a rise and fall, and I’m at least glad to have seen both the highs and the lows.

I’d like to believe that Hanwoori still lives on in the current and previous members. Although we are a small club now, I feel like we are all close. We know each other’s lives better and I have seen members make stronger friendships this year than years prior. Whenever I check instagram I also see old Hanwoori members meet-up pictures. The connections that Hanwoori helped people make still continue long after they leave Hanwoori and I am happy for that.

The question is, can I make Hanwoori Hawaii rise again next semester?



Raquel “Rocky” Reinagel is a MA candidate and graduate assistant in the Department of Second Language Studies at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa; former president of Hanwoori Hawaiʻi; and Co-President of the Second Language Studies Student Association (SLSSA) at UHM.