To capture, create, preserve and share the stories of the Korean American experience by supporting and promoting storytelling
Cedric Stout was born in Ohio to an African American father and Korean mother and grew up in a military town in North Carolina. When peers started to call him “Black Chinaman,” Cedric experienced phases of insecurity and questioning his identity. However, his father, who went through the Civil Rights Movement, taught him how to disregard hate and instead focus on treating everyone with respect. With two loving parents, they taught him how to love both his Black and Korean backgrounds, but also find identity in faith. In his late 20s, sparked by deep curiosity and a desire to understand his mother better, Cedric made a pivot in his life by moving to Seoul, South Korea. In this Legacy Project, Cedric speaks on the sense of being a perpetual outsider in Korea as a half Black and Korean man, even after spending several years in the country.
In our first Remote Edition of Legacy Project, Jeanne Jang sits down with her son Owen as he gets to know more of his mother’s story in this interview. Jeanne Jang was born in Korea and immigrated to the United States when she was in first grade, along with her parents and younger sister. She quickly assimilated to her new community but also came to learn about physical and racial differences for the first time. Her father, who set up his own company when they first moved to the U.S., has been a hugely influential figure in her life, encouraging her to keep her Korean heritage and speak Korean at home when she was a child. Her father’s relationship with her own son and her own relationship with her father has continued to remind her of the importance of self-acceptance and being comfortable with who you are.
Kam Redlawsk was born in Daegu, South Korea in 1979 and adopted by an American family in Michigan in 1983. Growing up in an almost entirely white community, she was made to feel like an outsider for her physical differences. It was during college that Ms. Redlawsk was diagnosed with what is known today as GNE myopathy, a rare genetic disease that leads to weakness and wasting in one’s muscles and affects only around one thousand people worldwide. Today, she uses her skills and artistic talent for advocacy and spreading awareness about rare diseases like hers. Dealing with loneliness and watching her disease progress to affect more and more of her physical abilities over time only pushed her to live life to the fullest by seeking out new experiences. In sharing her experiences as a Korean adoptee and someone affected by a physical disability, she hopes to spread the message that everyone has their own reserves of unlimited courage and that empathy can only be built when people begin to seek out each other’s differences.
Born in Seoul, Esther Jung spent her early childhood in California after her parents decided to immigrate to the United States when she was two years old during the South Korean IMF crisis. Her parents worked odd jobs to provide for their family, and the resilience of her mother in the face of hardship left a lasting impression on her. Upon moving to Phoenix, Arizona when she was in second grade, she began to notice the physical differences between herself and her peers. In realizing these differences, however, Ms. Jung became more determined to claim her heritage and be proud of her Korean roots. Most recently, her study abroad experience in Kenya fueled her passion for the empowerment of women and children, further inspiring her to follow in the footsteps of the many strong women she had met throughout her life.
D. Haejin Bang
D. Haejin Bang grew up in Koreatown in the city of Los Angeles, California, surrounded by Korean American peers. Growing dissatisfaction with the Korean American community’s lack of empathy towards other marginalized groups led to their own personal struggle with their cultural and ethnic identity and eventual distancing from the community. Music had always been a source of strength and solace, but after a profound experience at a pansori concert, Haejin was led to redirect their studies to traditional Korean music. Through these studies, they found themselves reclaiming their cultural identity after spending several years away from Korean communities and learning more about the history of people in the Korean diaspora.
Pak Myung Sook
Pak Myung Sook was born in 1929 in Seoul, South Korea, during a time when the country was under Japanese rule. During the outbreak of the Korean War, her father, who had worked as a police officer, was kidnapped, leaving her mother to care for her four younger siblings on her own. Ms. Pak’s mother sought strength in her religious faith, helping her entire family to become devoted Christians After growing up during a time of cultural and social repression, Ms. Pak then experienced the horrors of war, suffering the loss of her child when she fled to seek refuge. After the war, she immigrated to America when her husband’s company went bankrupt and began to build a new life with her family. Her stories depict how important it is to find comfort and strength in one’s family and keep moving forward, no matter what.
"Happy Cleaners" is a feature-length film produced by KoreanAmericanStory.org about the Choi Family trying to keep their dry cleaning business afloat in Flushing, Queens.
K-Pod is a podcast series dedicated to the stories of Korean Americans in arts and culture.
ROAR Story Slam
The ROAR Story Slam is a live storytelling competition featuring the best Korean American stories and storytellers across the nation.
Join us for our Annual Gala where we celebrate and honor three special trailblazers in the Korean American community and enjoy great entertainment.