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.
Born in Gwangju, South Korea but raised in Los Angeles for most of her life, Audrey Jang attended Catholic school in California before attending boarding school in Connecticut for four years in high school. As her father traveled back and forth in between California and Korea due to work, Audrey stayed in California with her mother and sister, seeing her father less and less before he decided to stay permanently in Korea. Due to their immigration status, they were unable to leave the country for thirteen years. From her experience with applying for financial aid in college as a non-citizen to her own personal confrontations of her identity, Ms. Jang experienced the challenges associated with not being a U.S. citizen firsthand. After receiving her green card in the past year, she speaks about unpacking her identity while contemplating two possible futures for herself in either Korea and America.
Alison Choi was born and raised in Hong Kong, before permanently moving to the United States in 2015. Both of her parents grew up in the United States, and her American roots, coupled with her Korean heritage, gave her a unique cultural identity. While Ms. Choi felt in tune with her American identity, her Korean one was harder to reconcile with growing up in Hong Kong due to the relative lack of Korean-Americans in her community. It wasn’t until she began attending college that she was able to more directly confront and understand her Asian-American identity. She first immersed herself in the history of different ethnic groups in the United States before delving into Asian-American studies. Ms. Choi began to document stories not only about her own family but also about the intersection and interaction between Korean-American and Black communities. Her journey of discovering and exploring her identity speaks to her sense of purpose and her motivation to contribute to the community she is a part of.
All content has been recorded in advance prior to the US outbreak of COVID-19.
NAYA: David Kim
Meet classical violinist David Kim. A child prodigy since the age of six, David fiercely trained to be a world-class violinist under his mother’s intense supervision. In this first installment of NAYA, David graciously invites us to his home and the music hall where we explore his passion for music and the journey that led him to become the concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra. NAYA (나야), produced by KoreanAmericanStory.org, is a mini-documentary series that paints vivid, visual stories of unique Korean American individuals and passion for their craft.
Resilience Runs in the Family | Perilla Diaries | Ep. 5
For our final episode of Perilla Diaries, we asked Thomas and Andrew where they got the resilience to carry on throughout all these pandemic challenges. Without hesitation, they pointed to the strongest people they know – their mothers. We asked the two restaurateurs to phone them for a short interview about their respective journeys starting new jobs and lives in America.
Day In the Life of a Parent During Covid-19
Julian Kim is an editor, producer, filmmaker, and father of Ian, his 20-month-old son. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many families have experienced a dramatic change within their household when it comes to parenting, especially for those with young children.
Korean Hot Sauce in Minneapolis
KC Kye is the founder of K-Mama Sauce, a Korean hot sauce company based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. KC initially was preparing to go into ministry but pivoted into starting a business after a conversation with his mentor and pastor, Reverend Dr. Jin. Like many small businesses, KC and his team faced challenges and had to adapt to new rules and restrictions due to COVID-19. KC has found much love and support from his church and hopes that K-Mama Sauce will continue to grow to support the greater Minneapolis community.
Mikey Fresh is the Senior Artist Relations Manager at Genius, a digital media company known for providing unique insight about the stories behind the most popular songs. From showing up awkwardly to a hip-hop magazine interview in a full suit and a fake resume, Mikey Fresh is now one of the top experts in the hip-hop industry. Mikey shares with Julie how he fell in love with hip-hop culture growing up as a young Korean American in New Jersey and how he’s found his way creating a unique career out of his nontraditional passion.
In this #NotYourAverage, Athina and Florence share with Julie Young how they started from just a simple idea to being met with overwhelming demand from their Kickstarter that launched them into establishing their own company.
Marcus Hahm, also known as Avec Plaisir, is an award-winning sound designer, mixer, and music producer who’s worked with national brands and major labels doing commercial work, songwriting and music supervising.
KAS 2017 RECAP REEL
2017 was an extraordinary year for KAS. Here’s a look back at some of our highlights from last year.
3 Generations Visit Korea
What would it be like for 3 generations to travel together in Korea? Walk through one family’s journey of discovering and revisiting where they come from, while passing through the natural landscapes of the countryside and modern city of Seoul.