To capture, create, preserve and share the stories of the Korean American experience by supporting and promoting storytelling
Bark Boo Moon
Bark Bo Moon was born in Seoul in January 1945, just before the Korean War. He reminisces on his journey during the war to finding refuge in Masan-si alongside his family and being faced with much violence and hardship. Airplanes that flew above them would shoot down and have to protect themselves, but the family still spread warmth to one another. After the War, he went back to school and focused on his academics, especially English. Time passes and he joins the Korean Army and experiences the Vietnam War. He highlights how during his service he was able to use his English to help his peers connect. After moving to America, he was faced with a lack of job opportunities until one day he accepted an offer to enlist in the US Army after a recruiter visited the local church he was attending. After more changes in his life in homes and occupations, he now is retired but still lives with a drive to help others for the greater good. He emphasizes that his goal in life is to give smiles and spread kindness, and warm gestures.
David Hee Lee
David Lee’s journey from a troubled upbringing in LA, marked by his mother’s bipolar disorder and abusive behavior, to finding solace and a new beginning is a testament to resilience and the search for identity. Raised in a devoutly Christian, Korean American household, he faced intensified challenges after his siblings left and his mother was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer, bearing the brunt of her abuse while serving as her caregiver. Recognizing education as his escape, David excelled academically, earning a scholarship to Georgetown University and leaving his difficult past behind. There, he formed a life-changing friendship with Kelly, whose family eventually adopted him, offering the love and stability he didn’t have growing up. This act of adoption not only provided David with a new family but also helped him to start healing from his past traumas. Embracing his complex identity as Korean, LGBT, and adoptee, David’s story is a powerful narrative of overcoming adversity through the support of his chosen family and the strength of the human spirit.
From the straw-thatched house of her childhood in Jeolla-nam-do, South Korea, to the bustling streets of Houston, Texas, Terry Sa Yoon’s life has been a testament to resilience and service. Arriving in the United States in 1970, her family was immediately thrown into harrowing circumstances following a parental health scare. Terry’s journey embodies the strength that one must grow into while transitioning to life in a new country, but also the grace of others which help us out of difficult times. Through the kindness of strangers and the support of her community, she found her calling in helping others and today works as a dedicated service coordinator at the non-profit Woori Juntos, paying it forward to make tangible differences in the lives of those in need.
Jason Cho was born and raised in Houston, Texas, in the Aleaf area. His father owned a Taekwondo School business and was the first to do so in the 70s in their respective area. All his life he trained in Taekwondo at the Dojang which helped him develop strong qualities that show in his leadership. Jason’s introduction to the hospitality industry is owed to his sister and his love for food. While visiting his sister in New York, he tried Korean Fried Chicken for the first time and decided to bring it into Houston after realizing that he would be the first one to do so. It was an all-in situation for Jason and he persevered through his journey through the lessons he learned with Taekwondo. Discipline, structure, leading by example, and being a man of action are only some of what he learned. Jason now aspires to be a representation of Korean concepts in Houston through his restaurant Dak & Bop and carry on his father’s dream of buying land and building a community by creating a Koreatown in his city in the future.
Joseph Yoo was born in Korea and immigrated to California with his parents when he was 6. Coming from a family of ministers, Joseph recounts grappling with the expectations to follow in his father’s pastoral footsteps, which he initially resisted before discovering his own personal calling to serve the church. As an adult, he describes family life with his wife and son, underscoring the challenges of embracing unconventional paths. He finds inspiration in their son’s remarkable ability to find joy in life’s simplest pleasures and reflects on the connection between joy and holiness. His story invites us to explore the intricacies of identity, resilience, and the transformative power of familial love while also serving as a testament to the unpredictability of life and the beauty that unfolds when one embraces the unexpected.
Kaein Oh was born in Korea in 1954 and immigrated to Chicago in September 1985, joining her extended family who had already been here earlier. Originally an Estee Lauder staff member in Korea, she could have chosen to be transferred to another job in the US. Despite this, she decided to follow a sudden urge to open a Korean restaurant, going against the opposition from her sisters. Owning a restaurant was not easy, as she was met with constant work and rough times. But a newfound faith in Christianity and a strong trust in her employees helped her persevere; the work never overwhelmed or scared her. Her 24/7 work days turned into 20 years in the blink of an eye and her once 9-item long menu at the very first opening grew to 85 when they closed down. After closing her restaurant, she started a catering business which she believes is her calling: “making food honestly and in turn making her proud of what she makes.” Her son now follows in her footsteps and also has a food business of his own, in which Oh helps make kimchi. Meeting God and peace led her to feel constant happiness, which her sons could see radiating from her.
"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.