Legacy Project

Legacy Project Playlist

Joseph Kim

After his family immigrated to America in 1976, Joseph Kim and his brother grew up being one of the only non-white students in their community. Though his parents worked hard to help them fit in, he still endured teasing because of his race and financial status. He recollects when an old teacher at school called him a racial slur–extremely shocked and angry, fourteen-year-old Joseph did not know how to react. Though initially contemplating more extreme action to take his anger out on that adult, he settled on a more peaceful resolution.

Eric McDaniel

Eric McDaniel was adopted at the age of four to a family in Kansas City, Missouri. On the car ride from the airport, his mom opened up a photo album showing four polaroid photos – one of a car, a big house, his Mom and brother smiling, and his bed. Having vivid memories of being abandoned, it finally clicked with him that he was getting a second chance and this was the family he wanted. Eric learned to adjust and quickly understood that fending for himself and fighting fire with fire was not the only way to live. By the time he entered high school, he had lost his Korean identity and became the catalyst to his own racism.

Kesung Anderson

Kesung Anderson was born in Arlington, Virginia, and spent some time in New York before moving to Korea around the age of 5. After completing a few years of school in Korea, his family decided to move to Minnesota to be with his grandparents. As the new kid in middle school, Kesung remembers being picked on and treated like an outcast. He was scrawny, didn’t like to curse like the other kids, and still wore clothing brought from Korea, making him very aware and self-conscious of his differences from his peers. One day, he had the opportunity to participate in the running event at school and surprised everyone when he began to pass his classmates. Kesung was ultimately recruited for the track team and ended up beating the top runner at a sectional meet, thus helping him grow out of his shell and gaining confidence as well as respect from his peers.

Bernie Cho

Bernie Cho was born in Pittsburgh, PA and recalls moving around a lot before settling in Jamestown, NY, where both his doctor parents had their practice. During junior high, MTV was on the rise and Bernie became fascinated and obsessed. Living in a small town with very few minorities in his neighborhood, he recognized that there were no Asian VJs, music videos, or acts being represented and oftentimes became frustrated by the stereotypes portrayed in mainstream media.

Jason Lee

Jason Lee was born in Queens, New York but ended up moving around a lot with his family. He hated dancing because his friends said he didn’t have rhythm and wasn’t born with it – so he believed it to be a genetic thing. While attending college, he had the opportunity to see the Oprah Winfrey Show where they brought a choreographer to teach the basic steps of dancing. He felt inspired and put months of practice into simple choreographies that soon sparked his love for dance and eventually joining a street dance crew in Time Square.

Dr. Jerome Kim

Dr. Jerome Kim is the Director General of the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) in Seoul, South Korea. He is a third generation Korean American and from a family with long established roots in Hawaii. His grandmother was one of the first Koreans to be born in Hawaii and his grandfather was a Hawaiian correspondence and community organizer for the Korean Independence Movement. English was the primary language spoken in his home with his grandparents speaking Korean with each other and recalls being required to learn Japanese from the third to fifth grade.

Mike Kim

Mike Kim was born and raised in a predominantly white town in the San Francisco Bay Area and felt he was constantly navigating between two worlds. Having conservative parents and being the first born in his family, he was expected to have deep connections to his Korean roots and focus on his education. However he embraced a more American mindset and culture and developed a passion for sports and the outdoors.

Hayden Royalty

Growing up in California, Hayden Royalty felt pressure to pursue a career in medicine during her studies at university. As classes became more difficult, Hayden struggled to keep up which caused their mental and physical health to deteriorate. It was at this point they found asylum at the campus LGBTQ+ center, thus beginning their journey to understand their sexuality/queerness and Asian American identity. Upon returning home after graduation, Hayden decided to move to Korea to teach English by the recommendation of their cousin. This new sense of independence was liberating and brought much needed comfort allowing Hayden to remain in Korea for the next eight years. Motivated by their personal experiences and the lack of representation of queer and Asian counselors, Hayden plans to return to the States to pursue a career in social work. They hope to become someone who can support conversations between young queer Asian Americans and their families.

Danny Cho

Danny Cho is a Korean American stand-up comedian, writer, and content creator. He was born and raised in Boyle Heights in East LA as one of the only Asian Americans in his community. Danny discovered his love for stand-up comedy the summer before his first year at UCLA when he performed at an open-mic; not only did it feel good to prove that an Asian could be funny, he loved the energy of the audience and continued to crave the rush. Comedy soon became a hobby after college but with the encouragement of fellow Korean American comedians it pushed him to quit his job as a consultant and pursue stand-up full time.

Bobby Choy

Though Bobby Choy was born and raised in NYC, he never quite felt comfortable living there. He felt safest every weekend at church where he and his brother could be around other Korean Americans with similar life experiences. By the time he reached high school, he had moved 18 times and found it difficult to form strong connections with the people around him. It was through music and poetry Bobby was able to find comfort and joy. He had never considered music as a career path he could take as a Korean American, but with the support of his brother, he was able to nurture those dreams in adulthood.

Kara Bos

Kara Bos was born in Korea and adopted by an American couple in Sheridan, Michigan when she was about 3 years old. She had never felt the need to find her birth family until her daughter turned two years old. Her love for her two children and wish for them to know their origins sparked the search for her birth mother and her Korean identity.

Paul Jean

Paul Jean was born and raised in San Francisco, California. After his parents’ divorce, Paul did not have much exposure and access to Korean culture or a community and grew up feeling disconnected and almost ashamed of being Korean.

As he got older, his curiosity of the world around him grew and allowed him to explore different ways of thinking. He continued to struggle to find his place in America and his desire for a greater purpose in life led him to move to Korea in 2006. For the first seven years, he was recognized as an American by his peers until he discovered jiu jitsu. Nobody at the gym cared that he was the Korean American, or a gyopo. Paul credits jiu jitsu in helping him connect with his Korean identity and keeping him motivated and grounded.

Judy Hong

Judy Hong was born and raised in Seoul, South Korea before moving with her family to Queens, NY at the age of 12. She struggled during her first year in America and would practice saying, “I don’t speak English” to avoid conversations.

Hyojin Park

Hyojin Park was born and raised in South Korea. After working as an actor in Hyehwa, the theater district, she decided to move to New York to pursue a Masters in acting. She spent her first few years in America motivated by her belief in the American Dream but by her final year of grad school, she noticed that her appearance and accent sometimes meant she was treated differently from her peers and that simply working hard is not enough to overcome those barriers.

John Limb

John Limb was born in Brooklyn, NY and grew up in a relatively Americanized household where it was encouraged to speak English over Korean. As he went through high school in a predominantly white town, he was often aware of the noticeable differences between him and his peers.

In this Remote Edition of Legacy Project, John Limb sits down with his daughter, Erin, to talk about his personal journey as a Korean American and how he came to realize his true passion as the co-owner of a Korean American brewery, Hana Makgeolli. He expresses how grateful he is for Erin and her sister’s ability to embrace their Korean heritage and hopes that they find a path that will bring joy and fulfill them in every way possible.

Kristin Pak

Kristin Pak/이영숙 was born in Incheon, South Korea and was adopted to Waterbury, Connecticut when she was about 7 months old. She grew up in a very diverse working class community where race and ethnicity were central to many conversations. Her peers were reflective of the diversity around her and had strong connections to their ethnic identity, many spending summers in their parents’ home country, while she struggled to claim her own Korean American identity. After moving to New York to teach ESL and meeting Korean Americans from different backgrounds, she learned that there are many ways to be Korean American.

Ms. Pak has since moved to Seoul and expresses how Koreans adopted overseas have the right to reclaim their Korean identity and feel part of the Korean nation. As a linguist and educator, she believes that language fluency is not inextricably tied to one’s cultural identity and hopes that perceptions of who is considered Korean will change.

John Park

John Park spent only six years in Seoul, South Korea before moving around the world due to his father’s job as a diplomat. He moved to Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, and eventually landed in the United States. In this sitdown interview with his son Owen, Mr. Park recalls his highschool experiences in Virginia and remarks on his feelings of being an outsider looking in.
It was only later in his college years when he was able to find a sense of belonging through his martial arts “tribe”. In this interview, he expresses how he discovered his happiness well into his 30s and also shares advice for Owen as they consider their next chapter in their lives.

Becky White

Becky White was born in Omaha, Nebraska to a South Korean mother and an American father. Her parents met in South Korea when her father was there on military business and eventually moved to the U.S. after getting married. Growing up, Ms. White and her younger sisters were often caught in the middle of the conflict between their parents’ two different worldviews and mindsets; while her father was cerebral and academic, her mother was scrappy and had a lot of street smarts. Eventually, Ms. White travelled to Korea to learn more about her mother and herself but experienced being taken advantage of in her workplace for her biracial appearance and her language skill set.

Cedric Stout

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.

Jeanne Jang

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

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.

Esther Jung

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.

Audrey Jang

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

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.

May Lee

Born in Columbus, Ohio in 1966, May Lee faced a significant amount of bullying and discrimination growing up as an Asian American in her neighborhood. Like any other child, she sought to fit in and assimilate with the rest of her community. However, these challenges would build her character and the experiences she was able to bring to the table as a journalist. After realizing that medical school was not the right path for her, she was guided by her religious faith and began to pursue a career in broadcast journalism. Ms. Lee’s perseverance helped her secure her first job in Redding, California, despite the widespread anti-Japanese and anti-Asian sentiments of the time. At one point in her career, she confronted a group of verbally abusive and racist men while conducting coverage on a protest in Dayton, Ohio. Today, she hosts her own podcast, called The May Lee Show, that digs deeper into Asian and Asian American stories through open, honest, conversation. Her process of learning to embrace her own identity and combating racism throughout her life has shaped her devotion to social justice, truth-telling, and speaking up for the voiceless.

Nancy Yoon

The youngest of five daughters, Nancy Yoon grew up in Koreatown, Los Angeles during the 1970’s, after immigrating to the United States at the age of four with the rest of her family. As an adult, Ms. Yoon worked in finance for a while before transitioning to more creative work in the entertainment industry. About twenty years ago, Ms. Yoon struggled with the death of her father which led her to take care of her single mother until she eventually passed in a car accident. Ms. Yoon speaks about the experience of seeing her mother’s spirit in several separate instances. Following her mother’s sudden death, Ms. Yoon felt a strong desire to change her life and eventually got more involved in the Korean American community in Los Angeles which led her to start Asians In LA (@AsiansinLA) – a social network of Asian American influencers in politics, entertainment, nonprofit and community leaders. Empowered by her unshakable faith, she tells a story that demonstrates the power of connection and the importance of representation.

Joseph Jeon

Joseph Jeon was born in Seoul, South Korea in 1971. Two years later, his family immigrated to the United States when his father entered a medical residency program in Barberton, Ohio. Currently a professor of English at the University of California, Irvine, he is also the director of the UCI Center for Critical Korean Studies, an institution aiming to centralize Korean Studies at the university and support students and faculty in their work. His experience of raising a daughter has helped him discover how racial dynamics in American communities have shifted over the past few decades and provided him with a positive outlook on the future. His process of learning how the different places in a person’s life shape the culture in which they grow up has, in turn, helped strengthen his commitment to contribute to his community. All content has been recorded in advance prior to the US outbreak of COVID-19.

Alexander Kim

A member of Generation X and a second-generation Korean-American, Alexander Kim was born in Los Angeles. He currently works as a consultant working with local government in order to connect government and local communities, businesses, and nonprofit organizations. The 1992 L.A. “Saigu” riots had a significant impact on his passion for political science as he came to realize that there was a need for Asian-American leaders in office, not only in L.A. but also throughout the United States. After his college education at UC Irvine, Mr. Kim took his first job working for the city of L.A. at the mayor’s office. Throughout his 15-year career in politics, he gained experience working with different communities of people from all different kinds of backgrounds. His commitment to making his community a better place is a testament to his extraordinary drive and dedication.

Linda Chen

Linda Chen was born in the United States, a few years after her parents immigrated to America and began operating a grocery store in East L.A. Growing up in a predominantly white school community in Arcadia, Mrs. Chen remembers her struggle to discover and embrace her identity. As a girl, she taught herself how to read and write in Korean and continued to take Korean classes in college at George Washington University. In college, she decided to participate in a summer program at Yonsei University in South Korea. Once there, however, she experienced the discomfort of prejudice against “foreigners” and became the victim of a traumatic assault. Despite all this, Mrs. Chen has maintained her love for her culture and her belief that one can be anything they desire. Her story is one that explores the importance and power of identity.

Stephen Gill

Stephen Gill was born in the rural area of Geumsan, South Korea as Gill Moon Geun. After graduating from high school in the city of Daejeon, he attended Seoul Business College and Graduate School. After working as an employee of a government-owned business in Tokyo, then New York, he decided to remain in the United States for the sake of his children and their education. Several years later, Mr. Gill began to operate a Hallmark card store, continuing to support his children through three harrowing robberies and other challenges. In 1987, he became an American citizen. Mr. Gill is no stranger to hardship and adversity, but his story demonstrates the overwhelming power of courage and family.

Stella Gill

Stella Gill was attending kindergarten and learning how to play the piano when she recalls the Korean War breaking out when she was just 4 years old. After several years of living as refugees, her family finally returned home only to find that their father never came back. Stella went on to get married and settled with her new family in America. However, 25 years ago, she received a mysterious letter in the mail sent from North Korea that turned out to be her long lost father. Communicating through letters until his death, she describes the emotions she felt at that time learning about her father’s new life and family.

Kwan Chung

Kwan Ho Chung was born in South Korea in 1937, during the year the Second Sino-Japanese War began. Growing up, he heard stories from his mother about his father’s college education in the United States at the University of Pennsylvania. He made his way to America to retrace his father’s journey, visiting the University of Pennsylvania campus in person and learning about his father’s educational history there. Mr. Chung would spend years piecing together his father’s story in America and publish a biography titled “Father’s Footsteps.” Eventually, Mr. Chung would also come to live in the United States, in search of more opportunities for his sons and a new life in a new country. His father’s story motivated Mr. Chung to seek opportunity and fulfill his own ambitions, continuing a remarkable legacy of determination and perseverance.

Regina Park

Born in 1944 in the city of Harbin in what was then called the Manchuria region of China, Regina Park experienced the hardships of the Korean War at a young age. Her memories of the war include fleeing from Pyongyang, North Korea to South Korea with her family in the dead of night and receiving milk porridge from American soldiers on the street in order to survive. After meeting her husband through her uncle, Ms. Park applied for a green card and moved to the U.S. in her late twenties to start a new life. Her story is one of incredible resilience, courage, and tenacity.

William Oh

William Oh was born in Kansas and later moved to Los Angeles, California. While growing up in LA, William shares how his tight-knit family shaped most of his core values and beliefs. By having deep conversations about human rights and justice together, William found a passion for people’s stories and politics and went on to major in Social Anthropology and Ethnicity, Migration, and Rights at Harvard University. At the time of recording, William had been serving as the Youth Organizer at Hana Center in Chicago, IL, empowering Korean American youth through community organizing to advance human rights.

Jeannie Wang

Jeannie Wang was born in Busan, growing up in the middle of the Korean War during which she recalls sharing food and resources with refugees fleeing from the combat up North. Ms. Wang’s dreams of becoming an international ambassador eventually led her to America, where she worked at a wig shop while still studying in school. Due to financial difficulties, she had to quit her ambassador dreams, but soon found another path in tutoring and education through her children. Putting all her energy into her children’s future inspired her to start a Kumon tutoring business with her husband, where they worked together for over 20 years. Ms. Wang shares with her daughter her gratefulness in that her children were able to adjust and live well in America despite the cultural differences and difficulties they went through.

Crystal Kang Ahn

Crystal Kang Ahn was born in California, raised mostly by her grandmother, who boldly protected her by all means. When Crystal was just an infant, she was scheduled to undergo heart surgery due to a rare condition called pulmonary artery sling. As she was being set up in the operation room, her grandmother snuck in, took off her straps, and ran home, fully convinced by a spiritual vision she had about protecting Crystal from knives. Miraculously Crystal’s heart recovered on its own, thus giving her the title of “miracle baby.” With the burdensome label following her throughout her life, Crystal recalls struggling to meet expectations while also dealing with bullying and ethnic identity issues.

James Jin-Han Wang

James Jin-Han Wang was born in 1940 in what is now the capital of North Korea, Pyeongyang. Mr. Wang recalls the long and difficult journey of fleeing on foot to the South with his family when he was just ten years old. When the Han River Bridge was bombed down in an attempt to prevent North Korean soldiers from further invading the South, Mr. Wang’s father was separated from the rest of the family. His pregnant mother was left alone with three young children, of which one died shortly after contracting polio, and her newborn son died shortly after birth due to starvation. After graduating from Seoul National University, Mr. Wang worked in Korea for a few years before coming to America with big dreams of a new life for himself. Now having owned various different businesses and retiring, his biggest wish is for his daughters and granddaughter to simply be happy.

Mary Kim

Mary Kim, born in North Korea, grew up in Seoul during both the Japanese occupation and the breakout of the Korean War. Ms. Kim shares her memories of being punished for speaking Korean and hearing rumors about women being recruited as comfort women in her hometown. She also recalls the difficulty of trying to stay alive during the war with vivid memories of scavenging and rationing out foods like potato powder and barley. Ms. Kim’s husband was able to immigrate to America, rare at the time, through his medical research work. Ms. Kim soon followed with their children with the dream of securing their family’s safety and future lives.

Taneka Jennings

Taneka Hye Wol Jennings, born in Cheongju, South Korea, was adopted at 3 months old into a white American family in New Jersey. Growing up, she sometimes felt alone navigating her life as a Korean adoptee and not having a community to identify with. Taneka speaks about her journey to find community and belonging to where she is today, being deeply involved in Asian American and adoptee human rights work. Taneka is currently the Deputy Director at HANA Center in Chicago, IL and is also involved in KAtCH: Korean Adoptees of Chicago.

L. Song Richardson

L. Song Richardson was born in El Paso, Texas to a Korean American mother and African American father who was a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army. Richardson grew up with strong influences of Korean culture from her mother who always stressed the importance of education which would later contribute to Richardson’s passion for teaching and research. In this Legacy Project, Richardson reflects back on the challenges of growing up mixed race and how her parents fell in love. L. Song Richardson is the current Dean and Chancellor’s Professor of Law at the University of California, Irvine School of Law with joint appointments in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society and in the Department of Asian American Studies.

Agatha Jeomsook Park

Agatha Jeomsook Park, originally from Boseong in South Jeolla, left her life in Korea and immigrated to Chicago with her children in 1998 after facing marital issues. Having trouble adjusting to America, Agatha eventually found a new life for herself as a hairdresser with the help from her children and community. However, when her daughter was diagnosed with cancer in December of 2018, their small family faced another challenge together. Since coming to America, Agatha received great support and comfort from her church and community and has since dedicated her life to volunteering and helping others.

Anne Joh

Dr. Wonhee Anne Joh was born in South Korea and moved to Chicago in the late 1970s where she grew up with first-generation immigrant parents who ran a dry cleaners store. Dr. Joh recalls seeing the tensions of class differences within the Korean American community and how she never identified with the model minority stereotype. Dr. Wonhee Anne Joh is currently a professor of Theology and Culture at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois. Much of her teaching revolves around the Korean concept of “jeong” as a different type of love separate from the Western notions of love.

AJ Valente

AJ Valente is a freelance digital designer who has worked with KoreanAmericanStory.org since 2016

Julian Kim

Julian Kim is a video editor, filmmaker, and director of “Happy Cleaners.”

Jessica Park

Jessica Park, current Project and Communications Manager at KoreanAmericanStory.org, was born in Arlington, Virginia

Vivian Lee

Vivian Lee, a current Board Member of KoreanAmericanStory.org, grew up in Toronto, Canada…

Ohn Choe

Ohn Choe is the current Board Chair of KoreanAmericanStory.org

Yuri Doolan

Dr. Yuri Doolan was born in an Air Force base to an American father and Korean mother who met in Korea during the 1980s.

Bonnie Oh

Bonnie Bongwan Cho-Oh was raised believing in equal education for both men and women.

Ji-Yeon Yuh

Ji-Yeon Yuh came to America at age 6 with her mother joining her father who was finishing his doctorate in Chicago.

Soong-Chan Rah

Dr. Soong-Chan Rah grew up in the inner-city of Baltimore, Maryland, with three siblings and a single mother.

Daniel Chung

When Daniel Chung found himself surrounded by eight soldiers on the border of North Korea and China, he knew he had to figure his own way out somehow.

Matt Fischer – Part 2

In Part 2, Matt talks about the beauty of starting a new chapter with his family and the joys becoming a father to his own biological sons.

Matt Fischer – Part 1

Matt Fischer was born in Korea and adopted at the age of 7.

Jay Yoo

Jay Yoo came to Chicago, Illinois in 1977, leaving behind his grandparents and friends in Seoul, Korea.

David Chang

Recorded in Chicago, David Chang is interviewed by his daughter, Loren Chang.

Hee Yung Chang

Ms. Hee Yung Chang was born in Seoul, Korea, experiencing the Korean War as a young child.

John Hong

“I remember getting a phone call from my dad saying, ‘Min died.'”

Chris Detrych

Chris Detrych came to America in 1985 at 3 months old where he was adopted by a Caucasian family in Detroit, Michigan.

Jin Young Choi

Jin Young was born in 1937 in Manchuria which was also under Japanese occupation at the time.

Young Song Kim

In this Legacy Project, Young Song Kim shares his story with his son, Doug.

Doug Kim

As a youngster growing up in the Mid-West he was frequently bullied by his peers for being Asian and was at a loss understanding how he was different

Sung Tse

Sung Tse’s son brought up this haunting question the day he told his mother he did not identify as a female.

Nancy Choi

As the mother of a third-generation Korean American daughter, Nancy Choi has faced coming to terms with the different styles of parenting that have come from her own mother.

Tae Hun Yo

“When I give my advice to youngsters, it’s to live your passion. Have a balanced life but do what you love.”

Jinhee Ahn Kim

Fears of the unknown and uncertainty have never stopped Jinhee Ahn Kim from having her own adventure.

Sukhee Kang

Sukhee Kang – the first Korean American mayor of Irvine, California – shares his experience of arriving to America with little resources yet still striving to try his best in everything he did.

Youngsong Martin

Youngsong Martin is the founder of Wildflower Linen, well-known for its quality fabrics designed for luxurious large-scale events.

Jessica Paek – Part 2

In part 2, Jessica shares her journey starting from graduating with a Historical Linguistics degree and pursuing linguistics research, to changing her career path in order to become a writer

Jessica Paek – Part 1

Jessica shares the story behind her various tattoos and how she fell in love with the art.

Sylvia Kim

Sylvia is a lawyer by trade and also the Chief Innovation Officer at the Asian Pacific Community Fund based in Los Angeles.

Lillian Chung

Lillian shares her story of immigrating from Seoul to California as a young child with her family.

Yung Kim – Part 2

Yung Kim, who attended and helped develop the Father School program in New York, shares what he’s learned about fatherhood and family.

Yung Kim – Part 1

Yung Kim, interviewed by his niece Nina Joung, came to America at 22 years old, volunteering at nonprofit organizations while serving at his church as a youth group teacher.

Hyun Joon Lee

Born in Seoul, Hyun Joon Lee grew up in Indonesia, went to Yonsei University, and ended up in the Bronx working as a medical resident.

Mickie Choi

With a dream to become Madame Curie, Mickie Choi immigrated to the U.S. in the early 70s to pursue her PhD.

Jean Kim – Part 2

Fighting poverty and homelessness never stops for Jean Kim.

Jean Kim – Part 1

Born in 1935 in what is now North Korea, Jean Kim lived through the Japanese occupation and the Korean War, losing her language, family, and home.

Lynn Richards-Noyer – Love/Hate Project

Lynn Richards-Noyer shares how she found her birth family through an appearance on Korean television and how she “accidentally butt-dialed” her birth mother.

Alex Myung Wagner square
Alex Myung Wager – Love/Hate Project

Born in Daegu, South Korea and raised in Albany, New York since he was four months old, Alex Myung Wager struggled with his identity as not only a Korean adoptee but also a gay man.

Nellie Sung
Nellie Sung

Adopted from Seoul as a baby, Nellie Sung, the only person of color at her schools in Minneapolis, never felt like she fit in.

Lee-Ann Hanham
Lee-Ann Hanham – Love/Hate Project

Adopted at the age of two by a white family on Long Island, social worker Lee-Ann Hanham grew up with her non-biological, adopted Korean sister as the only Koreans in her neighborhood.

Seungjin Lee
Seungjin Lee – Part 2

Seungjin Lee takes us back into his family’s story before his move to the U.S.

Seungjin Lee – Part 1

Seungjin Lee, now a father himself, provides an intimate retrospective on his father’s sacrifices and trials.

Myung Sook Cha

Myung Sook Cha came to the US with the intent of earning enough money to go back to Korea to take care of her father.

Michael Pulliam – Love/Hate Project

Michael Pulliam clearly remembers the time when he was punched squarely in the face right after he boarded the school.

Meg Campbell – Love/Hate Project

Meg Campbell grew up in Upstate New York with her 3 other adopted sisters, where she felt a strong sense of isolation and loneliness due to the strained relationship with her parents.

Duk Sun Chang

Duk Sun Chang struggled all his life working as a gemcutter, a back-breaking occupation.

Marissa Martin – Love/Hate Project

“Everything in your life is not your choice.” Marissa Martin opens up about life as a Korean American adoptee.

Young Hae Han

Young Hae Han was a professional pianist before she became a wife and mother.

Michael McDonald – Love/Hate Project

Michael McDonald was adopted to the U.S. at 3 months old.

Andy Marra – Love/Hate Project

Andy Marra is a Korean American adoptee and leader in LGBTQI advocacy.

Michael Mullen – Love/Hate Project

According to his adoption papers, Michael Mullen was left on the steps of a police station in Seoul, Korea.

Jae Rindner – Love/Hate Project

Jae was adopted at 4 months old from Seoul, South Korea, yet she did not come to terms with her Asian identity until college.

Jong Sun Yun

Hear how Jong Sun Yun’s immigration to the US led to his calling as a pastor, and how a stroke that left one side of his body paralyzed tested his will to continue life without giving up.

The Hardest Part About Being a Teenage Adoptee

Adoptees are four times more likely to attempt suicide than non-adoptees.

Yung Duk Kim

Yung Duk Kim was born in North Korea and escaped to the South with his family as a 13-year-old boy.

Korean American Adoptee Suicide Prevention Campaign Teaser

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Adoptees are four times more likely to attempt suicide than non-adoptees.

Myungja Yue

Pastor Myungja Yue recalls how her father took on the incredible feat of swimming across the Nakdong River back and forth 6 times

Yoon Soo Park

Dr. Yoon Soo Park, recognized internationally for his research in science and technology, recalls the less public memories of his life during the Japanese occupation and the Korean War.

Dju Hyun Park – Part 3

Dju Hyun Park shares her love story — how she met her husband, and how they became a family of five.

Dju Hyun Park – Part 2

Dju Hyun Park recalls her harrowing escape from North Korea to South Korea.

Dju Hyun Park – Part 1

Dju Hyun Park grew up in a wealthy family in North Korea, but affluence did not ensure an easy life.

Hyepin Im – SaIGu LA Riots

Hyepin Im, an MBA student in 1992, recalls how the media falsely portrayed Korean Americans as the main aggressors during the LA riots.

Han Sung Chang – SaIGu LA Riots

In 1991, Han Sung Chang joined a youth group that provided protection services to Korean Americans, especially shop owners who were most at risk when they closed their shops at night.

Inha Cho – SaIGu LA Riots

Inha Cho, president of the Korean Veterans Association in 1992, recalls gathering veterans of the Korean Marine Corps to go into the areas of rioting in order to protect Korean Americans and their livelihoods.

Joe Ahn – SaIGu LA Riots

Joe Ahn recalls feeling both fear and anger during SaIGu: fear that his father would get hurt during the riots, and anger that the people who were most affected by the public’s expressed frustration with the government were the people who had the least resources. As businesses went bankrupt in Koreatown, new laws were created that effectively made it very difficult for the common types of Korean-owned businesses to reopen. Joe Ahn played a critical role in helping to pass a revitalization act that included components such as: loans and tax credits for Korean-owned businesses.

Richard Choi – SaIGu LA Riots

Richard Choi is the current vice chairman of Radio Korea, and was the vice president of Radio Korea in 1992.

Michael Woo – SaIGu LA Riots

Michael Woo was the first Asian American elected to the Los Angeles City Council, and served from 1985 to 1993.

TC Kim – SaIGu LA Riots

TC Kim, a journalist in 1992, hit the streets to capture photos during the LA riots, even though his wife asked him to stay home.

Carol Kim – SaIGu LA Riots

Carol Kim was a graduating high school senior when the LA riots broke out, but she was already a leader committed to overturning injustice.

Blake Chow – SaIGu LA Riots

Commander Blake Chow is Assistant Commanding Officer – Operations West Bureau, Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD).

Jinho Lee – SaIGu LA Riots

Jinho Lee, journalist at Radio Korea (KBLA-AM 1580) in 1992, recalls how Radio Korea became a makeshift command center during the LA riots.

John Lim – SaIGu LA Riots

John Lim, then president of the Korean American Bar Association, recalls his experience of SaIGu and how he was moved to mobilize a team of over 80 lawyers to provide pro bono legal services for Korean Americans in the aftermath of SaIGu.

Suk Jong Lee

Suk Jong Lee reflects on the difficulties she faced as an Army chaplain, due to being both female and Asian.

Colin Lee

Colin Lee is a 16 year old rising lacrosse player who recently played for the Korean national lacrosse team U-19 in Vancouver.

Kim J Chung, part 2

Kim J Chung shares how she met her husband, and how the two were an unlikely pair.

Kim J Chung, part 1

Kim J Chung shares how her family crossed the border from North Korea to South Korea.

Unzu Lee, part 2

Unzu Lee, currently a Presbyterian pastor, used to have “zero confidence” in her language abilities due to a sudden move from Korea to Brazil at 14 years of age.

Unzu Lee, part 1

Growing up in a church full of political dissidents, Unzu Lee learned early on that “political activism was just one way of social transformation.”

Sang Gyun Kim

Sang Gyun Kim, currently a CPA with his own business, honestly recounts his difficulties in adjusting to life in America.

Sarang Kang

Sarang Kang is a Korean American female pastor whose visionary and assertive character sometimes ruffles feathers.

Yusun Chang

When Dr. Yusun Chang first considered studying abroad, he was not sure if it would be feasible due to financial difficulties.

Yena Hwang

Yena Hwang, a Korean-American female pastor, grew up with affectionate and supportive parents who raised her with gender equality norms.

Aram Bae

Growing up as a pastor’s kid (PK), Aram Bae prayed specifically that she would never be employed by the church.

Kelly Choi

Kelly Choi learned the importance of taking care of herself after she started having symptoms of panic disorder.

Andrew Ahn

Filmmaker Andrew Ahn reflects on his journey of merging his gay identity and Korean American identity.

Woonhye Jeong

Woonhye was sure she would never marry a pastor–because she had seen firsthand the difficulties of pastoral life through her father.

Charles Yoon

Growing up, Charles Yoon moved country-to-country as his dad got new job assignments—interacting with many different cultures.

Hyejoo Jeong

Hyejoo Jeong’s life was shaken up when her husband was diagnosed with stage four cancer at the age of 32.

Charles Youn

Charles Youn, Executive Director at Korean American League for Civic Action (KALCA), shares how certain negative childhood experiences and the influence of his parents shaped who he is today.

Han Shik Park – Part 2

As a professor with over forty years teaching political science at the University of Georgia, Han Shik Park shares his thoughts on North Korea,

Han Shik Park – Part 1

Han Shik Park is no stranger to war. Born near what is now Harbin amidst Chinese civil unrest, Park eventually moved to South Korea after the surrender of the Japanese.

Sang Soo Park

Sang Soo Park, born in 1929, recounts the days in Korea when everyone was starving and his immigration to the United States to join his brother who worked at a chemical factory.

Joanne Lee

Joanne Lee didn’t know how to react when her second child, Skylar, came out as transgender and found that she was unable to fully understand and accept his LGBTQ identity.

Eugena Oh

After getting all of the degrees her parents wanted her to have, Eugena Oh worked nonstop at a big law firm, becoming the unhappiest she had ever been.

Aiyoung Choi – Part 3

A month after 9/11, Aiyoung Choi got contacted by KAFSC (Korean American Family Service Center) about a father who wanted to leave his son with someone for the weekend.

Aiyoung Choi – Part 2

At 23, Aiyoung Choi fell head over heels for a Cuban man and married him—cutting ties with her parents who disapproved of the pair.

Aiyoung Choi – Part 1

Civic activist Aiyoung Choi recounts her father escaping to China to avoid being forced to research new technologies for the Japanese war effort

Baik Kyu Kim

Baik Kyu Kim recounts his immigration to the United States, the mentality that shaped his work ethic.

Seung Nam Lee

When riots erupted throughout Los Angeles in 1992, the same thing was happening in Atlanta—destroying the local K-town area.

Steve Choi

Steve Choi grew up as that nerdy-looking Asian kid who was always overlooked or looked down upon in school—giving him a “chip on his shoulder” that motivated him to excel and prove people wrong.

William Seihwan Kim

Pastor William Seihwan Kim was serving at a Korean church in Wichita, Kansas until a severe tumor growing on his face forced him to resign and go to Korea for surgery.

Chung Yun Hoon – Part 2

Chung Yun Hoon continues on in the second part of his story—detailing how he came to immigrate to Detroit, Michigan

Chung Yun Hoon – Part 1

Chung Yun Hoon, born in 1930, describes his childhood and family life in China, how seeing a picture of the Empire State Building inspired him to learn English.

Jeong Ae Choi

Jeong Ae Choi talks to her daughter and grandson about how she came to marry her husband after her mother met him through a matchmaker.

Chong Taek An

After deciding not to jump from a seven-story building, Chong Taek An paid off the debts he was trying to escape from and eventually made his way to America.

Namsun Lee

To support her family while her husband was studying, Namsun Lee took on a “man’s job” at a General Electric company in Richmond, VA.

Jannie Chung – Part 1

On Christmas Day, Jannie Chung and her family got a phone call telling them her father had suddenly died of a heart attack, forcing them to immediately fly out to Korea.

Jannie Chung – Part 2

During a more rebellious phase of her adolescence, Jannie Chung sneaked away from home to hang out with her friends.

Jannie Chung – Part 3

When Jannie Chung’s brother was barreling out of control with drug use, partying, and violent behavior, her mother—desperate to turn his life around—took him to a remote Buddhist temple in Hawaii

Jannie Chung – Part 4

What Jannie Chung thought were Braxton Hicks contractions turned out to be real labor—happening three months too early.

Han Sung Park

Han Sung Park grew up in a rural part of Korea as the youngest of four daughters to her mother, who faced a lot of social stigmas as a widow.

Sungdo Park

Sungdo Park, born in 1933, gives an intimate look at the major events of his life.

Yi Yoon-Shin

Ms. Yi Yoon-shin is a ceramic artist and the founder of Yido, a store which specializes in handcrafted ceramic ware for everyday use.

Jack McGovern & Noah Sinangil

Jack McGovern and Noah Sinangil are both adopted Korean Americans that we interviewed at Sejong Camp in New Jersey.

Clara Yoon

When her child, born female, came out to Clara Yoon and her husband as a boy, they decided to accept and support his transition.

June Oh

June Oh, as interviewed by her daughter, Diana, never wanted to get married, but life took her in a different direction from what she expected.

Emily Lynch & Minjung Kim

Minjung Kim (24 years old) was born in Seoul, Korea and immigrated to the US when she was 11 years old. Emily Lynch (27 years old) was also born in Seoul, Korea, but she was adopted along with her twin brother by a Caucasian family in Connecticut.

Lila Lee

Lila Lee came to the United States in 1965 as a 22 year-old. She arrived in New York and lived in Brooklyn with her brother who had come to the US earlier. In this Legacy Project video, Lila talks about her first day at a job she started that year, the reasons why she decided to stay in the US, and the financial challenges she and her husband faced and eventually overcame. She is interviewed by her son Bernard Lee on March 21, 2015, in Westchester, New York.

HyaeKyung Jo & Linda Priore

HyaeKyung Jo is a retired teacher with over 30 years of experience in primary and secondary education in US public schools. Linda Priore was the co-founder of Sejong Camp, a Korean culture camp that parents of adopted Korean children started in 1992.

Martha Crawford

Martha Crawford and her husband adopted two children from Korea.

Sabryna Ro & Leah Rice

Sabryna Ro and Leah Rice are both 17 years old and they met at Sejong Camp, a cultural camp for Korean adoptees and American born Koreans

Ms. Jwa Kyung Shin

Jwa Kyung Shin was born in 1914 in Korea. She was 100 years old at the time of the interview.

Victor Victori

Victori was born in 1943 in a small peach farming village outside of Seoul, Korea.

Jungsook Choh

Mrs. Jungsook Choh was born in 1935 in Uhrae-Jin, Hamkyung-Namdo, which is now in North Korea.

Chris Todd & Steven Yeun

Chris Todd, 31, was born in Seoul, Korea and adopted by a Caucasian family when he was a baby. Steven Yeun, 31, was born in the US, and grew up in Long Island.

Fred Warnick

Fred Warnick was a young American working in Korea in the 1960s.

Jonathan & Jeremy Kahng

Jonathan is a 24 year old graduate of Miami University of Ohio and Jeremy is a 22 year old student at Berklee School of Music.

Dr. Jeff Choh

Dr. Jeff Choh is an interventional radiologist who was born in Korea, immigrated to Ohio in 1972 and now lives in the Chicago area.

Joy Lieberthal Rho

Joy was adopted from Korea. She came to her family just shy of her sixth birthday.

Sulja Warnick

Sulja Lee was born in Japan in 1942 during WWII and her family moved back to Korea after Korean independence from Japan in 1945.

Dr. James ChinKyung Kim

Dr. James ChinKyung Kim is no ordinary man, containing the spunk and spirit of a teenage boy.

Julius Rosen

Julius Rosen was 18 years old when he was deployed to Korea in 1945 during World War II, just before Japan surrendered.

Janice Paik

Janice Paik was born and raised in LA’s KoreaTown, and currently works and lives in downtown LA.

Kang Lee
Kang P. Lee

Since junior high school, Kang Lee’s aspiration was to become one of the greatest scientists Korea has produced. His father, who was the chairman of the biology department at Seoul National University, was kidnapped by the North Koreans during the Korean War. His mother was left to raise 6 children on her own. Kang Lee managed to find scholarships which allowed him to attend his junior high school and high school, and eventually worked his way through Seoul National University as a private tutor. He came to the USA to attend MIT, where he received his PhD. In 1984 he founded Aspen Systems, where he is still the CEO today.

This is an amazing story of struggle and resilience in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges. Despite a lifetime of struggles and successes, Kang Lee remains an incredibly optimistic and humble person.

Haewon Latorre

Haewon Latorre was born in Korea, moved to Argentina as a toddler, then moved to NYC as a teenager.

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Irvin Paik

Irvin Paik was born in Bakersville, CA in 1940. His father came to the US in 1905 with the first wave of sugar plantation workers to Hawaii. His mother came to the US in 1914. This is a rare recording of a Korean American who can recollect what life was like during the early period of Korean immigration. Irvin also recollects a high school play that he was in with George Takei, the Japanese American actor. This interview was conducted in Los Angeles on August 31, 2013.

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Lisa Quan

Lisa came to the US when she was 2 years old. Her mother left the family at age 5, then she was sent back to Korea at age 11, only to return to her father in Los Angeles at age 14.  

Grace K. Lee

Legacy Project video of Grace K. Lee of Minnesota, interviewed by her daughter, Marie Myong-Ok Lee, in New York City.

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Legacy Project Video Montage

Legacy Project is an oral history project to capture the stories of the Korean Americans .

Dr. Haeng Soon Park

Dr. Haeng Soon Park, a professor of biochemistry, retired from a university in Korea, and then went on to teach in Nepal.

Yong-Hee Silver

Legacy Project video of Yong-Hee Silver interviewed by her son, Adrian Silver in New York.

Dr. Byoung G. Choh

Legacy Project video of Dr. Byoung G. Choh of Cleveland, Ohio interviewed by his daughter, Theresa Choh-Lee.

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Rev. Jung John Kwon

The Reverend Jung John Kwon reflects on his journey in the United States. He was interviewed by his daughter Young-Yi Clinton in New York.

Rev. Koonae Lee

The Reverend Koonae Lee is the Senior Pastor of the United Methodist Church in Stratford, Connecticut.

Kwon Sook Young

Ms. Kwon Sook Young interviewed by her daughter, Yoon Lee Perera in New York on November 2012.

Dr. Samuel Sang Gook Lee

Dr. Samuel Sang Gook Lee immigrated to the United States in 1973.

Bernie Cho

Bernie Cho was born in Pittsburgh, PA and recalls moving around a lot before settling in Jamestown, NY, where both his doctor parents had their practice. During junior high, MTV was on the rise and Bernie became fascinated and obsessed. Living in a small town with very few minorities in his neighborhood, he recognized that there were no Asian VJs, music videos, or acts being represented and oftentimes became frustrated by the stereotypes portrayed in mainstream media.

Before beginning his graduate career in Korea, Bernie landed a job teaching English to music label executives by helping them understand incoming trends and terms. Through an unexpected meeting at a party and his passion for music and MTV, he was offered a position to work for Korea’s first music television channel, thus launching his career in the industry. As Bernie goes through various chapters in his life, he hopes to continue to find ways to uplift Asian and Asian American artists and get them the recognition they deserve.