Legacy Project

Legacy Project Playlist

Dong Hyeon Jeong

Dong Hyeon Jeong, originally born in Gyeongju, South Korea, had a unique upbringing in the Philippines due to his parents’ missionary work. Growing up there, he experienced preferential treatment, largely due to his lighter skin, and remained unaware of racial discrimination until his move to the United States in 2003, where he pursued a Master of Divinity. His early experiences as a Youth Pastor for Korean American children were marked by challenges in adapting to a new cultural context. Today, Dong Hyeon resides in Skokie with his multicultural family and actively promotes diversity and the celebration of different identities within his community.

Joseph Oh

Joseph Oh, originally born in Korea, faced a unique journey of adoption and cultural immersion. At the age of 5, he and his biological brother found a loving home in Chicago when a White family adopted them together. Tragically, after his adoptive father’s passing, Joseph was readopted into a Korean American family, that reintroduced him to his Korean heritage, culture, and traditions. Later, Joseph went back to Korea to teach English and explore Korean culture. It was during this time that he met his wife, who was also adopted. Today, Joseph is a father, determined to provide his son with the love and security he himself has come to cherish.

Soon Young Oh

Soon Young Oh, originally from Gimhae, South Korea, was adopted into a Minnesota family. As an adoptee, she grappled with her racial identity throughout her time in school but found connection through cultural centers in Minneapolis. After visiting Korea and meeting her biological father in Korea, she discovered the complexities of her adoption. Now a mother, she’s committed to instilling her Korean American identity in her 10-year-old son and is active in the Korean adoptee community, seeking connection after a childhood marked by isolation.

Matt Miller

Born in Korea, Matt Miller was adopted at nine months old and raised in Elgin, Illinois, where a predominantly white environment shaped his perspective. Growing up alongside his biological sister, he found strength in their bond. It wasn’t until his early 20s that he embraced his Korean identity, finding solace and connection through a local church community. Now a parent of three, he has created his own interpretation of Korean tradition, embracing the complexity of identity and family.

Bree Yoo-Sun McLeun

Born in Seoul and adopted into a Minnesota family several months old, Bree Yoo-Sun McLeun’s upbringing extended across two worlds. Balancing her Korean American identity while adhering to familial expectations left her feeling alone throughout her childhood. Later, after unexpectedly becoming a single mother during her college years, she found purpose in connecting with her community and healing through motherhood, while raising a multi-racial child.

Myung Kun Park

Myung Kun Park’s life mirrors Korea’s tumultuous history, celebrating liberation from Japanese occupation in 1945, only to face the peninsula’s division soon after. Challenges under Communist rule and his father’s arrest prevented them from moving to the South. Amidst suspicion, Park reluctantly became an informant, navigating the Korean War’s outbreak and his brother’s disappearance. Later Park joined the South Korean army, where he endured injury before excelling in medical school. His story is one of adapting to various identities under flags like Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Canada, and the United States. Today, he reflects on a guiding force that led him through difficult and dangerous times, as well as happy times.

Issun Park

Issun Park’s life has been shaped by unexpected relocations and experiences. Born in Kaesong, North Korea, she spent most of her childhood in Seoul. At the age of 8, her family had to leave Seoul urgently, crossing the Han River just before it was bombed. They managed to escape the city safely. Later, her father found a job with the US Army stationed in Tokyo, where they lived for seven years before eventually moving to Okinawa. In 1962, Park emigrated to San Francisco to join her older brother. It was there that she met her future husband through a mutual friend, got married, and had three boys together. Despite her diverse background, Park never felt out of place in America and has embraced the liberal values instilled by her father.

Chris Park

Chris Park, a 2nd generation Korean American, grew up in the States, mostly in the suburbs of Kansas City and San Antonio in the early 70s. While he experienced fewer instances of racism during his childhood, college introduced him to the Korean American community and its diverse relationships with identity and language. He noticed a “You’re either with us or against us” mentality within the community, leading him to distance himself due to a lack of shared values. Despite this, Park finds other ways to support the Korean American community and cherishes the importance of preserving his grandparents’ remarkable stories for his daughter to remember and appreciate.

Bomin Kim

Bomin Kim was born in South Korea and moved to Australia at age 11, where she was primarily raised by her grandmother due to her parents’ separation. Initially struggling with language and cultural differences, Kim found comfort in excelling academically and forming lasting friendships. Surprisingly, she later embarked on a journey of global travel and eventually received a job offer in the United States, prompting her to move there in 2012. Fondly cherishing her grandmother’s teachings of kindness and love, Kim is now determined to pass down these invaluable lessons to her own daughter. Embracing her role as a global citizen, she has found her voice and is dedicated to advocating for positive change.

Kwon Sook Young

While fleeing for their lives, Kwon Sook Young vividly recalls the evacuation journey with her family from Andong to Busan aboard a freight train. Amidst the chaos, a heart-stopping moment occurred when Young found herself surrounded by bags of rice as a large water kettle came crashing down upon her from a nearby bomb explosion. Her motionless body led her family to believe she died; however, against all odds, they discovered her crawling out alive and breathing.

From attempting to sell Korean pears to nearby soldiers to her father narrowly escaping execution, the Korean War served as just one chapter in Young’s life of survival. Young eventually relocated to New York, and a profound sense of displacement enveloped her as she grappled with the challenges of language barriers and cultural shock.

Today, Young’s thoughts often gravitate towards themes of mortality and aging, contemplating how to gracefully navigate the inevitable aftermath. Despite the passage of time, she continues to reside in New York alongside her family, desiring nothing but the best for them and hoping they may lead long and healthy lives.

Dr. Samuel Sang Gook Lee

Dr. Samuel Sang Gook Lee was born in Daegu, Korea in 1935 during the Japanese occupation. Recalling the Emperor’s Oath that Korean students had to recite every day in school, Dr. Lee reflects on feeling shame for obeying Japanese rule. He was forced to learn Japanese and obtain a Japanese Sur name during the occupation. His local church was the only place where he found community and positivity.

Later when he was 15 years old, Dr. Lee served as a house boy for 3 years where he ran errands for the U.S. soldiers on their military base. It was during this time that he suffered from severe depression and anxiety, which he carried with him throughout the rest of his life. Since immigrating to the US, Dr. Lee continues to pray every day to bring healing to himself and his family impacted by generational trauma.

Irvin Paik

Born a 2nd gen immigrant in Bakersfield, California in 1940, Irvin Paik recalls his unease around his Japanese neighbors and witnessing his parents face a lot of discrimination from white Americans. Irvin discovered a passion for theater in junior high school and continued to be involved with producing, writing, and acting in plays throughout high school and college. He even won an award in a Shakespeare competition at UCLA. Irvin also worked in photography, even pursuing a career in it, though he faced discrimination from employers.

Irvin later found work in the army, filming training videos, serving in Vietnam as a combat photographer, and working as a script supervisor at a pictorial center in Long Island City. He also worked filming a television show for 14 years. After leaving the army, Irvin began filming nature documentaries, and, following a mandate from the Justice Department that encouraged the hiring of minorities, he was able to pursue film editing. With Koreans achieving huge successes in the modern entertainment industry, Irvin encourages young people to follow their dreams.

Barbara Uni Lee Potter

Barbara Uni Lee Potter was born in the San Francisco area in 1943. She did not know she was adopted until she was 13 years old, and soon after had to navigate a complex history of family and lineage — a secret her family and community had kept from her. Barbara carried this tangled unknown with her until she was 45 years old when she decided to search for her birth mother. Barbara’s story teaches us the similarities and distinct differences of being adopted into a same-race family.

Mike Kim

Mike Kim was born in Korea but grew up in the United States. After struggling to find a job during the 2008 recession, his cousin invited him to live in Korea for a year. Initially intending it to be a temporary move, Mike eventually sold all of his belongings and has now been living in Korea for the past 14 years.

Since moving to Korea, Mike has constantly taken visiting friends to good restaurants, which ignited his passion for exploring and trying new Korean cuisine. Today, he has founded a food tour business that provides tourists with a delicious Korean food experience. Through food, he wants to share the beauty of Korean culture with as many people as possible.

Albert Kim

Albert Kim was born in the US and spent most of his childhood in Orange County, California. Attending a private school with a small Korean population, Albert had a tough time dealing with the microaggressions of his peers and fitting in at school, challenges he faced for most of his childhood. While studying at Arizona State, Albert decided to move back to Korea, where he finally felt more comfortable and accepted– feeling at peace for the first time. Albert believes that his identity as a Korean-American has allowed him to be more well-rounded and empathetic as a person, especially towards other minorities that face discrimination.

Eunice Lee

Born in the US, but having grown up in Korea and attending an international school, Eunice Lee never felt fully Korean or fully American as a child. After a swimming injury, Eunice discovered musical theater as an outlet for her creative energies and eventually went to NYU for it.

Going to NYU after living in Korea for most of her life, Eunice faced difficulties with culture shock, assimilation, racism, and homesickness. Nevertheless, Eunice was able to find her niche through a Korean church and Korean American society. As someone who identifies as neither fully Korean nor fully American, Eunice carries a unique Korean American identity, as well as unique perspectives on Korean and American culture.

Michael Song

Michael Song moved to Korea at the age of 22 after experiencing difficulty finding employment in the US. Born and raised in LA, Michael was immediately immersed in Korean culture upon starting full-time work in the country. This experience went beyond culture shock, providing Michael with an understanding of his parent’s immigration experience in the US and a new context for decisions they made when he was younger. Now, Michael strives to find a balance between his personal journey and cultural and societal expectations.

Aaron Choe

Born and raised in San Jose, Aaron Choe always knew he wanted to reconnect with Korean culture. In high school, he discovered 90s K-pop, which sparked a curiosity that eventually led him to visit his sister who lived in Korea. Aaron fell in love with the country and ended up moving there permanently in 2008. Since then, Aaron’s been living in Korea as a film director and DJ. Making sense of his identity, Aaron has fully embraced his Koreanness and encourages others to move there to truly experience the country.

Zach Benson

Born in Busan, but raised an adoptee in Iowa, Zach Benson grew up looking and speaking differently from his mainly white peers. Zach struggled with fitting in and participating in class until he discovered a passion for breakdancing in high school. When Zach was 23, he came to Korea to learn more about his heritage and search for his birth mother, with whom he was finally able to reconnect. Zach later moved to Daejeon, where he worked as an RA at a Korean international school, to spend more time with his birth mother.

Denny Hong

Born a Korean American expat in Korea, Denny Hong grew up in various international and military schools in Korea, the U.S., and Germany. Denny’s family finally settled down in Memphis when he was in high school. While living in the states brought its own set of struggles, including racism, Denny has never let the challenges of his past define him. After returning to Korea to reconnect with his family and roots, Denny found himself enjoying life in Korea, keenly observing its shifting culture. Denny continues to live in Korea, and he now works as a radio broadcaster.

Albert Kim

Born in Flushing, Queens, Albert Kim was raised speaking Korean by his grandparents throughout his time in elementary school. Even after his grandparents moved out, Albert maintained a connection to his Korean heritage through the practice of Samul Nori, traditional Korean drums. These connections grew stronger after Albert and his family moved to New Jersey while he was in middle school, and Albert found himself surrounded by even more Korean Americans in his community. Upon moving to Korea in his adulthood, Albert grappled with living with alopecia in a culture highly sensitive to physical appearances. Having moved around a lot throughout his life, Albert has learned to enjoy life by living in the moment.

Christine Pennell

Christine was raised as an American in a white family— far from where she was originally found, a train station in Daegu, Korea. Despite feeling fortunate for her loving adoptive family, she still felt and looked different, influenced by classmates that bullied her.

Years later, in 2018, Christine saw an online post about a welcome home program. Inspired by the documentary Lion, in which a man found his family on Google, she discovered the Korean American Adoptee Facebook group and was able to travel to Korea for the first time. The feeling of being home removed an unknown tension she had felt in the US.

The following year, she received confirmation from a DNA test that she has a sister living in Belgium. Reunited through the internet, they immediately felt a connection. They met for the first time in Korea, in an emotional reunion that prompted monthly trips to Belgium before COVID. Having reunited with her homeland and family, Christine has found satisfaction and peace in her Korean American identity.

Namjun Cho

Born in Korea and moved to the U.S. by age 8, Namjun Cho’s parents wanted to provide a better education for their children. Seeing how much diversity that the States provided, Namjun’s parents decided to lengthen their stay to see their kids graduate. Along the way, Namjun had a hard time in school, feeling little sympathy from the community as he would find himself in conflict with other students; never being able to share his side of the story because of the language barrier. After years of adjusting to America, Namjun then returned to Korea in late-July of 2020 to fulfill his military duties. Because of his need to learn English to get by in the States, Namjun found himself now struggling with his native-tongue and self-proclaimed American identity, which earned him no support yet again. Caught in between, Namjun went into training and service feeling Korean, and has come out on what feels like the distant other side of being American.

Tae Kim

One night in Seoul, Tae Kim found himself in a Burger King, struggling to order his meal. Despite being able to speak Korean fluently in his home of Koreatown LA, he quickly found that it just did not translate so smoothly in his new home of Korea. As he tried paying for the meal he didn’t even want, Tae felt the realness of culture shock. Doubt and fear permeated as he began to settle into the new city, leading him to ask friends about finding mental health counseling. To his surprise, his struggle was met with judgment. Certain that he couldn’t be the only one, Tae took action. Starting with a Facebook group to provide a safe outlet for people struggling with their mental health in Korea, it became clear that he really wasn’t alone. So he made an app called “Gideb” where people could remain anonymous and find the right resources and access to the mental health support they need. Now, Tae is grateful to be living in Korea with his wife and son, happily running his company.

Sangmin Lee

The son of a pastor, Sangmin moved from Korea to McLean, Virginia at a young age. Reflecting on his parents’ struggle to provide for their family, Sangmin resolved to become an entrepreneur and make a lot of money. However, after moving to Korea in his late twenties, Sangmin found a new, though familiar calling in the ministry. Following in his father’s footsteps, Sangmin became a pastor at Jubilee, a church in Seoul. Having served at Jubilee for upwards of seven years, Sangmin was made the leader of King’s Cross Church, a new, English-speaking church in Seoul created by Jubilee, where he still serves today.

Michael Hurt

Michael Hurt identifies as a visual sociologist, melding his draw towards street fashion and photography with his passion for observation and studies in race and gender. With a mixed background, his mother Korean, father African American, Michael’s interest in identity started early, carrying him through his academic years, eventually bringing him to live and work in Korea since the 1990s.

Kyu Lee

An immigrant to Mercer Island, Washington, Kyu Lee recalls not knowing anything about Korean culture aside from the obvious, he and his family were all born there. It wasn’t until after college that Kyu began to be exposed to Korean entertainment. In 2005 during a vacation to the motherland, he watched “Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War” for the first time and was blown away. Working for Sony at the time, Kyu flew home and enthusiastically told his team about the film. It was quickly picked up and distributed in the States, making it the first Korean film screened in the U.S. entertainment market. Sparking Kyu’s pride and desire to introduce Korean content to the States, he quickly built his network from there, ultimately leaving him responsible for the U.S. viral sensation “Gangnam Style”. Life is still a crazy rollercoaster ride for Kyu as he continues to work in film and distribution. As he rolls with the punches, he hopes to continue to uplift and provide opportunities to those around him.

Kayla Kim Votapek

As an anti-racist facilitator and overall creative, Kayla Kim Votapek leads a life of perpetual acceptance of growth and movement towards understanding, but getting there has come with its own challenges. Having grown up in an Italian American family of New Jersey, Kayla found closeness at home, yet felt unseen as an adopted Korean in a mostly White upper class town. To work through questions of identity, Kayla found the freedom to express herself through the arts and performance. This further ignited a passion in her to help others feel seen and heard, to facilitate spaces that nurture communities through action, communication and reparation.

Sarah Chase

For now Korea-based Sarah Chase, being Korean was first understood in the form of a dinner table split between American food and Korean food, taking shoes off in the house, and the smell of her grandmother’s jjigae wafting down the block on her walk home from school.

Lisa Puckett

It all started with chimaek. Lisa Puckett was born in Hawaii to a mother from the countryside of South Korea, and a father from the countryside of North Carolina. The two met after a late night of chicken and beer while her father was stationed in Osan. The couple eventually married, raising a military family and causing the Pucketts to move often, leaving Lisa with little ties to friends or roots in any distinct culture.

Edwin Kim

At age 15, with a natural talent for perfect pitch, Edwin Kim quickly immigrated from South Korea to New Jersey’s very own Palisades Park to attend Juilliard’s competitive pre-college program. Rather than encouragement for his gift of music, he was met with doubt and accusations of plagiarism from instructors. As a student and young immigrant, Edwin recalls this incident causing a deep struggle to prove himself, almost bringing him to end his own life. With a lot of perseverance and eventual support, Edwin is now known as a “jack of all trades”, breaking his life-long music career down into five key roles: concert pianist, singer, arranger, composer, and writer – always following his heart and doing what’s right for himself.


Corey was born in Seoul, South Korea, and adopted with his twin brother to a white American family in Iowa. Though his home city was not small, there were not many Asians or a support system, leaving him to navigate the trauma of separation and the confusion of his Korean identity alone. The pain he felt culminated throughout the years, and he soon found himself in foster care because his parents couldn’t control him.

Matthew Pellegrino

Matthew Pellegrino was born in Chungcheongnam-do Province, South Korea, and adopted into a white American family in Long Island at four months old. His parents supported him to the best of their abilities but he always knew he was different and faced many instances of discrimination and bullying as a child. It was not until pursuing his masters in music composition at Johns Hopkins University that Matthew truly began exploring Korean culture and what it meant to him.

Ducky Chang

As a kid, Ducky Chang didn’t see his parents often because they worked long hours running a grocery store and other jobs here and there. He saw them working as fluidity and felt encouraged to try anything that interested him. One thing led to another, and he decided to pursue film at California State University. Ducky dropped out two years into school due to an injury, so he took that opportunity to explore whatever he wanted.

Alex Pryor

Alex Pryor was born in DC, grew up in Maryland, and spent many Sundays in Virginia. Being half Black and half Korean, Alex describes his story as “perpetually on a bridge” – often having felt lonely and the need to fit in. When he entered college and joined a group for mixed-race students, it gave him an insight into where he belonged and the tools to understand race, ethnicity, culture, and nationality. Living in Korea has always been a dream, and now that he’s been living there since 2020, it’s been a liberating experience to navigate life on his own terms.

Scott McLaughlin

Professor Scott McLaughlin went to Korea to learn about the culture, his background, and most importantly, to find his biological family. After two years of searching, he concluded that finding them wasn’t meant to be. Since then, he has been residing in Korea for the last 15 years teaching and connecting with people with similar mindsets and backgrounds. In this Legacy Project interview, Professor Scott recognizes that he is still navigating what that means to be Korean. As he continues to explore who he is and the person he wants to become, he hopes that people create special moments for themselves to find a little jeong in their life.

Tony Chung

Tony Chung has always dreamed of being an architect, but after going on a mission trip with his church in high school, he found his calling. Tony attended Wheaton College and majored in Bible Theology. After one summer at Yonsei University’s Korean language program, his heart for Korea and fellow gyopos(Koreans of the diaspora) grew. Tony learned that many Korean Americans who have fallen out of the church are also deeply hurt by them. By showing grace and being gracious, he hopes to build space for Korean Americans to explore their faith and be more inclusive of one another.

Janet Russell

Janet Russell was a military kid born in Germany to a Korean mother and a Belizean father. She didn’t grow up seeing any Koreans around her, and since she was more acquainted with her father’s family, they told her that she was Black and needed to identify with her father’s race. So she lived her life identifying as Black.

Joseph Kim

Joseph Kim left Korea at four years old and grew up in Colorado Springs. His father felt strongly about their Korean heritage and emphasized the importance of speaking Korean. Joseph currently resides in Korea and shares his unexpected journey into the Korean music industry as a songwriter and producer. With many songs and hits under his belt, Joseph recognizes the large range of talents in Korea. He is now at a point in his career where he wants to nurture and guide the next generation of creatives in the Korean music industry and hopes to showcase their skills to the world.

Peter Han

Born in 1968 in Gimpo, South Korea, Peter Han recalls his mother bringing home food, ingredients, and even leftovers from her job to provide for the family. At ten years old, Peter’s father becomes sick and passes away. Two years later, his mother remarries a white American man she met at the military base she worked at and soon moves everyone to the US.

Kyung Koo Park

Born in 1950 during the Korean War, Kyung Koo Park was the weakest child in her family. They didn’t have much, but Mrs. Park recalls never going hungry and being thankful to her mother for raising her to be a strong and proud person. In this Legacy Project recording, Mrs. Park also shares her journey and what it was like living as an immigrant in South Carolina during the 70s and 80s. She has learned not to make assumptions and hopes future generations learn and communicate with the different communities around them while never forgetting their roots.

John Song

John Song would describe his childhood as atypical. He and his sister were latchkey kids who didn’t follow the traditional path a Korean American kid should take and experienced lots of bumps on the road. At 11 years old, John’s father passed away from cancer; six days later, his 17-year-old sister gave birth.

Jennifer Chung

Jennifer Chung grew up in San Francisco constantly surrounded by music and dance. Her mother was a traditional Korean dancer and her father was a recording artist and radio DJ. Even after her parent’s divorce, she recalls traveling around in her mother’s van performing and falling in love with music.

Sarah Park

Sarah Park was born in Seoul and immigrated to the US in middle school. As a child in Korea, Sarah noticed inequalities and injustices surrounding her and would try to create a space where everyone was equal. She would make sure classmates would have resources and offer support when needed.

Choong Shik Cho

Born in 1935 during the Japanese occupation of Korea, Choong Shik Cho recalls constantly struggling and facing hunger. When the Korean War broke out, he was 16 years old and spent the first three months hiding in a dark basement because his family feared he would be drafted. Although his family didn’t have much, he remembers his parents’ deep devotion to providing him and his seven siblings with food and support.

Katheryn Kim

Katheryn Kim was born in 1940 into a yangban, or a noble, family in Gyeongju City and grew up in a strict and traditional home. Her father was not like most men of his generation and did not want Katheryn to marry until she completed college. Katheryn completed school but refused to get married. She ran away from home and hid from her family, but life had other plans. Katheryn, to her surprise, found a match on a blind date her parents had set up and soon got married.

Mila Konomos

Mila Konomos was born in Seoul, South Korea, and adopted into a white American military family stationed in Japan at six months old. As an infant, Mila would cry and screech nonstop. It wasn’t until her adoptive mother was flipping through tv channels she immediately stopped crying when she heard something familiar, Korean. This story was often humorously shared with Mila but for her, it’s a story about grief and severance.

Amanda Assalone

Amanda Assalone was born in Seoul, South Korea, and adopted into a white family in Tulsa, OK. She always believed she was given up for adoption because her birth mother was young and could not financially raise a child. Amanda never intended to search for her family and always wished them well. So when she received an email saying they’d been found, she quickly learned the truth. Her story had been fabricated and she was given up for adoption because she was not a boy.

James Han

James “Uzuhan” Han was born and raised in Washington, DC, and often worked at his family’s dry cleaning business. As a child, witnessing his parents interact with customers gave James insight into how the world viewed them and a desire to protect his family. It wasn’t until middle school that he discovered hip hop, allowing him to channel those feelings and connect with himself and his peers in a new way.

Hee Shin Suh

Hee Shin Suh was born to a noble, or yangban, family in 1924 in Jangsu, Jeollabuk-do. Mrs. Suh grew up with hired help and openly shares she wasn’t familiar with household chores when she immigrated to Ohio. She even recalls giving her kids under or overcooked rice multiple times and struggling to cook Korean dishes. Seeing her neighbors working and feeling unproductive at home, she found work as a seamstress and continued to work there for the next 20 years.

Dr. Kee Ok Cho

Dr. Kee Ok Cho’s father firmly believed that women should have access to education. While attending vocational school, Dr. Cho knew she had to go to school in Japan like her sister in order to get the best education possible. Plans quickly changed when Japan began to lose the war. She instead had to attend school in Korea to reduce the chances of being taken to become a comfort woman. Soon after, the Korean War breaks out.

Kwon Teimchaiyapoom

Now as a student at the University of Houston, Kwon Teimchaiyapoom recalls her childhood as a restaurant kid. Kwon being half Thai / half Korean, was brought up in a Western household; never feeling connected to either culture except through the food her family served in their restaurant. It wasn’t until recently, when her parents’ divorce became finalized, that Kwon began to see a shift in her mother, who began to immerse herself into the Korean community of Houston. Seeing her mother make kimchi every week and watching more Korean television sparked a reflection within Kwon herself, to begin her own search for identity. As Kwon continues navigating her place in the world, she hopes to unravel more about herself and her roots.

Susan Jhin

Susan Jhin became her mother’s primary caregiver after enduring multiple fractures from a serious fall. Providing her with constant care in her home in Houston, Susan began to see hope for her mother’s health. However, after three months of progress, her mother suddenly stopped eating. After a doctor’s visit, Susan was given the difficult task of telling her mother that she had pancreatic cancer with not much time left.

Nam Young Park

Nam Young Park, born 1931 in North Korea, describes his childhood throughout Japanese occupation, recollecting what it meant to be Korean at that time. After Korea’s eventual independence, Nam began his dream of becoming a lawyer at Korea University. To his dismay, the Korean War broke out just one month into school and he was quickly recruited as a young soldier.

David Shin

David Shin recalls his dad expressing their family’s immigration to Canada as being “for the sake of his children” despite their struggles with money. Watching his father balance a difficult life of buying properties and paying mortgages– “asset rich, cash flow poor”– led David in a completely different direction towards engineering and law school. He was able to make his own successes during his time in Houston, earning his way up in the world, but still struggled with the guilt ingrained in him from his experiences at Baptist churches. He’s currently on the path to find peace by giving back to his community any way he can.

Dr. Casey Youn

“Sangsun Yaksu (상선약수, 上善若水) Flow with water, flow with nature” are the words that Dr. Casey Youn continues to carry with him as he flows through his own life; taking any opportunities that comes his way. Born just 7 years before the Korean War broke out, Dr. Youn developed an altruism to give back to community after seeing the aid that the U.S. gave back to Korea during a time of devastation and need. To this day, Dr. Young uses his various work skills – which range from chemical engineering to coffee shop owner – to give back to his Korean American community. He now acts as President of the Korean American Association & Community Center of Houston.

Hae Jung Lee

Hae Jung Grace Lee never dreamed of getting married and having children due to her weak body until she met her husband. He was a charming and smart man with a dream of one day receiving a Nobel Peace Prize. In 1996, they both immigrated to Houston, TX where he was offered a position as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas where he could pursue dreams. But shortly after moving to America, the IMF crisis hit Korea and all opportunities in his field disappeared, forcing them to pivot and forget their dreams.

Sang Hui Juhn

Sang Hui Juhn was born in 1932 in Wonju, Korea, and attended six years of primary school under Japanese occupation. She recalls not being allowed to speak Korean at school and working to provide supplies for the Japanese army instead of studying not fully understanding what was going on. Most of all, she remembers the name she was given – Kiyomoto Eiko. The occupation ended once World War II ended but soon after, conflict began to rise between North and South Korea.

David So

David So was born in South Korea in 1987 and moved to the United States with his family in 1995. Reflecting on his experiences as a 1.5 gen Korean American pastor’s kid, David shares the complexities he’s faced with his own identity but also frustrations he had with the Korean church.

Tina Kim

As a freshman in college, Tina Kim rode on the back of her cousin’s motorcycle and got into a terrible accident that completely compromised her mobility. Her mother had to bathe her, feed her, and even teach her how to walk again. But the most challenging part for her wasn’t the physical recovery, it was the emotional and mental recovery. Tina openly shares her journey with mental health and depression while reflecting on how her mother’s love and support helped her overcome one of the darkest moments in her life.

Dona Murphey

Dona Kim Murphey was born, raised, and still resides in Houston, TX. She experienced prejudice as a woman for the first time when trying to negotiate a deserved higher position. That question of value based on her identity in conjunction with the 2016 election led her further away from an expected path of continued training in academic science.

Helen Chang

Helen Chang has formed a steady habit of making the most of whatever life throws at her. At 19, she spun her failed entrance exam to Ewha University into gold, when she chose a different path at Joseon Hotel as an English-speaking receptionist for VIP guests. She rubbed elbows, earned lots of money, and fell in love; eventually leading her to Germany and Las Vegas, then ultimately settling in Texas– all whilst craving the kimchi she missed from home.

Ken Hong

Through the smell of beondegi and dalgona wafting through the air, Ken Hong felt instantly welcomed back to Korea despite spending many years away after his family immigrated in the 1970s. After many stints of living in Korea while traveling around Asia for work as a PR representative, Ken is now proud to call Korea home and provide a more rooted and immersive cultural experience for his teenage daughter; something he lacked in his own childhood in America.

Frank Nam

Frank Nam would describe his youth in the Tri-state area as “Korean on the weekends and American on the weekdays.” After graduating from Rutgers as a history major, he never expected to land a job at MSNBC.com as a web developer; later moving on to Microsoft. He then spent the next 24 years in Seattle exploring different sectors within his career before being suddenly laid off during the 2001 recession, thus facing many emotional stressors throughout a year and a half of unemployment. He finally confronted himself and laid out two options – go back to NY or stay in Seattle to explore his passions instead of being what he thought a good Korean American Christian should be.

Karl Johnson

Adopted from South Korea to a family in Central Minnesota at just 5 months old, Karl Johnson didn’t always feel a sense of ownership over his Korean heritage, which is exactly what brought him back to Korea in his adulthood. Karl shares his own poem “Baa Baa Yellow Sheep”, which questions what you’re left with when you’re stripped of your original culture, family, country as a transracial adoptee.

Robert Joe

Robert Joe was born in NY and raised in Texas after his father decided to quit his job at Samsung to stay in America during the ’70s. As a child, he was drawn to his creativity and eventually grew up to pursue film studies at the University of Texas after realizing the impact movies made on his life. Since moving to Korea in 2002, Robert has been able to reflect on his limitations as a Korean American living there– from issues with its healthcare system while taking care of his sick mother, to questioning what he as a Korean American has to offer the quickly growing country.

Grace Kim

Grace Kim was born in Dallas, Texas and was raised in a town a little outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Growing up, she didn’t realize how different it was to be a Korean American until her friends made negative comments about her bring kimbap to share with everyone for her birthday. In that split second, she thought to herself that she didn’t like it anymore. Wanting to find an outlet and explore life further, Grace took on hobbies such as dance and photography to show her creativity.

Peter Kim

Peter Kim was born in South Korea and grew up with a large, close-knit family that worked together at his father’s business. After immigrating to Canada at the age of 10, he soon realized how displaced he was with the rest of society. In this Remote Edition of Legacy Project, Peter sits down with his daughter, Cara, to talk about his journey through his view of the world as a Korean, Korean Canadian and Korean American. He shares his regrets of not teaching his children to be more immersed in Korean culture, but also emphasizes the importance of being an open book and having common understanding. He hopes for Cara to lead a positive and fulfilling life while growing confident in her own identity.

Linus Kim

Before his first birthday, Linus Kim and his family moved to Bessemer, a town outside Birmingham, Alabama, after his uncle asked his parents to take over their business. When a friend invited him to visit Korea, he took the opportunity and brought along his barbeque rubs and spices. He somehow found a way to make barbeque and began to pursue popups to sell his pulled pork sandwiches. To his surprise, they were a hit and realized he was on to something and knew he had to head back to the US in order to learn more than just making pulled pork sandwiches. He traveled from town to town, meeting new people and learning new techniques. He eventually got to Batesville, Arkansas, where he trained to be a barbeque judge. After a few years of running popups in Korea and participating in competitions in the US, Linus opened up his own restaurant in Itaewon.

Soon Ja Rhee

After six years of living in LA, Soon Ja Rhee and her husband decided to open up a video rental store. But within five years of running the business, news broke out about riots happening across LA. Mrs. Rhee vividly recalls her next-door neighbor rushing over to tell her that they saw their store on fire on the news. Her whole family hurried back to the store and saw everything had burned down. This year marks the 30th anniversary of SaIGu (4.29).

Carol Park

Carol Park grew up working many hours at her parent’s gas station store in Los Angeles, California. On April 29, 1992(SaIGu), the 1992 LA Civil Unrest broke out when she was 12 years old. Carol recalls frantically calling her mother to tell her to come home after seeing all the violence happening on the news. She eventually made it home safely but could not stop thinking about her store and hoping it would not burn down.

Jung Koo Kang

Jung Koo Kang has been in Los Angeles, California for about 45 years. He began working in a sewing factory and later opened up his own factory. Mr. Kang and his wife worked incredibly for their business that the landlord noticed and asked Mr. Kang to take on three of his ten wholesale stores in the Garment District in order to help him further succeed as a young business owner. As Mr. Kang was heading back home from work one evening, he heard on the radio that riots had begun in South LA and were moving up to Koreatown. By the time he got home, the news was already broadcasting that the riots had reached Olympic Blvd.

Ashley Baik

Ashley Baik was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee. Growing up, Ashley had a hard time navigating between her Korean and American identities but was able to find support through her church youth group. She soon saw the importance of the two cultures and realized how much her parents had struggled when they came to a new country. In this Legacy Project video, Ashley reflects on her faith and identity and gives gratitude for her parents’ sacrifices.

Mark Wilson

Mark Wilson was born in Seoul, South Korea, and adopted to a small suburban town in Philadelphia at nine months old. He grew up in a two-parent household with a brother who is ten years older and was domestically adopted. Upon entering college, Mark was still trying to find where he belonged. At times he would walk by the table of Korean students in the cafeteria but never felt connected with them. Having housemates involved in exchange programs, he ended up meeting the Korean students at a house party and became close friends with them. They invited him to their gatherings and even talked to him about going back to visit Korea.

Najung Hiatt

Najung Hiatt was born and raised in South Korea, and moved to America as a university student seeking to continue her education. She met her husband, who is not Korean, and decided to stay in America to raise a family and pursue her dream of becoming an educator. In this remote edition of Legacy Project, Najung shares how she raised her children to be proud of their Korean heritage and that they should never forget the value of being connected to their roots. She hopes the Korean American community will find their own ways to keep in touch with its cultural heritage, so that it doesn’t slip away.

Sarah Williams

Sarah Williams was born in South Korea and adopted to the U.S. at nine months old into a Christian household. Growing up, she would always go to church, attend Sunday school, and read the Bible. When she was eight or nine years old, she read the story of Tamar in the Bible and saw her life being reflected right at her. A family member was sexually abusing her. Disclosing the abuse to the family meant it would disrupt the family dynamic – something she couldn’t do because she felt indebted to her family for adopting her. So she remained silent.

Eunbi Kim

Eunbi Kim is a concert pianist born in Seoul, South Korea, and raised in Maryland. At 19 years old, she was working in retail and met an executive at a major tech company who offered her a mentorship opportunity for a scholarship at his company. After a few interactions, she began to increasingly feel uncomfortable with the way he acted at their meetings. Eunbi expressed her boundaries and chose to remove all forms of communication yet he continued to reach out and leave voicemails blaming her for her actions. It even got to the point where he filed complaints to the police that she was the one threatening and harassing him. With the support of her father, they made a report to his company and launched an internal investigation against him. He continued to deny all accusations and shifted the blame onto Eunbi.

Hyeseung Yoo

Hyeseung Yoo was born in Seoul, South Korea, and currently works as a domestic violence social worker. In 2015, she was sexually assaulted by someone she thought she could trust. Hyeseung never went to the authorities or the hospital because, at the time, she believed it could affect her family’s visa status. In this installment of Legacy Project #MeToo, Hyeseung speaks about generational traumas and increasing openness to share and listen to survivors in the Korean American community. She wants other survivors to know that they are not alone and that there is a safe space for them to talk about their experiences.

Cecelia Lim

At 12 and 13 years old, Cecelia loved being involved in her middle school choir and looked up to her teacher. One day, she realized her teacher was doing things that seemed inappropriate and tried to get close to her in ways a student and teacher shouldn’t. She addressed what was happening, but the school couldn’t find any students or hard evidence to support her claim. Nobody believed her and thought she was just out to get him, so she internalized all of her emotions because she feared being shamed by others. Her PTSD symptoms continued to grow when she entered college, ultimately leading to a breakdown in class. With the affirmation and support from the professor, Cecelia was able to get the help she needed.

Seo-Young Chu

Seo-Young Chu was 22 years old when a powerful and beloved English professor sexually assaulted her at Stanford University. Although he was punished, she shares that the university continues to conceal the abuse by allowing awards and a library to exist in his name. Today, Seo Young still wrestles with her inner model minority voice telling her to tolerate what had happened. By participating in this series, she hopes future generations feel empowered to share their stories without shame or stigma and also recognize that there are Korean American voices in the #MeToo movement.

Monica Kim

In this first installment of Legacy Project #MeToo, Monica Kim reflects on the night of her sexual assault and the process of trying to move forward from it. She speaks about how she grappled with the idea of therapy as she worked through feelings of shame and disgust. She hopes that other Korean American women hear her story and know that they are not alone in navigating personal struggles and the healing process.

Legacy Project: #MeToo

KoreanAmericanStory.org is honored to be launching Legacy Project: #MeToo, featuring the powerful stories of Korean American survivors of sexual assault. This project seeks to empower and validate the experiences of Korean American survivors, and spark much-needed dialogue about sexual violence and harassment, as well as complex cultural stigmas that make breaking silence so difficult

Julia Park

Julia Park grew up in Seoul, South Korea and immigrated to the US at age 13 where her father ran a grocery store. Julia spent much of her childhood in America working at the store and even recalls her father treating school as her reward for working. Today, at age 57, Julia Park works in social service and as the executive director and trip director of Sejong Camp. In this special series, Julia examines the impact of her childhood, becoming a mother, and her passion to give back to future generations.

Grace Nicodemus

Grace Nicodemus was raised outside of Philadelphia, PA, and is currently pursuing a degree in Psychology. For the past 12 years, she has been drawn back to Sejong Camp because of all the relationships she has made. Her experiences as a camper continue to empower her to make a positive impact as a counselor. In this special series, Grace examines her mental health, navigating the world as an adoptee, and her growing passion to help others.

Seo Hee Kelleher

Seo Hee Kelleher grew up in Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to the United States in 1991 at the age of 15. She currently works as a Korean American shaman, using her spiritual gifts to help others heal in a way that is authentic to her cultural identity. However, during the process of studying the spiritual world, she realized that much of traditional Korean spiritual knowledge was inaccessible to non-Korean speakers. In this special series, Seo reflects on the struggles of assimilation and her passion to publish spiritual wisdom books for non-Korean speakers.

Laura-Ann Jacobs

Laura-Ann Jacobs was born in Incheon, South Korea and adopted to a family outside of Atlanta, Georgia at the age of 4 months old. As an adoptee and Korean American, her identity played a significant role in being the foundation for her to pursue a career in education with a specialization in anti-racism. During her doctoral program, she began a birth search to learn more about herself and her roots. In this special series, Laura-Ann shares about her passion in creating change for racial justice and reflects on the significance of her trip to Korea to meet her birth family.

Lia Ylitalo

Lia Ylitalo was born in South Korea and is currently living in Minnesota. She doesn’t have any recollection of Korea, but was able to hear a few stories about her birth family. Ever since coming to Sejong Camp, she is continually drawn back with a desire to learn more about Korean culture. In this special series, Lia examines her journey to self-confidence, becoming, proud of her heritage, and navigating the world as an adoptee.

Benjamin Kim Oser

Benjamin Kim Oser was born in Mapogu, Seoul, South Korea, and adopted to Central New Jersey at three months old. In his 20s, he went back to Korea to teach English and find any medical records regarding him or his family. The search soon became a birth search when he discovered his father was looking for him. Benjamin reflects on navigating the complexities and feelings behind his birth family’s story and also the appreciation he has for his adoptive parents and the motivation to lead the next generation of Korean Americans as the director of Sejong Camp.

Hope Sacco

Hope Sacco grew up in Baltimore, Maryland to a Korean American adoptee mother and a white father. She attended a high school with very little Asian representation which drove her to search for community outreach opportunities in the Asian community.

Kat Ley

Kat Ley was born in South Korea and was adopted when she was 7 months old. Before becoming a counselor at Sejong Camp, Kat attended as a camper for much of her childhood. Sejong Camp is simultaneously a place where she can escape the label of being “Korean” and be treated as herself. As a Korean American adoptee, she does not search to find the perfect label or identity for herself. Instead, she believes that her actions in the moment speak for who she is as a person. She has found peace in being able to embrace her Korean Americanness, while also believing that her true identity is defined by how she lives her everyday life.

Tommy Lee

Tommy Lee was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan and moved around quite a bit within the Maryland and Virginia area to stay near his mother’s side of the family after his parents divorce. In this special Legacy Project series, Tommy examines the relationship he had with his parents since their divorce, his passions, his identity, his future, and what Camp Sejong means to him.

Dr. Doug Hong

Dr. Doug Hong was born in Korea in 1941. By the time he was 9 years old, the Korean War had begun. He recalls being faced with extreme hunger that he caught insects like cicadas and flies to eat. As he was fleeing south with his family towards Seoul, bombs destroyed bridges causing them to seek refuge in a mountain in the outskirts of Seoul. His dad and uncle hid in a cave to make sure they wouldn’t be caught and forced to join the North Korean army, while the rest of his family found shelter nearby. Three months went by and UN troops reclaimed Seoul. Dr. Hong still remembers the horrid sights that laid in front of his eyes on his walk back home.

Cory Lemke

Cory Lemke was born in Jeonju, South Korea and adopted to the United States when he was six months old. He was raised in a small rural town in Northern Iowa and grew up identifying more with White people. When his family moved to Tucson, Arizona, his racial identity was challenged by the people around him. He encountered much more obvious racism in Arizona compared to Iowa and began to realize the environment around him was not a healthy one.

Seonwoong Hwang

Seonwoong Hwang was born and raised in South Korea into a pastor’s family. From a young age, he realized the injustices in society and set a clear path for himself to pursue politics. As he reached his 20s, he felt a need to reset and took a new path and studied theology in college. Though his goal was to enact change in the world, Mr. Hwang wants to make that change through whatever God’s calling for him may be.

Madison Jay

Madison Jay was born in Korea in 1995 and was adopted to Arizona to a two-parent household with an older brother, who is also a Korean adoptee. Her parents were never shy in exposing her and her brother to Korean culture and read them books about adoption or Korean American identity as well as sending them to Korean heritage camp. As she went through high school and college, people knew her as the adoptee and would question her Koreanness. She didn’t speak the language, eat Korean food, or even know the latest K-Pop band causing her understanding of beauty and self to become unclear.

Chris Packard

Chris Packard was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio to a Korean mother and American father. He recalls growing up with a true rural Midwestern life filled with baseball and bicycle rides but also vivid memories of helping his mother run her small businesses – something he considers a defining part in his childhood.

Faith Kim

Faith Kim was born and raised in Deerfield, Illinois. She went to a predominantly white school, and struggled with the concept of being both Korean and American. She began to connect with her heritage in middle school when she began watching K-dramas with her mother and learning Korean through Rosetta Stone.

Greg Norrish

Greg Norrish was born in Seoul, South Korea in 1986 and was adopted to Northeastern CT when he was about 3 months old. Throughout his childhood, he distinctly remember being perpetually aware of his differences. By the age of 18, he began to process his identity in multiple ways and continued until he was nearing his late twenties, which was when he chose to come to Korea. Greg had no idea of what he was hoping for when he came to Korea. To a certain degree, he wanted to find a purpose while trying to live out the inflated dreams he made throughout his childhood but he was also feeling pressured because he told people back home his decision was to explore his Korean roots. After living in Korea for four years, he stopped worrying about his adoption because he found himself being able to feel comfortable in his own skin and living life through work and meeting people who embraced him as he is. As Greg continues life in Korea, he hopes to continue to process and explore his identity through each moment that comes naturally in his everyday life.

Mandy Hwang

Mandy Hwang was raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma by an American father and Korean mother. She grew up feeling “perfectly half-Korean” thanks to her parents’ efforts to help her feel comfortable in her own skin, especially her father. Mandy moved to Korea with the intention of working in the K-pop industry but after taking a teaching job, she realized this was the career she wanted to pursue. Living and working in Korea has helped her feel more in-tune with her Korean identity and recognize that Korean culture is very different from Korean American culture. For Mandy, being half-Korean is a significant part of her identity and means having the best of both American and Korean culture. She believes that it is important for future generations of Korean Americans to not only be familiar with their Korean heritage, but also to make it their own.

Joshua Hwang

Joshua Hwang was born and raised in Philadelphia as one of five boys in his family. His father was a pastor while his mother ran two dry cleaning businesses. Growing up, Joshua wanted to create an identity for himself as an American. He rebelled from the standard ideas of being a PK, or pastor’s Kid, and tried to avoid the Korean American community as much as possible. His parents eventually saw the recklessness and wanted to find an opportunity for him leave Philadelphia as soon as possible.

Brian Kuh

Brian Kuh was born in South Korea and moved to America at the age of six. He moved around frequently throughout his childhood, which always made him the new Asian student at school. By second grade, he started to realize how much his peers were teasing him and even recalls having rocks thrown at him. Instead of harboring any form of bitterness, Brian just wanted to feel like he belonged and continued to have a lingering feeling of being “in the middle”. With other Koreans, they would say he is too American. With Korean Americans, they would say he was too Korean. Eventually, he realized being between two cultures is a uniqueness not many people have and would allow him to become a bridge connecting two communities.

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.

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.

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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.

Dr. Byoung G. Choh

Legacy Project video of Dr. Byoung G. Choh of Cleveland, Ohio interviewed by his daughter, Theresa Choh-Lee.  Dr. Choh discusses how he was able to leave North Korea and escape to the South in 1950, and how no one else in his family was able to join him.  He also remembers visiting his home town in North Korea many years later, and reflects on where home is for him.