1st Blog Post: My Korean American Story

By Cara Kim

June 26, 2021

Hi! I’m Cara, a Production and Social Media college intern. Welcome to my first official blog! This is my Korean American Story.

I am 19 years old, immensely proud to be Korean American, and incredibly passionate about sharing our experiences and stories. 

I didn’t always feel this way. 

I was born and raised in Illinois, but not the cool parts of Illinois where Korean Americans dominate the area. I was raised in the part where it felt like my family was the odd one out. 

The first time my racial difference was brought to my attention was when I was just 4 years old. A new family had moved in across the street with a daughter just 1 year younger than me.  My mom invited her over so we could play together. The first words she ever said to me were, “Are you Chinese?” I replied, “No, I’m Korean.” She responded, “What’s that?”

Fast forward a few years to elementary school. At the lunch table, my classmates would flood me with questions. 

“What’s my name in Korean?” 

“Do you eat rice everyday?”

“Are you adopted?”

Growing up with these constant microaggressions and that ever-present feeling of alienation caused me to desperately wish I was white. My method of trying to “fit in”, despite my clear racial difference, was to simply push away every part of my culture that I could. I tirelessly battled with my identity throughout middle school and high school. 

I recently finished my freshman year of college, and as I continue to grow and learn more about myself, the more I understand about who I am and where I come from. My halmoni, who sold handknit sweaters on the streets of South Korea. My halabeoji and halmoni, who opened a successful dry cleaning business after they came to America. My umma and appa, forced to grow up early as they came to a new country with their families. 

I stopped seeing myself as an American with Korean parents, and started seeing myself as Korean American. I embraced a side of me I never had before. And when I did, my entire perspective changed. All of my relatives, their history, hardships, victories, and everything in between is why I am here today.