While I like my name (Kee Won Huh), it has caused me problems living in the U.S. Not my name’s fault, of course. It’s just that U.S. naming customs and documentation have taken years to catch up to accommodate the naming customs of immigrants (many of which are now American citizens). In fact, they still haven’t caught up. Here’s a short list of problems I’ve encountered:
(By Teresa Armor) At the latest KAACP dinner, the notion of â€œHow Korean Am I?â€ came up. For those of you unfamiliar with my recent article on KAACP, itâ€™s the Korean Adult Adoptees of Central Pennsylvania. So the subject of â€œKorean-ismâ€ might be foreign to those who grew up in traditionally Korean households, e.g. homes where parents, grandparents, and possibly aunts and uncles spoke, cooked, and lived Korean. Those of us adopted into culturally non-Korean homes cannot necessarily relate to how â€œAll Koreansâ€ are like this or that, or do this or that. My current joke, although itâ€™s not really that funny, is that Iâ€™m not as Korean as I think I am. Physically, I can play the part, but what does it really mean to be Korean? How Korean am I really? Does it mean more than being born with these particular set of genes?
A wise and wonderful lady (that Iâ€™ve recently had the opportunity to get to know through the above mentioned dinners) had the following thoughts which I felt expressed the concept succinctly, yet eloquently. It is stated as follows:
My biological mother was Korean, and after a stay in an orphanage for the first ten months of my life (in 1950 due to her inability to properly care for me), I was adopted by a wonderful family in the U.S.Â When I look in the mirror, a Korean woman with short black hair, turquoise framed glasses, and a few wrinkles that expresses â€œIâ€™ve experienced life,â€ reflects back at me. [Read more...]
(By Sohyun Boo) When I first was introduced to a larger Korean/Asian American population on my college campus, I had a hard time keeping everyone straight (I’m Korean American by the way). Â I grew up in a predominantly Caucasian community. My eyes were not accustomed to a sea of black hair, round faces, slit eyes, 5 ft. 8 in., sub 150 lbs. soaking wet populace. Â I would play basketball and found myself passing the ball to the wrong teammates because I couldn’t keep everyone straight. So, I understand the generic stereotype that–we all look the same. Of course, eventually, I grew accustomed to the look and became much better at noticing the individuality within the look.
But what still remains the same are the names. David. John. Sam. Christine. Esther. Jenny. Â How many Korean friends of yours have the same name? I can see that a lot of these names are from Judeo-Christian tradition since many Korean-Americans consider themselves Christian. Â However, when I find out that “David Kim” also has a traditional Korean name, my ass gets chapped. Â What was wrong with their Korean name? Â Is it because a parent felt that it would be too difficult to pronounce by non-Koreans? Who were they trying to protect? Â Why make up a completely new name because one’s own personal name is difficult to pronounce? Is it part of the â€œdumbing dowâ€n of our multicultural society? I believe that this is inadvertently second-classing our culture to a former White America. This is unusual for a typically nauseatingly proud Korean culture. [Read more...]