A Korean-American’s Thoughts on Korean-American History

The first memory I have of the name Dr. Philip Jaisohn was as a teenager. I walked into a slightly run-down waiting room and sat, looking curiously about me. It had been awhile since I was in any sort of medical clinic in the U.S., having lived in Seoul for three years now.

 

“Ah, the waiting rooms still have magazines,” I thought.

 

I asked my grandmother how she was feeling. “괜찮지 [I’m fine],” she replied, next to me.

 

Soon she was welcomed by a nurse who addressed her by name, and I saw my grandmother’s dentures flash as she realized she could understand everything the young health professional was saying. This an anomaly for a woman who immigrated to a country where she still didn’t speak the language and had managed to survive as head matriarch of a transplanted and scattered family.

 

A short time later we left, and I asked my mother, “How is there a Korean hospital in the middle of Philadelphia?”

 

She answered, “This is the 서재필 (Dr. Philip Jaisohn) Memorial Foundation.”

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KALAGNY 28th Anniversary Gala

This week I was honored to emcee the Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York (KALAGNY)’s 28th Anniversary Gala Dinner. The theme: The Korean American Experience: 150 Years in the Making, as it recognized what would’ve been the 150th birthday of Dr. Philip Jaisohn, believed to be one of the first Koreans to immigrate to the United States in the 19th century. He was the first Korean to be naturalized as a U.S. citizen, the first Korean to graduate from medical school, went onto marry an American woman, and then later returned to his native soil to demand democracy for the people.

 

His accomplishments are far-reaching, but knowledge of them is not. At the New York event, one of the evening’s honorees asked the room of 300+ attendees who had heard of Dr. Jaisohn prior to that night. Barely a few dozen raised their hands.

 

In a conversation with the honoree afterward, he lamented the ignorance, including his own. “Honestly, I didn’t even know of him until I started researching him for my speech,” Young Lee admitted. “Yet how many others still don’t know of this great man?”

 

Thankfully, there seems to be progress. I was privileged enough to attend a university (go Quakers!) where Korean history classes were an option, leading to my Asian Studies minor.

 

At UC Riverside, a center devoted to Korean American Studies opened its doors just four years ago. It is named in honor of the only Korean American officer in a mostly Japanese-American Army unit during World War II: Col. Young Oak Kim. Be sure to learn more about him, as my dear friend’s father is the one who researched and brought awareness to this great Asian American advocate’s accomplishments.
Clearly, this is only the beginning.

 

I’m getting ahead of myself, but these are the conversations I hope to keep having in the next few months. I look forward to these triggers, catalysts, sticking points where I’m forced to stop and self-ask,” Is this where my heart wants to venture forward?”

 

More thoughts and questions to come. Let’s chat.

Apparently not alone

A good friend of mine sent me this link (thanks Nancy and J!) of a news scrum.*

Whether you know what that is or not (I didn’t), the viewpoints of the contributors are insightful, varied and telling. Please read.

 

The point of this post is a self-realization: I am not the only journalist to be leaving my field. In fact, the article cites another USA Today reporter who’s left his post for a digital communications firm. Scott Martin’s primary reason is also concern for the direction of journalism. In his case, specifically technology news. Martin writes, “…Social media giants are becoming the new distribution powerhouses and gatekeepers of news as well as the place to put advertising dollars to work,” and as a result, he believes news is indirectly becoming corporate advertising.

 

My thoughts on journalism’s future are similar, though Martin addresses the introduction of advertising at a level deeper than my thinking.

1. Despite my interest in local news, its audience is diminishing.

2. The demand for viewers leads to efforts to engage the public.

3. Oftentimes these efforts focus on social media.

 

That timeline seems innocuous. New attitudes, approaches and mindsets are necessary to keep up with society’s changes.

 

Here’s the problem. With fewer people tuning into their local stations, those newsrooms are making decisions that tend to lean toward the more scandalous, the ones that will grab your attention. They’re also using social media in a way that gets people to tune in. Oftentimes it’s a simple copy/paste and putting the audience’s thoughts on the air.

 

Is this the right platform for random comments? Is this news? As stations become more desperate for viewers and engagement, I feel there will only be more changes that will not reflect the heart of journalism.

I will say that the current station I’m at does not compromise on many of these things, but I’m looking ahead.

 

It’s an unusual state-of-mind for me to be in. I generally plan in the short-term. But again, after much prayer, reflection and conversation, I’ve been able to take this leap of faith, leaving a job I love, to find out what else is in store. Stay tuned.

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*I had no idea what a “news scrum” was either. Fast Company describes it as a place where “senior reporters add crucial context and information to a mainstream technology story.”

A significant announcement

 

Thacher State Park

Thacher State Park

 

I took this photo at the end of January. Trees – in case you didn’t know – don’t grow sideways. Yet this one ended up parallel to the earth that gave it life, going against the direction of all the other trees.

 

I took this photo thinking of me.

 

This was a day spent in prayer and reflection, in praise and in apprehension. It’s when I decided I was going to run counter to what was expected of me and leave the field of journalism for now.

 

So there’s the announcement. After years of reporting, anchoring, producing and informing, I’ve decided it’s time to step away to see the people I love, explore other paths I may be passionate about and challenge myself in ways I haven’t in the past.

 

There are multiple reasons for this. Among them, the fact that I’ve said no to many opportunities, events and moments in an effort to say yes to a career. I’m also sensing a growing concern about the direction that local broadcast news is headed. If you’d like to chat more, feel free to ask.

 

Back to reality though. This means in June, I’ll be leaving Albany. For a few months, I will be roaming my home countries and a few others while searching for my next landing place.

 

For those of you who have been a part of this journey with me, I can’t thank you enough. You’ve been by my side at career fairs, stayed up with me until midnight or woken up at 3 a.m. with me, juggled my strange weekends, visited me in cities you never thought you’d be in.

 

oh, how I miss this

oh, how I miss this

fdsaf

my family, my rock

 

Most importantly, you’ve believed in me, especially in moments when I lacked faith in myself. Thanks to you, I’ve learned, grown, and become so much closer to the journalist I wanted to be.

WMDT in Salisbury, Md.

Salisbury, Md. [WMDT]

NYS Fair, YNN

NYS Fair, Syracuse [YNN]

Reporting, TWC News

Reporting [now TWC News]

 

Just as that wayward tree is being held up by the other upstanding ones, you carry me.

 

Your name is on my byline.

When to stop

The interview by Christen Cooper of Bode Miller. Need I say more?

It’s likely you’ve already formed an opinion, and that opinion is one of outrage. How could someone push a grieving man? Personally, I’d love to hear from you, feel free to write your thoughts in the comment section!

However, since this is my blog, i suppose it’s time for me to pen a few thoughts. Also, disclaimer: I realize this is outdated. shhhh. I fell behind in my thought-penning.

So, being a reporter, I understand the pressure to land the “best” interview. Consider just how many people have watched the clip – and while they’ve expressed anger – they’re still tuning to NBC. Tears hit the top of the list when it comes to “good TV.”

Here’s a confession. This week, I asked a woman if I could interview her. She refused because “that other reporter already interviewed me and made me cry.” I learned that it was because a journalist from another news station touched on a sensitive and painful subject.

My thought was, “I want to talk to this woman.”

I realize that makes me sound calloused. However, that incident was almost three years ago, and the motive for wanting to speak to her was because I knew she had the ability to speak freely and comfortably.

Yet, she refused. And I walked away. I didn’t persist.

Back to Miller. I would have asked the first question Cooper asked.

I would have also asked the second question.

Whether or not I would’ve gotten to the third, I’m unsure. I feel I would’ve given Miller a reprieve. However, I understood why she kept up the questioning. You want to know who it is that’s in front of you.

What angers me most about this interview is that we continue to see Miller. How many cameras were there? How many lenses captured the man, knees buckled, sobbing? For several seconds, his grief fills the screen.

A woman asked a question that may have gone too far. And words can’t be taken back in the face of raw emotion. But don’t keep highlighting the hurt. Give the grieving their dignity.

Good Tweetings

I start with a quick apology. I planned for this next post to be about the inundation of difficult news stories when working at a 24-hour statewide cable network (wow, I made that sound really boring), but a little blue bird network got in the way ^_^

For good reason.

I actually own a shirt that resembles the Twitter bird. Here's to you, Larry!

I actually own a shirt with a strong resemblance to the Twitter bird. Here’s to you, Larry!

I thank Twitter tonight for lifting so many hearts that were downcast by many incidents of tragedy. In addition to the fatal Northway crash, a Mechanicville Marine was killed in combat in Afghanistan this weekend. I actually learned of his death last night, after spending a whole day fighting to address the deaths of Chris Stewart and Deanna Rivers in a respectful and honorable fashion. I couldn’t write about it though because it wasn’t confirmed. Anyway, all this… left me with little to keep going.

 

Then: tonight happened.

You’ve likely seen updates as to what has happened, but here’s the brief story:

Matt Hardy is a football player at Shenendehowa High School. His girlfriend Deanna Rivers was one of the two killed in a crash involving alcohol Saturday night. Hardy is recovering from his serious injuries. As a way of giving him joy, his friends began a campaign to get #TebowCallMatt to trend nationwide on Twitter… and then, of course, have Mr. Tim Tebow call the teenager.

With thousands in support, the topic was seen on the far left menu column within minutes.

Soon after, the New York Jets’ QB dialed.

#TebowCalledMatt

#TebowCalledMatt

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There are so many lessons to be taken away from this story.

1. Tim Tebow is a good man.

2. The friends and family and anyone who tweeted #TebowCallMatt (and the sequential #MissyCallBailey and #DaleyCallBailey) are wonderful people.

3. That means there are a TON of amazing people out there.

4. Twitter is powerful 🙂

5. There is always hope.

6. _______________________ (your takeaway)

And the list goes on.

We fight very hard to understand the incomprehensible in life, and sometimes it is futile. In those times, may we keep seeking messages and displays of hope.

 

Just like these tweeters did.

#ThankYou518

The compromise of a deadline

Last week I had the assignment of covering two debates prior to Primary Day, which is Thursday, September 13.

Reminder: GO OUT AND VOTE! 🙂

However, debates are not very easy to cover. Here’s why:

1. If the candidates do their job, there is a LOT of information

2. As a reporter, I have to pick and choose which issues to address

3. There isn’t much time to do so

4. It still has to be a cohesive story a viewer will want to watch

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Unfortunately, the first night I didn’t make my 11 p.m. deadline. I was crushed. It still ran as the top story in our hyperlocal news block because of other political coverage that ran late, but that doesn’t excuse my failing.

So what happened? After racking my brain, I believe it truly came down to wanting to put together the best piece for the audience (Here it is). If you weren’t at the debate, well, by hook or by crook, NOW you’ve got what you need to know on the screen in front of you. In making this my goal, I got caught up in wording and sequencing and most importantly, fairness… and the production just went too long. I didn’t finish on time.

Angry at myself, I went on to the next night’s debate, determined to have my package in before 11.

I did.

Though proud I had met my goal, I realized there was a sacrifice made. As I was writing, editing, regurgitating, I kept telling myself, “It’s not going to be perfect, but just get it done.”

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Therein lies something deeper.

As a journalist, meeting your deadline can often become the highest priority. The news needs to be released IMMEDIATELY.

If only newsrooms were like http://www.savagechickens.com (yes, check it out)

But in the process, are we losing quality?

I know that I did. Before I went to bed that night, I admitted to myself there was a better way I could’ve wrapped up that debate recap. The ending I used? Not horrible. Was it fluid? Could’ve been smoother.

It makes you wonder just how much good storytelling we lose because of the need to be first/prompt/within a certain time frame. Because we definitely do.

In the end, it comes down to whether you value the immediacy or the quality of the information. News… is news.

Too Much Snooki?

A colleage of mine posted this on Facebook: “If you worked at a station that makes… sure to do a story about Snooki having her baby, would you be ashamed?”

A solid, solid question, as I ended up being the “lucky” anchor who read the story.

For those of you who are wise enough to not know who Snooki is

I think more than my opinion, I’m interested in yours. However, I’ll share mine to get the ball rolling.

As much as we hate to think that personal developments in the lives of reality TV stars deserve airtime, they will get it. What has Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi done to be on news outlets? Nothing on the level of politicians, heroes, leaders, entrepreneurs, learners, teachers and others. Yet TV stations (and other media outlets) cover her life because she’s wormed her way into ours. Her obsessions, quirks, outspoken words and sometimes complete ignorance have horrified and captivated us to the point where any action of hers demands our attention.

As a journalist, I hate that her child’s birth gets coverage. As a subscriber to bad TV? I yelped when I heard she went into labor.

Managers who decide not to address Snooki’s son in their newscasts should be lauded and admired. However, I guarantee the majority will choose to make mention because they will receive the ratings and the attention from the general public. Not to mention… they were probably just as fascinated.

Do we blame the media? It certainly is an easy out. But before we shake our heads at the networks, let’s take a look at ourselves.

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I’m the first one to say I need to change my interests before I judge that of others.

One last look (for now)

By the end of this month, YNN.com will become enhanced for Time Warner Cable subscribers. To clarify: those of you who are not TWC customers will only have access to the print version of our news stories… and not video.

Here’s the warning on our websites

This means those of you who follow me and live miles and miles away from an area serviced by TWC will no longer be able to see video clips 😦

As a result, here’s a final barrage of clips that you can check out now, while they’re still accessible.*

Anchoring

Plane flips on Saratoga Lake

Camillus’ new triathalon

A call for a tax compromise

Couple killed in car crash

College Financial Planning

Dinosaurs at the library (!)

Paraplegic dog recovers, is adopted

Coast Guard rescue on Lake Ontario

Reporting

The dangers of ‘checking in’

Community replaces stolen bikes

Troy’s National Night Out

Local Sikh temple responds to shooting

Local businessman killed, area responds

New licensing law has bar owners up in arms

A rally against the Cabaret Law

Post Time at Saratoga: Going Off Broadway (special)

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As always, thanks for watching! For your enjoyment, the following photo.

Who doesn’t love pie? Especially 3 kinds of it?

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*I am working hard to try to get an online customer plan so that people who are unable to have TWC can still access YNN.com . It’s apparently in the works, but may not be for awhile. Double frowning-face 😦 😦

The benefits of being uprooted

You’d be surprised how often this thought comes to mind:

“I can’t believe I’m here.”

I never dreamed that I would live in a place where all-you-can-eat blue crabs were at my disposal. I would’ve laughed at you if you told me I’d ride 100 miles through Delmarva’s countryside… partially because I would have no idea where Delmarva was. I couldn’t even imagine that I’d find myself ringside at a boxing match or in a press box at a horse racing track. Yet all these things have come into fruition because of this career o’ mine.

Not that I’ve found my feet in dozens of locations. Really, it’s only been two regions. Nonetheless, I’ve been able to set my sights on cities, waters, events and lifestyles I didn’t know existed.

So cheers to exploring! Cheers to new friends who will show me familiar places. Cheers to old friends who are willing to venture out to wherever I am and discover alongside me. More importantly, cheers to all the food I’ve been able to consume. My tummy is quite the willing traveler.

some photos from just this week…

Swimming @ Grafton Lakes State Park

Open Mic @ the Daily Grind in Troy

Sipping @ the Epicurean in Latham

The Collar City’s farmers’ market

Anticipating the opening of No. 12 Second St, Troy

^_^

Right v. Wrong…I mean, Left. Wait, what?

I say ‘media.’ You say, __________.

Really, go ahead and fill in the blank.

Being a member of the media, I have found that more often than not, I am chalked up to be a liberal left-wing lover.

The media?

Then you learn I attend church. I wear a cross necklace. Immediately I am on the right, the perfect candidate to diversify Fox News.

The media… again?

Ironically, that confusion is a clear indicator to me that I was meant to be in the field of journalism.

Here’s my admission: Each time I find myself face-to-face with an issue that divides our country and our homes, conflict settles in my mind too. I embark on my journalistic journey to hear from one side. Behold, their words make sense! I then inteview an opposing party… and their pieces fall into place. By the end of my research, I’m not quite sure which way I lean.

Back to square one.

Some journalists take a position as they approach a story (hint: they won’t admit it, but they do). Personally, I try to understand as much as possible before making a call. Even then, it’s my goal to ensure others hear both sides. Of course, while I’m telling them, uncertainty often arises again.

Deep down, I know I have opinions. It’s taken years to develop them and confirm they align with what I believe is the Truth. I’m thankful to the wise thinkers who have given me insight. There are still many controversial topics that I haven’t let myself touch yet, but I will get there once I have heard near everything.

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I will say this: there are some decisions that I will likely forego. At least, forego taking an outward stance.

Because… is it that important to have an opinion on everything? Why cause discord when an open ear can heal?