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.”

———————————————————————-

fd

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.

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.

#innaefarawayplace

I’m going to start off by saying I am so blessed.

 

Now I’m going to note there is a hashtag to follow what I’m about to say next. teehee.

 

I’ve spent many a year telling myself ‘no.’ Whether it been a denial of sleep, denial of free time, denial of relationships and/or denial of travel, I’ve made these choices to move forward in my career. However, I hope this is the start to being able to say ‘yes’ to some of these things.

 

Hi, I’m in Argentina. In the Southern Hemisphere! Me!

More posts to come. In the meantime, follow me on Twitter or Instagram (and of course, #innaefarawayplace).  Ah, the beauty of hashtags.

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

^_^