I was born in Seoul, Korea and lived there until I was nine. My first return trip was 13 years later in 2014. I visited Korea three times since then - and returned from every trip changed. Every trip evoked a plethora of inspiration that left me dreaming about Korea every day until I returned.
Since I was young, I gravitated towards certain aesthetics and expressions. Though engaging in Korean media may have played a part, I realize these instinctual attractions may reflect my Korean ethnicity and upbringing - and even linked to the very things I'm called to create, speak, and cultivate. This revelation clicked when I returned to my homeland. Suddenly, it all made sense. I experienced an explosive yet intimate epitome of my favorite colors, moods, and expression in one single place called Korea. I now understand my aesthetic, voice, and passions better because the origins are rooted in something bigger than myself. A whole nation, culture, people, and thousands of history.
I'm fascinated by the Korean culture that's developed over the course of its 5000+ years of history. Korean language also carries the heart and spirit of the Korean people. Many English words lack the adequate words to fully capture the emotion behind some Korean words. I love seeing what Korean culture has transformed into through societal development, technology advancement, and outside influences, especially its creativity.
At the end of the excitement and inspiration, I experienced healing and restoration. During my youth, I struggled with my immigrant status and manifesting "Korean" expressions. Shame and embarrassment surfaced whenever someone pointed out how "Korean" I am. As a result, I exerted so much time and energy to appear more "whitewashed," which was harming to a healthy sense of self-worth. I tried so hard to be free from the Korean identity, but I was set free when I wholeheartedly embraced it.
I was blonde during my most recent Korea trip, and it was interesting to be perceived as "Korean" in the midst of my Korean American company. Hey, I'm being myself and I look "Korean!" My past fears and insecurities prohibited me from living out my role as a bridge for Korea and its culture to those around me. But fear no longer! I now feel more established and grounded in my personal and artistic identity. My experiences in Korea now permeate into daily conversations, life choices, and artistic expressions. A friend told me that the way I see Korea changed her negative outlooks. I met so many non-Koreans in the past months who love Korean media and food - and are even learning the language. It's amazing to be a resource for people to learn more about and even grow a personal heart for my country. I'm excited for the perspectives and stories forming around my experiences in Korea. I believe young Koreans long to see fresh content breaking through the creative boundaries of a homogeneous society - and I want to explore that arena through my artistry. Stay tuned!