Mixed Korean: Our Stories

Posted in Anthologies, Asian Diaspora, Books on 2018-05-20 01:26Z by Steven

Mixed Korean: Our Stories

Truepeny Publishing Company
ISBN: 978-0-692-06959-2

Edited by: Cerrissa Kim, Katherine Kim, Soon Kim-Russell, and Mary-Kim Arnold

From the struggles of the Korean War, to the modern dilemmas faced by those who are mixed race, comes an assortment of stories that capture the essence of what it is to be a mixed Korean. With common themes of exclusion, and recollections of not looking Korean enough, black enough, white enough, or “other” enough, this powerful collection features works by award-winning authors Alexander Chee, Michael Croley, Heinz Insu Fenkl, alongside pieces composed by prominent writers, poets and scholars. Interwoven between known literary names, are the voices of newcomers with poignant memories that have never been captured before. Collectively, these stories will resonate with anyone who has ever stood on the outside of a group, longing for inclusion. They are a testament to the courage, strength and resilience of mixed people everywhere.

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Koreans & Camptowns: Reflections of a Mixed-Race Korean

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2015-11-06 01:37Z by Steven

Koreans & Camptowns: Reflections of a Mixed-Race Korean

Korean American Story

Cerrissa Kim

I’ve often stood out from the crowd, and not in a way that made me feel like a rock star—far from it. Growing up in a rural town filled with dairy cows and Caucasian farmers, and then in a bedroom community lacking ethnic diversity, I was the sole Asian kid at school until fifth grade. To my classmates, I was a slanty-eyed chink. Jap. Gook. Yigger. They’d never even heard of Korea.

I don’t look like my Irish/Scottish American father, nor do I have the distinctly Korean features of my mother. Like many mixed-race people of my generation, I was Asian to the outside world, but not Korean enough to the Korean side of my family. I’ve looked for faces that resembled mine in some small way everywhere I’ve gone. I’ve scanned crowded spaces and deserted diners—anywhere I traveled—hoping for camaraderie with others who might make me feel my appearance was normal.

This past September in Berkeley, California, I opened the doors to the David Brower Center, slightly nervous and excited, I stepped into a room filled with mixed-race Korean Americans attending the one-day Koreans and Camptowns Conference. Even though I grew up with my biological parents, I still carry the scars—physical and emotional—from being ostracized and bullied for looking different from the other children in my bucolic California communities. Many of the people attending the conference were Korean adoptees (KADs) who had even more reason to search through crowds to find someone who resembled them. Not only were most KADs raised in places with no other KADs or Koreans, but they also didn’t look anything like their adoptive parents and other family members.

During and after the Korean War, camptowns were established outside of military installations, offering locals a way to earn a living— including entertaining soldiers with nightclubs and prostitution. Many of the mixed-race children born between the 1950’s and 1970’s were conceived and born in these camptowns, fathered by American and other Allied soldiers. Their mothers, the camptown women, were marginalized by society because most of them came from poor families and had to work as cooks, maids, sex workers, or other low-paying jobs to support themselves as well as their parents, grandparents and siblings. These women often waited for fathers of their children to return, hoping for a way out of the grueling camptown life. But more often than not, this didn’t happen, either because the soldiers were uninterested in going back, or because the military made it difficult—or even impossible—for them to return and marry Korean women…

Read the entire article here.

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