Am I Korean/Asian Enough For You?

Hyun Kim 김현
15 min readAug 23, 2018

Those who have known me for a long time. Know that I did not have many Korean friends growing up. As for reasons why. That’s for a deeper post. Perhaps for another day. And tho I was born in Korea and left for the USA when I was 7. In many ways I saw myself as Korean even when I was in the USA. Korean American, I guess. Or is it Korean-American? But I never really thought about what that really meant. Cause that’s what I was told I was. I was a Korean living in America. Therefore you put those two words together. And bam. Identity. That started in the ’90s right? The whole hyphenating thing. And celebrating multiculturalism which is today’s diversity. And plus since I was born in Korea and could speak Korean better than most other Korean Americans I’d met I felt like I could still claim my Korean-ness. As my set. As my sect. I was more Korean than them because of that. And for the longest when people in the USA would ask me “Where are you from?” I would always answer “Korea.” Even after 10 years living in the USA. Even after 15. And 20. And 30. Because I knew what they meant when they asked. Even after I became a citizen. I’m from Korea. I live in America. I am Korean-American.

It was convenient at times. And sometimes beneficial. To claim my Korean-ness. And my Asian-ness. At times it could be fun. Cute even. It was this card that I could use to feel special when I wanted. I also used my Korean-ness as an excuse or as a reason to explain why I thought or behaved the way I did. My stubbornness. My high expectations of myself and especially of others. Especially in work environments. My lack of empathy and showings of warm emotions and non-sexual intimacy in general. My impatience. In many ways stereotypically cultural. In many ways not. Even now some of you may be rolling your eyes. For different reasons. And I wouldn’t blame you. Sometimes we become a stereotype of a stereotype.

This search for identity. The whole dual-identity conundrum of Asian-Americans is not new. Many of the issues are old. Truthfully a lot of the discussions surround it are tired. The idea of feeling like two cultures pulling at you and having to choose one over the other. Last year after I read Jay Caspian Kang’s article about the hazing death of a student at an Asian-American fraternity (one which I was lightly recruited to when I was a freshman) I haven’t been…

Hyun Kim 김현

Writer/Editor: Vibe, MTV, Tidal. Marketing/Advertising: Nike, Samsung, The Madbury Club. Former #1 Google image search for bald Asian. Seoul->Ithaca->NYC->VLC