This personal submission is a part of the “No Longer Invisible: In Their Own Words” project, a story series established to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month at the UW.
Name: Min Jung Moon
Major: UW Alumni, 2006 B.A. Degree, Business Administration
“I am a person who experiments with several ways of life and finds the best one that works for me. I was born in South Korea and was raised in the states since I was eight years old. I identify myself ethnically as Korean, but culturally I am a hodgepodge of experiences that I’ve absorbed along the way.”
When people would comment on how I spoke English so well ‘almost without an accent,’ it made me feel like I did not speak or write the language fluently or native enough to pass as an American. I began to have this constant need to prove myself and validate my status as an American citizen and my right to be here. I speak Korean with an American accent and American English with a Korean accent. It took me a long time to realize that how you speak any language does not matter because humanity exists in all of us.
As a young and immature child, I did not understand why my parents would sacrifice their pride, status, health, and comfortable living to work whatever jobs they could secure in a country that didn’t accept them as equals. I understand the depth of their love for me while I was in Korea. I learned that when Koreans greet someone by asking, ‘Have you eaten yet?’…it essentially means ‘How are you?’ or ‘Are you well?’ Hunger was a daily reality following the Korean War, so asking someone if they have eaten was a sincere way of inquiring about that person’s health and well-being. Answering ‘Yes, yes,’ it reassures one another that everything is all right.
I no longer want to feel like a foreigner or a tourist as others suspect me to be in a country that I grew up in. This is the country where my father literally gave his all until his last breath. I belong here and wherever I choose to call ‘home.’ I know that I will do much good.”