feat. a Korean-Canadian is a blog series highlighting Korean-Canadians and their experiences, perspectives and thoughts on their identity as Korean-Canadians.
This blog features Sulki Kwon, a mother of two who works at Olivia’s Oils & Vinegars as a media consultant in Kelowna, BC. Sulki immigrated to Canada in her twenties.
Sulki, in your mid-twenties, you decided to come to Canada. What was your reason?
The major reason that I came to Canada was to learn English and to travel. But after living in Vancouver for about six months, I decided to stay a little longer because I just fell in love with Canada’s spectacular scenery, fresh air, wide sky, and freedom.
And then you met your husband, is that right?
Yes! When I first came to Canada I didn’t know that I would get married and immigrate. I was enjoying my life in Canada and then I met my husband. My husband is from Germany and we decided to immigrate together. Now we have two amazing girls, my oldest is three years old and my younger one is eight months.
Having been in Canada now for more than five years, how do you identify yourself – a Korean, a Canadian, or Korean-Canadian?
I would say I am a Korean who is becoming a Korean-Canadian. It’s interesting you ask this question because more and more, I do think about how to describe my identity. I do not see myself as either Korean or Canadian. Of course, I am a Korean who loves and misses Korean culture but sometimes I find myself forgetting how to say some Korean words or I mix up Korean sentences with English grammar structures. And I could not live without spicy food such as kimchi, red pepper sauce (gochujang), or bulgogi but I am fine not eating Korean food on a daily basis.
Also I find myself not hesitating to say, “good morning” or “hello” to random strangers when I am out on a walk or in an elevator. I say “thank you” to the bus drivers when I get off the bus and I find myself holding the door for people who need help. All these changes in my mannerisms, I feel like I am slowly becoming more Canadian.
Your two daughters are half Korean, half German and they were born in Canada. How important is it for you that they associate themselves with the Korean culture?
It is very important that my girls know where they come from and where their umma and papa come from. My husband and I are putting in a lot of effort to speak to them in both Korean and German. We read them lots of books in our own languages. Also I am trying to give them varieties of Korean food. I want my girls to know about Korea and the culture.
Are you happy to raise them in Canada?
Having a multicultural family, I cannot imagine my family living in either Germany or Korea. I want my girls to grow up in an environment that is multicultural. I want them to understand about many cultures and I hope they will feel what I felt when I first came to Canada – embracing the beautiful nature and the freedom. Canada is definitely the place where I want them growing up.
Thank you, Sulki for the interview. I wish you and all the ummas a happy Mother’s Day. If you have stories to share about becoming Korean-Canadian or raising children as Korean-Canadians, please leave a comment.