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 Julia Park, a sales coordinator at Fairmont Vancouver Airport and a mother to a five-year old boy. She works full time at the hotel, where she has been working for 15 years but on weekends she spends her time with her family that are filled with her son’s activities.
So Julia, you were born in Korea but the majority of your life has been in Canada. How do you answer the question, “Where are you from?”?
To me this question is not difficult to answer as I consider myself a Korean-Canadian. When people ask me where I’m from, I know what the intent of the question is, so I answer the question without much hesitation that I was born in Korea and was raised in Canada.
What does being a Korean-Canadian mean to you?
I’m from the 1.5 generation, having immigrated to Canada as a child. As a 1.5 generation, I retained characteristics of my Korean culture while also assimilating to Canadian culture. Sometimes people refer us as a generation caught in the middle because we are always torn between two different cultural backgrounds. As much as I want to be completely immersed in the Canadian culture amongst my Canadian friends, often times I find myself to be the odd one out. But I chose to be Korean-Canadian so I’m not bothered by it.
Do you feel pressured to present yourself a certain way because you’re Korean-Canadian?
I don’t feel pressured to present myself certain way because of my ethnicity but I feel it’s more due to how I was raised. Being raised by very conservative parents I have to be conservative when I meet Koreans.
How important is it for you that your son identifies himself as a Korean? How will he grow up knowing about his Korean roots?
I want my son, Noah to find his own identity. It’s not important to me if he identifies himself as Canadian or Korean. But I will always teach him about our cultural background. As Noah is being raised by his grandparents, he speaks fluent Korean and is always curious about our culture. I have no doubt that he will want to learn more about our heritage.
Thank you, Julia for the interview. It was fascinating to discuss about the 1.5 generation. If you have thoughts about the 1.5 generation, please leave a comment.