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Simean Yang

4/6/2015
HONORS 394
Heritage Autobiography
My heritage language as well as my heritage culture is Korean. As a
second-generation Korean-American, my parents are Korean immigrants.
Growing up, I had the opportunity to learn both English and Korean.
However, when I entered pre-school, my parents stopped teaching me
Korean in order for me to focus on learning the English language instead,
since English is the main language of the United States. Thus, my proficiency
in Korean was stunted. Although I can still speak, write, and understand basic
Korean, I am definitely not fluent in the language. In my household, English is
actually the main language spoken. My parents will speak both Korean and
English to each other, but will mostly speak English to me and sometimes
some Korean. On the other hand, I only speak English to my parents. I think
this is the case since my parents have never put any pressure on me to
speak Korean. I feel that they want me to make the choice of whether I want
to become completely fluent in Korean. As I have gotten older, I have
become more aware how important the Korean language is to my ethnic
identity as a Korean and have become more determined to become fluent in
the language.
Although learning the Korean language was not necessarily enforced in
my family, my parents still took a great amount of time to teach me the

various aspects of Korean culture through family cuisine, familial interaction,


and church. Since I was a child, I have become very accustomed to eating
Korean food. Whenever I go home, my parents like to cook me Korean meals
consisting of Korean foods such as kimchi, bulgogi, and tteokbokki.
Moreover, through familial interaction, my family instilled in me the Korean
values of respect and familial responsibility. My parents taught me the
importance of treating others fairly, being honest, and being diligent in life.
By going to a Korean Presbyterian church as a child, my parents also gave
me the opportunity to meet and socialize with other Korean-Americans.
Furthermore, I was able to become involved in various kinds of Korean
holiday and celebrations such as Chuseok through the Korean church that I
attended. In my family, Korean culture and traditions are very valued.
Through my many experiences with Korean culture either within my family or
outside in society, I have really come to cherish my ethnic identity as a
Korean.
Compared to other languages and cultures, I feel that the Korean
language and culture is increasingly becoming more appreciated in the
United States. I remember as young child, people always assumed that if you
looked East Asian, you must be Chinese or Japanese. Most of my peers in
elementary and middle school knew very little of Korean culture. To them,
being East Asian only meant a Chinese or Japanese ethnic identity. However,
as I have grown up, I have noticed that due to the increasing popularity of
Korean media such as K-pop and Korean dramas, people have a better idea

about Korean culture and are also much more interested in it. When I
mention that my heritage is Korean, I do not get blank stares anymore, but
nods of approval or hilarious references to the most popular video on
YouTube Gangnam Style made by the Korean music artist Psy. Thus, I am
happy that Korean culture is increasingly becoming more popular in the
United States, and I honestly hope that trend continues so that KoreanAmericans will become more recognized.