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It's becoming a lot more clear what the "first phase of depression" is (for me anyways). It's a feeling I have so often, that it's normal, but doesn't feel normal. The inexplicable sadness I feel is loneliness.


I've moved a lot. I've made friends, and lost friends, and during my adult life, I move at least once a year. I'm not gonna get into all the back and forth of where I've moved to and why, 'cause I want to simply focus on the feeling I haven't been able to put my finger on, but have felt for my whole life.


This year has been crazy, starting off with the Capitol riot and insurrection, and heartbreaking with the recent news of 6 Asian-American women being killed by a white man who was "having a bad day". It's been really hard to process the reality that America we live in today is designed for white people. Every branch of our government seems to serve white people and their needs, while discounting the suppressed needs of people of color.


Knowing, without a doubt that the country you live in doesn't care about you as an Asian, is difficult. I think what makes it so difficult is that Asians and minorities in general, have to help white people understand their pain, struggles, and injustices. Because we were raised believing America is a melting pot and all that jazz, it's easy for minorities to blame white people for being racist, and demanding that they do more.


I agree with all the efforts to raise awareness but I feel demanding change won't really solve the problem. Yes, we may get some laws made, or have some public wins, but will that change the way "racist" white people feel about people of color? No. They won't.


It's why Trump had so many followers. They only see America through their caucasian eyes. They only see their needs, and feel their rights are being stripped away from them. So while I think in an ideal world it would be great to simply say, "hey everyone, can you please respect black and brown people? Treat them as you would a white person." and things would be wonderful. But that's not realistic.


Telling someone to change is not going to make them change. The harder work must be done of educating and helping white people develop some sort of empathy towards people of color. Instead of telling white people "if you like our food, then you need to like us.". This may be a terribly unpopular idea, but Asian people, what are you doing to help white people like you?


Again, I know "we shouldn't have to do that", but I want to be effective instead of should woulda coulda. If asking, telling, or demanding that people change doesn't bring about change, then we need to do more and do better. Look at the black community. They've been demanding change for decades. "Asian hate" may not go away in our lifetimes.


I think the best way to "fight racism" is to educate kids from elementary school through college with "diversity training" as they call it in the corporate world. This work to learn about our differences is an on going skill that isn't developed well enough when we are young. So when we are older and asked to do this work, we resist. That's natural. Expecting an adult to flip 180 on something they learned over decades is irrational.


Media is the second pillar that can exponentially influence the way we feel about different cultures. We look at the world through the things we learn on TV and the Internet. "Cool" has been things that are white for so many years. How do we make brown cool? or yellow? or black? This compelling storytelling (aka marketing) needs to be more colorful and diverse, and that's starting to happen.


Steven Yeun made history as the first Asian American to be nominated for a Best Actor award this year at the Oscars. We need more of this. A lot more.


...This post was supposed to be about being alone.


Well, all of this writing so far starts to illustrate the complexity of being Asian in America and the path forward so we don't feel alone.


I believe I struggle with chronic depression because of my feelings of constantly being alone. As a Korean-American living in Detroit, I make up 0.02% of the population. Detroit's population is 674,841. So, that means there are 135 Koreans who live in a space large enough to fit Manhattan, San Francisco, and Boston without overlap.


When I lived in Stevensville, MI during middle school and freshman year of high school, I was one of maybe 5 Asians. Koreans make up 0.31% of the population while white people make up 95.47%. So there are 29 Koreans who live there which I'm sure is a higher number than when I lived there over 20 years ago.


When I went to Korea to visit for the first time, I was not accepted because of my tattoos, and was looked down upon because I looked like them but couldn't speak Korean. I was an embarrassment.


So no matter where I go, I have no home. I have no sense of belonging. Neither culture accepts me. This is the impetus for my first public solo show, "Gyopo" which will be announced publicly in May.


It's been hard to think about the content of the show. It's not a commercially viable show, because I'll be exhibiting works about my Korean-American experience in a rural caucasian community. But it's really important for me to finally stand up and be proud of who I am.


The sense of feeling alone will not go away until I can love myself without anyone else's approval. And even then, maybe it won't go away until I find someone who loves me for me. But I don't want to wait for or chase that. I have too much work to do to understand myself and develop self confidence before looking for external love.


I will continue to be alone, and feel sad because I'm alone, but I want to work extra hard to not slip into depression because of those feelings. It's easy to overeat (which I'm doing) and drink or smoke to numb the pain. Those things always bring comfort to my feeling of being alone. But they're not solutions. They're reactionary, like telling white people to stop Asian hate.


I don't want to live that way. I will work to change myself for the better over time instead of asking for a quick fix.





You know when your parents casually let you know via text message that you have royal blood? Yeah, me too. It happened yesterday.


WHAT?!


I learned yesterday that I'm a Cheongju Han which is a Korean royal clan. It's also called House of Han, or Han clan of Cheongju.


This is from Wikipedia: "The Cheongju Han clan is considered one of the most royal clans since the Gojoseon period. In the Silla Dynasty, all of the Cheongju Hans were considered seonggol, or "sacred bone", the highest rank, received the most generals of the prominent Joseon Dynasty and were considered the highest of the yangban class next to the Jeonju Lee clan."


This is insane.


Furthermore, Han Seok-bong is a Cheongju Han. He was a master calligrapher, and is one of the most well known Koreans. Every Korean child learns the story of "Han Seok-bong and his mother". It's a story that teaches humility and the value of hard work and discipline.


The story basically goes like this... Han Seok-bong goes to study calligraphy at a temple, and comes back after three years because he felt he learned everything he needed to. The mother was cutting rice cakes and challenged him to a contest to test his skill.


They each got to work, and then she blew out the lamp so the room was dark. After a while of working in darkness, she re-lit the lamp.


Her rice cakes were all cut perfectly uniform, while Han Seok-bong's writing was crooked and inconsistent. He gathered his materials, bowed to his mother and returned to the temple to study for seven more years. When Han Seok-bong returned, his skill as a calligrapher became known far and wide.


If you've been following my writing for a little while, you may remember that calligraphy is a great source of inspiration for my artwork. Learning that one of the greatest Korean calligraphers of all time was an ancestor blows my mind. Learning that I am of "sacred bone" which is royal blood, is crazy.


I know that for Koreans it's important to have kids and continue the family name, but I didn't really get the gravity of it until now. For my family has a history of over a thousand years and was of the highest rank.


I don't want to become obsessed with the idea of being royal, but as I dig deeper into my Korean heritage, and learn about my family history, I can only image how much more important continuing my family name will be. It's pretty unique for people to be able to trace back their lineage so clearly, and for it to be of one ethnicity, let alone royal heritage.


For much of my life I've been ashamed of being Korean. I've hated being different, and never wanted to stick out. But I've always stuck out.


In the past few months I've started to embrace who I am as a Korean-Detroiter, and have wanted to be proud of being different. I've been working to build my self confidence, so that I would not be ashamed of looking or being different than the people around me.


I learned yesterday that not only am I different, but my family history is quite special. I feel now, more than ever, a responsibility to make my family proud and honor my family name. I aspire to become like Han Seok-bong, but in my country as an American. I aspire to become so successful as an artist that I influence how people feel about Asians and their American-ness.


I hope my work can help the next generation of Korean-Americans because I didn't have a Korean hero growing up. The closest thing to a hero was Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan, because some white people thought they were cool. But even they weren't true heroes, because I didn't want to be like them.


In fact, I was offended every time someone would call me Jackie Chan! or "you look like Bruce Lee", "do you know kung fu?"


I'm excited for the next generation of Korean-Americans, because in the past 5 years or so, Koreans have become known in America. We have BTS, David Chang, David Choe, Bong Joon-Ho, and Black Pink. It's my goal to have Americans know and respect the Han name in the way Koreans respect and admire Han Seok-bong.


I founded The House of Han LLC before I knew the House of Han was the Cheongju Han clan. I "created it" before I knew the name came from nobility. But now that I know, I need to live up to it, and to do that, I will be prolific, I will be kind, I will be humble, and I will be generous.

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