M Could you tell me a little bit about your family structure, the

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M  Could you tell me a little bit about your family structure, the Powered By Docstoc
					M: Could you tell me a little bit about your family structure, the structure of the family
you grew up in?

M Hwang: Um, well... I guess the family I grew up in... My dad worked a lot so I never
really saw him. My mom didn‟t work, so she was there and I also had my grandparents
on my dad‟s side living with me when I was growing up. So, I had grandparents, a mom,

M: And did you grow up in the States, then?

M Hwang: Yeah.

M: And was it your parents who came here first?

M Hwang: Yeah.

M: And your grandparents at the same time?

M Hwang: Um... My parents came here first and then my dad sort of brought his parents
over after that.

M: So, can you tell me a little bit about what your parents‟ life was like back in Korea,
like what their sort of situation was?

M Hwang: Um... It was... fine, I guess. I mean, it wasn‟t like they came to the US
because there were pressures to leave. That was sort of... It was the place to go. There
were more opportunities available and my dad, I know, was always really interested in
American culture, so when he was young he taught himself English and when he came
here he joined the Air-Force or something so that he could get his citizenship fast. So,
that‟s how he came here. My mom was a dancer and an actress in Korea and she actually
originally came here to take part in a movie for Fox that never ended up getting off the
works, so she married my dad and, you know, had kids.

M: So, your parents met here?

M Hwang: Yeah.

M: The next question was about what were the specific circumstances of them leaving
Korea, but I think you covered that already. Um... When you were growing up, did they
ever tell you stories about the trip to get here or about leaving or getting established, that
kind of thing?

M Hwang: Yeah. I didn‟t hear that much from my dad, „cause I‟m not really close to him,
but yeah. I do remember seeing pictures of him in his uniform for the Air Force and...
papers and stuff. I just know that he was always really fascinated with the U.S., so that‟s
primarily the reason why he came besides, you know, more opportunities and stuff like
that. My mom I remember her telling me about getting ready to come from Korea to the
U.S., like packing her bags and, you know, saying goodbye to her family and her friends
and just stories on the plane. I guess on the plane ride there were a lot of Korean babies
who were being adopted in the U.S. So, on her flight there were a couple babies who
were crying the entire time and they were being taken to new families in America. So,
she... I remember her telling me about that. And there was sort of, like, a specific type of
suitcase that you carry when you‟re a Korean coming to America. And it‟s called i ming
ka bang (note: the transcriber does not speak Korean, so she is doing the best with that
phrase as she can.) which, I think, literally is, like, immigrant bag, or something like that.
I don‟t know the exact definition. But, it‟s, like, sort of tall. It‟s not one of those square
boxy suitcases, it‟s like a bag that‟s expandable and usually it‟s this horrible checkered
fabric and it has wheels on the bottom and you kind of drag it around. I remember
hearing about that and seeing those bags. So I suppose that‟s primarily what I remember.

M: And, what years did your parents come over?

M Hwang: Umm.... I think late 70s or really early 80s. Like 1980 or 1978, something like
that. Or right between that period.

M: And, when did your grandparents come over?

M Hwang: They... What happened was my parents were both working, I think, right after
they got married, so they sent me to live with my grandparents in Korea when I was a
baby because they couldn‟t afford child care, they couldn‟t really take care of me, so...
There‟s pictures of me in my grandparents‟ house in Korea. And then they came here.
And there‟s also a picture of me, like, at the airport. So I had my own little immigration
thing, I guess, too. But, they came here with my aunt on my dad‟s side and her husband,
my uncle. And I think my aunt was... had just given birth to my boy cousin. Or my girl
cousin. One of them. So, that whole part of the family moved in with my dad and mom in
San Francisco, where they were living.

M: Is any of your mom‟s family in the States? Or are they all back in Korea?

M Hwang: They are. Um... My mom‟s older brother was the one who came to the U.S.
first and he settled in Los Angeles. And, that‟s where my mom was staying when she met
my dad. And then... They met... I‟m not sure exactly how they met, but I think by mutual
friends, or something. And then my mom moved with my dad to San Francisco from L.A.
So, my mom‟s brother, my oldest uncle, he was living in L.A. and then the brother, her
second oldest brother moved to L.A. from Korea to join him, and then my aunt settled
with her family in Korea. But, she‟s living here now and she‟s divorced and her kids live
in Korea with her ex-husband, so...

M: Did your parents ever have any good stories about getting established in the States?
About culture shock or weird things that they encountered?
M Hwang: Well, my dad told me, before, when he was just getting established, his first
job was at a gas station and he had this.. He‟s a business guy... He came up with this plan
to sell those bottles of oil that they have and he ended up turning a big profit so that was a
big success and his boss promoted him after that. But, after that he started working as a
car salesman and he ended up owning some of the dealerships and being really
successful. But, when he first started out all his co-workers were White or Black and so
they would tease him and call him, you know, a Chink, and my dad would be like “I‟m
not even Chinese! I‟m Korean!” and just having to struggle with that. And, you know,
being able to banter back and forth with them eventually and then succeeding and kind of
showing them that he wasn‟t just some stereotypical Asian who didn‟t know anything.
So... That kind of stuff. My mom, she told me stories about when she first got here how
scary it was to drive around the hills *laughs* She was just learning how to drive and just
being really scared and going to the DMV and not being able to speak English, stuff like

M: So, what do you think is important to your parents about their immigration
experience? How do you think that has formed who they are how they‟ve raised you and
that sort of thing?

M Hwang: I guess it‟s important to them in the sense that they crossed over and they
came here to have a new start, to have something different from what their families had
back in Korea. So, it wasn‟t necessarily, like, economic or that kind of hardship. It was
more, we want to try something different, we want to blaze a new frontier, or whatever. It
was like that and I think growing up I remember them telling me “Oh, back in Korea it‟s
a lot harder for kids because school is a lot more rigorous and you have to be studying a
lot harder” you know. And, in some ways it was like, you know, having a better life for
their future children.

M: In addition to what‟s important to them from their experience, what do you think is
important to them for you to get from their experience, if you follow me.

M Hwang: Yeah, I guess from that experience to remember that I... While I‟m American,
I still have roots in Korea, or whatever, so that is important. And, I guess the fact that
they made that journey is something that is noteworthy. Because they moved from one
place to a completely different place. So being able to do that, believing in yourself, that
kind of thing.

M: Do you guys keep in close touch with family that‟s back in Korea?

M Hwang: Most of the family is now here, so... My grandpa on my mom‟s side, my
grandmother passed away, but my grandpa sort of goes back and forth to his houses in
Korea and amongst his sons and daughters who are living here. And the rest of my
grandparents are all dead. It‟s kind of sad, but... Yeah.
M: And, do you feel like the family that is here has kept good cohesion? Or do you feel
like it would have been more cohesive if the family had stayed in Korea? I‟m just

M Hwang: I don‟t think it would matter that much, because if you like your family, then
you‟ll probably stay in touch with them regardless, so I don‟t think the move had that
much of a difference. It is definitely harder to keep in close touch with the family if
they‟re, like, living in Korea and part of the family‟s over here. But, most everybody in
California, so if we want to see each other, we can.

M: So you said that you were living in Korea when you were little as well. Have you
spent a lot of time there otherwise?

M Hwang: I think I lived there for a year... almost a year when I was little, and then when
I was in 9th grade, my dad moved our family out to Korea for, like, a year and a half
because his (undecipherable) was there. So, I did live there for that period of time and I
went to international school there and it was sort of a big culture shock because it was my
first time being there when I was able to sort of process things, „cause when I was a little
kid, I obviously had no idea what I was doing. So, yeah. It was definitely a huge...
different... yeah.

M: So it was kind of like the same kind of culture shock that your parents would have had
except for the other way.

M Hwang: Probably, yeah. “I look like these people, but I have nothing in common.”
You know, so that was kind of like, “Yeah, I‟m American.”

M: Have you ever thought about moving back to Korea?

M Hwang: I would definitely not want to live there permanently. I wouldn‟t mind visiting
again. Or maybe staying for a year or so, but I would never want to live there for the rest
of my life.

M: Do you have other things to say? Other stories that are passed down in your family?

M Hwang: Just how hard it was to make the transition. I think there‟s stories about “Oh,
when we came over we were lugging these huge bags and that‟s all we had and the kids
were crying and we couldn‟t speak English so we had trouble talking to the people in the
airport” and that kind of stuff.

M: Cool. And you said that your family is currently living in Indonesia, or something?

M Hwang: No, my family, or what‟s left of it is now living in Korea.

M: Ah, so your parents aren‟t close enough by to talk to.
M Hwang: Yeah. Unfortunately.

M: So what prompted that? Are they back there semi-permanently? Or just for work

M Hwang: Work purposes. It‟s not permanent, I think. Although, I don‟t know. Maybe
my dad wants to settle there after he retires, but at this point it‟s not permanent. Yeah, it‟s
kind of interesting that we‟ve kind of moved back and forth. I don‟t think most people do
that. They sort of come here and stay here and don‟t go back for fifteen years, and then
when they get more money they go back and visit their family, but... yeah.

M: Okay, cool. Thank you.

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