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CONTENTS

E

lected last December, Park Geun-hye took office as the first female President of South Korea on February 25th 2013. This to many was a momentous and important step for gender equality in South Korea; however through more careful examination, the initial excitement for the first female President and the future of gender equality seems to have been premature. Park Geun-hye’s victory was a surprise to many in the international community because of the prominent gender inequality in East Asia. It was a shock to discover that the traditional, conservative South Korea was going to have a female president before the supposed liberal, progressive United States. In countries like China where there is much greater emphasis on and cultural preference for boys, sex-selection abortions are prevalent and can potentially lead to serious demographic disparities. According to the World Economic Forum, South Korea is ranked 108th in gender equality out of 135 countries. In contrast, the United States is ranked 22nd.

PARK GEUNHYE First Female President of South Korea

by Ariel Lee image courtesy of atlanticsentinel.com

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), despite the great increase for education of females in South Korea in the past 20 years, the female labor force participation has remained relatively the same at 55%. Compared to the average of OECD countries of 33%, only 10% of all managerial positions are held by women. At 39%, South Korea’s gender pay gap is the highest among the OECD countries. In South Korea, it is rare to see women in leadership roles in the work place. In a work culture where promotion is based largely on seniority, many mothers who go on maternity leave are unable to succeed professionally. Although South Korea has risen in prosperity and modernity relatively quickly, the progress it has made on gender equality is minimal. So what does this mean for the future of gender equality in South Korea and on a larger scale, the future of gender equality in Asia? Initially, Park’s election brought to hope that the nation is starting to make its move towards gender equality. Her role in leadership creates a new role

30 35

4

model Asia has not seen yet, and has the chance to inspire many other women for all of Asia. Park Geun-hye’s celebrity is largely derived from being the eldest daughter of Park Chunghee. Park Chung-hee—the former President from 1963-1979—is a controversial figure in South Korea. He obtained power through a military coup d’état in 1961. Shortly after his second term as President, he essentially legalized a dictatorship, placing him as the sole power. While many older Korean citizens nostalgically look back during his presidency as a time when Korea prospered economically, Park Chung-hee was a repressive figure, imprisoning many who opposed his views. Park’s mother was killed in a failed assassination attempt on her father, leaving young Park as the First Lady. Five years later, Park’s father was assassinated as well. Despite her family’s polemical history, Park continued to work in politics and never married or had children. She was an assemblywoman for the Saenuri Party since 1998 and served as the chairwoman of the Saenuri Party from 2004-2006 and 20112012. Park succeeded in politics through her own merit and proved she was there through her own efforts and not just through her family’s legacy. Even as president today, Park faces qualifications based on her gender. Instead of a focus on her political actions as President, she faces scrutiny over her fashion due to archaic gender stereotypes. An article by the Korea Times discussed the possible outfits Park Geun-hye could possibly wear on her inauguration. Her appearance and dress is much more heavily criticized than if she were a man because as a woman, her appearance is held to a higher standard and considered of more importance. Another article by the Chosun Ilbo dissects her style and concludes that specific colors are intentionally worn

in certain occasions to send a messa instance, the Chosun Ilbo (Korean Ne argues that Park prefers darker color male-dominated events such as milit in order to project a serious image. S to old gender stereotypes, the media believe that because of Park’s gende also serve as a fashion icon, along w as President. However upon closer analysis, a utilized the idea of feminine leadershi of the main points of her campaign, s not have a history of supporting gend policies or policies social minorities. H has not caused he ticularly sympathe the fight for gende The conservative unlikely to be very promoting more o for women during idency. Due to he history, critics say merely an exampl leadership in Asia become a symbo equality. Despite the c Park’s presidency precedent in East Asia as one of the ples of powerful female leadership in presidency will undoubtedly improve perception of the capabilities of a fem er, and is significant in itself; She repr deconstruction of gender barriers in a ally patriarchal society, potentially ena and more women to assume leaders Through this momentous milestone, witness more females serving in lead working to end the gender disparity i rea and around the world. It is distres to expect that Park will most likely no vantage of her power and influence a issues of gender equality as priority, b forward to being proved wrong.

Park’s election is significant in itself because it represents the deconstruction of gender barriers in a traditionally patriarchal society.

Don’t Flip the Fish Some Common Chinese Superstitions

8

Park Geun-Hye First Female President of South Korea

10

Plastic Surgery in Asia Self-Improvement or Self-Injury

12

Photography Contest

16 Open-Submission Writing Contest The Child is the Father of Man Fire 20

Standards of Asian Organizations

26

The Man, The Myth, The Artist Jeremy Lin

30

Reimaging the Korean Drama

35

Empowered Self-Imagery: Landscaping Identity, Nikki S. Lee

3


DON’T FLIP THE FISH SOME COMMON CHINESE SUPERSTITIONS H A N N A H

K U M A R

“Break a mirror and you’ll have seven years of bad luck.” “Don’t walk under a ladder.” “Don’t let a black cat cross your path.”

Everyone has heard these superstitions before; they’re commonly believed and followed in the United States. Other cultures are rich in superstitions as well. China especially has many superstitions, like flipping over a whole fish or wearing white on your head gives you bad luck. To better understand Chinese superstitions, I sat down with Calvin Chan (BME, ‘15), Eddie Lu (mathematics, ‘13), and Sheila Chan (IS, ‘14).

4


COLORS AND NUMBERS The color red is auspicious to the Chinese. Calvin said this came from traditions developed during the Chinese New Year, when the spirit “qilin” (pronounced “ch’i-lin”), a Chinese unicorn, is considered a bad omen. According to ghost stories, qilin is afraid of the color red, loud noises, and fire. To scare away qilin, people decorate their houses with red characters and light fireworks. Because the color red was used to keep away bad spirits, it became associated with good fortune and luck. Sheila added that color is wrought with significance in Asian cultures. For example,

the color is associated with mourning and loss because in China, people wear to funerals (this is markedly different from Western traditions, as the color white symbolizes purity and innocence in Western culture, and brides traditionally wear on their wedding day). Sheila recalls a time when she hairband in her wore a hair and her mother got angry at her. Her parents also didn’t let her wrap Christmas presents with bows and ribbons. And because black symbolizes evil and disaster to the Chinese, Sheila says Chinese people never decorate their homes with anything

black. As a child, Sheila made black lanterns at a school art class; her parents wouldn’t hang them up at home. Eddie said that numbers, too, often have superstitions around them. The number 4 is unlucky because it sounds like “death” in Chinese. Some elevators in China skip the fourth floor, just like some elevators in the US skip the thirteenth floor. On the other hand, the number 8 is lucky because it sounds like “prosper” in Chinese. “Fun fact,” adds Eddie, “the 2008 Beijing Olympics started on August 8th, 2008 (08/08/08) at 8:08pm.”

5


I guess I believe it a little bit... It’s because I was brought up [with them].

CLOCKS Another common superstition is that presenting someone with something that tells time is insulting. When looking for gifts for a Chinese friend, never give them a clock, because the Chinese character for “gifting a clock” sounds like “attend a funeral.” Giving someone a clock is perceived as an insult, that you want the person to die quickly. That sounded ludicrous to me. “Do you really believe these superstitions?” I asked Sheila. At first, she said she did not, but when I asked her if

Design 6 by Jiwon Ha

she’d hang up black lanterns outside her house (referring to how the Chinese never decorate their homes with anything black because the color black symbolizes evil and disaster), she said she wouldn’t. “I guess I believe it a little bit,” Sheila admitted, laughing. But, she counters, if I gave her a white headband, she would wear it. I asked her why she followed these superstitions, and she said, “It’s because I was brought up [with them].”


FLIPPING A FISH AND FOOD FOR THE DEAD Calvin mentioned that that flipping over a fish is also supposed to give bad luck. He explained that this is because the character for fish in Chinese, “yu,” sounds similar to the character “fu,” which means luck. Flipping over a whole fish is like flipping luck, resulting in bad luck. “I remember doing that once and my parents got really angry at me,” says Calvin. “It was at dinner with people and when I served the fish I accidently flipped [it]. They flipped it back over.” On the other hand, Eddie had never heard of this superstition—maybe some superstitions are regional and confined to one area because China is so large? I asked Calvin if he followed these superstitions. He said, “I do it partly because it’s a culture thing and partly because it’s not doing any harm, it’s a little way I can observe my cultural background.” However, Calvin did have an interesting experience that would make even the most rational person question not following superstitions: In China, people bring food to

graveyards to honor the dead, and touching or consuming this food is taboo. If you do touch or consume food for the dead, there is a superstition that the dead will follow you home. “It’s a bad omen,” says Calvin. “I’ve heard horror stories of how people accidently did it once and the next couple days they feel a pain on their chest from an evil spirit.” When Calvin was six years old, he and his parents went on an annual visit to a graveyard in Hawaii, and his parents brought oranges to honor the dead. Calvin thought his parents had forgotten the oranges at the graveyard, and brought them back with him. In the car ride back home, Calvin felt uneasy and he and his parents sensed another presence in the car. He mentioned to his parents that they had forgotten some oranges at the graveyard and pulled an orange out of his pocket. His parents immediately drove back to the graveyard to return the food. After they returned the oranges, the presence was gone.

While many Chinese people may not believe in these superstitions, they still follow them, whether their parents tell them to, or because it’s a way to recognize their culture. Superstitions give insight into a culture by revealing what the culture believes, reveres, and practices. 7


PARK GEUNHYE First Female President of South Korea

by Ariel Lee

E

lected last December, Park Geun-hye took office as the first female President of South Korea on February 25th 2013. This to many was a momentous and important step for gender equality in South Korea; however through more careful examination, the initial excitement for the first female President and the future of gender equality seems to have been premature. Park Geun-hye’s victory was a surprise to many in the international community because of the prominent gender inequality in East Asia. It was a shock to discover that the traditional, conservative South Korea was going to have a female president before the supposed liberal, progressive United States. In countries like China where there is much greater emphasis on and cultural preference for boys, sex-selection abortions are prevalent and can potentially lead to serious demographic disparities. According to the World Economic Forum, South Korea is ranked 108th in gender equality out of 135 countries. In contrast, the United States is ranked 22nd. 8

image courtesy of atlanticsentinel.com

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), despite the great increase for education of females in South Korea in the past 20 years, the female labor force participation has remained relatively the same at 55%. Compared to the average of OECD countries of 33%, only 10% of all managerial positions are held by women. At 39%, South Korea’s gender pay gap is the highest among the OECD countries. In South Korea, it is rare to see women in leadership roles in the work place. In a work culture where promotion is based largely on seniority, many mothers who go on maternity leave are unable to succeed professionally. Although South Korea has risen in prosperity and modernity relatively quickly, the progress it has made on gender equality is minimal. So what does this mean for the future of gender equality in South Korea and on a larger scale, the future of gender equality in Asia? Initially, Park’s election brought to hope that the nation is starting to make its move towards gender equality. Her role in leadership creates a new role


model Asia has not seen yet, and has the chance to inspire many other women for all of Asia. Park Geun-hye’s celebrity is largely derived from being the eldest daughter of Park Chunghee. Park Chung-hee—the former President from 1963-1979—is a controversial figure in South Korea. He obtained power through a military coup d’état in 1961. Shortly after his second term as President, he essentially legalized a dictatorship, placing him as the sole power. While many older Korean citizens nostalgically look back during his presidency as a time when Korea prospered economically, Park Chung-hee was a repressive figure, imprisoning many who opposed his views. Park’s mother was killed in a failed assassination attempt on her father, leaving young Park as the First Lady. Five years later, Park’s father was assassinated as well. Despite her family’s polemical history, Park continued to work in politics and never married or had children. She was an assemblywoman for the Saenuri Party since 1998 and served as the chairwoman of the Saenuri Party from 2004-2006 and 20112012. Park succeeded in politics through her own merit and proved she was there through her own efforts and not just through her family’s legacy. Even as president today, Park faces qualifications based on her gender. Instead of a focus on her political actions as President, she faces scrutiny over her fashion due to archaic gender stereotypes. An article by the Korea Times discussed the possible outfits Park Geun-hye could possibly wear on her inauguration. Her appearance and dress is much more heavily criticized than if she were a man because as a woman, her appearance is held to a higher standard and considered of more importance. Another article by the Chosun Ilbo dissects her style and concludes that specific colors are intentionally worn

in certain occasions to send a message. For instance, the Chosun Ilbo (Korean Newspaper) argues that Park prefers darker colors for typically male-dominated events such as military events in order to project a serious image. Succumbing to old gender stereotypes, the media appears to believe that because of Park’s gender, she must also serve as a fashion icon, along with her duty as President. However upon closer analysis, although Park utilized the idea of feminine leadership as one of the main points of her campaign, she does not have a history of supporting gender equality policies or policies that favor social minorities. Her gender has not caused her to be particularly sympathetic towards the fight for gender equality. The conservative politician is unlikely to be very effective in promoting more opportunities for women during her presidency. Due to her political history, critics say that she is merely an example of female leadership in Asia but will not become a symbol of gender equality. Despite the criticism, Park’s presidency sets a precedent in East Asia as one of the first examples of powerful female leadership in politics. Her presidency will undoubtedly improve the general perception of the capabilities of a female leader, and is significant in itself; She represents the deconstruction of gender barriers in a traditionally patriarchal society, potentially enabling more and more women to assume leadership roles. Through this momentous milestone, we hope to witness more females serving in leadership roles, working to end the gender disparity in South Korea and around the world. It is distressing to have to expect that Park will most likely not take advantage of her power and influence and not place issues of gender equality as priority, but we look forward to being proved wrong.

Park’s election is significant in itself because it represents the deconstruction of gender barriers in a traditionally patriarchal society.

Design by Rachel Jue9


PLASTIC SURGERY IN ASIA self-improvement or self-injury?

10

In Asian media, celebrities, talk show hosts and models alike all seem to share the same features- a glowing, pale complexion, slender, narrow faces, large, round eyes with double eyelids and a high profile nose. Despite the countless denials of celebrities that they have gone under the knife, it is evident that plastic surgery is a phenomenon that is blowing up in Asia. In fact, when the number of procedures are calculated by population, statistics from 2011 report that South Korea has the highest rate, outranking even the United States . You may know a friend or family member that has had a double eyelid surgery, Botox, or some other procedure done. However, is some harmless nip and tuck the only thing that’s going on? Behind the beauty and glamour there are more sinister subtleties and implications. It seems that no matter

by lauren xu

what culture you belong to, judging each other on appearances is instinctive and it is only natural to want the approval of others. Despite the risks that come from malpractice such as scarring, swelling, and even death from silicone injections, people are still willing to undergo the pain in order to be beautiful. Sadly, in competitive Asian societies, people are willing to risk the potential harm in order to secure a well-paying job or less tangible benefits like more attention from the opposite gender. The Asian mentality is to get ahead, and with advanced medical technology and increased cultural acceptance of plastic surgery, improving your looks has become just another way. Twelve year-old Lee Min-kyong’s eyelid surgery was not her own choice but her mother’s who said, “I’m having her do it because I think it’ll help her. This is a society


where you have to be pretty to get ahead.” Alvin Goh, a 24 year-old male who got an eye job and is a stylist and creative director of a magazine in Singapore, said, “We live in a cruel society where everything is based on first impressions. If you look in the mirror and don’t feel good about what you see, it won’t help you in your life, in your work or in your relationships.” It is not uncommon to hear stories about people gaining employment solely based on their looks. Saeko Kimura, 18, reported that when she used eyelid glue to make her eyes larger and rounder, “Men noticed me, I became outgoing. Suddenly, I had a life.” She also landed work as a hostess at a bar where her high pay was determined by beauty. The owner of a beauty center in Shenzhen, China said, “How do you make yourself stand out from 1.3 billion? Imagine your boss sees two people of similar ability. He will definitely pick the person with the better appearance.” The previous examples illustrate some of the more practical reasons Asians have chosen to get plastic surgery. However, there are more bizarre and sometimes unpleasant stories as well. These incidents show a disturbing trend: Asians are using plastic surgery as a crutch in critical aspects of their life such as work and

relationships. One 34-year new outfit or makeup are also old Taiwanese women spent superficial ways to boost $40,000 on surgeries after your confidence, but plastic being unsuccessful in 12 surgery is more drastic in relationships. She said that that it is a permanent, risky her ongoing romance with her and expensive procedure 13th boyfriend, who she met that indicates the need for a online from World of Warcraft, more lasting alteration of self. gave her the incentive to go I believe that this is the wrong ahead with the procedures . way to go about creating In this way, plastic enduring self-improvement. surgery can be harmful by Although Asian offering a tempting “quick countries can be competitive fix” to many problems of life. and highly populated, However, this is teaching appearances aren’t the only Asians that “We live in a cruel way to distinguish aesthetic yourself or society where modification improve your everything is based is a panacea qualifications. It is on first impressions. and diverting up to individuals to If you look in the them from build their skills or fixing the mirror and don’t feel talents to become root of their good about what more satisfied with problems. you see, it won’t their life and reap Rather than help you in your life, long term benefits pinning the rather than the in your work or in source of their fleeting, shallow your relationships.” problems advantages a on looks, people need to pretty face or body may evaluate other aspects of give. It can be enticing to their character or situation. alter the hand you are dealt People naturally have in life. Just like you have no insecurities and imperfect self control over the class of the esteem, but it is important to family you are born into, not maintain self belief and an idea everyone can be naturally of the bigger picture. After beautiful. But consider thisall, what happens if things would you be happy with a don’t improve after you get perfect face if everyone else plastic surgery? Even those had the same one? We may who enjoy a better quality long to be beautiful because of life after getting plastic it sets us apart from others, surgery may suffer negative but your imperfections, flaws, psychological consequences and internal qualities make from knowing that they are you equally unique. being valued for their outside 11 design by priscilla kim rather than inside. Sure, a


the imagined

&

the imaginary

photo contest w inning entries

12

first place FOOD FOR Gabe THOUGHT Vegh-Gaynor


The context and idea behind this image is my attempt to visually depict something intangible— the pursuit of knowledge. When you hear about learning, studying, degrees and so on in the news or from friends it seems that this quest for knowledge is very straightforward and tangible. However, in practice, it is really quite difficult to come up with a visual perception of what we call learning. In this image, I attempted to depict this abstract learning process in the tangible form of a photograph. I set up the image like a meal, however instead of food to fuel a body, this meal consists of a book full of “knowledge” ready to be imparted and nourish the mind. This play on something we see every day—a meal—makes for a simple and powerful way to convey an incredibly abstract idea. 13


runners-up

photo contest

A staircase in one of the towers of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain which is at first glance impossible to tell what it actually is. Imagined by great artists and somehow created and carved out of stone by craftsmen, it really speaks to the unique human ability to turn our imaginations into reality.

14

ESPIRAL Jessica Han DE SUEテ前S


Cee Cee Chang

PLEASE DON’T

FOLLOW THE FLAME

I chose that title because I wanted to tell a story about longing and desire. The photos show that a passionate love is not always one that lasts. Therefore, by employing “please don’t follow the flame” I hope that these photos serve as a reminder: the path that leads to a passionate love is just be a lesson in transience.

15


The Child is the Father of

When i grow up I want to bee happy. I’m going to be a teecher becuz I like my teecher and I want peeple to like me too. Or a baker becuz people are always happy wen they eat cookies and I want to make them happy. And i want a puppy becuz puppys always smile with there tails and that makes me laugh. I want a garden in my back yard becuz I like to watch flowers grow every day from a seed into pretty petals. I hope I have pretty petals when I grow up too. My favorite color will be cerulean becuz I found it in the crayon box and it sounds grown up. I always draw the sky with this color becuz it reminds me of dreams. and dreams belong in the sky becuz they are like clowds. They drift above you in diffrent sizes and shapes. Sumtimes they blow away but there are always new ones. I like walking through puddles becuz the reflektion of the clouds are in them so I pretend i am floating in the sky. It is almost like flying. The wind pushes against me as I walk down Forbes Avenue for the third time today and I briefly think to myself that perhaps I should just let it take me because I want to go somewhere new anyways. The sky looks like a dark, heavy blanket and I wonder if the stars are actually tiny holes that I can peek through, if only I could get up there. I wish I could see what was on the other side, before life swallows me in these days that tumble into each other, each day crazier than the one before. As I walk past Starbucks I realize how ironic it is that I always walk past it at these late hours, when I am most tired and when it is always closed. The pavement is wet from another day of rain and the store lights along Craig Street bring a glimmer to the sidewalk. I am almost home when I abruptly stumble upon a puddle – the stars and the moon are reflected below me, and for a lingering moment I feel as if I am suspended in the sky, like the constelltion of a dreaming child.

open16submission writing competition winner


Design by Niki Kawakami 17


FIRE

After the aftermath of the fire, all I could think about was the time we were stuck on a train traveling to New York for six hours. Maybe our memories resurface to tell us something when we are found in impossible situations. Or maybe I was just thinking that this time we were really stuck. The fire happened three days before Christmas when our minds were focused on last-minute preparations and the thought of incoming family. It was the first time Jason’s family was coming to our house little house in the suburbs of Philadelphia. I cooked buttered beans and trays of baked ziti and he made the ham, his father’s favorite. We bought apple pies and chocolate cake and bottles of wine. We decorated with wreaths and bright lights. We laughed as we sang along to Christmas carols and drank wine late into the night when the rain started falling. It came in waves of gray and pounded against our house for hours. We watched as the streets filled, listening to thunder and enjoying the warmth of our safe haven. We bailed water from the basement all night, even as the power went out. We worked by candlelight seeing strange shadows as we passed each other on the basement steps. We paused for water and prayed the rain would stop by morning. I fell asleep first and he wrapped his arms around me. Wax dripped from the candles onto old decorations and there was smoke. We ran from the house once we knew what was happening. We watched as our red-brick, black-shuttered, perfect home went into flames. I imagined photographs of my dead parents crumbling below wicked reds and oranges and yellows. We had lost mementos of our life together, clothes from childhood, jewelry from ancestors and all the memories we had started to create. We watched as the flames won against water. It’s been three days. 18

open submission writing competition runner up


19


W E R SA

U C S E DI

E U S IS T A WH 20

? G N I SS


STANDARDS OF ASIAN ORGANIZATIONS I

By Kenny Zhu once heard the story of a man who was

Ours is one of the most diverse campuses on

beaten to death for a wrong he did not com-

the east coast; over half of our student popula-

mit. He was not a threatening man. He was a

tion hails from a minority group, almost a quar-

young man who stood just around our age; a

ter of that Asian American or mixed.

young man who walked home from a party just

We’re indisputably the most sizeable single eth-

as you and I would have on any Friday night.

nicity on campus, but as an entity we seem to

Yet this man was beaten to death for an offense

be profoundly ignorant of the real social prob-

that he did not commit, on the streets, by two

lems that face our community.

enraged autoworkers that killed him solely on

the basis of his skin color. They thought he was

stands no less than 20 student organizations

Japanese. But he wasn’t even that. For some-

dedicated to preserving an Asian cultural iden-

thing that he did not do, and for something that

tity. Most of these, from Student Associations

he did not claim to be, this young man ended up

(SA’s), to Greeks, and professionally oriented

in a casket.

organizations have existed for the better part of

Every single one of us should recognize

almost two decades. But what we’ve come to

this story as the tale of Vincent Chin. Yet here in

see and expect on this campus are issues of

our little corner of the universe, there seems to

Asian American equality taking a back seat to

be few who know he even existed.

more social concerns.

How can so many know so little? There

21


ATTACKING THE SYSTEM

Before you condemn me for attacking the

existing student organizations on this campus allow me to explain my point. My problem is not with any individual organization; my problem is with a system that not only does shockingly little to teach us about profound social issues, but also chooses to maintain that cycle of blissful ignorance that we’ve grown to accept.

If you ask anyone, they’ll be able to tell

you that Black Heritage month is in February. Ask them the same question about Asian Pacific American Heritage month and the answer rate drops tremendously. How can the largest entity on this campus seem to have the softest

Photo of Vincent Chin

voice?

through another open mike of bad Russell Pe-

“...we need to maintain a sense of vigilance.”

Out of the events we see on this cam-

ter’s routines and ill-conceived penis jokes. It’s painful to know that this is the image people want spread around about themselves. Let’s hope to god they realize size isn’t one of the

pus, there’s the fair share of pop culture kara-

perceptions affected by reverse psychology.

oke nights and dumpling sales; we see the girls

shaking their asses to Korean pop music on

selves. But we need to maintain a sense of vig-

stage, and the cross-dressing males that emu-

ilance. We need to be wary of the point where

late them. At most of these events there’s free

we become the originators spreading negative

food with attendance. Which is great, but what

images that were created to put us down – the

exactly does that teach us about Asian culture?

point where we start denigrating our own cul-

Asians like to eat Asian food, we like to sing,

ture - the point where we start mimicking the

and our men aren’t that much different from our

accents of our own parents for a cheap laugh

women. Thanks for the memo.

- the point where if you call yourself a chink

22

enough, you start to believe it.

Please save me the trouble of sitting

It is important to be able to laugh at our-


APATHY

Can anyone actually recall the last three

events that were organized to highlight important issues like the Glass Ceiling? Most probably can’t say. Out of the few events that have been held, I’ve seen many of them hampered by poor

“Our Asian student orgs (ASO) are arguably the most effective outlet to teach our members about these issues. ”

planning and haphazard execution. One de-

scribed to them by their national board or con-

bate I attended didn’t even have a prompt set

stitution. They have requirements that make

up addressing any particular issue. In fact, they

a certain number of philanthropy or cultural

didn’t have any prompts at all, and from what

events mandatory. In reality, if there wasn’t a

we could tell they expected us to come up with

quota established on these events, many proba-

them ourselves!

bly wouldn’t do them at all. The aforementioned

debate exemplifies this problem. Such

Many ASOs have requirements pre-

23


quotas often lead to the shoddy planning and poor execution witnessed above. It only gets worse when these events become ingrained in the attitudes of your members as burdens.

Case in point, far too many student or-

ganizations also tend to expand the ranks of their members for no reason other than to continue their existence. Too often they fall into a never-ending circle of socializing, recruitment, indoctrination, and training for a new cycle of recruitment. All the while they disregard the objectives they were established to address. This cycle is poisonous, and the culture that it breeds among your membership is toxic. It’s the single biggest contributor to the apathy that thrives on our campus.

Outside of our extra-curricular organiza-

tions, there are very few opportunities for stu-

SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

As a member of an Asian-interest Greek

dents to learn about these problems. Our

organization on campus, I want you all to con-

Asian student orgs (ASO) are arguably the

sider the meaning of “Asian-Interest” when it

most effective outlet to teach our members about these issues. Adding social issues to the agenda of every ASO is not asking for much. It does not detract from any existing events, in fact it does quite the opposite; it may even give us all a new reason to take pride in what we do. What we don’t want however is to continue

“Our responsibility to uphold culture and advocate on behalf of minority rights derives from that unique standing on this campus...”

the cycle of apathy where our members don’t

comes to your own organizations. As multi-cul-

care or fail to recognize the problems that Asian

tural Greeks we exist at least in part to help ad-

Americans face. 24

vocate on issues facing the Asian community.


The China school stabbing that left 23 students injured was caught on surveillance video. The tragic incident occurred in the same week of the Newtown,Connecticut school shooting. If we do not live up to that social responsibility,

then there is nothing separating us from the reg-

preciation of Asian culture and advocate for

ular social fraternities on our campus.

Asian equality. We work to establish ourselves

as a vibrant “force” on campuses across the na-

That social responsibility is not just a

All of our ASOs exist to help spread ap-

Greek value; all Asian student organization-

tion. Whether Greek, professional, social, or cul-

shave a social responsibility to teach their mem-

tural; we all share a common goal to someday

bers about the problems facing our community.

roll back misconceptions of Asian America as a

The inequality, the history, and the social issues;

cultural “enigma.” That is our responsibility as

these all tie into the essential themes that need

members of multi-cultural organizations. If we

to be taught. Our responsibility to uphold cul-

do not live up to that standard, then what right

ture and advocate on behalf of minority rights

do our organizations have to exist?

derives from that unique standing on this campus, and we need to live up to those standards.

Design by Katharine Wang 25


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P

oetry in motion. Brush strokes. Fluidity. A calculated, yet unaffected splatter of paint on a blank canvas. The rhythmic squeak of sneakers on polished hardwood in conjunction with the crisp, repetitive bounce of a regulation-sized leather ball. Art and Athletics. Both domains to involve an aspect of creation – even if each form of creation is unmistakably unique.

“Lin fakes left, then proceeds with a deft crossover back to his right and darts towards the painted area. In one motion, he gathers his feet fluidly, lowering his center of gravity in preparation for his next challenger.” His eyes flash to his left, sensing an opportunity, and in an instant he pump fakes as if to shoot his a rainbow jumper before casually flipping a lob pass to a streaking teammate on the opposite side of the court – the result being a thunderous dunk

accompanied by a deafening roar from the crowd. A specific creation has been born within a moment in time that will never, and can never, be repeated again.

T

he case of Jeremy Lin is a curious one, and not just because of the de-facto standards involving Asian-Americans and their (lack of) major contributions to mainstream sports today. Yes, Asian-Americans are especially absent in pro basketball - typically the domain of long-limbed, explosive, and fluid athletes to whom playing above the rim is standard practice. Instead of focusing on debatable athletic limitations however, it is much more interesting to look at the dearth of Asian-American and Asian basketball players from a cultural and artistic viewpoint.

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eremy Lin is a rarity – a professional basketball player of Asian-American heritage. Specifically, he is a point guard – a floor leader, a quality that makes him all the rarer. By default, he is held accountable for team cohesiveness on the court. A point guard creates fluidly and constantly through time - a good one reacts and is constantly attempting to create advantageous opportunities from moment to moment, whereas a transcendent one 27


c

an predict the possible creation of these moments before they happen. He plays the role of a metaphorical catalyst on the basketball court, where each moment can be viewed as a unique system where players dynamically control and enact change. When broken down conceptually, the interplay of countless affecting factors and individuals involved in any given moment on the court can be profoundly overwhelming. The game of basketball is not necessarily as simple as it may seem.

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he basketball court is Lin’s metaphorical canvas - the outlet for his chosen form of creative expression. Jeremy is well well aware of the boundaries of his artistic medium, preferring to push conventional boundaries by putting a modest, but significant twist on things to create his own - often unplanned and unorthodox moments on the court. Sometimes this “free-lancing” works out, sometimes it doesn’t (much to the ire of his coaches). This is inherent to the nature of the game. Of course, these creative tendencies are not unique to Lin. His fellow basketball players are capable of much of the same, conscious of their artistic masquerade or not. Still though, his spontaneous tendencies are significant in the context of the concept of creativity as a cultural construct for Asian-Americans today. Jeremy’s play-style is evocative of controlled chaos, and is a stark contrast from the methodical, oftentimes almost mechanical movements and subdued mannerisms of other more disciplined players - including the other taller, gawky Asians to make it to the NBA.

A

sk any casual observer which NBA player Jeremy Lin most reminds them of, and undoubtedly a large portion of them would answer “Yao Ming.” Yao, Chinese born and bred, is a 7’6” enormity of 28 a human being with amazing touch for his

size but obvious athletic limitations. His skills were tailored to his size – after all, the closer the proximity to the basket, the more generally fundamental basketball movements and footwork should be to take advantage of a potential size or positioning advantage. There is some creativity and freedom in these actions, but in most cases the potential for creativity and freedom on the hardwood increases the further one plays from the basket. Clearly, Yao Ming the basketball player is not in any measure really related to Jeremy Lin, the point guard, but that’s not entirely the point. What’s important to note here is that Yao is also a product of China’s state-sponsored Soviet-style athletic program – bred from ex-national team parents and handpicked to be groomed for success as a 5’7” third grader. From his insane height to his polished fundamentals, every facet of Yao’s basketball being seems to radiate China’s overtly practical, results-oriented mentality – a successfully cultivated test subject, a bizarre height-focused basketball experiment gone (mostly) right.

J

eremy, meanwhile, is fluid and reactive on the court, constantly creating and seeking to explore new opportunities, and in this sense he’s not a traditional artist but instead a new-age creative mind. Instead of creating tangible pieces of art (photographs, paintings, etc) Lin uses his body as a form of artistic expression. The single basketball in play, other players, the hardwood floors, and even the arena and its often-electric atmosphere fueled by thousands of cheering fans – all are an extension of Jeremy’s aura of influence, the grand show of which, at his very best, he skillfully orchestrates. He has an intrinsic ability like few others to captivate the audience like few others, and his spurts of unbridled passion and joy for his craft are captivating in the same vein that other forms of artistry can be. At his worst,


unfortunately, he is in some ways synonymous to a misunderstood, struggling, and often stubborn, technically unpolished artist (think musician) who nonetheless pours his soul into his craft but may occasionally end up with tangibly sub-par or otherwise disappointing results. These instances however, are perhaps none more disappointing than to Jeremy himself. He plays the role of harsh self-critic, constantly striving to improve – and rightfully so, for he has experienced his fair share of struggles post-Linsanity to go along with his successes.

Asian-American NBA point guard, is an outlier in more way than one. A re-interpretation might be in order – instead of Jeremy Lin, the Asian-American breakthrough athlete, perhaps in some circles he can be renamed Jeremy Lin – the sometimes-struggling Asian-American artist.

Y

ao’s situation is an extreme from a cultural standpoint, and obviously different from that of many Asian-Americans today. Still, it is important to consider just how much traditional Asian cultural and social constructs, which are not known for promoting individuality or creativity, affect Asian-Americans and their relationships with creativity today. With the economic rise of Asia and in particular, China (the only current source of relevant Asianturned-pro American basketball players) is key to analyze in our context. It cannot really be argued that China, for whatever reason, seems to still be waiting for its modern-day creative renaissance. What is this dearth of creative expression to be blamed on? Is it the fault of traditional cultural values involving respect and humility, the remnants of communist social systems crushing potential outliers, or an emphasis on technical excellence? Is it a lack of capitalist motivation and entrepeneurial-driven innovation? Or could it be that China, with its recent overhwhelming influx of Western culture, is being subject to the apparent cultural exhaustion that postmodernist Westerners have long claimed their side of the hemisphere to suffer from?

W

hatever the reason, one thing is clear – that Jeremy Lin, the

Designed by Eric 29 Yi


reimagining

k o r d r a 30 written and designed by Jessica Han


the

e a n a m a Typical Korean drama storylines often pull at heartstrings by exploiting love found and love lost. Take for instance some of the most famous dramas of all time: Winter Sonata, Stairway to Heaven, and All In, which capitalize on the tragic affairs of lovers caught in love triangles, fighting fatal illnesses, and overcoming social barriers. However, new voices from characters in witty and self-aware dramas such as Full House, My Name is Kim Sam Soon started to change the pace. In years following, stories such as Coffee Prince, Boys Over Flowers, and IRIS found strong followings with younger audiences. Two smash-hit dramas of 2012 further evidence this changing trend: A Gentleman’s Dignity, and Reply 1997, in which innovative story lines and honest characters helped viewers to find more of themselves in the characters and less in the dramatic storylines. 31


reimagining the korean drama

Foreigners easily identify the appeal of Korean dramas, with online followers praising the handsome actors, trendy clothing, collectible soundtracks, and high production value. Additionally, succinct story lines completed in a single season avoid the occurrence of drawnout complications and filler episodes. [i]The key lack of violence and sex that normally hamper a show’s potential popularity, have allowed Korean dramas to instead concentrate on the exaggerated emotional drama that viewers seem to unconsciously crave. In the past decade however, the guilty pleasure involved in inflated romance has lost some charm. Because at the end of the day, sex is fleeting and violence burns bridges. But shar ing the character’s emotions and empathizing with their struggles remains an essential component. As Korean society becomes more heavily integrated with Western culture and the forces of online globalization, Korean television networks have started emphasize a less traditional and more realistic approach in their portrayal of the human experience. This has led to bolder approaches in sexuality, a fresh shift from the stale romance of dramas past, and integration of Western themes in newer Korean dramas.

Let’s talk about Sex

The large increase in national wealth and technological advancement in South Korea

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is reflected in both on-screen and off-screen culture of television dramas. Couples in dramas have lost some conservative practices. Until the 2000s, kissing was rare in dramas and love was instead displayed by strong feelings for another. These moments were built up and producers would pan in onthe embrace while looping the scene several times to emphasize this paramount moment in the characters’ relationship. Older dramas would only show a couple kissing if they were in a serious relationship and likely to marry, but most dramas today include kissing scenes and make many allusions to sex or intimate behavior. [ii] In older shows, emotional passion was a resounding theme but physical passion was avoided. But intimate relationships and homosexuality have now found a strong presence in drama plotlines and characters. Some kissing scenes still lack realism, but they have become common and casual in today’s shows as writers and networks are intent on giving these scenes due presence. Pivotal plot points in drama relationships now involve sex while ten years ago writers were more concerned with evil mother-in-laws and fatal illnesses. As an even riskier move, dramas have also introduced homosexual characters into the mix, with Korean society making it difficult for people to be public about their homosexuality.

Some initial attempts played with genderneutral or gender-ambiguous characters, but as passion become an increasingly important theme, gay romance found mainstream acceptance as well though the current public still shies away from it. 2007’s Coffee Prince brought both of these ideas together with an androgynous female protagonist, Go Eun-Chan, who caught the affections of an older man, Choi Han-Kyul. Although Han-Kyul spent the majority of the story unsure of Eun-Chan’s gender, affections were realized in a bedroom scene. Used as a new interpretation of the traditional ‘Love Against All Odds’ theme, this show became a landmark venture into pseudo-homosexual drama. Reply 1997(2012) also experimented with sexual identity as the two teenage protagonists experienced puberty, finding humor in topics such as circumcision, porn, and periods, representing a shift in the intended viewer experience. Classic older dramas such as Autumn in My Heart (2000) often followed teenagers as they fell in love, but precarious details were never divulged as they were in Reply, a drama praised for its realism. Some traditional standard remain, however. The protagonists crossed into territories of premarital sex and pregnancy, albeit the characters were not promiscuous. Additionally, Reply introduced a gay secondary character


but never explored his struggles with gender identity or his place in society. Many other popular dramas of the past decade have experimented with gender roles. The boyish Go Eun-Chan of Coffee Prince(2007), the unfeminine and strong-willed Geum Jan-Di in Boys Over Flowers (2009), and ill-mannered, unrefined Kim Sam Soon from My Name is Kim Sam Soon (2005) are prime examples of nontraditional female protagonists whose more realistic portrayals resonated with audiences. In contrast feminine men have become popular, with dramas such as Boys Over Flowers introducing male characters that were “prettier than flowers,” while Beethoven Virus (2008) showcased a manicured European flare in its male protagonist. Overall there is a great emphasis on aesthetic value in actors and film production. Meanwhile, South Korea has become recognized for its population’s high participation in cosmetic plastic surgery, prompting some to question which direction the country’s values are moving in.

More than Skin Deep

Almost as if to refute accusations of South Korea’s increasingly superficial society, writers began to extend the scope of their work beyond the stereotypical fairytale that Korean dramas have become known to embody. The untapped goldmine of familial and platonic friendships have proved to be a rewarding source for novel storylines. Characters in current dramas have more anxieties, stubborn qualities, but also a greater ability to own up to their own faults and find strength in their families and friends. These 21st century dramas are reminding audiences that romantic love is not the only love that requires our attention and effort. Bored with typical heterosexual relationships, A Gentlemen’s Dignity (2012) followed Hyena’s (2006) example by following the friendships between grown men. By highlighting the importance of the “bromance,” A Gentlemen’s Dignity was able to discuss sensitive male issues through an interesting lens. Married character Lee Jung Rok falls habitually to his playboy tendencies but despite his unfaithful habits, viewers could support his human side seeing instead a helpless victim to his desires. It was just as amusing when stereotypical college girl

Im Me Ah Ri would begin a crying tantrum, ridiculous and extremely annoying. Whether her fits were intentionally exaggerated or not they provided a perceptive example of how emotional females can be, compared to their male counterparts.

redefining gender roles

Reply 1997 hit strides with viewers utilizing extremely poignant storytelling. One especially touching scene showed the protagonist’s father checked into a hospital for cancer treatments. Watching an older drama, he suddenly became depressed and self-aware when the main character reliably was diagnosed to have cancer. His wife then made a desperate call to the show’s screenwriter pleading for a more optimistic ending to the drama. This moment in Reply was able to show the struggle that writers face when dealing with sensitive issues, a reason why many may not have experimented with such.

“Whether you’re a man, or an alien… I don’t care anymore.” (Coffee Prince, 2007) Han-Kyul loves Eun-Chan enough to kiss him even though he believes Eun-Chan is a man

But the risks taken have thus far given dramas an even stronger effect on our emotions, and an ability to bring people together.

Going West and Beyond

The integration of Western ideas in Korean society, and then into dramas has brought forth a new era in terms of tone, personality, and limits that networks are now willing to explore. Western faces, music, and fashion have been slowly incorporated into dramas. “I TOLD you to be careful! You careless ass!” (Reply 1997, 2012)

There are usually one or two Non-Korean actors cast in bigger productions as story lines are extended into multiple countries as well. Producers knew the hiring of half-Korean born actors such as Daniel Henney would increase a show’s appeal. As a supporting actor in My Name Is Kim Sam Soon Henney’s character did not speak Korean, but still gained enormous popularity with women in South Korea. He represented the tall, strong-jawed aesthetic of western males but also had Asian features that softened his fresh debut amongst Korean actors. Actors are given further credence if they can speak other languages such as English or Chinese as current dramas have been known to include scenes in entirely non-Korean dialogue. Additionally, the effects of globalization have not been ignored in dramas. Older shows would

Shi-Won discovers that she and her boyfriend Yoon-Jae are faced with an unplanned pregnancy

Ultra rich and ultra handsome group of male protagonists known as the F4. They personified the “prettier than flowers” prince ideal that gained popularity(Boys Before Flowers, 2009)

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reimagining the korean drama Producers k new the hiring of half-Korean born actors such as Daniel Henney would increase a s h o w ’s a p p e a l . A s a s u p p o r t i n g a c t o r i n M y N a m e I s K i m S a m S o o n , H e n n e y ’s character ... represented the tall, strong-jawed aesthetic of western males but also had Asian features that softened his fresh debut amongst Korean actors.

often speak of America as a foreign land that would serve to separate unfortunate lovers. Forced to move to the U.S, Autumn in My Heart protagonist Joon-Suh does not reunite with his lover for 10 years. More recent dramas however will often show characters taking trips to other countries for vacation, business, or school like Go Eun-Chan of Coffee Prince did when she trained to become a barista in Italy. Integrating traditional Confucian ideals with its newer Western adjustments, South Korea has developed an unique identity that is reflected in its dramas. An increased economic capacity for urban, materialistic lifestyles has led to the portrayal of characters wearing desirable fashions and living lavishly. Korea’s once humble origins have allowed it to become a success story for neighboring countries similar in economic history. Initial exports of dramas were cheap and widely dispersed, at the time priced at a fourth of what Japanese dramas and a tenth of what Hong Kong dramas cost. Finally, growing diplomatic relations between Korea and other nations fueled an both cultural and economic affiliations, raising the demand for such products. [iii] In China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong the high interest has initiated the formation of several television channels dedicated to Korean dramas. [iv] Japan has similarly become a regular customer for Korean dramas, music, and other entertainment

34

items. Increasing internet access for the youth population in most countries has attributed to growing drama viewership and followings. Landmark dramas such as Dae Jang Geum (2003) can be credited for spreading Korean television in Asia and Middle East. In 2012, South Korea’s Culture Minister stated “In Iran, viewership for Dae Jang Geum reached 85 percent […] This means that 85 percent of Iranian people watched this Korean drama at the same time.”[v] Overall, Korean dramas have benefited from their willingness to adapt. Shows have become more sexual and flashy, smarter in their approach to audiences, and have adopted a balance of Western ideas to bring forth a product that is highly marketable inside the country and out. Korean television networks are slowly building a monopoly online since competitors like the U.S are less willing to release distribution rights. Partnerships with internet enterprises such as DramaFever,

Crunchyroll, and Hulu provide almost unlimited access to these shows. Furthermore, increases in bilingual Koreans has expanded the number of subtitled shows available. Drama celebrities on Twitter and Facebook have developed their fan bases, while their followers facilitate an active community on YouTube, Tumblr, and internet discussion forums. [vi] As the boundaries between technology, media, and reality begin to blur, the coming years could mold both Korean dramas and Korean society, out of China and Japan’s shadow, into a truly unique presence in the international community.


Empowered Self Imagery: Landscaping Identity

NIKKI S. LEE By Audrey Tse

In one photograph, Nikki S. Lee is a stripper, her platform heels nonchalantly perched up on a vanity desk. Then she’s chilling with some homegurls at the Puerto Rican Pride Parade on the streets of New York City. In another photograph, she’s a yuppie with clean swept hair and eyes that gaze directly into the camera whilst her mostly-male co-workers converse in front of their first generation macintosh computers. In the other photographs, Nikki S. Lee is a rapper, she’s a sk8er girl, she’s a Korean school girl, she’s a senior citizen, she’s a punk; a blend of clothes, makeup, hair extensions, tanning products, diets, the tools she uses to blur the lines between cultural and ethnic boundaries to produce photographs that give the viewer an often times uncomfortable combination of confusion and intrigue. I first heard of the Korean American photographer Nikki S. Lee in a danky basement of a church on Queens

Boulevard, just off the Elmhurst local stop on the R, and what was then the V train. It was a Saturday afternoon, and there I was: a gawky teen in some equally terrifyingly awkward clothes, trying to place my political and racial identity within the context of something other than the totally-white-centric covers of Teen Vogue and Seventeen magazine. If I could only time travel back and introduce Sassy magazine or rookiemag to my younger self, I would probably have come out better adjusted 20-something Asian American. Meanwhile, in reality, I was partaking in a feminist-based photography program run by a then-Sarah Lawrence College art student who had received a grant to teach a 10-week workshop style class to an eclectic group of NYC high school students. I still remember my fascination with Nikki S. Lee when our instructor went through the photo slide-show. It was in that weird basement space where I found just what I want-

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and just what I needed to see at that time when I was developing and realizing my social consciousness. Finally, I thought! Social experimentation that visually and emotionally captured cultural and social constructs in the most humorous and subversive way. Here was this Asian American woman who was more or less giving the middle finger to our stereotypes and definitions by engaging and partaking in those stereotypes; subversion at its best. Nikki S. Lee’s work is often compared to Cindy Sherman’s now-canonized conceptual portraits that aim prompt questions about the role and representation of women in society. Lee’s photographic works begin with her best known project, Projects series (1997 - 2001), in which she practiced and performed the codes and visual signs of specific American sub-cultures that include, as stated before, strippers, yuppies, swing dancers, drag queens, hip hop fans, lesbians and senior citizens. A point-and-shoot camera, wielded by a member of the selected group or a passerby, recorded her transformation and interactions. Lee believes that individual identity is fluid and that her Projects series were extensions of herself. Her second photographic project was her Parts series (2002 - 2005), in which she explores the impact of relationships on identity. She appears in seemingly candid snapshots, from which the male member of a failed relationship has been excised. The unsettling hand interjecting into the photographic composition, the truncated male body, or the mystique behind the photographic story suggest that we have caught the two characters in these scenes. The feeling that we are voyeurs or intruders in these romantic or sexual moments make the scene and content all the more difficult to read. Lee’s Parts series garners less shock value than Projects, but Parts investigates the space between sexuality and ethnicity. How is Lee presenting the female Asian American body? How does the American media 36

portray this female Asian American body? Is the female Asian American body even one complete entity? Lee’s photographs bring up these questions without fully answering them, and it is perhaps this fact that makes the images so thought provoking. Lee’s 2006 film, “A.K.A. Nikki S. Lee,” rejected the conventional approach to documentary and narrative fiction as mutually exclusive genres. She directed the film and portrayed two characters, both of whom were artificial versions of Nikki S. Lee. Her current project is titled Layers, and she continues in her exploration of identity. Instead of changing character, she investigates her personal identity through the perception of others in different cultural settings. Lee traveled to different cities around the world, from Bangkok to Madrid, and in each city asked three separate street artists to draw her portrait on translucent paper she provided. Back at her studio she layered the drawings from each separate city one on top of the other, using a light box to bring out details from the underlying drawings, and then photographed the image. Due to the layering of the drawings, the resulting image is a distorted portrait of the artist that raises questions of perception. Although I first learned about Lee when I was in high school, her methods of self-exploration through a creative medium such as photography has still stuck with me. Looking at her photographs still make me hyper-conscious of how I personally perceive the world, and how the world perceives me, both in the cultural, political, and gendered lens. As a Carnegie Mellon senior who is graduating in May 2013 (a number that will soon become antiquated, four digits that I will look upon with a combination of nostalgia and more than a pinch of spite decades from now), I have been trying to grapple with how I have changed my perceptions and imaginaries of my Asian American female identity.


“the tools she uses to blur the lines between cultural and ethnic boundaries to produce photographs that give the viewer an often times uncomfortable combination of confusion and intrigue.” Photos selected from Lee’s Parts & Projects series

Design by Ian Go 37


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