Displaying items by tag: Cindy Ryu

I was born on November 14, 1957 into a very traditional Korean family in Seoul, South Korea. Like many other fellow Koreans, my family experienced serious economic struggles shortly after the signing of the Korean War Armistice. My parents’ very modest goals included college education for their three sons and daughter. Little did we imagine where that ambition would take me—from post-war Korea to the Kingdom of Brunei to Manila, and ultimately, to the United States, where in 2008, I became the first Korean-American female to become mayor in any American city. I am now one of 98 State Representatives in Washington State helping set policy direction and voting on our state’s 30 billion dollar biennial budget for more than 7 million residents.

My parents are from what is now North Korea. My dad, Jae Il Kim, is the oldest surviving son of a fifth generation of only sons. So when my grandmother had several sons in a row, and my mom, Seong Suk Kim, married into the family, expectations of this marriage and their children were extremely high. By the time they met at the end of the active part of the Korean War, both had been pushed to the southern tip of the Korean Peninsula. Since he graduated from the teachers’ college, my dad became an officer in the ROK (Republic of Korea) Army and my mom was a member of the choir at the church his mother and sisters attended. My dad is from Hwang Hae Do, Hwang Joo Koon, Young Poong Myun, which is my “hometown” even though I have never been there, since it lies north of Pan Mun Jeom.

Published in Qualitative Data


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