Today's New York Times features an article about all things Korean in New York, from the Korean Art in the Metropolitan Museum to the row of Korean restaurants on West 32nd Street.
I'm curious to know what our New York Kimchi Mamas and Papas think of this list. Are these places you recommend to visitors? Or do you know of other hidden gems?
I went to college in New York many (*cough* many *cough*) years ago, and back then I didn't know anything about the Korean community. It's nice to see that it's getting some focus and attention by the Times.
My friend, Jieho Lee, director- and screenwriter-extraordinaire, sent an email out this weekend with details of his film’s premiere. So without further ado, an introduction in his words:
I hope this email finds you all well and starting off 2008 on a great note. As most of you know, my first feature film “The Air I Breathe” will be hitting theaters soon and I just wanted to give you all a warm shout and ask you to please come out and support the cause — and of course, to help spread the word!!
The gym we belong to is truly a "community" gym. It is family-oriented and caters to the many different cultures represented in our diverse city. At any given time you can hear multiple languages being spoken, and I especially love how the old Chinese men sit in the lobby reading their newspapers and chit-chatting.
Swimming lessons, however, are dominated by Koreans. More precisely, Korean moms and their children. Their kids somehow manage to look immaculate even while in the water. The little girls wear frilly swim caps and goggles that match their swim suits, and the boys' brush cuts glisten with little drops of water whenever they surface. Two minutes before classes end, a line of Korean moms stand at the edge of the pool with towels-in-hand ready to wrap up their children so they don't get cold. They are then whisked off to the showers where the mothers scrub them from head-to-toe. Even if by Western standards, those kids could scrub themselves.
The moms, sporting pastel-colored cashmere cardigans and cropped chinos, congregate together, chatting in Korean. They fawn over each other's babies and answer newcomers' questions about what to do in our city. They look so put-together in their jaunty-yet-sporty outfits while I sit on my bench with a book and my kids' towels in my lap.
But, I want to talk with them! I want to say, I know I may not look it, but I'm Korean, too! I want to know which Korean market they go to. I want to know if I can get the frilly swim caps here or if they brought them with them from Korea. I want to ask if I can fawn all over the sweet little baby in the stripey sweater that sits contentedly in her stroller looking at me for the entire swim lesson.
They are so...elusive. They remind me of jellyfish. They are so elegant. So pretty. So lithe. I am so...the opposite. I fear that if I approach them wearing my normal uniform of jeans, a fleece jacket, and Crocs (it's a pool), that I will cause them to flutter away.
So I sit there watching and admiring this group of women who, despite all the reasons why they have left Korea to be here, have found each other. Admiring that they are finding their way here despite being so far from home and, perhaps, not speaking English so well.
I imagine that if they were in Korea, they would be doing the exact same thing, spending the afternoon at the pool watching their kids swim, chatting with friends, swapping packets of candy and kim and other treats. It would be exactly the same. Except they are here.
Maybe next week I'll "dive in" and ask them about the swim caps.
Many of you remember Elyse Yu... right? I remember the first time I had heard about her and that there just aren't enough Asian donors for blood marrow transplantation. My sympathy for the family was splotched with a tinge of guilt and globs of shame... I, too, had trepidations regarding becoming a donor.
I signed up right away. I even talked to a BMT specialist to be prepared in case I were a match. I cried at my desk all day when I found out that she didn't make it. I cried when I corresponded briefly with her dad. I found myself writing to her dad that I thought that Elyse made a big impact in promoting a bigger donor list within the Asian community... that she made her mark, touched so many lives, including my own, more so in her short 8-months life than I could ever imagine my own life could do.
As a mama, I can't help think of my own Little Nabi... and wonder how frustrating and devastating it would be to wait and wait for that magical donor match from a tiny pool of donor samples, if something were to happen to either of us.
So. In her memory, I'd like to ask all of you to consider becoming a donor. There is a little baby named Jonah who now needs your help... It's very simple - plus, as Asians are much needed donors, they will waive the registration fee.
Thank you, Elyse...
I am curious... why aren't there enough donors in the Asian community? What fears do we have?
I suspect it's a cultural thing... the whole keeping secrets thing. It is preferred that one's "mouth is heavy", i.e. your lips aren't flapping, sharing all your secrets with the world.
On my own personal blog, I air much dirty laundry - mainly because I started the blog to air dirty laundry that I couldn't even air within my own family but also because I have maintained somewhat of an anonymous status. Every now and then, I pause to think how much of that airing would bother my own mother who believes in keeping everything close to her heart, who likes to believe that she's protecting her own children by sheltering us from knowing our own family history. I have a feeling that, since my audience does not include anyone from her social circles, she would generously allow me that platform...