I was bom and raised in South Korea until my family came to Los Angeles when I was 10. It was first turning point of my life. LA was definitely a place of immigrants where I could experience and appreciate the racial diversity. A new student would come into the classroom almost every week, and most of the time, he or she was an immigrant who just came to the states. I still remember how excited I was when visited my Chinese friend’s house and got 20 dollar bill inside a red envelope.
I also remember how sorry I was to my Iranian roommate ran into the room to grab her hijab when I forgot to remind her that that a man would come to our place for delivery.
As much as I appreciate cultural diversity, I have pride in my cultural background as Korean. I worked as interpreter for various events hosted by the Korean government and worked at multiple conventions on Korean culture such as Korean ginseng and KPOP.
I also modeled at Getty Museum for Hanbok, a Korean traditional dress. One of the most memorable experiences with multicultural background was at Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency. My team was assigned to Korean-Latino Partnership Convention. When my supervisor was having trouble with a clothing company in Ecuador, I volunteered to contact the owner myself and relieve the situation. The owner turned amicable when I spoke to him in Spanish on the phone and this friendly relationship led to a successful convention.
The second turning point of my life is difficult to talk about, but I would like to share it because I cannot explain who I am now without talking about the incident. I became a rape victim on May 2013. I remember the incident as it happened yesterday. I suffered from PTSD and endless nightmares. I would stare at the empty walls without talking to anybody for days. I could not carry on my normal life. I quitted my positions at two student organizations that I was in. Despite the situation, I knew by heart that I do not want to ruin my life because of the incident. So I kept my two jobs and never missed a day as if nothing happened. It was arduous to pretend. Every morning, I forced myself out of the room by telling myself that nothing bad is going to happen.
I severed contact with all of my friends and became distant with my family. I lost trust in everybody I knew until I was introduced to a counselor by detective in charge. I missed first three calls because I avoided all the calls since the day of the incident. After listening to voice messages, I decided to answer her call on the fourth time. Counseling gave me the courage to heal by facing and accepting the reality. Although I was introduced to counseling by experiencing the worst, a year of counseling was valuable times of my life to learn and understand myself. It also gave me a new perspective to view and accept situations.
The prosecution process was not easy. I had to make multiple visits to the police stations and court as a witness. Every visit was unbearable and intimidating but I tried to be brave because I knew that this is right thing to do for myself and society. I knew that countless victims end up dropping their case mainly out of fear and intimidation. When I heard about it from the detective in charge, I felt certain for the first time in my life that I want to be voice of people who cannot speak for themselves for various reasons. I have always wanted to be a journalist, but I have finally found my purpose that I want to catch their important yet concealed story and let their story be told. Because without letting their voice being heard, people’s perspective would not change.
The incident that happened to me is not usual, but it broadened my spectrum of emotion and thought. I believe that through this experience I will be able to write my stories on a deeper level as a reporter and journalist. I also got the boldness, courage, and composure that I can deal with any other hardships because I know I would learn from any good or bad experience I go through as long as I keep my positivity and confidence.