Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Korean Roots: Start of My Korean-American Journey to Find My Roots

When Alex Haley published "Roots: The Saga of an American Family" in 1976, his journey to find his family history started long before the book was published. In a similar way to Haley, my personal journey to find my Korean family history begins here. Who knows, maybe someday I will write a book!

This is a picture of me on the Subway Line 2 in Seoul, South Korea on my first trip in 2009. It was this business trip that awakened my desire to find my Korean roots. Since then, I have traveled to Seoul multiple times for business.

As a fourth generation Korean-American (well, a"3.5" generation to be exact), I view myself as distinctly American but of Asian and specifically Korean ancestry. As I grow older, I find myself wanting to know more and more about my culture from Korea. And to find my long lost relatives!

I was talking with my dad the other day, and it turns out that my fraternal grandfather, Park Yeong Seop (박영섭) had emigrated to the United States in 1918, at the age of 18. He was known as a Korean patriot and had been living in Shanghai for a year as there was a price on his head from the Japanese government for his political activities. Keep in mind that this was a period in history where Japan had annexed Korea in 1910.

Well, when Park Yeong Sup emigrated to the US, he brought a book called a "jokpo" in Korean with him. It is a record of the lineage of the Miryang Park clan from 1100 AD to 1888, and there are government officials and generals listed in the family history. The family can be traced back to the Naktung River Valley near Busan, in the southern part of South Korea. My dad says that grandfather was the youngest of five children, and the only one who emigrated to the US. Someday my dream is to find my long lost relatives in Korea and be reunited with them.

And so the story of my journey to find my Korean roots begins here. An important part of my journey is to better learn the language of my ancestors here in the United State, so I have recently enrolled at Adroit College in a Beginning Korean Level 1 class. I took one quarter of Korean at UCLA, but that was so long ago that I decided to start from the beginning. I'd say that I'm at a five year old level in speaking and writing Korean right now. That actually might be generous!

So what can you expect to read here?

I will be blogging about my family, my experience learning Hangul, and also what I find out about my family here as well. Also, I will have Korean related topics posted here from time to time (food, KPOP, drama, etc). I hope you enjoy this, and thank you for reading!

-Chairman P

1 comment:

  1. Good luck to you. My mother is Korean. I would love to have a Korean "connection". Unfortunately, my mother abandoned us 40 years ago when I was toddler. I anxious to hear what resources you use to find your family.