All posts by Kai Ma

Happy Birthday John Cho!

John Cho, the helmsman-cum-FBI agent who sealed MILFs and White Castle on the American pop culture map turns 38 today! Later this year, the Korean American actor is set to appear in A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas, the upcoming third installment of the stoner comedy franchise.

Let’s give it up for the Dad I’d like to…

In 1972, I was a little nugget.

Be On Our March Cover!

This is your chance to be on the cover of KoreAm!

KoreAm is looking for Korean Americans based in Los Angeles to be on our March cover. No modeling experience necessary. If interested, please contact the photo editor, Eric Sueyoshi, at Shoots will take place in Gardena, Calif. on Feb. 7th, 11th, and 16th. We are looking for KAs of both genders and all ages (we are especially in need of kids, people 40+ and mixed-raced Koreans). Please contact us, or spread the word!

How We Met

By Kai Ma

Where does love find us? Often on the Internet. Sometimes, in a crowd. But for those who are very lucky, it finds us in the most romantic, surprising way—in a massage parlor or love motel, through the accidental reunion or in another country. It doesn’t always find us at first sight, and it can take years—even decades—before you realize that you’ve known your true love all along. As the oft-quoted Rumi wrote, “Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.”

Meeting a beloved is nothing short of a blessing. In fact, some believe it’s a miracle. So in honor of the month of love, we asked readers to share their stories. Here, five couples on their fateful first encounters.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Janny and Eric on their wedding day in Los Angeles, October 17, 2009. Photo credit: Sam Lim Studio

The Set Up

Janny Kim & Eric Kim
Los Angeles, California

Says Janny,

Our mutual friend who introduced us told Eric that I was the “gatekeeper” to all these single, cute girls, and that in order for him to meet them, he would need my stamp of approval. I was like, “Gatekeeper? Who, me? Whatever.” A few months later, the three of us met up at one of those Chinese foot massage parlors in the San Gabriel Valley. I didn’t even remember the “gatekeeper” conversation from months ago. Eric walked in, and I had this feeling that this was the guy I was going to marry. We shared the same sense of wacky humor and immediately clicked over a bowl of shaved ice topped with sweetened red beans. Of course, our mutual friend said this was his ultimate plan all along. He’d secretly set us up, knowing we would like each other! Continue reading

How We Met

In a celebration of love, KoreAm is seeking stories about how you met your current boyfriend, girlfriend, fling or spouse. Stories can be touching, hilarious, gooey, surprising, maddening—or a combination of all. These stories can range from how you bumped into your future spouse on a street corner, to how you found him/her on Craigslist. Please email for more information on how to submit. Thank you!

We didn’t know each other. Now we’re peas in a pod.

Choppin’ it up with actor Justin Chon

Join us for a live chat with Justin Chon at 9 p.m. PST on Tuesday, Nov. 17. He’ll talk about New Moon and even sing us a couple songs. You won’t want to miss it.

Photo by Russell Baer

By Kai Ma

When Justin Chon isn’t shooting the Twilight series in Vancouver, he’s splitting his time between Los Angeles and Irvine, living the single life and memorizing lines as one of the only young Korean actors in Hollywood (getting work, that is). The 28-year-old USC grad, most known for his role as the Twilight series’ Eric Yorkie, a non-bloodsucking classmate of the main character, Bella Swan, also appeared in Nickelodeon’s Just Jordon and the film Crossing Over, starring Harrison Ford. As America anticipates this month’s release of The Twilight Saga: New Moon, which opens on the 20th, Chon chats with KoreAm about the sequel, die-hard fans, and why he’s so happy to be working in America.

How was the set for New Moon different from the first film’s?
[New Moon’s director] Chris Weitz is very calm; his sets are quiet. Catherine Hardwicke, [who directed the first film], her sets are more of a circus; everyone’s screaming and running around. Catherine likes to be in it. Chris just slowly walks up to you and says, “Yeah, I like that.”

Does the cast get along?
Yeah, it’s fun. Everyone is civil and friends. It’s like college.

Are the fans truly obsessed?
Yes. If you go out with Robert [Pattinson] or Kristen [Stewart], it’s a done deal; you’re not going to be eating dinner.

Do girls run up to you and scream your character’s name?
They do, actually. I was just in Busan for the film festival, and on the red carpet, all these girls were screaming, “ERIC! ERIC!” And I kept screaming back, “My name is JUSTIN! No, JUSTIN.”

How was the Busan International Film Festival?
They invited me and Jamie Chung as “special guests.” But there was nothing special about it. They were so disorganized. The first day, I was told I had to come to [this event]. They didn’t tell me what the hell was going on. I had to put on these white gloves, push this button, and all of a sudden, fireworks came up and I almost fell on my ass. To this day, I don’t know what that was.

That sounds frustrating.
Let’s just say I’m glad I work in America.

I’m sure the parties made it worth it!
We partied. You just eat a bunch of seafood and drink a sh-tload of soju. There was this one club, with techno music and all these lasers. And you’re talking to someone and it’s like, ‘Hey, there’s a green beam on your face.’

How’s the club scene in Korea?
Going out a lot was fun when I was 19 or 20. Now that I’m older, the girls are really young. It’s like, you’re not even a human being. You’re a piece of flesh.

Career-wise, what’s in store for the future?
I finished the third Twilight, meaning I’ve played the same character for two-and-a-half years. It’s a weight off my shoulders. I was anti-TV after I got off Nickelodeon…but there are more roles in television now. Cool stuff, like John Cho in FlashForward and Tim Kang in The Mentalist. I’m ready to explore and really expand my horizons.

FCC hires Yul Kwon


It’s been awhile since Yul Kwon–and his six pack–graced the cover of KoreAm and indeed, he has moved on from his Survivor Cook Islands days. In fact, the Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski just announced the appointment of Yul Kwon as Deputy Chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau.

In an email he sent, Yul writes: Continue reading

Jeff Yang writes about FOBBY moms

For the San Francisco Chronicle, Jeff Yang writes about the increasingly popular blogs, including, devoted to the offbeat sayings of immigrant Asian parents. He recalls a conversation with his Chinese mother-in-law, who told him, “Next time you go shopping, make sure you buy okeni. Okeni is good for you!”

Having no idea what “okeni” meant, Yang did some research (and learned the “singularly useless fact that Okeni is a city in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”) What was his mother-in-law saying? “My mother asked you to remember to buy organic,” his wife finally explained.

How can we not relate? For years, my mom would say, “In my eye” before stating an opinion. I always thought she had something in her eye. I later learned that “in my eye” was her way of saying, “in my point of view.” Then, there’s just the flat-out hilarious ways she expresses herself in English. She once came to visit me and saw a black widow in my windowsill. “We have to kill it,” she noted. “It’s too big now, too fat from juice, too much poison juice!”

What are some endearing—or flat-out funny—examples of your parents FOB-ing out?

In memoriam: Gina Hotta

Gina Hotta, an Asian American radio journalist, died on September 28 of a heart attack. Gina (shown far right in the photo) was a leader in the community—the executive producer of Apex Express, an Asian American radio show that aired on the Berkeley-based station KPFA 94.1 FM.

I only met Gina once, during my days at UC Berkeley—but she’s someone who will remain anchored in my memory. I visited her at KPFA with a friend, Maya, who hosted a segment on APEX. Gina took us out to dinner, asked us about our backgrounds and work in the community. She had that Bay Area, 60s-era vibe—someone who I knew had been committed to the cause since very early on. I’ve spoken to many who are shocked and so saddened by Gina’s passing. Gina was everywhere and known to so many. She constantly produced radio shows and documented the stories of our community.

She was, and remains, an inspiration.