Long before Linsanity, crowds in Louisiana were chanting “EJ! EJ!” for a 5-foot-6 basketball talent from South Korea. E.J. Ok would become one of the greatest point guards ever to play college basketball, yet her name and repute hardly make the radar outside of her adopted home state, where she is revered. This is the untold story of a woman—and phenomenal athlete—ahead of her time, but whose dream of winning a national title is still in play. (And don’t forget to check out Ok’s player highlights video after the story!)
by STEVE HAN
photograph by TERRANCE ARMSTARD
With three hours to go before tipoff, the line outside Ewing Coliseum on the campus of Northeast Louisiana University circled around the arena. An antsy crowd of 7,000 eagerly waited to enter for the biggest and most anticipated game of March Madness basketball in the school’s history.
The Lady Indians were about to take on their longtime rivals, Louisiana Tech, in the NCAA Midwest Regional championship game for a berth in the nation’s Final Four.
As the game got underway, fervent chants of “EJ! EJ!” from the crowd reverberated inside the arena at eardrum-splitting levels, as fans showed their appreciation for NLU’s star player, E.J., short for Eun Jung, Lee. The junior point guard, who only came to the U.S. from Gimje, South Korea, three years earlier, had already earned a special place in the hearts of these fans. Continue Reading »
Thanks to a late night experiment, Jae Kim’s fusion food truck, Chi’Lantro, has become Austin’s mobile gateway to kimchi.
by JONATHAN CHA
Jae Kim happily considers himself an ambassador for kimchi in Texas.
When the owner of Chi’Lantro, a popular Korean and Mexican fusion food truck in Austin, first offered kimchi to his customers in 2011, he found very few takers. One fateful night, instead of filling the trash with the fermented side dish, he caramelized the kimchi to make it sweeter and threw it atop a pile of French fries. He added bulgogi and Monterey Jack cheese to the creation to form what would become Chi’Lantro’s signature dish, kimchi fries.
Kim, a Seoul native who grew up in Southern California and was inspired by the popularity of L.A.’s pioneering fusion trucks, also offers tacos, burritos, quesadillas and burgers with either meat or tofu on Chi’Lantro’s menu. It is the kimchi fries, however, that inspire his fans to follow every move of his now four trucks, two in Austin and two in Houston, via their website or social media.
Kim credits the sleepless nights feeding foodies at his first South by Southwest festival, four years ago, as ground zero for the culinary concept’s crispy, spicy rise to stardom. This year, Chi’Lantro expanded to six locations during the two-week music, film and interactive conference and festival in March, partnering with telecommunications giant AT&T and the colleague referral startup Roi Koi, to distribute free tacos at two of the locations. The promotion proved so popular, as free food notifications cluttered Twitter feeds by the minute, both companies extended the complimentary offer for the duration of the festival. Continue Reading »
Pictured is one of the young survivors of the South Korean ferry sinking. (Photo via Getty)
As many of us—parents especially—empathize deeply with the pain of the families of the South Korean ferry victims, we also find ourselves wondering how to talk about this tragic incident involving so many children with our own kids. KoreAm looked back to our February 2013 issue, when mental health columnist Dr. Esther Oh gave some valuable advice on how to help our youth deal with trauma, in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. We revisit that advice here.
How Do We Talk to the Children?
In light of the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, mental health columnist Dr. Esther Oh dispenses advice on how to help our youth deal with trauma.
by DR. ESTHER OH
My eyes are glued to CNN, and it’s hard to digest the headline I’m seeing: “Gunman kills 20 elementary school students.” I am left speechless, as more news surfaces about the gunman, who took the lives of 20 young children and six adults. Weeks later, the details are still chilling.
It’s hard to imagine how the victims’ families and friends—as well as the survivors—can return to their lives after this horrific incident. Such tragedies often make us think about how we would handle such a situation if we were ever faced with it. The truth is, many of us will also face some form of trauma in our lives, such as the death of a loved one or a natural disaster. After the initial shock wears off, most adults are able to process what happened, with support from others, and eventually move on in life.
Children and teenagers, however, differ. They’ll undergo a range of reactions, based on their age, previous experiences and understanding of the world. They’ll often turn to adults for answers and comfort. Knowing ahead of time how to deal with such events will help you take care of yourself and also prepare you to talk to your own children in an effective and healthy way. Continue Reading »
Greg Watanabe (left) and Michael Chih Ming Hornbuckle of 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors.
Photo by Michael Palma
The Comedy Might of 18MMW
18 Mighty Mountain Warriors, known for its incisive humor taking on Asian and Asian American topics, celebrates its 20th anniversary year.
by ADA TSENG
An 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors creative brainstorming session may not be what one would expect from such a zany, boisterous Asian American comedy team. As Greg Watanabe and Michael Chih Ming Hornbuckle discuss possible new sketch ideas for their upcoming show in San Diego, topics include the recent affirmative action bill in California; China’s growing influence on Hollywood contrasted with the fear-inspiring headlines about China in American media; Cambodian refugee communities that have come to the U.S. through San Diego’s military bases; and even the Korean “comfort women.”
“I’ve always wanted to do a sketch about Korean ‘comfort women,’ but I have yet to figure out how to make it funny,” says Hornbuckle, referencing the very serious issue of Korean women and girls who were forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. Survivors, and their supporters, have been fighting for an apology and reparations from the Japanese government for decades.
“Would it be about making fun of the Japanese [denial]?” Watanabe muses, before launching into a discussion about how there were actually some Japanese activists trying to get the issue addressed in the 1970s, and how the challenge would be to contextualize the sketch, as many audience members may not have heard of the “comfort women.” Continue Reading »
Jonathan Yim, head video coordinator for the Portland Trail Blazers, sits at his desk breaking down an upcoming opponent.
Taking His Shot
In two years, Jonathan Yim went from coaching high school basketball to heading the video department of the Portland Trail Blazers.
by STEVE HAN
As the head video coordinator for the Portland Trail Blazers, Jonathan Yim occupies a position that has gained great attention in recent years. If you watch a Blazers game these days, you’re likely to see players on the bench studying their iPad screens, reviewing clips from earlier in the game. Yim’s duties include filming, reviewing and editing videos of the players’ performances, and working closely with the coaching staff and players to help the team make in-game adjustments at decisive moments.
It’s a job the detail-oriented, 29-year-old basketball lover thoroughly enjoys, yet it’s a world that may have never opened up to him, had he not peered into a garbage can one fateful day in 2011.
A then-26-year-old Yim was coaching the boys’ junior varsity basketball team at Santa Margarita Catholic High School in Orange County, Calif., school trash can. It was advertising shooting lessons by Bob Thate, a former shooting coach for the New Jersey Nets’ guard Jason Kidd. Thate had passed them out at the school earlier in the day. Yim picked up the paper from the garbage, called the coach and asked him to give shooting lessons to his players. Continue Reading »