In Wake of Tragedy, How Do We Talk to Our Children?
KoreAm
Author: KoreAm
Posted: April 18th, 2014
Filed Under: Back Issues , BLOG , February 2013
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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 »

April Issue: 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors Celebrates 20 Years of Asian American Comedy
Author: Cassandra Kwok
Posted: April 18th, 2014
Filed Under: April 2014 , Back Issues , BLOG
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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 »

April Issue: Jonathan Yim Sets Out to Blaze Trails in the NBA
KoreAm
Author: KoreAm
Posted: April 17th, 2014
Filed Under: April 2014 , Back Issues , BLOG
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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 »

April Issue: Advocate Says Tragic Adoption Case ‘Does Not Represent All’
KoreAm
Author: KoreAm
Posted: April 15th, 2014
Filed Under: April 2014 , Back Issues , BLOG
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One Adoption Does Not Represent All

The debate over intercountry adoption from Korea was reignited recently by news of the death of Hyunsu O’Callaghan, a 3-year-old special needs child adopted from Korea to an American family, Brian and Jennifer O’Callaghan of Maryland. Authorities allege that the adoptive father, employed by the U.S. National Security Agency, beat Hyunsu to death, though Brian O’Callaghan has maintained his innocence. Last month, O’Callaghan was indicted on charges of first-degree murder and first-degree child abuse, after a grand jury determined there was enough evidence to move forward with charges against him. Following is the second of two commentaries written by Korean American adoptees advocating for very different responses to this tragedy. 

by STEVE MORRISON

Many adoptees and Koreans are justifiably upset at the death of Hyunsu O’Callaghan, who was allegedly murdered by his adoptive father Brian O’Callaghan. Mr. O’Callaghan has served in the Iraq War and is an employee of the NSA overseeing the Korea Project. The tragedy for 3-year-old Hyunsu occurred only four months after his arrival to his new home. The adoptive father has been charged with first-degree murder, and the investigation continues to determine how and why this innocent little life was snuffed out. The father maintains the boy fell down and hit his head while taking a shower, but the investigation showed multiple injuries, including skull fractures at the front and back part of his head, thus raising suspicion that the death was not a mere accident as the father had claimed.

The news of this tragedy has shocked the entire Korean adoption community, and resulted in numerous protests and calls for justice in Korea.  In particular, a group of adoptees and Koreans who have long been opposed to the intercountry adoption program in Korea set up memorials with banners that read, “Sorry Hyunsu, for not being able to protect you …” or “Hyunsu was adopted to the U.S. and beaten to death by his father.”

While such passionate demonstrations are understandable, as the days went by, these activists started to use this tragedy as a political platform to paint an ugly picture of intercountry adoption, and to put an end to the program in Korea. While the public has the right to demand answers in this tragic case, and every effort must be made to correct the flaws in the system so it won’t ever be repeated, I strongly disagree with some of the messages being advocated by these activists. Continue Reading »

April Issue: After Terrible Tragedy, This Adoptee Asks: ‘What Is a Korean Child Worth?’ (Commentary 1 of 2)
Author: Cassandra Kwok
Posted: April 15th, 2014
Filed Under: April 2014 , Back Issues , BLOG
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What Is a Korean Child Worth?

The debate over intercountry adoption from Korea was reignited recently by news of the death of Hyunsu O’Callaghan, a 3-year-old special needs child adopted from Korea to an American family, Brian and Jennifer O’Callaghan of Maryland. Authorities allege that the adoptive father, employed by the U.S. National Security Agency, beat Hyunsu to death, though Brian O’Callaghan has maintained his innocence. Last month, O’Callaghan was indicted on charges of first-degree murder and first-degree child abuse, after a grand jury determined there was enough evidence to move forward with charges against him. Following is the first of two commentaries written by Korean American adoptees advocating for very different responses to this tragedy. 

by LAURA KLUNDER

Let us take a moment of silence for Hyunsu O’Callaghan.

On Feb. 21, at the Hongdae Children’s Park in Seoul, members of KoRoot, Truth and Reconciliation for the Adoption Community of Korea, Adoptee Solidarity Korea, Dandelions and The Korean Unwed Mothers and Families Association gathered together to remember this Korean child who was adopted to the United States last October and entrusted to the care of Brian Patrick O’Callaghan, chief of the U.S. National Security Agency Korea division. Yet, at 3 years old, Hyunsu is dead.

Since news broke of Hyunsu’s autopsy results—including a fracture at the base of his skull, bruises to the forehead, and swelling of the brain—and his adoptive father stands trial for the alleged murder, people around the world have engaged in passionate dialogue about intercountry adoption. As a social worker and a Korean American adoptee, I am professionally and intimately involved in this dialogue. Continue Reading »

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