James Journey Pt 1: Bye Bye Korea, Hello America!

Cooking and eating foods together are the best ways to get to know someone. So, as we get ready to cook and eat our feelings together, let's get to know each other more, shall we?

My life has been a bumpy, but exciting roller coaster ride. From leaving my family and friends in Korea at a young age to discovering the beauty of cooking my feelings, I can't wait to tell you all about me. It will be one grand tasting courses of my sweet, salty, and delicious life.

Before we start this tasty journey, let's start with an appetizer first. Here are my stories about how I was as a little boy and why I left Korea to come to America. 

A LITTLE BOY WITH A BIG PERSONALITY

I was born in South Korea as the youngest child of my family. Even as a young boy, I was not afraid to show my feelings. I knew exactly what I wanted to wear, how I wanted to look, what I wanted to do, and what I wanted to eat. Can you imagine a 7-year-old boy, basically directing you how to babysit him? Yep. That was me.

 
Baby James, rocking his favorite Snoopy pajama and showcasing his signature pose.

Baby James, rocking his favorite Snoopy pajama and showcasing his signature pose.

 

Growing up, I stood out among my peers because of my unique look, high-pitched voice (which still has not changed that much), and my animated personality. You can tell that, even as a young boy, I was VERY expressive of my feelings.

My family and friends adored me for being always happy and energetic, and I loved entertaining people. I was convinced that I would become a Kpop (Korean pop) star, so I always had to warn my family that they would not see my face often because I would be on TV instead.

I was a happy little boy until I had to go to middle school, where everything fell apart. I had a tough time fitting in at school and following strict rules. Most Korean schools have very strict rules regarding how students look and dress. So naturally, I always got in trouble for having long hair and wearing fashionable glasses. My grades, however, were #nerdstatus. While my friends got disciplined for not attending classes or fighting, I was disciplined for having glasses that were "too fashionable" and "not appropriate for school". I even got slapped for the first time in front of my whole class because my hair was too long!

The idea of being forced to conform with traditional Korean school culture made me furious. I felt like I was being suffocated, like they were taking away my individuality and forcing to tear down my feelings. So, at the age of 13, I left my family and friends to go to America by myself to start a brand new life, not knowing what would happen next. I knew everything would change for the better.

After almost 8 years of living in America, I still have moments where I feel awe-struck that I am even here. No matter what people say, to me, America is the place where I feel confident and happy about being who I am. America is the place where I feel loved by everyone who embraces me, insecurities and all. I am so happy to live in a place where I am encouraged to pursue my dreams. 

I can't wait to welcome you guys to my exciting, crazy, and delicious life!