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Dear Umma

By Eunji Ryu

Age Group: High School

Are you sorry your husband got that new job twelve years ago?

because if he hadn’t, you probably wouldn’t have moved to america, right? i know you

can’t not miss korea, your real home. i know you never thought you’d see the

day that your baby started telling people to say her name the ‘American’ way, not bad but not

exactly right. i know it’s embarrassing to have to stumble through a choppy,

foreign language to be able to talk to your child’s friends. i know it feels wrong to pray to

God and not Hananim. Were you sad when you realized my 

hangul would probably never progress past a second-grade level? 

i’m sorry about that. i want to tell you

joesonghamnida about my broken

korean, the way the

letters don’t fit right in my

mouth, everything coming out flattened by an american accent that i don’t want, but

need to survive here. 

Or were you sad when rachel from kindergarten told me my lunch smelled bad, when 

pretty girls with double-lidded eyes asked me why my eyes were so small? did you know that

quail eggs marinated in soy sauce aren’t normal to these kids? that all they know from us is

rice, and only the kind that’s white like their skin. they only like our culture after it’s been 

salted and spiced into something more American, something that’s 

trendy instead of just weird. i know you’ve been raised to believe that koreans are ugly

unless we lighten our skin and narrow our noses and crease our eyelids, & i’m sure this

violently white-dominated country doesn’t help 

with that self-hatred koreans seem to pass through bloodlines. but i still want you to know

xoxo saranghae, americanized korean girl or not, from

your daughter.

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