I am writing this in San Francisco, California. San Francisco is populated by a multiethnic, multicultural group of people who have experienced various kinds of diaspora. A few days ago, there was a Daesan-Berkeley Writer-in-Residence Event hosted by the Center for Korean Studies at UC Berkeley. One person in the audience, a Korean who’d immigrated to the United States 10 years ago, asked why Korean literature does not draw from the lives of immigrants like them. “We have so many stories to tell,” she said.
Perhaps because of the generation difference, the juniors and seniors at Berkeley, who were in the “Modern Korean Fiction” class I participated in, tended to think of diaspora as an interesting new challenge and an opportunity to grow. The class was a mix of students from Korea, Korean-Americans, and Americans of other ethnicities who seemed to be the products of voluntary diaspora. I wonder what kinds of stories they will produce when they start writing their own stories. I also wonder how the personal histories of biracial Koreans with Southeast Asian parents who grew up in the Korean countryside will be recorded when they write their stories in Korean.