|Yul Kwon, the first Asian American host on PBS|
By GaYoung Kim
Usually, we Koreans are overly excited when we hear news about a Korean or Korean-American celebrity who has gone onto the U.S. or other overseas stage successfully. It’s as if we have heard that someone has just saved our country. However, if someone tries to become successful not just for the sake of his own fame but because of his strong belief to keep and protect Korean cultural heritage and identity, then as Korean-Americans, we can certainly be very proud of him. One of the Korean-Americans in the United States, Yul Kwon, has started to pave his career in American society.
To understand who Yul Kwon really is, we need to know some of his background information. Yul Kwon was born to South Korean immigrants in Queens, NY. After he graduated from both Stanford University and Yale Law School, he became a lawyer and worked as a legislative aide to Senator Joseph Lieberman. Then, while he was working at Google and McKinsey & Company, he was selected as one of the cast members of the reality show, ‘Survivor’, on CBS. He became the final winner of the show for one million dollars, and he started to have more chances to experience different types of careers. Once, he was an adjuct instructor for the FBI , and he was also appointed as a Deputy Chief of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), after working for the Obama campaign.
Recently, Kwon has visited Boston to publicize his upcoming series on PBS, ‘American Revealed’, premiering on April 11. “The series is about stories of systems, networks, infrastructures, and people that make this country work. Throughout the four episodes, I’m planning to show how we actually get energy and food that we use daily and how they circulate around,” explained Kwon about the show.
Although he did not start his career as a broadcaster, his true intention to be on ‘Survivor’ and ‘America Revealed’ was to represent the Korean-American community in the U.S. “I could never find an Asian-American role model on TV when I was young. Everyone in America saw Asian men with the same stereotype that they are just good at Kung Fu and mathematics but quite bad at English and dating girls. I always wanted to break the stereotype and I wished to become an appropriate role model for the next Korean-American generation,” said Kwon.
He also added, “I always appreciate that my parents sacrificed their own future and life to stand against and overcome the glass ceiling and language barriers. I think the only way to repay them for their hard effort is that we must develop the Korean-American community.” However, he regrets that there is a lot of miscoummunication between Korean immigrants and their children. The parents believe that their children can be successful only when they attend a well-known college and become a doctor, lawyer, or an engineer. In fact, there are many different ways to succeed in the U.S. This is why I decided to become one of the representatives of the Korean-American community.”
Kwon pointed out the most important means to become successful is not to study hard but to develope a broad social network and keep searching for a mentor who can support you socialy. He has gathered these and other thoughts together in a book that will be published this May, about his life experience and leadership. His final wish is that Asians’ frequent activities in the U.S. will eventually lead to the first Asian president of the United States, just like Barack Obama became the first African-American president. Lastly, Kwon said wholeheartedly that, “Just like my parents made sacrifice to help my generation, I cna make sacrifice to help the next generation.”
ⓒ 보스톤코리아(http://www.bostonkorea.com), 무단전재 및 재배포 금지