Yul Kwon, host of Link TV's LinkAsia, recently did a Red Chair Interview with CNN, in which he shares some key experiences in his life. Along with his on-air interview, Yul ellaborates further in an eloquently written essay posted on the CNN blogs about his Korean background, explaining how he turned to a career in television to overcome social stereotyping of Asian-Americans in the media and come to terms with his own cultural identity. Both video and essay can be seen here. Below is a moving excerpt from his essay:
"My parents immigrated to the United States from South Korea in 1970 with big dreams, but little money. Since they couldn't afford to put my brother and me in daycare or preschool, they encouraged us to watch television as a way to learn English. Every morning, my brother and I watched "Sesame Street" on PBS, which taught us how to count and recite the alphabet. Not only did our TV become another caregiver, it became the primary medium through which I learned about the world. It allowed me to see and experience things I'd never seen before. It helped me imagine a better future for me and my family. I studied hard and eventually made my way to Stanford University and then Yale Law School. For a poor kid like me, television helped provide the inspiration and vision I needed to realize the American dream.
But as much as television was a source of empowerment and inspiration, it was also a powerful source of constraint. Television defined the way I saw myself and my relationships with other people, and I didn't see a lot of people who looked like me. Asian-American characters were few and far between, and for lack of better alternatives, my favorite childhood hero was Big Bird. He wasn't real, of course, but I didn’t care. He was nice, had lots of friends and was yellow -- and hence, clearly, Asian..."
About Yul Kwon
Yul Kwon is the host of Link TV's original Asian news program LinkAsia. Yul has had a diverse career spanning law, business, technology, and media. Although his multifaceted professional experience spans almost two decades, his rise to international acclaim began in 2006, when he became the first Asian American to win the CBS reality show, Survivor.
Prior to his Survivor victory, Yul held positions at both Google and McKinsey & Company. As an attorney, he clerked on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, practiced law at Venture Law Group and Wiltshire & Grannis, worked as a legislative aide in the US Senate, and most recently served as Deputy Chief of the FCC's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau.