Jun Dishes

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Expressing Affect and Effect


I am a wife, a mother, a daughter and daughter-in-law, a friend, a neighbor, a sister and sister-in-law, a cousin, a granddaughter. More. I am an ex-colleague and ex-boss, ex-girlfriend and ex-play-thing, as well as former this and former that all along the way.

I want to be an aunt, a grandmother, a mother-in-law, a mentor, someone to lean on, sound off to, a trusted ear, too.

I can control what I am and what I want to be, and to whom, to varying degrees.

And then something like Sandy Hook happens.

And everyone is scrambling to find his or her place in the horror, most of us fortunate to be far enough removed to be spared of a loss in our life in just one jarring moment.

On this Friday, for me the day that the world never ended, and for twenty-six families a week of questions of “Who I am” and “Who I want to be” and all of that and to whom is still yet unanswered. The question of “Why” has no answer and is the hardest answer to accept in all of this, for all.

Perhaps, I dare to guess, for those losses of family, it feels as if part of their own world has ended Mayans or no Mayans.

Can you imagine?

On this Friday, for me, I celebrate both in one day my two years of marriage to my husband Davy our baby Noah turning nine months old. Noah is already nine months old. Davy shared with me this morning the grave moment he had when he first saw the name “Noah” belonging to Noah Pozner, one of the innocents lost just one week ago. Davy needn’t say more because I knew exactly what he meant. The moment our minds and hearts raced long enough to privately be thankful once again that our little Noah was at that moment sleeping soundly in his room upstairs. And also in that same moment the pang of guilt for that kind of thinking, is what Davy also conveyed.

Can you relate?

On this Friday today I am more of a wife and mother than anything else on most days. Sometimes I am a bad wife. Because I can’t do it all, all at once all the time, but who I am on this day is what I give one hundred percent to. It’s what we should all strive to do more of, even if we don’t always deliver whether as a teacher or husband or wife or parent or friend…

To effect change around you make changes that affect.

To Noah Pozner’s family and circle of life, and also that of Rachel D’Avino, Dawn Hochsprung, Anne Marie Murphy, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach, Victoria Leigh Soto, Charlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden, Olivia Engel, Josephine Gay, Dylan Hockley, Madeleine Hsu, Catherine Hubbard, Chase Kowalski, Jesse Lewis, Ana Marquez-Greene, James Mattioli, Grace McDonnell, Emilie Parker, Jack Pinto, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richman, Benjamin Wheeler and little Allison Wyatt, I think of all of you often and in the quietest and loudest of moments of the day. But they are moments in which I bite down tears and wish you all some peace in the answers around you and in the silences too.

Somewhere in the memories of your lost ones may you find more to look forward to, and right in front of you.

I dedicate this to my husband, Davy, on this our second wedding anniversary. For inspiring me to express somehow, finally, how life has been and what life is right now at the end of this Friday. And also because Davy found his anniversary gift early, as clearly I did not hide it well enough, and what more could I give but my post-apocalyptic love? And this blog? 

Always dishing,


Migrate Immigrate Emigrate


Migrate.  I started the process of migrating my wordpress.com site, to a wordpress.org one, weeks ago. And though I had Googled the WordPress out of the world wide web, even the “Dummy” versions of instructions proved too complicated as they required knowledge of basic code and database management. I am so very good at so many things, but I thrive on working with the alphabet more so than with numbers and signs and symbols.  And so I invested $129 and purchased the official WordPress Guided Transfer so that the ” WordPress Happiness Engineers” did all the work, on both the front and back ends, for me.  So my site’s been migrated “successfully” now for two weeks.  What does this mean?  Well, from your end nothing much yet, it was a seamless migration so everything should still “look and feel” the same to you.  But from my end, it’s both encouraging and disheartening. Installations and plugins and glitches in codes is making this learning process more than frustrating.  Besides “look and feel” options, I have the capabilities to do so much more now in the way of  interacting with followers of the site.  You.

Please be patient.

Immigrate.  I was born in Korea and raised in New York City.  I’m a NYer through and through.  I’m American, but my blood is Korean.  My immigration from Korea to America happened when I was just three.   I remember nothing about that day, save for the greeting I received arriving at the gate at JFK, of how I cried and threw dirty Korean profanities at my parents and aunts, uncles, grandparents and more of the Korean and insane.  Having been raised by my paternal grandmother from birth in Korea, while my parents made a home and started a business on the lower east side of Manhattan, I have always been grateful that my parents put down roots for me on the lower east side.  The roots are deep and much of my family is, as of right now, sitting with no power in two different buildings right by the East River unaware of the magnitude of what just happened.  New York has seen worse and better days.  And so my parents bore the brunt of my immigration, sparing me of things harder than adjusting to a mere time difference between Seoul and Manhattan.  My immigration to the United States was seamless, and my parents were my “Happiness Engineers”.

Emigrate.  In January 4, 2011 I left the United States behind.  I believed, then, that I had the best reason ever for doing so.  I still believe this, and I am now almost at the two-year mark as an expat living in Belgium.  I still come across people here who ask incredulously,”Why would you leave New York to live here?!” and though I’m always taken aback by their lack of tact, I always smile and respond the same way.  “For love, and to start a family.”   I have never felt so whole in my life as I do now as a wife and mother and still, myself. I’m not the first to do such a thing and I certainly know I won’t be the last. But emigrating from the U.S. was not so seamless.  Having been born in Korea, and also a citizen of the U.S., I had endless documents to be translated and multiple embassy visits to be made and questions and answers for months.  But now here I am, thousands of miles from the U.S., and now especially as I struggle to reach family members who have been affected by Sandy I am reminded that my home is here in Belgium but my heart away from home will always be New York.

Incidentally, migrate/immigrate/emigrate are all verbs.  But they differ in context and meaning.  Do you know the subtleties around them?

Migrate: Moving to another area, be it animal or human or a WordPress site.

Immigrate: Entering a country in order to live there permanently.

Emigrate: Leaving one’s country in order to go live in another country.

In essence, immigration is about entrance and emigration is about exit.  But it’s still migration.  It’s still boils down to movement.  Never stop moving.

Always Dishing,


A Long Distance Love Story



BY — Kaatje De Coninck

“The Huge Love Between a Flemish Dockworker and Winner of Big Brother America”

Het Nieuwsblad (De Gentenaar)

*** Copyright Het Nieuwsblad/De Gentenaar ***


July 28, 2012

Pp 20-21


 PDF LINKS: ArticlePage1  ArticlePage2

*** Copyright Het Nieuwsblad/De Gentenaar ***

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She is Korean, and for 12 years long worked on Wall Street. She lived most of her whole life in New York City and has thousands of fans. They follow her on Twitter and her blog as she, in 2003, became the winner of Big Brother, yet still the most popular reality-show in America.  He has worked for seven years as a docker “longshoreman” in the Port of Ghent and was always the picture of “cheerful bachelor”.  One you thought you’d never see married, but you knew sported a hard shell to mask a golden heart, and a smile always on his face.  A most unlikely couple, they, Jun Song (36) and Davy Goethals (32) found each other on holiday in the Dominican Republic.  Scarcely two years later  – and a marriage, a baby and a pet rabbit richer – live they together between the chickens and the cows in Evergem.  Living in love,   ‘After five days I knew this man would become the father of my children.’


Paintings of the skyline of New York, photographs of Wall Street, pinstripe suits hanging in the closet upstairs…these being the memories of the fast life that Jun left behind.  Today, the life of the American Jun Song consists of a lovely and lovingly decorated rented house in Evergem, with a garden connecting a patch of land  for homegrown vegetables.  Their kitchen is in red and white, in a specific corner of their house, for according to the rules of Feng Shui (the philosophy that teaches you how your surroundings can influence your luck, etc.) this corner stands for love and marriage.  She loves Belgium, says Jun.  And of Ghent, ‘After 32 years in New York, I had the urge for something more stable…healthier surroundings.  Somehow I found the place to start a family.’

Jun scarcely knew Belgium existed – ‘I knew about the waffles, that’s about it.’  Huge was her surprise to be meeting four Belgian dockworkers on a trip to the Dominican Republic, one of whom grabbed her attention immediately. ‘I had just gone back to school and finished a semester, and I felt that my father dying and a lot of other heavy events were behind me. I wanted to just get away, thus went I to the Dominican Republic…with three other girls I scarcely knew.  Our hotel was so dreadful that we left it and chose a new resort, and there I spotted Davy.’   He had ignored her at first.  ‘I had thought, why is he not trying to get with me?’

What Jun didn’t know, until much later, was that there was a girl back in Belgium that Davy was seeing and had promised to stay faithful to on this trip. ‘I knew right away that things were about to get complicated,’  Davy laughs as he recalls it.

Four days later, things finally happened between Jun and Davy.  Both having led very adventurous single lives consisting of many relations and plenty of one-night stands, they both sensed they had found something special. ‘After four days I put up a photograph of him on Facebook, with:  This is my future baby daddy.  I don’t know how I knew since we had not done anything yet, but I just knew.   Our last evening together we spent the whole night just talking, about what we wanted out of our lives and how we saw our future.  It was real.’   But that doesn’t mean it was easy. Davy’s family and friends wondered what he was doing, and tried to convince him that it really could not work.  ‘And living 6,000 kilometers away from each other.  Believe me, it was not easy building a relationship’, smiles Jun.  The two held on through six roundtrip visits within six months, Skyping and telephoning everyday.  Jun once even fell off her chair while she was trying to be creative and acrobatic.  They laugh with the memory.

With the last visit, Davy asked her to marry him and after scarcely six months they got married in New York around Christmas.  They celebrated New Year’s in Times Square as a honeymoon, then Jun packed all her things and moved with Davy to Evergem.

With the regularity of the bell, the mailman stands at their door with special packages from America.  Donuts, American treats, bibs for baby Noah, her fans do not forget her.  ‘Davy is a huge fan of cream soda (a kind of soft drink in America) and someone was wonderful enough to send us a sixpack’, tells Jun.  ‘It is crazy how much Jun and her fans mean to each other,’  says Davy, in his usual down-to-earth manner.  ‘It’s as if Jun’s fans live with us through Twitter. For us, Flemish people, reality tv is not a big hype.’   But there are also some poisonous reactions from Jun’s audience, like someone telling her: ‘I hope you fall and lose your baby. ‘

‘Those we try to ignore.  But I presume those sick people won’t come to Evergem, right?” questions Davy.


It is nearly nine year ago that Jun joined the fourth Big Brother-season in America.  The program began this summer it’s fourteenth season and still draws 8 million viewers. That is almost as many viewers as there are Belgians in this land.  ‘After four year my ex and I had split up, and I didn’t know what to do with myself. When I saw the commercial for BB asking if I had what it took to win. Hell yeah, I thought, and I applied. I wanted to get out of NY, away from everything that reminded me of my ex. I wanted the experience, the money but fame didn’t really interest me.’  And yes, she won, Jun:  500,000 dollars.  Half of it went to taxes and the other half went into an apartment.  ‘People think she’s rich but Jun hasn’t worked for three years so not a lot is left, “ Davy smiles.  If there was one thing that would help a lot, ‘Davy works intensely hard to support me and Noah, but it is hard living off one wage.’

All true Flemish have in their hearts the desire to own their home. And so Davy, and Jun, desire to own a home one day. ‘Finding work here is not as easy as I thought it would be. Especially with the language barrier. I understand perfectly most Dutch, but speaking it is really something else.  For now I am content as a housewife, but I hope to contribute more soon.’  Thus Jun currently does what she’s good at: taking care of her home and her family and writing part-time for a reality tv blog.  Reality tv is a big business in America.  ‘I am also writing a book.  Do you know Fifty Shades or Grey?  The mommy porn that’s a hit right now? Well I know I can do better than that.’

Exotische Liefde

One thing is for sure, they never had to defend themselves to either embassies on suspicion of a fake marriage… ‘I come from the U.S. People all know that Davy didn’t mail-order buy me’, laughs Jun.  Yet people still stare, especially when shows like Exotic Love are airing on television here.  ‘When we run errands together, or Jun goes to the bakery alone, people stare at us. To them, she might have come from anywhere…  Oh, but we laugh about it.’  One thing is thing is certain, their life together is never boring. Not even living between cows in Evergem.   ‘Drama pursues us’, says Jun, with sparkling eyes.  And they actually enjoy it too because how boring would life be without it, they believe.  ‘Davy and I are so much alike.  We live full days from day-to-day and go with whatever feels right in the moment.’   They were simply the same person, just in a different body on a different continent. You hear people say that it seems they’ve known someone their whole lives. ‘Well, now I know how that feels. It must have been something close to destiny that brought us together in the Dominican Republic.’

Their son Noah is in the meantime almost 4 months old.  He was premature, but is all but caught up and healthy and happy.  ‘When he is old enough we will, with pleasure, tell him the story of how his dad and mom found each other and how they conquered all the obstacles and doubts because they knew that this was the love of their lives.’

Admit, it is a beautiful loves story, no?

*** Copyright Het Nieuwsblad/De Gentenaar ***

Life is Fuller


In Ghent, life just feels fuller. I’m not “hungry” like I was living in New York City.

NYC, my home for 32 years before I fell in love, married, moved and had a baby in Belgium. There’s no place like NYC but there’s no better place than where you make your home.

You can try to do the math, but I was born and bred in Seoul, Korea until the age of three and I’ve been living in Ghent now for 16 months, so…I’m 36 as of the date of this entry.  36. I had a baby at 36, which is 60 in old school Korean years.

But nevertheless, my momz couldn’t be happier or more proud of me. That’s her, holding Noah:


See? Don’t I look full in the photo?

I’m really, so very much more, content since moving to Belgium. Friendlier pace with just as much drama and hot messes running around that I still have fun…and I get to have what I’ve always wanted…a family of my own. A family of my own! It happened out of nowhere and it’s all real. So real it makes me just a little nauseous, between 2 am and 7am, while i’m feeding Noah. It’s the kind of nausea accompanying pure exhaustion except when the baby is yours, there’s no question that his comfort trumps your nauseated state, each and every time.

Davy and I started a fuller life and brought Noah into the world on March 21st, 2012 at 7:05pm, officially.

In Europe it’s a different way of writing out dates so here, Noah’s birthdate is 21-3-12. A palindrome, perfect for a strong Aries baby boy who insisted on arriving 6 weeks earlier than his due date.

His due date is coming up this weekend, May 6th. We will celebrate it in our own way. And Noah surely will be rejoicing himself for joining us sooner. He is so loved.


Picking a Baby Name


It took us more than 19 weeks to decide on a name…but we finally have!

We needed a name that could be pronounced the same in English, Dutch and Korean to make it easy on everyone in the two sides of the family…and for the baby, who would be growing up in Belgium…so that meant names starting with “F, G, J, Q, R, V, X, Y or Z” were out since these letters are pronounced differently in each language.

Sooo…we have decided to name the baby NOAH! And the baby room theme will be Noah’s Ark!

Plus, we are planning on painting our two bunnies, Rocky and Tohki, on the wall and so a Noah’s Ark theme actually incorporates them and the baby’s name perfectly.

We can’t wait until little Noah arrives the first week of May! Here’s the latest “picture” of him (as of December 6th) and the latest picture of me (as of December 11th).

Thanks everyone for playing along and guessing the baby’s name!

FYI: @HotMessMandy was the first to guess right at 12:07pm EST (6:07pm Belgian time) today! Nicely done! :)

Belgium Has…


It’s May 4th, 2011.  I have been living in Belgium for four months, officially.

So in honor of this momentous day, I decided to write a piece on four “haves” and four “have nots” I have come across in my four months in this great country, not to mention great CITY of Ghent…which has made it on Lonely Planet’s list of Top 10 Cities for 2011!!!


I am starting with four things that “Belgium Has”…that America does NOT (and if America does, then I’ve never seen it so it doesn’t count anyway does it?).

Before we go any further…and whether you are American, Belgian or Vulcan, you should watch the video below.

I watched it BEFORE moving here and I still moved here anyway.  It’s one of those videos that make you laugh and learn something too, which is rare these days.  I’m SO glad someone took the time to put it out!

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So.  Without any further ado…

H A V E S:

1. Bread Machines: Like vending machines for bread! Not “bread makers”, but machines you put money in to BUY whole loaves of freshly baked bread!  I couldn’t believe my eyes when I first saw one.  I love bread, in such a passionate way.

True story – Last week when I was babysitting little Elise and we went for a walk, I was harassed by some gangster sheep.  Apparently he is the rebel in the flock and made a run for it when the shepherd was not looking (I’ve always wanted to use “shepherd” in my writing, this is awesome).

I ran so hard with the baby stroller (thank god I had buckled Elise in) and high heels that I ended up taking a wrong turn and getting lost.

With only my lip gloss and iPhone and Elise’s baby bottle filled with water (which I did take a sip of I was so thirsty from running), I thought I’d be able to survive at least an hour out in the sun while finding our way home.

Just when I thought I should give up and call someone to come find us (in Lochristi btw, which is 20 minutes from where I live), I looked across the street and saw…a bread machine.

Yes, I took a picture of it, because it was the most beautiful thing to me that day.

I felt like it was a sign from God that I was not really “lost”…that I should just chill out and buy some bread and eat it.  I felt like that’s what God wanted me to do!  So I did.

Elise loves bread as much as I do.  So together we finished like 5 slices and voila, we actually found our way back to her house!  Amazing.

P.S. ONE DAY after posting this blog (so it’s now Thursday, May 5th right now as I add this part to the blog) I came upon another bread machine just a few feet away from a restaurant I was having dinner at.  There was a little old lady trying to buy bread from the machine and she was having a hard time so my step-sister-in-law had to step in and help.  I don’t think the old lady even realized I was filming, but I was WAY excited about getting it all on film!

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2. Red Light District: I realize there are other countries that have these “districts” but this isn’t about other countries, it’s about the US and Belgium.  And in the US, we don’t have an official red light district.  We have lots of unofficial ones (my apartment in NYC having been one of them) but, nothing like the one here in Ghent (and I want to head to Amsterdam eventually).

This past Monday, the day after Easter OMG, my husband Davy and I took a trip into the city because most everything was closed as it is a major holiday here (Easter Monday) but we figured the sex shop would be open!  I’ve only WALKED through the red light district here in Ghent, so this was my first “drive-thru”…

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In general, sex and sexuality in Belgium is WAY MORE open than it is back in America.  Anytime I’ve ever traveled through Europe I’ve always thought it funny that we Americans think we’re so “open” yet we’re actually pretty closed off when it comes to exposing our sexual lives.

I’m not saying that people here walk around with their tits hanging out…or pushing their balls into your face or anything, but there is definitely less taboo here.  And whether it’s on television or radio, or in a sex shop, pretty much anything goes.

And if you know me, you know I love “everything goes”…

I thought it was SO cool that Libidos let me film inside their store.  AND they gave us free batteries for all our purchases!

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I personally think they should make room for a little cafe or something (they have two floors in their store) because sex toy hunting can make you hungry!

Davy and I walked out with a full bag of new toys so we could test them out in the name of research and baby making.  We were both hungry.

But we had to settle for some Penis Pasts and Pasta Boobs to go…or “takeaway” as they call it here in Belgium. Amazing.

3. Speculoos:  I don’t know how to explain the magic that is Speculoos.

It’s like Christmas morning when you’re opening your gifts and then someone tells you Christmas is happening again the next morning just for you so there are more, bigger, better gifts coming your way…

Okay, maybe not exactly, but this stuff is amazing.

Whether you get it as a paste (“pasta” they call “paste” here which is weird because pasta is pasta too), or a cookie, or in ice cream, or soft cheese, or foreplay, you can’t get enough of it.

It puts Nutella and peanut butter and other spreads (there’s a joke here somewhere) to SHAME.

AND, Speculoos has a great story too…a Mrs. Fields cookies-type story.  Apparently some housewife named Els Scheppers (how cute is she?!) came up with the idea on a show called “The Inventors” (“De Bedenkers”) and got the financial support to produce and distribute it!  Good for her!!! This shit is the bomb!

But now there’s like MAJOR drama about it all and the New York Times even published a story on it!  I love drama!  I love Speculoos!

During my long distance relationshipping with Davy last year, I brought home so much Speculoos in all its glorious forms and my momz started HIDING it from me claiming “You gonna living in the Belgium and eating this any time you want so I thinking fair if no more for you, all for me now” and that was the end of that discussion.  My momz doesn’t really get excited about anything, but she was excited about Speculoos!  Amazing.

4. Pee Stands – Not to be confused with port-o-potties, which we’ve all used at some point in our lives…and if we haven’t, Jackass gave us plenty of footage into what can happen inside of one.

I never thought I would admit this but I have SEEN the Jackass footage…because Davy brought Jackass 3 HOME with him one night from the video store as if I would say “Awesome babe!  I’ve always wanted to watch Jackass 3!”  Not.

As you can see he also brought home Saw 7.  If only I had some balls I would have been happy to sit on the couch and scratch them while watching these movies with him.

But back to pee stands…when I was here last July for my birthday, the Festival of Ghent was going on (which this year it’s the 17th-25th of July)…or the Festival of Jun as I now call it since my birthday happens in the middle of it all on the 19th.

I saw for the first time these “port-a-pee-stands”.  I’m sure there are those reading going “What’s the big deal?” well, the big deal is, I had never seen them before.  They are definitely not used broadly in the US…like I said, we act like we’re so progressive but we’re not.

And of course, being the ridiculous persona that I am, I jumped into one of the stands just so I could send the picture back to my friends in New York…and now everywhere else I suppose.

But the pee stands I’m referring to as #4 on my list here are not these portable ones, no. I’m talking about the mother-of-all-pee-standedness.

Sleek structures with a hole in the ground for men to walk up to, unzip, pull it out, pee, shake it off, zip, and walk away from. Like the one here on the left, with the dude with the pony tail nice enough to provide an actual demonstration (I was on the way home from school and I couldn’t help but stop, take a picture, then thank him of course).

There are some “old” pee stands that are not nearly as “pretty” as these modern ones, but they are super scary-looking.

Some of them even have DOUBLE stands, for areas of the city where there’s more foot traffic…or prostrate traffic I suppose.  Example on the right.  I waited and waited to see if I could get a picture of TWO men using it, but it didn’t happen and DAMNIT I had to pee and couldn’t stand there all day long.  And for that matter, I couldn’t PEE at the stand either.

Which brings me to my point…where is the PEE EQUALITY here?!?!  Why can’t WOMEN have pee stands too?!  I say “Rise Up!  Rise Up Ye women of Belgium!  Pee with me in one of these stands and let’s make change happen!”

I mean really, what WOULD happen if women just chose a pee stand to walk up to, unzip/pullup, squat, pee, dab with a tissue, zip/pulldown, and walk away from?

Dare me.

Someone Interesting


I was asked by a former classmate from NYC if I would answer some questions for an assignment she had due in a current class.  They were asked by the professor to interview “someone interesting”, and this former classmate of mine chose me. I am someone interesting to her. Hell yes.

So I decided to share the questions/answers because I had so much fun doing it, and I realized…I really AM “someone interesting”!

None of the Questions/Answers below have been edited.

Where were you born? Describe it.
I was born in Seoul, Korea in 1975 and my parents left me there with my paternal grandmother so they could go to NY and set up a home and a business.  I was left there for 3 years and raised by my paternal grandmother, who was gangster…so I never knew my parents until I was 3.  And by the way, I wasn’t “expected” so I was almost aborted…I would remind my parents of this every birthday when I got older “See? Aren’t you glad you had me? Otherwise you’d be stuck with just Danny (my brother) and not have such a smart and beautiful daughter to show off.”
Do you remember living there?
I don’t remember much because I was so young.  But I do remember my bad-ass grandmother.  She smoked and drank and hustled people out of their money in a Korean cardgame called Hwa-t’u.  OH.  And I remember vaguely (because I was probably traumatized that severely) owning little chicks (as in baby chickens) as pets and my grandma running out for cigarettes and leaving me home alone with them one day and it’s like the chicks knew they had me alone and started pecking at my little feet until they bled and when my grandma came home she freaked out because I was frantically trying to climb out a window with my bloody feet and all.  This was not a bad dream I had, the story’s been confirmed.  We’re not supposed to remember anything before the age of three but like I said, this was so traumatizing it’s engrained in my head forever.
Why and when did you move to America?
My parents “sent for me” when I was three, I guess they thought they had made enough money and furnished a home good enough for me and so I was put on a plane BY MYSELF (with a chaperone from Korean Air Lines) and I arrived at JFK Airport in 1978.
What did your parents do?
My parents had opened up a stereotypical Korean fruit and vegetable market (I suppose they didn’t feel like opening a nail salon or a dry cleaners which was what the rest of the Koreans were doing at the time (mid-70s).
How was the transition to living in New York?
According to my parents, my transition was rough.  For me, my parents were strangers and I cried for my grandmother everyday, cried myself to sleep, cried myself awake, refused to eat or drink for days until I made myself sick.  Even at the age of 3 it turns out I was a master of manipulation because my parents went out and bought every toy and treat money could buy to make me happy.  I even got a lifesized pony ride they had bought from a carnival going out of business.  They were basically trying to bribe me for my love and forgiveness for leaving me behind in Korean, and it worked.
How would you describe your childhood?
My childhood was AMAZING but not perfect, but the amazing parts can’t be topped.  I was the apple of my parents eyes and I got to travel at a very young age because my parents were big world travelers and would take me with them. I was super smart and outgoing and as the ONLY Korean within miles I was always speaking out when people called me Chinese “I’m Korean! I’m NOT Chinese~” I would shout at people. Growing up on the lower east side of Manhattan I was THE ONLY KOREAN among Black, Dominican, Jewish and Chinese people.
What were your parents like? How was your relationship with both?
My parents were so in love, they had been high school sweethearts.  Originally, my dad was supposed to “court” my mother’s girlfriend but he fell in love with my mother instead and they were inseparable.  He came from a very very poor family and my mother from a very rich family, so there was UBER drama when they said they wanted to get married.  But because they did and because their love was true and not “arranged” like so many other marriages back then, they showed me what fun and romance and true love really is growing up.  I would watch them hug and kiss and be cute with each other and it really rubbed off on me I think because it made me a hopeless romantic :).  My mom was always fun to hang out with because she always spent money (on me and herself) and my dad was just the coolest person ever (he passed away in 2004 and I miss him everyday).
What schools did you attend ?
I went to PS 110 (Florence Nightingale School) on the lower east side (Actually started at PS 140 but I got knocked out by a snowball thrown by a bully in first grade so I got transferred immediately to PS 110 after my mom went Krazy Korean on the school board)…then to JHS 22 (I was only there for two years because I took the “Specialized Exam” and placed in Brooklyn Technical High School).
What were you like as a teenager?
I was fat (more freedom meant more food, I have been a foodie all my life, I always have to be munching/trying something) but I was always super confident. I always wanted my voice to be heard so I joined groups and clubs having to do with speaking and speech.  I have always been a voracious reader, and Judy Blume’s books were my Bible, and so I was always prepared for “firsts” (first kiss, first period, first penis, etc…).  Oh, and my hair was always permed because Koreans went crazy for perms in the 1980s…it showed that you had money, so stupid to spend your money on PERMS to show you had money.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
At first I wanted to be a pediatrician, because I wanted to have my practice on the first floor of my home, and live in the higher floors.  But this is because my pediatrician had this set-up and I thought it was the coolest thing in the world.  And I had told my parents that they could live on their own floor because I would make enough money to buy a house big enough for all of us to live in together. Yeah.  Right.  Ahhhh, the dreams we dream when we are young.  But yeah, I was pretty set on being a pediatrician.  I thought I’d be good at giving shots and then giving out lollipops.
How was high school?
High School was when I really went through an identity crisis.  Because I grew up on the lower east side where there were NO Koreans, I was pretty much Dominican by nature. I had been wearing heels since I was 11 and eating cuchifritos (fried Dominican fast food) and saying bad words in Spanish since my neighborhood was so heavy with Dominican population.  Then when I got to high school, I identified with the black kids more so my freshmen year was spent with black friends.  Finally in sophomore year, I started to identify with my Korean roots and started hanging with the Koreans and I thought okay I guess I AM Korean.  But that was short-lived, all they wanted to do was smoke and play pool and wear black and only hang out with other Koreans so I dropped them eventually. Junior year I discovered the Greeks, and I wanted to be Greek so bad.  I would eat feta and baklava and hang out with all my greek friends everyday.  Senior year I decided I wanted to be class president so I got into student government and because I had hung out with so many different/diverse crews, I won easily and so Senior Year I was president.  Oh, and I was still fat.
Did you go to college? When and where?
I started out at NYU Class of 1997, proudly.  My dad had tried to convince me to “go away” to college so I could become more independent which now I understood he meant “Get away from your over-bearing mother because she will still treat you like you’re in high school”. But when I was accepted into NYU I was so thrilled I forgot all about “going away” for school and decided to stay in NYC..
Describe your experience in college. What was your major?
My first year at NYU was a hot mess, I failed most of my classes because I was trying to balance the freedom of adulthood with the fact that my mother still wanted me home by dark and the fact that the boy I had a crush on all first semester broke my heart second semester anyway, etc…and after one more semester, I quit. I was majoring in pre-med thinking I’d make my “dream” of being a pediatrician come true and I realized…I HATE SCIENCE.  So I quit school and then I moved out of my parents’ house.  My mother likes to say I “ran away” but really, when you’re 19 you are moving out, not running away.  It was the best thing I did because it made me more independent than I already was and it proved to my mother that I was an adult.  Granted, I was shocked when I first moved out that I actually had to pay for electricity and gas and phone, and it didn’t “come with the apartment” I was renting.  I busted my ass that first year living on my own and I had FIVE W-2s that year because I was working so many jobs trying to make it on my own.  But it felt GOOD.
What did you do after college (career wise)?
When I left NYU I was screwed.  I hadn’t finished school and I had led a pretty cushy spoiled life at home so I really didn’t know the value of a dollar.  So I used my (still valid) NYU ID card and went to the job center and found two jobs, one working at a “law office” near the WTC as a secretary and one working as a receptionist at the “fitness center” at the Hilton in midtown. But I needed more money to make it on my own so I was also working a retail job at Benetton in the West Village on commission, and also at the Gap in Herald Square hourly, and then through the Hilton I also got a job at the Waldorf and the New York Palace.  After a year of doing all this, I decided to walk into a “temp” agency and landed a job as a secretary at a small investment firm in jersey city. So I said goodbye to my 6 W-2s and headed to my frist “real” job in Finance.
How did you get on Wall Street?
After working at the Jersey City nightmare (which is what I call that first investment firm, OMG, that place was soooo stereotypical sexist trading firm) I went back to the original “temp” agency and told them I wanted a real job now, in Manhattan, at a real bank.  And I landed a job at Citibank, which eventually became Citigroup, as a secretary.  After three months my boss told me stop wasting my time as a secretary and pushed me to go back to school part-time and at least get my Associate’s and I got a promotion, and after that I got another promotion, and etc…and I never looked back as I climbed that mighty corporate ladder…all without my Undergrad degree.  Ironic huh?
What was it like to work on Wall Street ?
I realized very quickly that working on Wall Street is 50% hard work and 50% hard ass-kissing…meaning, you have to know who’s important and get as much exposure to them as you can, get noticed, get recognized.  It’s called fast-tracking and it happens all the time.  But not to everyone, obviously, because then it wouldn’t be special.  But someone high up has to see something in you and want to help you in that climb.  And I have always had this confidence in me and it helped me on Wall Street because it got me attention by all the right people.
When did you decide to go on Big Brother? Why?
I was at Citigroup for five years and I was an A.V.P. and COMPLETELY bored.  I had just broken up with a boyfriend of four years and I was ready to rip my heart out and throw it in the east river or off the empire state building and I just needed to GET OUT OF NYC.  So I was watching tv one night and I saw the last few minutes of season 3 of Big Brother and at the end of it the voice on the tv asked me “Do you think YOU HAVE what it takes to outwit and outplay everyone in a house and win half a million dollars?!” and I thought “Um, FUCK YESSS.”  So I went on the CBS website right then and there and downloaded the application (which was like 80 pages it felt like), and took two polaroids (yes, I had a polaroid camera, two in fact) and borrowed a video camera from a friend and sat on my bed with the camera on my dresser and just talked into it for two minutes, as blunt as I am in real life.  I sent everything in FedEx on a Thursday, and on Friday night I got a call from them saying they wanted to meet me!
How did you get on the show?
After the initial call, I met their producers in NY and then I was flown out to LA for the rest of the rounds of “auditions” and I just knew in my heart that I had made it.  I KNEW I was going to be on the show.  I don’t know why I was so sure, I still don’t. But I know that when my gut tells me something, I listen, because my gut has never proven me wrong.  The audition process was grueling.  Locked in a hotel room for days and meeting with producers, getting blood/urine tests done, pysch evaluations, etc…
What was it like being on the show?
Being on the show was SURREAL, it still is.  The first hour or so you were SO conscious of the cameras and microphones everywhere.  But eventually you HAVE TO forget about them otherwise you will never get comfortable and be able to play the game.  You have to get comfy in your surrounding and OWN IT in your head and heart before you can take down 12 or so other people and win that prize money.  In all honesty though, I played the game as if it was real life.  In real life, we are constantly faced with douchebags and bimbos and people we just can’t stand, but we have to deal with them in a civilized manner so we’re not taken into custody for killing them you know?  So this was the same thing, I had to play nice and eliminate people by using other people so I wouldn’t get my hands too dirty because at the end of the game, I’m depending on the votes of the people who were kicked off.  And everyday I missed my friends and my family and cell phone and television and magazines, but once I’m focused on something, I can live without luxuries until I get what I want.  And that’s exactly what I did :)
What did you do after the show?
Right after the show I locked myself up in my apartment for a good month.  I ordered food through fresh direct and I just spent a lot of time alone.  It really was traumatizing to have been filmed and watched 24-7 (because in addition to the televised show 3 times a week, there was a live internet feed also so people could watch me sleep and get up to pee and brush my teeth etc…) and I don’t think I realized just how much I was traumatized until I got back to NY.  I realized I would avoid eye contact and contact all together with people on the street and I was paranoid that I was being watched constantly.  But I think it’s because that’s how seriously I had taken the game.  I had not gone on the show for fame or notoriety, I had gone on to win and so the cameras and microphones weren’t things I loved about my time in the house, like it was for others who wanted “to be famous”.  I also spent an incredible amount of time with my family, and my dad in particular, because he had fallen VERY ill WHILE I was in the Big Brother house and my family had taken a vote not to tell me so I could stay in the house and win.  Unlike many other reality shows, Big Brother is filmed and televised live, and my family thought I had a real chance of winning and so they didn’t want to take that away from me, which is ridiculous because if my dad had passed away while I was in that house I would have seriously killed somebody.  So I didn’t return to Citigroup (where I had taken a 4 month leave of absence) and instead I spent a year with my dad because he finally passed the next year.  I know I wouldn’t have been able to afford a year off if I hadn’t won the half a million on the show, so everything happens for a reason.
How did the show affect your life?
My life hasn’t changed all that much.  After my dad passed away I decided to return to Wall Street and went back to working like normal.  Of course I went back on the show every summer for a cameo appearance and I did interviews here and there, but like I said, I never wanted fame out of the experience, I just wanted to win.  And I did.  And so I returned home like normal.  I can’t say the same for many of the others on the show with me…so many of them stayed in LA in the hopes of becoming the next big star (morons)…I have to say though that having won a show like Big Brother means more to other people than it does to me and so dating life was pretty interesting.  Some guys were so turned off by the fact that I went on a reality show…and some guys were so turned on it was creepy! HA
What did you do after the show in terms of work?
I went back to Wall Street and after a year I quit.  I took some time off again just for myself to deal with my dad’s passing…and also…to start my own business.  An “underground” business.  I was basically a “madam” for a while…shhhh…and then I went back to Wall Street again :)
THE REST: I got laid off from my job on Wall Street in December 2008 and most of 2009 I travelled.  I covered much of Italy and some of Greece and then I decided it was time for me to return to school and finally finish my undergrad degree.  I had been putting it off for so long because I never NEEDED it.  When I went on job interviews my work experience was so long and impressive that my lack of formal education was never a big enough deal to keep me from getting the jobs I wanted.  My last title before getting laid off was “Learning and Development Manager”.  Meaning, I was in charge of coming up with curriculum and career development for everyone at the firm, from junior analysts all the way to the CEO.  Ironic, since I didn’t even have my undergrad degree, but like I said, presenting yourself and what you bring to the table to push an organization forward is much more important that what kinds of degree(s) you have in finance.  And I sold myself.  I sold myself to the point where I was holding titles and earning salaries/bonuses that someone who doesn’t have an undergrad degree “shouldn’t be” earning :)  So I started Hunter in January 2010 and after calculating transfer credits, etc…I realized I could do everything in 3 semesters: Spring, Summer and Fall.  And so after a GPA of 3.8 in Spring semester I decided to reward myself with a trip to the Dominican Republic with some girls (a whole other story because they turned out to be psychotic maniacs, note to self: do not travel with bitches you don’t know for more than 2 days)…and I hadn’t banked on meeting my future husband, Davy, while I was there.  I swear, I hadn’t even brought any condoms with me which I usually do when I travel.  I honestly took the trip just to reward MYself for a job well done in my first semester back in school and I think that’s why I met him. :)  And just like my gut had guided me in the past, I let it guide me in May as well.  I just KNEW he was IT.  So after the trip I returned to start summer semester and after going to classes Monday through Thursday, I got on a plane that Thursday night and went back to DR because Davy was there another 7 days and I spent the weekend with him in DR before returning back to school for classes on Monday.  We continued a long distance relationship (He lived in Belgium) and I made FIVE TRIPS to Belgium since I had the $$ and the time (it’s not like I had a job) and my mother came with me on one of those trips to Belgium and it became really really real to her that holy shit, I was going to marry this man and move to Belgium). And then Davy came to NYC in December, we got married on December 21 and we spent the holidays in NYC before I came back with him to Belgium to live, on January 4th. :) But it was NOT easy…sure there’s telephone and email and Skype, but Davy and I were the biggest single whores that ever lived.  So for us to commit to something like this was unimaginable and all our friends and family were SHOCKED that we pulled it off because both Davy and I have a long history of conquests and play and now, we finally met our match :)