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Television show breaks Korean-American stereotypes

2005/03/21 | Permalink | Source

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Fresh from just completing their first season run at the end of last month on a U.S. cable channel, the production team of "Egg WestCoast", a video magazine program for Korean-Americans, is confident it has played a role in breaking the stereotypes about Korean-Americans.

The program, produced by the California-based Choice Entertainment, aims to introduce Korean culture to second and third generation Korean-Americans who have scant knowledge about their parents' homeland, while at the same giving exposure to notable figures in the Korean-American community.

The idea for the show had been brewing in the mind of the program's executive producer Gary Choi for several years but it wasn't until last year that he was able to finally act on it. "I was working at a Spanish cable channel at the time and thought, 'Why can't we do this in Korean?'" said Choi, 38, during a recent interview with The Korea Herald.

While the magazine program does profile prominent as well as lesser known Korean-Americans in various fields, the central piece of the show is "Roots with Jim and James", a segment which deals with Korean culture.

To make the topics easily approachable, the "Egg WestCoast" team employs comical situations. "For example, we had a piece where we learned to make kimchi from a Mexican woman", said Choi. Choi and Hahn Cho act in the segment, as well as write and produce it.

Some of the rising stars that the program has profiled include David Cho, a graffiti artist in San Jose and Ken Oak, a struggling musician. "We also profiled Queens poet laureate Ishle Yi Park", said Richard Choi, another executive producer.

What makes the show unique and appealing to even a non-Korean audience is that it is done through American eyes, explained Richard Choi. The show is also about breaking stereotypes. "We want to show that Koreans are not one-dimensional and that we have a gamut of experiences", said Richard Choi, stressing that not all Korean-Americans are doctors and lawyers.

"I want to tell people to follow their dreams", said Gary Choi, who worked as a trader and financial analyst for eight years before he decided to follow his dream. He noted that for most Korean-Americans, there is a struggle between pleasing your parents and pleasing yourself. "It is a major conflict in our lives", agreed Cho, 35, who chose acting as his career.

"We are still struggling to feel like Americans", noted Richard Choi.

The show was originally created with the Korean-American audience in mind, but the team has learned that there is a lot of interest in Korean culture outside of the Korean community. For the second season, when the program will be aired on an all-Asian cable channel with a potential to reach some 17 million households across the United States, the team plans to address a more pan-Asian platform, according to Hahn Cho.

By Kim Hoo-ran

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