WOW Dozen: Contemporary Korean American Books

By HeeYoung Kim, West Texas A&M University

Literature is a cultural artifact. Contemporary literature serves as a valuable mirror, capturing our ever-changing beliefs and values. An author’s unique perspective, shaped by their life experiences, beliefs, and cultural backgrounds, permeate their work with distinct viewpoints, opinions, convictions, and biases. Understanding this perspective allows us to uncover hidden motivations and intentions within their words. Collectively exploring books from multiple contemporary authors helps us better comprehend current culture. In this month’s WOW Dozen, I present a collection of children’s books, encompassing picturebooks and young adult novels, that have been published this year by Korean Americans. Through these writers’ lenses, readers can gain insights into diverse ways of life by contemplating the values and dreams of Korean Americans. Continue reading

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New Trends in Transnational Korean Children’s Books

By Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico,
and Junko Sakoi, Tucson Unified School District

Most of the stories of Korean-Americans and Korean immigrants are products of the ’90s and 2000s. Ae-Kyung’s Dream (1988) by Min Paek is the only picture book of a Korean immigrant child’s story published in the 1980s. Picture books and chapter books of U.S. Korean groups present different experiences and stories of immigration and integration. The majority of transnational Korean children’s books are either exploring new immigration experiences or following Korean-American children’s journeys of developing their bicultural identities (Sung, 2009).

transnational Korean children's books, Here I Am, Juna's Jar, This is Our House Continue reading

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Korean Rediscovery of the Power of Historical Fiction

by Yoo Kyung Sung, The University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

This December I want to, literally, take you to a different world of words — more specifically, a world of words in South Korea. Lately, Korean picture books have gotten worldwide attention due to their noticeable growth and uniqueness in styles. (From now on ‘Korea’ refers to South Korea in this post). Publishers, like Kane and Miller, have translated and published large numbers of picture books from Korea. The global attention and recent popularity of Korean picture books has triggered domestic scrambles among publishers in Korea to produce high quality picture books. In the last five years, a number of new book awards have been created. This new movement focuses on encouraging the development of new writers and illustrators by recognizing, through awards, young potential authors and illustrators.
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