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My name is Jonathan Yi and my family comes from a country called Korea.  My parents immigrated to the United States when they were both young with their families.  My grandparents are the first generations to be in the United States, and my parents called themselves 1.5 generations, which makes me the second generation to be in the United States.  

Our name Yi originates from South Korea in an area named Kyong-Ju and it goes all the way back to 32 A.D.  The name started with my very first ancestor called Al Pyong Yi.  There is still a shrine and a monument in Korea where Al Pyong Yi was first born.  Koreans usually have two syllable first names and they all have meanings.  My Father’s name is Hui Chol and it means bright and scholarly.  My Mother’s maiden name is Chang, and it means giving.  Her first name is Hyong Sun and it means prosperity and gentle.  My parents named me Jonathan which means “gift of God”, but I have a middle Korean name, Jae Jin.  Jae means presence and Jin means truth or honesty.  My brother has the same first syllable, Jae, and his last syllable is Hyong, same as my Mother.  We have order of names that we have to use, and in our generation it is Jae.  In my father’s generation, it was Hui.  I have to name my children with the syllable Ho.  I am told this is a tradition sometimes not followed even in Korea today.

My Father came to the United States back in 1983 when President Ronald Reagan was in the oval office. Back in 1983, a terrorist explosion killed 237 US Marines in Beirut in Oct. 23, and the US invaded Grenada in Oct 25. My mother came to the United States in 1979 when Jimmy Carter was President. In this time, Iranian militants seized US embassy in Teheran and held hostages in November 4th. When my Father came to the U. S., two MJ’s were very popular, Michael Jackson and Michael Jordan.

 My Mother’s parents came from North Korea. My maternal Grandfather came down to South Korea once the Korean War broke out. Since he was the first born of the family, it was very important to the family that he survived the war.  His parents sent him down to South Korea with his distant uncle. When the Korean War ended, he was not able to go back to his home. He was separated from his family for about forty years, not even knowing if they survived the war or not.  When he came to the U.S., he was able to find out every member of family survived. When he became a U.S citizen back in 1985, he was able to visit his parents and siblings that he has not seen for many years.  

When my maternal Grandfather first came to America, he worked at a jewelry store, and later he opened his own jewelry and general merchandise store. Back in Korea, he owned a jewelry store so he had experience already when he moved to the United States. My paternal Grandfather worked in a corporation called Eaton as a factory worker when he came to the U.S. and he retired from the same company about 5 years ago. Back in Korea, he was an office worker for a paint company.

There are some Korean traditions that we still follow in our family. A tradition we do in Korea is called se-bae, which is paying respect for our elders of a family by kneeling and bowing on New Year’s Day. We usually dress up in Korean traditional costumes to do se-bae. The Elders usually give us money at the end of the se-bae as a present for the younger generation. The more elders you have in a family, the more of a chance you can collect money and save. I usually do se-bae to both of my uncles, my parents and both sides of my grandparents.



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