As a part of “Interview with Women Leaders in Media,” VOA (Voice of America) Korea recently interviewed May Lee who is now Host and Executive Producer of “The May Lee Show.” Previously, May Lee has reported from around the world throughout her career as a broadcast journalist including CNN. May Lee was a moderator for the recent NetKAL Forum which took place on August 6, 2020 and in her interview, May talks about what she and the panelists discussed at the NetKAL Forum.
On August 6, 2020, the NetKAL Inc. and Global Korean Leaders Foundation co-hosted the 2020 NetKAL Forum titled, “Unlocking the Ethnic Minority’s Power and Influence in Mainstream America.” This forum invited renowned experts and leaders from different ethnic communities to discuss the best practices in advocating for their communities in mainstream America and how to apply these best practices to build coalitions and to advocate more effectively on the issues affecting the Korean American community in the U.S. and in Korea.
Network of Korean American Leaders (NetKAL) held a “Virtual 2020 Forum” on Thursday, August 6, from 6 pm to 9 pm (Pacific Standard Time). With the theme “Unlocking the Ethnic Minority’s Power and Influence in Mainstream America,’ the forum featured live streamed two moderated panel sessions.
The purpose of the forum was to bring different communities together and to learn from the successes and best practices of other ethnic minorities. The goal was to see how to best apply these successes in the Korean American community and to further discuss the steps that needed to be taken to be a strong advocate for our communities and to effectively move and influence the decision making process in issues involving the Korean Americans in the U.S. and/or international relations affecting both North and South Korea.
For the first panel session, we brought together prominent leaders representing the African American, Chinese American, and the American Jewish communities to hear about their experiences and best practices in advocating for their communities in Mainstream America. For the second panel session, we brought together Korean American leaders and experts from the media, government, and professional services industries to bring the Korean American perspective and to discuss how the Korean American community can learn from the different ethnic communities, build coalitions, and advocate more effectively on the issues affecting the Korean community in the U.S. and in Korea. This forum also addressed what impacts the COVID-19 pandemic and the nationwide protests in the U.S. and worldwide have on the Korean community both locally and internationally.
For the advancement of the Korean community in the U.S., we have to continue to strive for change, advocate for our rights, build coalitions, and empower our communities to act upon and influence mainstream America in a united voice. In order to elevate the Korean image and take control of the narrative because oftentimes the narrative is controlled by outsiders, we have to tell our story. Others, oftentimes, can misrepresent and misinterpret, for instance in the media, in politics, and other public forums so this NetKAL 2020 Forum was all about raising awareness and advocating for ourselves. It was about educating and informing, and learning from other communities. The forum concluded with the emphasis on the importance of allyship with other communities and for the Korean American community to take action and to get involved in the process and be at the table to make a difference.
In the midst of increased discrimination in America against Asians and in honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, a documentary titled “Asian Americans” produced by PBS and WETA was aired on PBS from May 11 to May 13. This five-part documentary series walks through Asian American history from the first Asian immigrants in the 1850s through the present and how this group has shaped America. The series features first-account Asian American stories of racism, immigration, war and overcoming challenges as refugees and highlights the achievements of remarkable Asian Americans who have contributed to sectors of society including art, business and technology.
The production was led by a team of Asian American filmmakers, including Korean-American documentary filmmaker, Grace Lee who produced and directed two of the hours (episode 2 and 4). “I’m very proud of the work that we all did.and hope that the audiences who watch these episodes learn and deepen understanding about the remarkable impact of Asian Americans in America,” said Grace.
In 2003, Korean immigration to the United States passed its centennial milestone, a century which saw these immigrants make vital contributions to both the United States and Korea. While working as sugar plantation workers and fieldhands, Korean-Americans were a critical part of the Korean independence movement. Later waves of immigrants, established and ran small businesses, and raised second generation professionals in keeping with the American dream. This dream survived the Los Angeles Riots of 1992, which ravaged Korean-American businesses and the community’s psyche, but grew into a stronger and more expansive vision. Through interviews with notable inviduals active across a wide spectrum, the vide links the past, present, and future of the Korean-American community.
With over a hundred years of immigration history since 1903, Korean Americans have contributed immensely to the advancement of the United States in every aspect of society, including science and medicine, arts and culture, food, technology, entertainment, sports, politics, and many more; yet, our voices are often not heard in the mainstream media. Korean Americans can clearly see this from what Korean American community has faced and experienced in the past. These include the painful tragedies of the Los Angeles Riots in 1992, the ongoing controversies surrounding the Comfort Women issues, and the unfair gerrymandering of Koreatown boundaries during the Los Angeles City redistricting in 2012, just to name a few.
In order to strengthen Korean American community locally, nationally or internationally (US-Korea relations) and to bring about positive image of Korea and Korean-American community and to raise Korean American voices, there is an urgent need to adequately equip Korean American leaders to speak effectively and confidently in delivering our messages and telling own stories to the mainstream media.
Therefore, NetKAL and Global Korean Leaders Foundation USA hosted a one-day media training session on January 31, 2020 and invited community leaders to learn from the media/public relation experts from Imprenta Communications about do’s and don’ts of media relations. Participants learned how to work with the media as well as how to amplify their voice and story in press events, print and social media. They also learned how to become camera-ready and were put into small group sessions to practice answering interview questions. By the end of the training, all participants left with video clips showcasing their expertise.