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SUNYA + LAUREN

AFRICAN-KOREAN + AMERICAN PARENTS

 
 

This is Sunya & Loren.

Sunya: People always follow up “what do you mean, Africa?” And then they can hear it in my accent. And it goes back even farther with my grandfather being a doctor for the UN, so he settled in Africa. My dad was doing a lot of business here and there in Africa and met my mom in Seoul, took her over [to Africa], and then had us there. So that’s why we were born in Africa. For me, I feel very much African. My parents brought us up quite freely.

Loren: I’m Loren. I’m from the states. Wyoming guy from the rockies. Together, we represent three different cultures, essentially. Even I feel I represent Korea. We’ve been here on and off since 2006. So there’s this necessity for our kids to have the Korean language. We have them in Korean school, the 어린이집. They’re learning Korean on a daily basis. They come home speaking full on Korean. They also speak English perfectly well.

Sunya: If they think you are white American, they will speak to you in English. If they think you’re Korean, they’ll speak Korean to you. But at the end of the day, we really are teaching more to look beyond than just white, Korean, black, Indian, you know, really just trying to eliminate that.

Loren: You look at the energy of an individual and how you feel. How do you feel in front of that person? That’s it. Just a person. Just a human. So when we look at our kids and they’re half, well for me, that’s two wholes. Sometimes I see myself. Sometimes I see my wife. It’s the third part which is themselves.

Sunya: Right, they are so themselves. A lot of people are like, “Oh wow, Neptune looks a lot like you” or "Anika looks a lot like daddy” and I’m like, well, actually, Neptune looks like Neptune and Anika looks like Anika. We made them so they have traces of us. But they’re their own individual people. The minute they were born, and while in my belly, we acknowledged that.

“What would you have to say to parents with halfie kids?”

Loren: Do the parents accept the fact that they have a mixed kid? That is the first thing. Are they able to accept that or are they being criticized from the side? We personally deflect so much criticism, because we’re not listening, we just don’t care [about the criticism.]

Sunya: Whatever somebody may say, at the end of the day that is my child and nobody else’s. You’re not responsible for them like we are. Sure, you can say whatever you want to say and I’ll hear it, but we’ll just do our own thing at the end of the day. Stand strong, be proud of your beautiful children that you’ve created. It doesn’t matter whatever is happening around them. We are strong within ourselves and know who we are.