This is an excerpt from the preface of my first book, The Grace of Sophia.
“In this book I develop a Christology using Korean and Christian understandings of wisdom, which I believe will be liberative for Korean North American women who have suffered just for being who we are. I am a Korean North American woman who immigrated to Canada at the age of five.
My parents left the material, social, and family comforts of Korea in search of a better place to raise their children. However, Canada was not what they had dreamt it would be. In Canada, our family experienced a constant lack of money and material goods. I could not understand why we had to live in a small, dirty, two-bedroom apartment while my friends at school lived in large homes and played in huge backyards. I was always ashamed to bring any non-Korean friends to our home because of our poor living conditions. Furthermore, I tasted immigrant reality in kindergarten, my first experience with racism.
My memories are flooded with classmates teasing me about the way I looked, the way I talked, and the way I dressed. I was a strange creature to them and so they called me names—hurtful names that penetrated deeply, becoming unhealable wounds. Words like “chink” or “go back home” left permanent scars and led me to question my own identity. Am I a Korean, a Canadian, or both? My first visit back to Korea in 1980 made me realize that I am not a “total Korean.” I just did not fit in.
Koreans in Korea thought I was different from them and had become too Westernized. But then in Canada, I did not really fit in either. I was not like the other Canadians. I looked different, ate different foods, and spoke a foreign language. Therefore I was neither Korean nor Canadian and did not really have a sense of belonging. I was caught between two cultures without belonging to either. Only when I began to study the unique identity of immigrants did I come to the realization that I was “in between” two cultures.”
[this book is listed under ‘Recommended Reading: Religious Studies News (AAR)]
[read also: Amos Yong’s Review of “The Holy Spirit, Chi, and the Other“]
Grace Ji-Sun Kim is Associate Professor of Doctrinal Theology and the Director of the MATS program at Moravian Theological Seminary. She is the author of Colonialism, Han and the Transformative Spirit (Palgrave Pivot), The Holy Spirit, Chi, and the Other: A Model of Global and Intercultural Pneumatology (Palgrave Macmillan) and The Grace of Sophia: A Korean North American Women’s Christology (Pilgrim Press).