Cristal Solomon / Half Korean Project

We recently learned of a great blog that is specifically showcasing people of mixed Korean heritage.

Cristal Solomon’s Half Korean Project has quickly gained a following due to it’s amazing profiles of unique individuals from within the mixed Korean community.

The project’s blog posts are filled with relevant questions that give understanding and familiarity to each subject’s background with wonderful imagery depicting elements of their families and lives.

HalfKorean.com had a chance to discuss Cristal’s background and her Half Korean Project blog.

What’s your mix?
My mother is full Korean and my dad is a medley of Native American (Cherokee) and Scottish ancestry.

Where were you born and raised?
I was born in a hospital in Seoul. Since my dad was in the Army, we went back and forth from Korea and Washington until I was about four. My brother was born with severe cerebral palsy which made it very difficult for my mother to raise me and a child with special needs (not to mention the language barrier when we moved to the states), so my dad made the decision to get out of the Army so he could be more available. We eventually spent some time in Arkansas and then moved to Oklahoma when I was nine.

What was your previous occupations before starting your business?
I’m a financial analyst for Verizon and I like to say I moonlight as a photographer (www.cristalsunphotography.com and www.iosonoboudoir.com), but it’s quickly taking over my life.

Do you speak Korean?
When we moved to the states, my mother stopped speaking Korean to me. She wanted me to speak perfect English (as she would say), so very little. I probably understand more than I could speak it, but I recently started working with my three year old son on learning Korean, so we’re learning together. LOL! It’s never too late, right? 🙂

What was your mixed Korean experience like growing up?
Granted, I don’t know what it’s like to grow up anywhere outside the Midwest… and I know racism is everywhere, but when I lived in Arkansas, I had a hard time. There were no other kids like me… in fact, I don’t recall ever seeing anyone “different.” I remember once I was riding my bike around the block and some kids pushed me off of it when I came by. It can be isolating as a child when you don’t see anyone with the same genetic make up. It’s like the game, “which one of these things doesn’t belong?” LOL! It wasn’t until I moved to Oklahoma did I see other Korean and half Korean kids. Even then, I eventually ran into some racism… it’s bound to happen regardless of where you live… because ignorance is everywhere.

Have you been back to Korea recently?
I was born there, but I haven’t been back since. My mother tries to go once every couple of years. I do want to go back and visit sometime.

Now lets talk about your Half Korean Project. We love the idea and what you are doing! What motivated you and when did you start it?
I’ve always loved talking with people and asking them questions about their life. My friends and family get the brunt of my random nonsensical interrogations. It really wasn’t until I was perusing the half Korean pages on Facebook that I thought it would be nice to know what commonalities I have with the people on there. So, over the summer I somehow managed to get all the half Korean kids I grew up with to agree on a day to meet up for a photo shoot. I thought what perfect way to start this blog-venture than with the half Koreans I know and love. We had the shoot at the church we all met – great idea don’t you think? 🙂 It was so much fun! We channeled our younger selves, got some water guns, and played like we were kids again.

How do you go about selecting people to feature?
It’s random. My friends helped get it going (Kimberly, Jasmine, Darold, Walter). Walter oppa also helped me get the word out. I loved blogging about Sue. She sent me a message on Facebook after reading my blog and we hit it off right away, so I asked her if she would like to participate. I like to blog about people I’ve had some communication with… whether it be via Facebook or in person, so I don’t feel like I’m blogging about a complete stranger.

Has their been anyone else so far that you have featured and have also found intriguing?
Haha, I love Sue!! Honestly, I have loved all of them. Jasmine and Kimberly were two of my favorites. Even though we grew up in the same Korean church, they were younger than me. When they entered youth group, I was leaving for college, so I saw them as kids. After speaking with them, I realized how little I knew about them. This might be the “unni” in me coming out, but I am so proud of those girls. When things got tough as teenagers, they took care of themselves and their mother. Now they are educated, strong women with a bright future ahead of them. That is one thing I will say about the kids I grew up with… we take care of our family. We always remember how hard our mothers worked and sacrificed to give us a better future. Van Rogers was another one of my favorites. His life is inspiring to say the least. He could have very easily turned down a dark path, but he rose above it all. I loved Mya’s because she is an aspiring author and she started her own clothing line. Love that! Like I said, I love them all and I feel connected to each of them.

How supportive is your husband regarding the project? Is he understanding of your Korean & half/mixed Korean culture/heritage?
My husband is not Korean and I think it has been an adjustment for him in our marriage, but he has a good relationship with my mom. It took him some time to get used to how blunt my mom and her friends are, LOL. For instance, when my mom first visited the house he purchased before we got married (which we still live in), the first thing my mom said to him, “why didn’t you buy bigger house?” I think that was baptism by fire. I explained to him that she is blindly critical and he better grow a thicker skin about things. My mom still questions why we live in what she considers to be a small house, but as long as I’m safe, that stuff doesn’t matter to me. He is very supportive of this project and my Korean culture. The food will always be a challenge…mostly anything kimchi or fish related, he has a hard time being around.

For your son, how important is it to you to make sure to pass on Korean culture, etc. to him? Does he like Korean food?
My son is not a picky eater… just like his mother. His absolute favorite snack is rice and seaweed and anything my mom makes for him. It is very important for me to pass down the Korean culture to my son. Culture, just like anything that isn’t nurtured, will inevitably die if you do not keep those roots alive. I want Christian to spend as much time as he can around the Korean culture through me, my mother, and the Korean community here.

What kind of feedback has the project received from the mixed Korean community?
I am so glad I decided to take the time to do this. I have received so many nice comments and messages on Facebook, email, and on my blog. It has really been a humbling experience to know that it wasn’t just me that had this desire to connect with other mixed Koreans. When you read that someone else went through the same experiences growing up, it’s comforting. When I was younger, I never thought of myself as the pretty one mainly because I didn’t look like the other girls (Korean or white). I think we should feel secure with who we are and that being mixed Korean is a beautiful thing.

What would you like to accomplish with the project?
I’m always shocked when someone takes time out of their busy life to read a blog I wrote. Ultimately, I just want this project to be something people enjoy reading and maybe find a sense of belonging. I’ve even heard from some of my full Korean friends that have half Korean children and how the blog has helped them relate more to their children.

Anything else you’d like to share?
I just want to thank everyone for taking time out of their busy life to read about a fellow mixed Korean. There is so much to everyone I blog about, but I am humbled you let me share with the world an important part of who you are. I started the project really for fun, but it’s become something I’m passionate about. I love reading about you guys!

Any final words to the mixed Korean community?
I think we’re pretty awesome. You should too. 🙂

Thanks to Cristal for sharing her experiences and project with us. We love the devotion she has shown for our mixed Korean community and wish her much continued success. We definitely look forward to continuing to see the project grow!

For more information regarding Cristal’s Half Korean Project, please visit the website: Half Korean Project.

Back to Spotlight


Half Korean Project by Cristal Solomon
 

Cristal Solomon
 

Cristal with her husband and son
 

Cristal and her son
 

Cristal with her mother and father
 

Cristal’s childhood friends (Photo by Cristal Solomon)
 

Cristal’s childhood friends (Photo by Cristal Solomon)
 
(Images courtesy of Cristal Solomon)
 
Half Korean Project

2 Comments

  1. Kim Lewis
    Posted December 17, 2013 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    Splendid and down right amazing.

  2. bigsarge1
    Posted January 22, 2015 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Cristal- your just amazing being a ” hapa” and so beautiful indeed. My wife of 33 years is also Korean, who gave us 2 amazing sons. Our sons were raised partly in the U.S. of A but our youngest was raised more in South Korea. I was a soldier then, but due to the fact that our sons attended DOD schools, I don’t remember realizing much pressure from them because they are ” Hapa’s !” Be proud of your magnificent difference and multicultural blood, you are special, beautiful and just magical- remember that young lady! Dae Han Minguk!

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