I would describe my childhood to college days as “Chong Man” time. I am not relating my upbringing to anything from ancient Chinese or Korean dynasties but “Chong Man” is the name given by my grandfather.Simply, I was destined to be Chong Man Kim. And “Chong Man” time describes the happiest moments of my life. Our family had to live in one room (literally we rented one room of a two bedroom apartment) until I was in 6th grade due to the collapse of my father’s business.As most parents sacrifice everything for their family, so did my parents.I don’t remember my mom or my father ever spending a dime on themselves.
When I graduated from middle school, they decided to leave their motherland and immigrate to the U. S. for what they believed to be a better education in the West.Moving to America without any support, my educated parents relinquished their professional aspirations to become janitors to provide for me and my sister.
I was called Chong Man in Korea and hated my name because my friends often used Jottman (profanity in Korea) to make fun of me In America, I detested being called Chongman because my Korean-American friends made fun o me, asking me if I was a gunman? (Chong means a gun in Korean).
However, those who knew me as Chongman are my family or close friends.Suffering from cancer, my mother passed away when I was a Junior at UCLA. I miss being called Chongman by my beloved mother. When I was Chong Man, my family shared the same roof, and my mother was still with us.
I define my youth as “Chong Man” time, which was the happiest moments of my life.
“Did we own enough materials of the world? No.”
“Could my parents pay many bills? No.“
“Did we live in a house with even two bedrooms? No”
“Would I go back to Chong Man time?Without any hesitation – yes, yes, and yes.”
Three months after graduating from UCLA Film and Theater School, I returned to Korea, and the first …