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YOBO: Korean American Writing in Hawai'i

YOBO: Korean American Writing in HawaiYOBO: Korean American Writing in Hawai'i
edited by Nora Okja Keller, Brenda Kwon, Sun Namkung, Gary Pak, and Cathy Song
ISBN: 0-910043-65-5
381 pages

33% OFF


From the earliest of plantation experiences to modern life and culture in the 50th state, topics explored by the writers chronicle the Korean experience in Hawai¹i and on the mainland through evocative essays, poetry, and prose. From the introduction: "The word yobo still brings that pinch of pain, conjuring up old injuries...we forgot that yobo is a term of endearment, born of love both passionate and spiritual. We offer these stories‹yours and mine, historical and personal, communal and familial. Yobo, reclaimed, survives anger and shame, transforming into a renewed appreciation for family, love, tradition, courage, independence, self"

[Editor Brenda] Kwon says the editors received lots of great historical and biographical works, but had to keep in mind that they wanted a true anthology. "We wanted poetry and fiction and artwork too. We kept that in mind throughout the process. And in the end, we looked at what we had put together, and realized, 'Wow!' We had quite a good range of works.

"We wanted to make it really organic, not only a singular voice. Fragmentation is something Koreans carry with them in their consciousness and in their language. We wanted to reflect that idea of multiple pieces -- how is unity made of pieces?"

"We were aware of our Korean heritage, but when we started writing the introduction, we excavated very painful experiences we had had. We thought we'd come to terms with being Korean. But the anthology became strangely therapeutic and healing to us."
'How is unity made of pieces?': An anthology explores themes of Korean identity in Hawaii - Honolulu Star-Bulletin

In the not-too-distant past, “yobo” was a derogatory term for Koreans. It meant “bar girls wearing too much make-up,” vendors selling gold trinkets on the street and “kimchee-eating, kimchee-smelling” FOBs. A generation after the demise of the term comes a new anthology published by Bamboo Ridge Press, Yobo: Korean American Writing in Hawai‘i, which embraces yobo as an endearment, as part of the Korean-American identity in Hawai‘i.
Local, yobo-style - Honolulu Weekly