[VIDEO] 100 Years of Korean Beauty in One Minute



In the latest episode of its 100 Years of Beauty web series, YouTube channel Cut highlights the evolving beauty trends of North and South Korea.

The video begins with Korea’s beauty standard of the 1910s, when Korea was under Japanese colonial rule. According to the video, Korean women of that era preferred to have ornamented hairstyles and natural makeup, with pale skin, natural brows and no contouring.

Once the video hits the 1950s, beauty standards become divided not only by decade but also by region. After the Korean War, North and South Korea had extremely polarized standards of beauty because the two countries adopted different economic systems.

Robin Park, the researcher for the video, said that the North’s standards of beauty were based on a woman’s ability to work and contribute to society. As a result, North Korean women used minimal products, and makeup trends in North Korea remained almost unchanged from 1959 to the early 90s. Meanwhile, South Korea mirrored Western or Japanese beauty trends and experimented with various makeup products.

As of 2015, South Korean beauty standards emphasize bright, clear skin and accentuating natural features. The final South Korean look in Cut’s video, however, seems to embody the sexier style of K-pop stars, such as CL and Hyuna, instead of an average present-day South Korean woman.

You can learn more about the research behind the looks below:


This story was originally published on iamkoream.com 


Get to know Tina Desai from ‘The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’


Check out what actress Tina Desai has to say about reuniting with her esteemed cast members, taking on a bigger role in the film and traveling around the world for red carpet premieres:



What was it like to reunite with the film’s cast and crew a few years later to shoot this new story?

We were all overjoyed! A lot of us from cast and crew kept in touch over the years and met up when we were traveling too. So we came into this one as friends, not just colleagues. The maturity and understanding that comes with knowing someone over time helps with your work too. It was a big party that we all got to enjoy a second time!


What do you find new about Sunaina and what her story involves this time?

Sunaina isn’t a secret in Sonny’s life anymore. She’s now a legitimate member of his life, she now works and also manages affairs at the Marigold Hotel, she’s preparing for the big Indian wedding while also having to deal with Sonny’s ambitions and imaginary problems. She has a lot going on but she still holds it together. I had a lot more to play with in this part. There’s dancing, [she] has more shades to her character, and [she] is a lot busier in this one.

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Any funny moments on set with any cast members?

Dev is an incredibly funny person so everyday on set with him was tremendous fun and I was always in splits. But Tamsin Greig is hilarious too! So on days when both actors were on set, the place was on fire! It’s not so much about an incident….more about how funny and entertaining they were together.


Can you tell us about your premieres in London and New York and how you prepared for them?

Both Marigold premieres in London were fantastic! The first one was the first premiere of my career and will always be a grand experience for that! It was a freezing February night and I was wearing a lehenga, but the thrill factor was so high for me that I didn’t need a jacket all night! The second one was even bigger with Leicester Square turned into mini India with Bollywood music playing as well! I arrived on the red carpet in a tuk tuk that was specially made for that evening. Meeting Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla was incredibly special! It was altogether a magical night because my family was also present for it.

New York was snowing but had a different set of actors; mostly the ones who couldn’t make it for the London premiere. The audience loved the movie and in spite of it being a cold, snowy night, people showed up for the event. Prep for these nights involved weeks of emailing to choose a team who would dress me and they did a fantastic job. I wore an Indian designer for London and a Thai designer for New York. My family spent days working on their outfits too [laughs]!  Also, the protocol we had to follow for the meet with Royalty was fun and quite detailed. All in all, a most enjoyable experience. Extremely special!


What is up next for you?

A Netflix series titled Sense8 and a Hindi film named Dusshera. I’m also just back home [in India] and will begin meeting for new projects again.







The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is now playing at a theater near you.

K-Pop Idol Megan Lee to Star in Nickelodeon’s New Show ‘Make It Pop’

Story by Amber Chen

Record producer Nick Cannon first pitched the K-Pop-inspired show Make It Pop to Nickelodeon about a year ago, and after months of speculation, Nickelodeon finally announced the series would be picked up for 20 episodes in the upcoming 2015-2016 season.

Similar to Korean drama Dream High and Nickelodeon’s Victorious, each episode of Make It Pop will have its own original soundtrack and performances. Luckily for us, this means new content every week to keep the audience wanting more.

Nickelodeon recently released the official synopsis:

Randomly selected to room together at boarding school, bookish Corki, fashion-forward Jodi and social media maven Sun Hi meet and bond over music. With the help of fellow boarding school classmate and DJ hopeful, Caleb, the girls grow from roommates to bandmates as they become a school-wide sensation and compete for a place in the upcoming school musical.

Young K-Pop Idol Megan Lee plays the role of the “social media loving pop diva” Sun Hi, while her onscreen roommates Corki and Jordi will be played by actresses Erika Tham and Louriza Tronco. Having dabbled in the acting industry before her musical debut, the 19-year-old starlet will likely have no trouble immersing into her role. In fact, Lee’s professional career began at the young age of 10. She has been in a number of television shows such as Kidz Bop, Nickelodeon’s iCarly and the popular South Korean show MBC Star Audition – The Great Birth.

The show is set to premiere in April 2015.



East Borough: Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine With A Modern Twist


Like so many rising young chefs these days, Chloe Tran’s professional cooking career started with a food truck.

It’s just that, for the 34-year-old behind two East Borough Fraîche Vietnamese restaurants in Southern California, her experience on four wheels took place when she was only 9. Her parents operated in San Jose, California, what were then often referred to as “roach coaches,” not the culinary vanguards tracked down on Twitter today.

Tran would come home after school and help prep the international smorgasbord that was the norm for these rolling eateries — hamburgers, burritos, chow mein — for tomorrow’s run. But her mother would still take the time to prepare a Vietnamese dinner for her five children. It was here where Tran gained the training to cook the dishes she would offer up at East Borough.

“I always had an idea, and a hope, of opening a restaurant serving Vietnamese food, which is what I grew up cooking with my mom,” says Tran.

She also had a tendency toward creativity. Tran studied interior design in college and was employed at a design firm for a few years in Southern California’s Orange County. But then the Great Recession struck in 2007. “When the crash happened, and I got laid off, that was my moment to decide whether or not I was going to go ahead and give this restaurant thing, this dream, a go,” she says.

So for the second time in her young life, Tran would choose to pursue a career her parents did not envision for their middle child.


The family moved from Vietnam when Tran was just 1, and as soon as they arrived in San Jose, Mom was working as a cook in restaurant kitchens and Dad as a server. Her parents tried opening up a pho restaurant in the coastal city of Monterey 70 miles south, far enough that they were away days at a time. That failed — Americans weren’t ready for pho then. Eventually the food truck came along, and her parents were more than familiar with the strain and stress required in food services.

“I think with Asian cultures, cooking is not looked up to; it’s just something you do to have a livelihood,” says Tran. “You never want your children to be doing what you were doing, especially if it’s hard.” And that was after her parents told her interior design should be “just a hobby.”

But Tran, with business partner John Cao, didn’t want to open just another Vietnamese restaurant. After all, Orange County is home to Little Saigon, the largest Vietnamese enclave in the United States that extends into multiple cities, but mostly Westminster. And there is no shortage of places to eat there. “It’s not a location we ever thought would make us as successful as we wanted to be,” says Tran.

Instead, Tran’s vision was to help make Vietnamese cuisine mainstream and accessible, as popular as Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Thai food. “It should be the next big Asian cuisine because there are so many positives to it — it’s healthy, flavorful, and it’s exotic,” says Tran. So there was no point in preaching to the converted in Little Saigon. “We didn’t necessarily want Vietnamese people; we wanted everybody.”

The first East Borough opened in 2010 in a newfangled mall for the hipster set called The Camp, located in Costa Mesa, a mere five miles from Little Saigon. And they started small — think upscale food court stand, with a walk-up counter and several tables, and a menu focusing mostly on bánh mì sandwiches.

One of East Borough’s customers was Paul Hibler, a restaurateur who is responsible for the Pitfire Pizza chain. He was the potential partner Tran and Cao were looking for as they explored how to expand. And Hibler thought Tran’s food could appeal to a wider audience. “It was a more modern, healthier version [of Vietnamese cuisine],” says Hibler.

The partnership resulted in the second East Borough, some 40 miles to the north, in Culver City. And with this new restaurant, Tran got to apply her interior design skills to a much larger canvas — she describes the space as a “Palm Springs motel from the 1950s dropped into the middle of Vietnam” — along with table service, a full bar and all the trappings of a hip, new dining spot. “She has a great artistic aesthetic that she applies to everything,” says Hibler.

That includes the menu, where Tran has definitely veered from the traditional. With no formal chef training, Tran consulted with her mom when coming up with dishes, but it’s definitely not her mother’s pho. There’s no soupy broth for the diner to slurp up. Rather, the emphasis is on oxtail, which is braised with pho seasonings and charred in a wok, then combined with the usual rice noodles. But here the “pho” is sauced with a thick glaze — no soupspoon needed.

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Traditionalists might gripe, and that includes some of her own aunts. But Tran is not fazed. “People forget that traditional is different from authentic,” she says. “You can make something very authentic, and it’s not a traditional approach. Our goal is to make authentic food and not necessarily be traditional.”

Her roasted trout with pineapple and anchovy vinaigrette is another deviation from the Vietnamese norm, literally from the inside out. Normally served as a whole trout, Tran has gone in and removed the skeleton and then reconstituted the dish to look like it’s the original fish, sparing Westside diners from picking the bones out of their teeth in the process.

Clearly, Tran is not trying to meet anyone’s expectations other than her own creative muse. And it’s winning over fans, including revered Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold, who praised the new Culver City restaurant, calling her pho baguette — a French dip-esque mash-up of bánh mì and pho — a contender for “dish of the year.” “It’s a reaffirmation that you’re doing something right,” says Tran, who called the review the restaurant’s biggest milestone so far.

But her biggest fans just may be her own parents, even though she’s tweaked her mother’s recipes. “She’s very honest,” says Tran of her mother. “If something’s not right, she will tell me. When she tastes the food, she tastes the flavors, and she gets it.”

And their concerns about their daughter opening a restaurant? “Now they’re bragging,” she says.


Photos courtesy of Frank Lee
This story was originally published in our Winter 2014-15 issue. Get your copy here. 

Audrey Column: How to Survive Meeting the Scary In-Laws

When it comes to “for better or for worse,” it doesn’t get much worse than nosy, critical, undermining parents-in-law. Columnist Paul Nakayama may have gotten lucky with his, but he’s heard his share of horror stories. If you’ve got (potential) in-law issues, follow his plan of attack for turning one that’s meddling into manageable.


I’ve been in relationships that I felt would have survived had we been stuck on a deserted island together. I often (and mistakenly) credited forces outside of our relationship with causing these ridiculous arguments, which would then highlight other issues and spiral into a big breakup countdown. I realize now that those relationships were doomed to end regardless. But you can imagine my fear on the night before I met my in-laws, a potentially big external threat to a happy marriage. If I had to describe my fear in one word: incontinence. Thankfully the gods acknowledged the chickens and goats I ritually sacrificed and my in-laws ended up being incredibly nice people. And my wife gets along with my family, so that’s great. But in an alternate timeline, there were some potential in-laws that could’ve been a desperate and dark hell for me, the kind of hell I hear often about from my friends and co-workers.

My fears are not unfounded, by the way. It’s in recognition of a long-standing practice of fathers protecting their daughters, something I’m sure I would do and even escalate should I ever have girls. I remember a time when I called a girlfriend’s house to confirm her address before heading over with some cake for her family. Her father answered the phone and told me that she’s moving to Europe and to not bother coming over. Seeing him a couple hours later was how I learned how to smile while being completely uncomfortable. Another girlfriend’s father often remarked how nice I would be for his daughter if I were taller — while I was actually dating her. I can’t fault these fathers though — they have to at least try to take me down. It’s a coping mechanism.

Being Asian American compounds the in-law issues with unique cultural dynamics, and by dynamics, I mean sh-t we have to deal with. For example, dating someone that isn’t prestigious enough (e.g., doctor, lawyer, Internet millionaire) for your parents means they’re going to dive in and introduce the concept of arranged marriages to stir things up. Or if you have a baby, your in-laws will use that opportunity to establish your home as their brand new timeshare and engage in their favorite pastimes, like laughing at your naïve view on child-rearing, undermining your authority or judging your life choices. And since America is a multicultural shabu shabu, that means you’re probably dealing with this in a language you don’t understand.

With that in mind, here are some tips on how to survive and manage a relationship with the ’rents-in-law.




1. You and your spouse are the Home Team.
Everyone else, even the people who raised you, are now the Away Team. While respecting the relationships with our parents, it’s all about making a home and a family that you and your spouse envision. So make sure you defend each other against the in-laws. Nullify any smack talk and hazing your parents might try on your spouse. This includes setting agreed-upon boundaries. And anyway, as you and your parents get older, roles do reverse, and you have to take care of them, so it’s time to lay down the law. (Oh, it’ll feel so good.)

2. Find some common ground, or divide and conquer.
It doesn’t have to be an antagonistic relationship, even if they’re hazing you. You can make them feel more welcome by making an extra effort to learn some words in their native language or preparing a gift with a personal touch. If broad kindness doesn’t work, then you gotta choose which in-law you have the best chance of winning over and go all Game of Thrones on them. Make them your ally, and have them fight your battles for you. If you need a reference, check out how the Lannisters got the Boltons and Freys to do all their hard work.

3. Never complain about your spouse to your parents.
Your parents will almost always be on your side, so any lodged complaints will stay with them, and eventually they’ll think your spouse is a douche or a bitch, even if you’re long over it. Your parents will give you the “I told you so” talk, and it’ll be annoying all around. By the way, this includes openly complaining on Facebook or Twitter, which usually serves to make you look crazy and your spouse a subject of pity.

4. Be the bigger person.
Sometimes it’s not about being right; it’s about being strategic in the long haul. Lose the battle to win the war. His mom is driving you crazy by insisting that her [insert cultural dish] is much better than yours, and you should follow her recipe. Fine, do it. Who cares? Another week and you can take the MSG out of your stew recipe.

I’ll stress again that I have great in-laws (never know if they might one day decide to start reading American publications), but even with cool people, there are going to be moments I’m not happy with or that test my patience. I accept that, because I’m in this for the long game. I’m in this for her, and I don’t need to give her any (additional) reasons to leave me behind and move to Europe.


This story was originally published in our Winter 2014-15 issue. Get your copy here.


Actor Ayushmann Khurrana Tells Us Why We Should Watch ‘Hawaizaada’


Directed by Vibhu Puri, Hawaizaada is a period drama set in the heart of Mumbai, India in 1895, eight years before the Wright Brothers flew the first plane. It is about Shivkar Bapuji Talpade’s struggle against all odds — his singular mission and dream of becoming the first man to fly a plane. The British do not want him to get the credit for flying the first plane and become a hero to his people so the odds are stacked against him. Shiv, driven by an incredible grit, wills an impossible dream to come true. The ordinary young man becomes a hero to his friends and well wishers. Hawaizaada is a work of fiction inspired by true events.



One of Bollywood’s rising stars, Ayushmann Khurrana, plays Shivkar Talpade. Khurrana recently opened up about his life and, of course, Hawaizaada


How was the transfer – shooting to presenter to singer to film actor?

I became an anchor because I was a very natural radio presenter. I was a radio presenter for two years in Delhi and I’ve done theatre in the past for 5 years.  So I think the combination of theatre and radio somehow makes me a good presenter. Because one is a visual media, the other one is audio media and both communicate in a way. And after becoming an anchor for four years, I made this transition from television to films. But at the same time I had to unlearn a lot stuff, because anchoring is like talking to the camera and acting is like ignoring the camera. So I again had to do a lot of workshops before Vicky Donor and in fact before every film I have workshops with the director.
And singer?

I used to take classical training as a kid from Mr. Prajesh Uja, but never took it too seriously. I had to choose between music group and theatre group in college – I chose theatre. I think even in theatre we used to compose our own songs for our own theatre productions. So in a way, I got ample practice for acting and singing at the same time.

What attracted you to Hawaizaada?

Hawaizaada is a potential cult film, you know, it’s based on true events and even the one liner draws a lot of attention. It’s a very novel script and the director Vibhu Puri has a great eye for detailing. Be it entertaining with the language or the sets or the scripting. I think he’s another prodigy in the Indian film industry from FTI, whose short film was nominated for the Student Oscars.

How aware were you about the original story it is based on?

I was completely unaware. It was a pleasant surprise, pleasant shocker for me when I heard that it was an Indian who made the first aircraft. Though it’s a conspiracy theory but it’s broad enough for a filmmaker to make a story.

Can you tell us about your character?

Shivkar Talpade is a happy-go-lucky, maverick kind of guy, who is a genius, who is wise, who doesn’t believe in a formal education but believes in the education of life. And he has various tracks in the film. One track is a love track. There is another track with his guru, the master Shastri. One track is with his father and eventually how we fly or propose to fly the plane.

How did you feel stepping back in time for the movie?

I always wanted to do a period film. It was on my wish list because I have a good command of the language– I’ve done theatre in the past and Indian Sanskrit. So I always believed that the root [of] every Indian language is Sanskrit. It was easy quite for me to learn Marathi and I’m looking forward to this film.

How did your look get decided?

We had almost seven look tests before finalizing this one. And it took us a good two months to finalize the eventual look. And Vibhu has an eye for detailing. Eventually we decided on this geeky/charming look.

How was the experience of acting opposite a legend like Mithun Chakraborty?

Mithun is amazing – he still feels like an eighteen year old. He has an amazing energy and there was this huge fan boy moment when I met him for the first time on the sets of Hawaizaada. And I used to dance to his song “I’m a disco dancer” – it’s wicked. It’s a pleasure working with him.



You star opposite Pallavi Sharda in Hawaizaada who is fairly new to the Indian film industry. Do you bounce off each other, help each other for your respective roles in the movie?

We used to do a lot of jamming together & Pallavi is a very natural actress. Apart from that, she trained a lot and it required a trained dancer. She’s one of the most intelligent actresses I have ever worked with.

What was your favourite moment in the movie?

I think all the flying shots are my favorite because I had this fear of heights, which was completely eradicated when I was suspended in the air for long hours and it used to take a lot of takes. Eventually I started enjoying all the flying shots being on a harness.

Are you a good dancer? What’s your favorite move?

I think I have a good sense of rhythm because I am a musician and a singer myself. Apart from that, I am a huge MJ fan so my favorite move is the moonwalk.

Who is your all time acting idol?

Shahrukh Khan & Govinda.

Why should we all go watch Hawaizaada?

Because as I said, Hawaizaada is a potential cult film. It is the untold story of an unsung hero and the climax is going to give you goose bumps.




Hawaizaada premieres across North America tomorrow, January 30.



What It Means To Star on TV’s First Asian American Family Sitcom in 20 Years




It happened! A pilot that I worked on got picked up to be a series!

Now, I’ve done several of these during the course of my career, and none have made it past the pilot stage. But after over a decade of hard work in this business, it’s finally happened. I will be a regular character on a nationally televised show. But this is not just any show. When it makes its debut next year, ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat will be the first Asian American family sitcom to air on network television in 20 years, since Margaret Cho’s All-American Girl. For me, coming from an Asian American studies background, this is like a wet dream. But it’s also a lot of pressure.

People are hungry to see themselves represented on television, and people rightfully want to be represented properly. But the Asian American community is not monolithic, and proper representation means different things to different people. For example, there has been a great deal of online debate about whether or not the title Fresh Off the Boat is offensive. The answer isn’t so clear-cut: it’s yes for some, no for others. Again, members of our community do not all think alike. But with that said, this particular show is based on an amazing book bearing the same title by Eddie Huang. It is his memoir, it is his title, and I, for one, am all for it.

I do, however, have my own issues with the show: first of all, the fact that I’m on it. To have a Korean American actor play the father of a Taiwanese-Chinese American family is an issue that is not lost on me. I’ve even expressed my concerns repeatedly about this to Eddie himself. And every time, he has shown me nothing but love and support, assuring me that I’m the only one for this job. Whether true or not, I take that to heart because, again, it is his story.


Then, there’s the issue of having to speak with an accent. In an ideal world, I would never have to play a character with an accent. But this is a character based on a real person. So it’s something that I have to honor and try to perfect as the series moves forward.

Playing an immigrant character on a television comedy also has its own inherent risks: Is the audience laughing because the joke is funny or because I’m speaking with an accent? Are they laughing because I’m a human being in a funny situation or because they think I’m a funny-talking immigrant? I am constantly analyzing through this lens, almost to the point of paranoia.

Geesh, white actors never have to go through this sh-t.

But issues aside, I am proud to be a part of this amazing show. Getting a television series on the air is an incredible feat. Getting one with no bankable name stars in today’s television climate is damn near impossible. Getting one about an Asian American family on the air is a frickin’ miracle. Just know that. And regardless of how Fresh Off the Boat does ratings-wise, I believe it’s a step toward more varied representation on the small and big screens. Hopefully, it inspires others to tell their own stories and translate them to a TV show, as Eddie did. It is possible. And we shouldn’t have to wait another 20 years for it to happen again.


Photo courtesy of Variety

This column was originally printed in KoreAm Journal. It was later published in our Winter 2014-15 issue– Get your copy hereFresh Off the Boat premieres Wednesday, Feb. 4, at 8:30 pm. and a second episode will air at 9:30. Fresh Off the Boat will move to its regular 8:00 pm Tuesday timeslot on Feb. 10.  


Get to Know Dis/orient/ed Comedy’s Jenny Yang


The first time Jenny Yang performed a standup routine at an open mic, it felt like time had come to a standstill. Her set at the Tuesday Night Café in Los Angeles’s Little Tokyo lasted only about four minutes. “But it felt like forever,” says Yang, laughing. “I almost barfed, but I didn’t.”

Instead, she became physically ill afterwards, for about a month. “I got sick because I’d worked myself up into such a frenzy,” Yang says. “But part of me also knew that pursuing something so scary, so challenging, meant that I could really grow from it.”

Fast forward to 2014, five years from that fateful night Yang first stepped up to that microphone. And over that time, the Taiwan-born, California-raised writer and comic has been winning over audiences in clubs and college campuses across the country with her socially conscious humor and exuberant style of delivery. Her material infuses new life into territories often tread by comics of color — the lack of diversity in mainstream media, the pitfalls of dating outside of your race — with a refreshing mix of well-placed sarcasm and self-deprecating candor. Her writing and commentary has been featured on National Public Radio, BBC News, Bitch Magazine, Colorlines and others. Last summer, a Buzzfeed video she starred in and helped to write, “If Asians Said the Stuff White People Say,” hit viral status, with over 6.7 million views to date.

But she realizes she still has much more to learn in her chosen field. “I’m still considered a newbie,” Yang demurs. “People say that between seven to 10 years is when you get to a point when you’re better.” She admits, however, that she feels much more confident on stage these days. When asked if she’s ever “bombed,” Yang pauses a few seconds to think, then answers matter-of-factly: “When you start doing standup, you get used to varying degrees of jokes working or not working. It’s a lot more gray than just, oh my god, I was going to kill myself out there.”

In person, Yang is friendly and warm, and indeed, she’s funny — though not in the set-up and punch line manner of her stage act, nor with the unbridled silliness conveyed in 140 characters or less on Twitter. (An example: “At the market, read ‘Organic’ vegetables sign as ‘Orgasmic.’ Calling therapist now.”) Perhaps because she sometimes tweets in shouted all-caps and easily embraces the abbreviated shorthand of the Internet generation, I expected to meet someone more cavalier, a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of gal. Rather, Yang seems to give serious thought to every answer, at times interrupting herself to clarify a point.

There are moments she borders on pensive, such as when discussing her opinions on where Asian Americans fit within the racial and social structures of the U.S. “We’re still very black and white in America,” she says. “Even considering the Latino community is a start. In some ways, the public discourse has recognized Latinos, like, ‘Look at them, they’ve emerged!’” Yang rolls her eyes. “Well, actually, they’ve always been here.”


As for Asian Americans, she believes that “mainstream media is still very undereducated on how to talk about us in a way that honors the community, as people worthy of respect.” She mentions Jeremy Lin, the Taiwanese American NBA star, whose image was juxtaposed with a fortune cookie by the press during the height of the Linsanity blitz two years ago. “Who does that?” she asks, exasperated. “How would anyone think that would be OK?” She adds, “Because he’s Asian, they play up stereotypes. To me, that’s just where we’re at, sadly.”

Yang says that she grapples daily with the myriad ways that her Asian American identity intersects with other facets of her life, and she hopes to translate her observations into jokes that will make people laugh, all the while creating a more nuanced dialogue on race, gender and politics. “That’s really important to me,” she says. “Because I’m on a public platform, how do I explain myself and the people I care about?”

One such means is her involvement with the blog I Believe You, It’s Not Your Fault, an online safe space where women share powerful and heartbreaking stories of harassment and sexual assault, in the form of letters written to a younger sister. Yang contributed a post that poignantly detailed a childhood experience with an older white boy who sexually bullied her, and the injury further compounded when Yang’s own mother readily dismissed the abuse.

In the time since she began pursuing an entertainment career, Yang has come to the definitive conclusion that “we need more Asian American artists.” In this spirit, Yang founded Dis/orient/ed Comedy, a standup tour that features an all-Asian American, predominantly female cast. The show premiered at the David Henry Hwang Theater, the 240-seat space that is also a part of the Union Center of the Arts, along with the courtyard where Yang first took up the mic at the Tuesday Night Cafe years ago. Dis/orient/ed Comedy is actively touring the country now, with at least one show a month.

She’s also running a monthly story-telling project called Family Reunion, launched this past August at Echoes Under Sunset, in L.A.’s Echo Park neighborhood. At a recent show, attendees were treated to a surprise appearance by legendary comic Margaret Cho, whom Yang calls her “comedy fairy godmother.” The series takes place on the last Thursday of each month. Yang promises that future Family Reunions will feature cameos by seasoned performers like Cho, while retaining a commitment to showcasing emerging acts.

“Asian Americans are complicated,” says Yang. “We need more artists and writers, more people to tell our stories.” She grins and adds, “We have enough East Asian ophthalmologists.” Then she bursts into laughter.

Visit jennyyang.tv for Dis/orient/ed Comedy tour dates.



Photo by Daren Mooko
This story was originally published in our Winter 2014-15 issue. Get your copy here.




Three Chinese Medicinal Herbs to Get You Through Winter Aches and Pains


Dried seahorse is for asthma. Deer antlers for circulation. Ginseng promotes energy. What does lingzhi do again?

With winter around the corner, I thought it best to find out. So I visited a Chinese herbalist shop to see exactly what I would needin preparation for the season.

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is actually quite unique in that it treats your body rather than the specific disease. There is a very famous saying in Chinese medicine — Tong bing yi zhi, yi bing tong zhi — meaning, “one disease can have different treatments; different diseases can have the same treatment.” Let me explain. Chinese medicine is really about regulating balance in the body and letting your “qi” — the energy of the body — flow freely. Sometimes you get forces, either internal or external, that put the body out of balance, and that is why you get sick. Some of these forces include coldness, hotness, dampness and dryness. TCM tries to counteract imbalances in the body with herbal medicine, thus bringing the body back into balance. Keep in mind that two people can have the same disease (e.g., a cold) for different reasons. Maybe one has a dry liver and the other has too much heat in his or her body. TCM is treating those reasons, those “imbalances,” in the body rather than the actual disease itself.

It can get quite complicated, but for now, all you need to know are these three Chinese herbs that I think are absolutely essential for the winter season. They’re not too hard to find — most Asian grocery stores carry them — and all three are very affordable.



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Astragalus Root
This root is used to strengthen the immune system and is often prescribed to treat colds and respiratory issues. Astragalus root can be consumed as a tea or as an addition to something like chicken soup. For tea, add some red dates or jujubes for a sweet and natural flavor.



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Dong Quai (Angelica Root)
Dong quai, or Angelica root, is used to promote circulation in cold hands and feet during wintertime. This root helps with fatigue and anemia, and is also a great herb for alleviating cramps. It is usually consumed in the form of a concentrated soup or elixir. (See recipe.)



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Tremela is a fungus that functions as an antioxidant for the skin. Given winter’s dry weather and rampant indoor heating, tremela can help the skin retain moisture. It is used quite often as a beauty supplement in Asia. Tremela can also be consumed in soups. (See recipe.)



Keep in mind that Chinese herbal medi- cines usually need to be mixed with other complementing herbs for it to take full effect. Usually these “medicines” are taken in the form of herbal soups or elixirs. Here are some easy soups for you to try.


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This story was originally published in our Winter 2014-15 issue. Get your copy here!



David Choi’s New Web Series Premieres Today

“What’s it like being a famous YouTube musician?”

Korean American singer-songwriter David Choi will be tackling this question in his upcoming dramedy web series, DAVID.

Considered a pioneer in the YouTube music scene, Choi has helped pave a way for independent artists to be seen, heard and compensated through the digital platform. As of January 2015, he has nearly a million subscribers and over 96 million views total on his YouTube videos.

Produced by Eric Wang and written by Shane Yoon, DAVID will reveal glimpses into Choi’s life as a YouTuber and musician. The web series will premiere Jan. 8 on Choi’s YouTube channel with a new episode airing every week. Fellow YouTube creators, such as Wong Fu Productions, will also make guest appearances in the series.

Following the premiere of his web series, Choi will also release his new album Stories of Yous and Me on Feb. 17 and will participate in a 70-city world tour.

You can watch the trailer for DAVID below. You’ll notice a few candid backstage shots of Choi at last month’s Unforgettable Gala in the first couple seconds of the video.

To learn more about David Choi, read KoreAm’s cover story on the musician here.


This story was originally published on iamkoream.com.