Ethnic Studies Wins the Vote Unanimously!

Earlier this month, we reported on San Francisco petitioning to make Ethnic Studies an optional course for high school students. On December 9th, 2014, the San Francisco Unified School District held a board meeting to vote on institutionalizing Ethnic Studies.

Los Angeles and San Francisco Unified School Districts are the firsts to bring Ethnic Studies to the public school curriculum. Los Angeles made Ethnic studies a high school requirement for all students, and San Francisco is now taking its first steps into making Ethnic Studies a graduation prerequisite.

According to the San Francisco Unified School District, “every high school student [will have] the opportunity to enroll in an Ethnic Studies class by the school year 2015-2016.”

Many educators, students and community members gathered in red shirts to show their support during the SFUSD Board meeting. The following video was presented to the board to demonstrate how the influence of Ethnic Studies has impacted many lives.

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By the end of the night, the board came to a unanimous decision to implement Ethnic Studies into the high schools. Of course, people couldn’t help but celebrate once the announcement was made.

“By affording every high school student the opportunity to take the course, we are doing our share in creating a more cohesive, peaceful world while allowing students to develop a deeper understanding of the world around them,” stated the San Francisco Board of Education president, Sandra Lee Fewer.

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Featured image courtesy of http://www.sbcc.edu/

 

The Making of a Japanese Kokeshi Doll is Oddly Satisfying to Watch

 

There are a lot of benefits that come with new technology, but sometimes the “old school” methods have a charm to them. Take this video uploaded by tetotetote’s for example. The 4 minute video shows the making of a Japanese kokeshi doll from start to finish. And no, this isn’t your ordinary sort of doll making and it definitely isn’t factory machines cranking out plastic dolls.

Set against gorgeous piano music, the 400-year old Japanese craft turns a wooden doll into an art form. These figurines, often sold as keepsakes to hot spring visitors who pass through Northern Japan, range in different styles but maintain the trademark enlarged head and no arms or legs.

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Tetotetote’s aim is to highlight the arts in Sendai, Japan and it certainly accomplishes that mission as it shows maker Yasuo Okazaki creating a kokeshi doll. The head and body are made with few tools and spun in a natural movement. Okazaki’s “Naruko” style is a practice passed down from father to son for generations. The stripes are then formed with a stroke of brush, and red headdresses and bangs fluidly appear when he decorates freehand.

With gorgeous acoustics (the spinning block of wood) and calming aesthetic (the wood shavings are chaos but the setting is still and in focus), blocks of wood take life in these creations of dedication.

 

A Show That Doesn’t Apologize: C3 Screens ‘Fresh Off the Boat’

 

Visual Communications, a non-profit media arts organization, hosted the 4th Conference for Creative Content (C3) on Dec. 6, featuring an exclusive panel for the upcoming TV show Fresh Off the BoatAfter a screening of the pilot episode, Amy Hill (All-American Girl) moderated a panel which included actor Randall Park, Executive Producers Nahnatchka Khan and Melvin Mar, and ABC’s Executive Vice President of Comedy Samie Kim Falvey.

 

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The panel (Photo courtesy of Tammy Tarng)

The pilot takes you back to the era of Shaq, Nas shirts and Lunchables, but don’t let the nostalgia fool you. The main character Eddie, played by Hudson Yang, faces a struggle that is still very relevant today: finding the compromise between standing up for oneself and wanting to be more like everyone else. When Eddie gets rejected from the white kids’ table for having smelly lunch, he gives in and tells his mother that he wants “white people lunch.”

As Khan said, “I think [the show is] all about the specific stories we decide to tell and the different access points for the viewer…the idea of just not fitting in. And also the idea of being in that sort of first generation experience…it’s a very specific point of view, where you know where you come from is so different from where you’re going. And I think it’s almost like you are a scout that like goes out to the world and reports back to your family, and tells them what’s going on. Like Kentucky Fried Chicken to your mother, you know what I mean?” And on the flip side, that observation provides a mirror for Americans watching it to celebrate their traditions as they laugh at them. In that sense, the show translates to something very universally American to the audience.

 

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Randall Park, who plays Eddie Huang’s father Louis (Photo courtesy of Tammy Tarng)

Described by the executive producers as the “little show that could,” Fresh Off the Boat has been receiving positive feedback from the many screenings that have been held so far. Park admits that the entire process — from filming, to the pilot getting picked up, to being on panels such as C3– has left him “mind blown every day.”

And the support of the Asian American community continues to be a critical part of the show’s spirit. Falvey points out,”Having the support of the Asian American community is very important to us, mostly because this is a story from an Asian point of view from an authentic story, and we didn’t want it to be perceived as anything but that.”

The show’s aim is to be one that doesn’t apologize. It’s very specific: mid-90s, Asian family in Orlando with a running theme of hip-hop. “The embracing of that by the audience has been tremendous,” says Khan. “They get it. Even within his own family, Eddie is the black sheep. You know? So there’s so many layers, if you want to start peeling the onion, that is meaningful to people –that people relate to on all different kinds of levels.”

So while the show’s premise (and title) is based off of Eddie Huang’s 2013 memoir, the show’s growth hopes to encapsulate a connection with audiences of varied ages and races through a universal, human understanding and connection.

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The panel and moderator, from left to right: Randall Park, Amy Hill, Nahnatchka Khan, Melvin Mar, Samie Kim Falvey (Photo courtesy of Tammy Tarng)

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ABC had been looking for an immigrant family show for a while.  “We felt like it really was the original American story, and it was not being told.” Falvey explains. Pilots had been shot and different stories explored, but this was the one that clicked. “We knew it would really transcend race and be this love letter to America if executed properly.”

And yet, money talks. A selling point for ABC was the spending power of Asians. At the beginning of C3, Nielsen — a sponsor of the conference –spoke of reasons Asians are a valuable audience. The Asian American community is one of the fastest growing, has a huge amount of buying power, spends more time watching videos than other groups, and has a higher video viewing rate on tablets and mobile phones than other community.

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Hudson Yang, who plays Eddie Huang (Photo courtesy of Tammy Tarng)

As for casting Eddie Huang’s character, the team was “looking for someone who had that swagger,” and found it in young Hudson Yang who sat in the second row of the audience with his father and friend, who also makes an appearance in pilot.

At the end of the day, the show is meant to allow audiences to laugh and identify. As long as Fresh Off the Boat makes you laugh and gives you a sense of culture, connection and family, then it’s done its job.

 

Catch ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat in February!  The pilot will air 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. 

Charli XCX Drops New Album ‘Sucker’

 

After writing Icona Pop’s 2012 hit “I Love It” and garnering critical acclaim for her indie pop debut album True Romance, Charli XCX has established herself as a mainstream artist in her own right. She started off 2014 with a collaboration with Iggy Azalea by co-writing and singing the irresistibly catchy chorus for “Fancy” before releasing her own singles “Boom Clap” for The Fault in Our Stars soundtrack and “Break The Rules.” Despite all this mainstream success, Charli XCX is still focused on the music and her sophomore album Sucker is already garnering critical acclaim as evidenced by its Metacritic score.

At times, it’s hard to believe she is only 22. But Charli XCX seems to have her eyes focused ahead on the future. She’s already talking to Time about how her third album will be J-Pop inspired and has previously discussed with Under The Mag how her interest in Indian and Gujarati folk music developed as a result from her Ugandan South Asian heritage. Whatever type of music she decides to release next, all eyes and ears will be on her as an artist.

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How Jeremy Lin’s “I Can’t Breathe” Shirt Challenges The Model Minority Myth

 

On December 9th 2014, the Los Angeles Lakers made headlines after Kobe Bryant arranged for the entire team (with the exception of Robert Sacre) to wear black shirts emblazoned with the statement “I Can’t Breathe” on them. “I Can’t Breathe,”  which are the last words Eric Garner uttered as he was placed in a lethal chokehold by a police officer on July 17th 2014, have taken on a life of its own. In fact, this statement has become the rallying cry for demonstrations across the country protesting the systemic police brutality and targeted racism that have led to deaths of Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown and many other Black Americans in the United States, past and present.

As Eric Freeman of Yahoo’s Ball Don’t Lie column points out, Jeremy Lin is the first non black player of the NBA to publicly show solidarity for the protests against targeted police brutality towards Black Americans. In addition to supporting the protests against police brutality, Lin’s participation in this protest is a direct attack on the model minority myth.

As Ellen D. Wu wrote in her excellent LA Times Op-Ed, the model minority myth defines Asians as “domestic exemplars, upwardly mobile and politically docile”. Because of the stereotypes perpetuated by the model minority myth, Asian Americans are used as juxtaposition against the Black American and Latino American communities. In doing so, the Asian Americans who can’t be squeezed into the model minority myth’s parameters are ignored, such as the Southeast Asian American communities that have the highest high school dropout and poverty rates  in the United States.

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During the era of peak Linsanity, Jeremy Lin was being shoved into narratives where he was both shattering the model minority myth, while also the prime example of the model minority myth. On one hand, Jeremy Lin excelled at a “masculine” sport that Asian men are traditionally not “expected” to partake in (yeah, because that makes sense). And on the other hand, Jeremy Lin’s Harvard background, his humility and Christian faith were all heavily emphasized in media portrayals of him at the time. In the end, many Asian Americans looked up to Jeremy Lin as a role model to emulate.

Even more than dunking a basketball or graduating Harvard, Jeremy Lin showed true character on December 9th 2014. By standing in solidarity with his teammates and the Black American community, Jeremy Lin demonstrates empathy, courage and defiance against racism and injustice. Along with the rest of his teammates (sans one), The Lakers are ensuring that the NBA’s audience will not forget about what’s going on in the world outside of basketball. They are keeping the conversation going and making sure that Eric Garner’s (and any other black man’s death at the hands of the police) will not be forgotten.

Now that is role model behavior worth emulating.

You Can Now Get Kogi BBQ While Traveling Through LAX

 

Looking for everybody’s favorite fusion tacos? We’d normally direct you to the streets of Los Angeles, but it looks like there’s a new home for our favorite food truck: the Los Angeles International airport! Kogi BBQ, a long-time favorite since its opening six years ago and one of the original trucks to start the food truck trend, has now set up shop inside the American Airlines terminal. This means passengers just need to head over to Terminal 4 to experience the burritos and sliders that have made chef Roy Choi so popular.

While hours are not set at the moment, the expectation is that the truck will open from early to later in the evening like most other airport eateries. Kogi, located next to 8 oz. burger, offered free bites to samples during its opening days as Choi live-tweeted with customers and staff members.

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Chef Roy Choi’s Twitter, https://twitter.com/RidingShotgunLA/status/542042471606145024/photo/1

Kogi will also serve breakfast for the first time ever, ideal for those sluggish red-eyers.

Big name chefs all around America are moving into terminals such as Newark Airport’s United Airlines terminal partnership with chefs Alain Ducasse, Dan Kluger, Paul Liebrandt, Einat Admony, Mario Carbone, Amanda Cohen, Alex Stupak, Jose Garces and Amanda Freitag. This opens no fewer than 55 new dining options. Choi is one of the first chefs on the West to continue this extension into airports.

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“Fly Tacos” indeed! Complete with a faux truck inside the terminal, a layover or delay now sounds quite alright.

EXCLUSIVE GIVEAWAY: Win Tickets to An Advance Screening of ‘The Interview’

 

Do you want to watch an upcoming blockbuster film starring James Franco, Seth Rogen and Randall Park? Feel like watching this comedy in theater filled with celebs and industry insiders?  Here’s your chance!

Sony is teaming up with KoreAm Journal, Audrey Magazine and London Trust Media to present an advance screening of the upcoming blockbuster The Interview.

Join us for an unforgettable and exciting night at the Downtown Independent theatre in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Dec 17th.  Contest winners and a guest of their choice will get passes to the advance screening as well as an exclusive after party! Here’s your chance to rub shoulders with industry insiders while you enjoy free appetizers to celebrate the night.

 


HERE’S HOW TO WIN:

1) Like KoreAm Journal AND Audrey Magazine on Facebook.
2) Sign up on the official contest page.
3) Share the official contest page on Facebook or Twitter. 

That’s it! Contest ends on DEC 15TH so don’t miss your chance!


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
Wednesday, Dec 17th, 2014

Downtown Independent
251 S Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

7:30 PM – Red Carpet
8:00 PM – Advance Screening, Downtown Independent (Seated by 7:50 PM)
10:00 PM – Hosted After Party

This advance screening is strictly 21 & over


DISCLAIMER:
-Contest Winners will be chosen at random.
-You must be at least 21 or older apply.
-The tickets are non-transferrable.
-Transportation will not be provided.
-If selected, please bring your ID to the event.

 

 

For any questions regarding the contest please contact: events@iamkoream.com 

 

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Behind the Badge: Get to Know “Grimm”‘s Reggie Lee

 

Grimm fans can agree that Reggie Lee brings his character to life perfectly, from every look to every snarky punchline. Now in Grimm‘s 4th season, Lee’s character–Sergeant Wu–reaches a big arc in the storyline which will be revealed in the upcoming episode.

Grimm is an NBC television series which is “basically about this one detective who is a descendant of the Grimms. The Grimms, meaning the Grimm brothers,” Lee explains. “Their descendants can see people transform into different creatures, or animals, or folkloric creatures. These creatures (or “Wesen”) are basically acting out a crime, so we’re basically solving crime.”

Lee’s character, Sergeant Wu, is the first-line supervisor of the main characters–Detective Nick and Detective Hank. He’s the one in charge of their assignments despite his unawareness of the Wesen world. “I don’t know these things,” Lee says of his character. “I’ve never known it until I saw one last season, and it jousled my world.”

Lee previously starred in many roles such as Tai Huang in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End and Lance Nguyen in The Fast and the Furious. Of course, the road to success is never an easy one. “It took a lot of work,” Lee reflects. “I can say I worked my butt off to get to where I am.”

Lee was kind enough to take some time out to talk to us about what it was like growing up, all the things leading to his role on Grimm and what’s next in store for him.

 

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For someone born in Quezon City, Philippines, how was the transition to the United States?

“When I first came to the States, I was 5 and I remember my mom telling me I would not speak a word of english on the plane. I refused. Then I got here, and you know how it is when you get into the school system. From that point on she said my words were all slang. It was hysterical.”

While growing up in Ohio, Lee was the only Asian (possibly the only person of color) in his graduating class of 200. He found himself struggling to embrace his culture as it conflicted with his desire to fit in with his classmates.

“But to me, that was normal. To me, growing up in the Midwest, that was normal. I was like, ‘Wait a minute, I’m different. Why am I so different? I don’t want to be different.’ I was doing everything I could to fit in…maybe it was partly that that made me go ‘I’m gonna be an actor!’”

Moving from the Midwest to Los Angeles, Lee talks about the differences he immediately saw amongst the communities:

“[In Los Angeles], you have the support of an entire kind of very integrated system where everyone’s different. It did teach me a lot. Don’t get me wrong, I loved growing up in Ohio. It was a very suburban lifestyle and I had some great friends that were really supportive, but I lost my ethnicity there. I lost kind of my love for being Asian, and maybe everyone loses that at a certain time.”

 

 


 

What are your thoughts on being an Asian American actor in the industry?

“I think Asian American actors are now starting to get a voice. I think it was great when they started including us as series regulars, but then I think the next step was to make that character three-dimensional and give that character a life, and to move the plot forward with that particular character. Versus just have him be apart of a “quota” to meet some kind of racial standards.

Sometimes people ask me, ‘What do you wanna play?’ I was like, ‘A regular freaking guy. Just a regular guy. That has feelings, and just goes through life, goes through daily life like most of the caucasian actors you see on screen.’”

Lee tells us about the many auditions he’s turned down because of the issues he saw in characters being stereotypical. He recalls one audition that left him in disbelief, and couldn’t bring himself to read on.

“He took my call and I said, ‘Listen, I am purposely not furthering this stereotype of Asian men. I would love to read for you, and I would love to work with these people. If the character changes at all in any way, please let me know.’ And he said, ‘I respect you, and I agree with you. So if it changes we’ll give you a call.’ It made one particular person a star, but I would be unhappy. I’d be unhappy because I think I’d be pigeon-holed in that particular thing to do.”

Thankfully, he does notice a change in the climate of Asian American representation on screen, including his character on Grimm. “It’s changing,” Lee says of Asian Americans on television. “And I hope it’s changing quickly.”

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Photo courtesy of Bryan Geli


 

What about your role on Grimm? How do you feel about the character development?

“I think that they’ve done such a great job with this character here, but it’s been because of conversation. The showrunners are also learning, and [I’m] learning from the showrunners because they have constant conversation with the network. It’s like there’s a hundred chefs in the kitchen. 

They don’t want stereotypes at all. It really started from the get-go where this character wasn’t as fleshed out in the first couple seasons, but he was never a stereotype. He could’ve been any race at all, but he was a smart character that was sarcastic and really good at his job. And fortunately, later I got more involved in terms of the depth of my feelings, which was really great to tap into. Because rarely do you get to tap into that as an Asian American actor. I’m realizing that more and more as I continue work.”

He began to draw parallels from working in the industry to his own life. Just like acting, it’s always about looking for the next thing–or step–in life and asking the questions, “Now what? What’s next? What makes it exciting?” He makes philosophical points of “stability is such an illusion” and “control is such an illusion” referring to the fact that nothing in life is guaranteed because it can easily go away tomorrow, whether it’s a TV show or a house.

“I think especially as Asian Americans, you’re so busy trying to achieve. And that’s fine, if that’s your happiness, but a lot of times we confuse it. It seems like an external happiness because we’re achieving things, but then all you want is more of that achievement. You’re not really enjoying what you’ve achieved, or the fruits of it, or the process, or the journey.”

 


 

Coming from someone who’s played a multitude of different Asian characters, do you have intentions of continuing to represent your Filipino Roots?

“It was very [rare] that you would see a Filipino storyline. That’s why the Aswang episode was really great, because it was a full fledged episode of a Filipino storyline. Now that my character is fully Filipino and everyone knows that, we’re continuing the tradition of keeping me that way and hopefully bringing some more of that culture in.”

Lee reveals that he is actually a big fan of “Filipino culture and the Filipino actors” and expresses interest in some day working with other Filipinos in the entertainment industry. In addition to that, he enthusiastically talks about wanting to film in the Philippines as well as potentially producing Filipino stories and bringing them to the US.

“Outside of the show, what I would really love to do is bring more Filipino culture and stories to the United States, start a production company and start telling these stories here. That would be my dream, dream, dream, dream goal.”

 

 


 

 

Any last comments to our readers? Or to the Grimm fans?

“Just a big shoutout. There have been a slew of Asian American fans that watch the show and caught on because of my character–amongst other things. But I just wanna give a big thanks for their support, and if they ever wanna reach out to me I’m on Twitter (@mrreggielee)”

 

If you want to catch Reggie Lee on TV, the upcoming episode of Grimm will be airing Fridays 9/8c on NBC. Don’t miss the big moment!

All photos courtesy of Bryan Geli

Unforgettable 2014 Celebs Share Their Holiday Plans

 

On December 5, the hustle and bustle of downtown Los Angeles nightlife was alive and well on the chilly winter night. On the outskirts of Koreatown stands the Legendary Park Plaza Hotel, the venue of Audrey Magazine and KoreAm Journal’s 13th annual Unforgettable awards gala.

When entering the hotel, guests were greeted with a giant, brightly-lit Christmas tree which was not only the perfect picturesque backdrop, but it also elicited a sense of holiday spirit. Curious as to what our guests had planned for Christmas, we asked a few to see what their responses would be:


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Actress Ming-Na Wen, the recipient of the “Actress of the Year” award for her role in ABC’s hit television show Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., stated, “We’re going to Hawaii, but I’m going to decorate the house. I love decorating the house.”

A performer that night, David Choi attended the event along side YouTubers Arden Cho, Anna Akana, and Philip Wang. When asked how he was going to be spending the holidays the singer/songwriter simply replied, “I’m just going to spend it with family, visit my aunt with all my cousins.”

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For his main role in the romantic comedy television series, SELFIE, John Cho was awarded “Actor of the Year” as well as Royal Salute’s “Mark of Respect Award.” Having just had his second child last year, he replied, “I’ll be around; the kids are too young to travel right now.”

Canadian-British actress Karen David, Princess Isabelle in ABC’s Gavalvant, is also going overseas, “For the holiday season, me and my hubby are going to Australia this year because my friend is getting married. I promised my parents that when we get back that we’re going to do a sort of post-Christmas celebration with them because it’s all about time with the family and having good food. And quite frankly, I miss my mother’s Chinese cooking, so I’m going home.”

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Star of Disney’s newest animated film Big Hero 6, Ryan Potter answered matter-of-factly, “I have a bunch of videos to put together for my portfolio for CalArts, so that’ll be it. I’ll just be shooting and editing throughout the holidays, but I’ll still see my family. We’ll have a honey baked ham, so ya.”

Actress and YouTube personality Anna Akana’s response was a change of pace: “I’m going to Italy in ten days! I’m really excited. Me and my boyfriend are going to for seven days over there and then we’ll come back to spend Christmas with my family.”

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Known for her powerhouse vocals, The Voice winner, Tessanne Chin performed two amazing songs that fully displayed her talents. With the mention of the holidays, she sprung right into things, saying, “I’m so excited to see my family because we have been traveling so much this year. I actually get some special time with my husband, my sister, my daddy and my nephew. I can cook up some good food and just do nothing for at least a week or two. That sounds like bliss to me right now.”

In addition to John Cho and Ming-Na Wen, Arden Cho and Ki Hong Lee both received an award for “Breakout Star of the Year.” And this night wasn’t just about awards. There were a number of live performances that kept us on the edge of our seat. Urban dance group KINJAZ kicked off the night with captivating moves followed by a performance by Tessanne Chin, whose powerful vocals left the entire audience in disbelief. Choreographer/dancer Mike Song and beatbox champion KRNFX teamed up for an equally entertaining and humorous performance followed by another duet courtesy of David Choi and Arden Cho. The audience sang along with the sweet duo before G.NA dazzled them with K-pop. Following an opening act by Howard Chen, Yoon Mi Rae hit the stage and brought the audience to their feet. This was followed by an unforgettable encore performance with Tiger JK and Bizzy.

Living up to its name, this night was truly Unforgettable.

–STORY BY AMBER CHEN
All photos courtesy of White Rose Production.

Audrey Magazine Is Looking For An Office Manager

 

KoreAm Journal and Audrey Magazine, the longest-running independent English-language publication serving the Korean American community and the Asian American community, is looking for an assistant office manager/administrator to begin immediately. The ideal candidate must have at least 2 years of administrative experience.

Responsibilities of this position include, but are not limited to handling all subscriptions to KoreAm/Audrey, managing the accounts, managing payroll, human resources, involvement in KoreAm/Audrey events and more. The ideal candidate must be tech-savvy and be familiar with programs such as Quick Book, Excel and Word.

If qualified and interested in the position, please send your resume and cover letter to James@iamkoream.com and Michael@iamkoream.com.

No phone calls please. Only candidates selected for an interview will be contacted. Salary commensurate with experience.