Archive for the About me Category

Top 10 Asian Characters of my Youth

Posted in About me, Nerdy Stuff on February 22, 2018 by yujinishuge

Media representation matters. Recently there has been a lot of discussion about black media representation, and there have been a lot of recent films that have been commended for making black stories their main narrative. Movies like Hidden Figures, Moonlight, Get Out and Black Panther (and the soon to be released A Wrinkle in Time) are showing that yes, in fact we can make films about black people that don’t reinforce stereotypes, that tell good stories and appeal to everyone. It got me to thinking about why there hasn’t yet been any similar surge in Asian-American narratives and stories.

Asian (and Asian-American) representation in media has been an important issue for me ever since I became politically inclined. While it’s no secret that I am disappointed with how Asians have been portrayed in film and TV over the years, it is fair to say that we are far past Mickey Rooney in yellowface or Asian buffoon characters like Long Duck Dong. The fact that we now have Glen Rhee or Harold and Kumar is a step in the right direction, but in both cases, these roles should not be considered groundbreaking, yet they are. They are groundbreaking for being different from the norm (or at least what the norm was). And what was that norm? Stereotypes. Characters that weren’t created to show us who they were as people, but what perceived racial traits they possessed. That’s how it was when I was growing up. If there was an Asian character in a story I was watching, they were either the villain, a token part of an ensemble, the resident nerd or martial artist or dragon lady, and they generally served to advance the narrative of the (usually white) protagonist.

But wasn’t there anything good among the slogs of awful? That’s what this post is all about. It is an exercise both to flex my nostalgic nerdy muscle, and to illustrate a point, that making a top 10 list of good Asian roles isn’t easy to do. If it were, then maybe there wouldn’t be so much discussion about the lack of good media representation.

While there are certainly other (more popular) blogs like that keep tabs on Asian-American representation, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a top 10 list, so I’ll try to take a stab at it. Before we get to the main list though, I’m going to give you examples of some characters that get disqualified, to kind of illustrate what we are doing here.

10. Glen Rhee (Walking Dead) – Disqualified for being too recent. This is about my youth. We’re going to draw the line at the year 2000.

9. The girl from Captain Planet (Gi) or that guy from M.A.S.K. (Bruce Sato) – Disqualified because they are animated characters voiced by non-Asian voice actors doing accents.

8. Puyi (The Last Emperor) – Disqualified for being a historical figure. I am somewhat on the fence in this regard, but I think I’ll limit it to fictional characters.

7. Ranma Saotome (Ranma 1/2) or Son Goku (Dragon Ball Z) (and every other character in anime)- Disqualified because we’re not talking about Asian characters in Asian media. This also unfortunately means that Trini, Adam and every subsequent Asian Power Ranger are also disqualified because the show is the whitewashed version of a show of Asian origin that actually wasn’t originally made for a western audience.¬† (Though I can certainly appreciate that there were lots of Asian-American girls who looked up to the first American Yellow Ranger.)

6. Master Splinter (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) – Disqualified for being a rat, not a human.

5. Kato (Green Hornet) and Oddjob (Goldfinger) – Disqualified for being a sidekick or henchman.

4. Mr. Miyagi (Karate Kid) – Disqualified for being the wise mentor to guide the white protagonist. Also for reinforcing the Asians are martial arts experts stereotype.

3. Dr. Julius No (Dr. No) – Disqualified for reinforcing the Asians are smart stereotype. Also for personifying yellow peril…. Also for yellowface.

2. Lo Pan (Big Trouble in Little China) – Disqualified for being a villainous amalgamation of orientalist stereotypes.

1. Long Duk Dong (Sixteen Candles) – Disqualified because f you!

And since this is a personal list:

0. That character I didn’t put on this list that you really like (that film or show you remember) – Disqualified because I either didn’t see it or it didn’t have enough of an impact on me so I don’t remember it. This list is a blog post, not an academic study.

Just for giggles, I’m going to name each entry by what I call these characters in conversation, when I don’t have the time to look their names up. It also shows there’s a problem when most people can’t remember the character names. We remember Marty McFly. We remember Sarah Connor. Do you recall the name of James Bond’s CIA contact in a View to a Kill? Of course you don’t.

The character bios are also from my memory, in most cases without any research. So on to the top 10 after the jump!

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There’s more than one way to use chopsticks

Posted in About me, Korea, Senseless Griping on February 22, 2016 by yujinishuge

Recently, an old friend found me on facebook to tell me he had thought about me when he was teaching his son how to use chopsticks. I had long forgotten that I had been the one who taught him. I’ve since been able to pull this happening out of my long-term memory, and with it, other chopstick related anecdotes.

Being half-Korean, I had been around chopsticks all my life, but I didn’t learn to actually use them effectively until my first trip to Korea in 1985. There, I think my older brother was getting a bit self-conscious about having to ask for a fork everywhere, so he asked our father to finally teach us how to use them. Can’t say my first attempt was great… what do you expect for a 6-year-old making a first serious attempt with thick slippery noodles. Eventually though, I and the bros got the hang of it, and from then on, a whole new world of eating implements was opened.

Fast forward a few years, and there I was teaching my bud during a summer school lunch break the proper way to eat with chopsticks, using plastic straws and knockoff Oreos with mint filling. But it turns out, I wasn’t actually using them correctly.


I of course didn’t know that I was using them wrong. That revelation occurred a few years later at McDonald’s. In 1987 the Golden Arches decided to use a now cringeworthy marketing campaign for chicken mcnuggets. (See the video)

The nuggets of course came with chopsticks and the wrapper had instructions on how to use them.(See the photo)

This isn't the wrapper it came in at McDonald's, but it had a similar diagram. Click to enlarge.

This isn’t the wrapper they came in at McDonald’s, but it had a similar diagram. Click to enlarge.

According to the wrapper, you’re supposed to rest one chopstick on your ring finger and the other between your middle and index finger (like a pencil). You then manipulate them by doing a sort of Vulcan sign type thing.

I had been resting one chopstick on my middle finger and holding the other with my thumb and index finger, which I bet is more difficult for first time learners.

Anyway I tried to correct myself and hold them like in the diagram, but I was unable to pick up any food the correct way. So I gave up. I was already proficient enough the wrong way that it didn’t matter to me.

Over the years, and well into adulthood, there would be people very publicly pointing out to me that I was doing it wrong. These ranged from Asian people who wanted to show off how they were more in touch with their heritage, and non-Asians who wanted to show off that they were more cultured or something.

Then when I moved to Japan I remember one person who gave me the often heard compliment that I used chopsticks very well. I was about to say thanks so that the conversation I’d had more than a hundred times would run its course. (conversation below)

A: You use chopsticks so well!
B: Thank you.
A: Do you like [insert food representative of my culture here]?
B: Yes, I do!
A: How long have you been using chopsticks
B: Since I was about six years old.
A: Wow! That’s so rare for a foreigner.
B: Yes I suppose it is, isn’t it?
A: You really are so Japanese now [or other country].
B: Thanks.
A: *awkward silence*

Ah, sidetrack, back to the story, after giving me the compliment she went on to inform me that I was using the chopsticks incorrectly, but it was okay since I wasn’t Japanese and nobody would get on my case about it. I think I must have been having a bad day that day because I snapped.

I started asking her how she holds forks and whether she had ever put any thought behind how they should properly be held. I asked her if she had ever met ANYONE (even a foreigner) above the age of 12 who couldn’t use chopsticks, and other angsty passive aggressive questions to make sure she knew that I wasn’t taking this crap anymore!

She replied,”I was just trying to give you a compliment and help you out.”



Look people, there’s no ONE way to do things. The function of chopsticks is to put food into your mouth. In my book, if you can do this with one hand and without stabbing, then you’re good. If you can also can pick up frickin’ ice cubes and dissect small cooked fish, who cares how you hold them? Just do what works for you!

[/end rant]

One day, over lunch with my dad last summer, I examined for the first time how he had been holding them. I don’t think I had ever thought to do this. As I was staring at his hands, he noticed what I was doing and slightly embarrassed he said… “Son, after all your time in Korea, I guess you’ve figured out that I use chopsticks incorrectly.”

“No you don’t, Dad. No you don’t.”

(edit: My father is Korean you idiot trolls.)

Every Hapa Post Ever!

Posted in About me on February 12, 2016 by yujinishuge

It seems this comment on a facebook discussion¬†got a rise out of some people, so here it is… I acknowledge that this specifically talks about hapas mixed with white in many situations. It is not my intention to exclude anyone from any particular definition, but I’ve found that on a lot of these mixed people places, being white is often taken for granted, sometimes ironically, as a lot of the people claim about being marginalized (see #2) yet marginalize the Blasians and Latasians (and others) among us.

Every hapa post amounts to a few limited themes:

1. We (I) look the best, let’s post pictures and show off (make sure you acknowledge that I am hot).

2. Wah wah. Asians don’t treat us like Asians. AND/OR Wah Wah. Whites treat us either like whites, or not like whites.

3. Yeah I am a monolingual American but dammit, I’m not totally white, so I get to claim to be a minority while asserting various forms of white privelege! (not all fit into this group, but most who do don’t realize that they do.) (Example: I’m incapable of being racist, even though what I just said was incredibly racist.)

4. Here is my unsolicited life story, and/or the story of my parents overcoming racial differences in the name of love. Validate me!

5. This is how I see the world, my identity, our identity, racial politics, etc. You should think and act the same way I do because I am right.

6. Look at how I am embracing both sides of my identity! (A post about music, food, movies or holidays will follow.) Example: I mean wow! I’m eating kimchi with my Thanksgiving turkey on Chuseok, with my white dad while listening to SNSD trying to sing Christmas carols in English! I’m so multicultural!

This is Theme #2

This is Theme #2

I’m Superman. Well almost

Posted in About me on March 12, 2012 by yujinishuge

I had a dream yesterday. I was walking up a hill toward my previous apartment. I guess walking up the hill didn’t feel the right way gravitationally as suddenly I was flat on my face on the ground. Since I didn’t fall, there wasn’t any explanation as to how I ended up this way. But it felt right for some reason.

It was then that I realized that I was dreaming and that nothing around me was real. I couldn’t stand up but I could move up the hill by crawling weightlessly using only my hands. There was a bird nearby. I made myself identify the type of bird. I looked directly at it. It was fuzzy. I kept staring at it and slowly it came into detail, but not to the point that I could distinguish it from any other bird. It wasn’t specifically any defined shape. But it looked like a bird. Since that doesn’t make any sense I knew I was dreaming for sure.

I pointed at the bird and thought to myself that I wanted it to be gone since it didn’t make sense. After two or three tries it exploded into many tiny pieces but there wasn’t any blood or bird pieces left over.

So I tried to stand up. Even though I could still feel gravity to my front, I tried to concentrate and ignore that.

I jumped. It was about three times my height. But I slowly descended back to Earth.

None of this is real! I should be able to fly, I thought.

I jumped up in the air again, this time I was slowly rising above the ground… It was getting smaller. I looked forward but I guess dreamworld hadn’t yet decided what that was supposed to look like, so I was again falling to the ground.

I looked all around me to make sure I knew what my surroundings looked like.

I jumped up in the air. I was floating!!! I did it. As I moved upward everything looked as it should. I was rising ever higher. The houses below we’re getting smaller. Suddenly, my back knocked against a tree branch (somehow 500 feet off the ground.) The pain woke me up.

I tried to go back to sleep and renter the dream… It didn’t work… Or if it did I don’t remember.

Talkative people on the subway

Posted in About me, Korea on February 24, 2012 by yujinishuge

So this happened a few days ago and I am not really sure how I feel about it. I was riding the subway long distance, drifting in and out of sleep when I woke up, fearing I might have missed my stop, I looked out the window to see where I was, then I looked at the subway map to see if I had passed my stop. Luckily I hadn’t yet reached my stop, but the sight of a handsome young man in distress caught the attention of two old ladies sitting next to me. One asked if I knew where I was going. I said yes. Then she asked if I spoke Korean. Given that I look pretty foreign, I am used to this conversation by now. It usually begins with a question meant to ascertain one’s Korean ability followed by a huge compliment regardless of if that ability deserves the compliment. It is then followed by an inquiry about how one learned Korean, followed by inquiries into your personal life such as your job and marital status. Finally the conversation will drift towards some aspect of Korea that the person wants to advertise, such as the food, the four seasons, the blue sky, or anything else that might distinguish Korea from other countries so that you’ll take that bit of knowledge back to your nest and feed it to your hive’s queen so that she will command all her drones to operate with this new information. “Korea has four seasons! Holy shit, let’s give them money!!”

Anyway this conversation did not go this way. After the inquiry into my Korean ability the lady said that in the past it would be totally okay to talk about foreigners right in front of them but now we have to be careful because they are more likely to understand. I said that this was probably true. Then she said that back in the day whenever a black person came along people would casually talk about that person freely using the Korean equivalent of Nigger.

I asked the lady not to use that word and she laughed saying it was okay because she wasn’t calling anyone that, she was talking about calling people that. She has a point, but she was talking about herself calling people that. Besides, any escape clause this presented was dashed when she said that it’s okay because there weren’t any around.

She then switched to English to my surprise, and explained that she had lived in LA for a long time and used to work in an hair product shop that was frequented by black women and she got in serious trouble when one lady tried to buy a product ad she wanted to suggest another that would be better for her hair type. She said that this other product was designed for Nigger hair. Since then she has known to watch what she says in front of certain people.

I would have thought that this would lead people to eliminate certain words from their vocabulary regardless of which company was present. But she’s old so I give her the benefit of the doubt.

At least she didn’t talk about Korea’s four seasons.

I’ve crossed over!

Posted in About me, Korea on December 28, 2011 by yujinishuge

Art shamelessly lifted from Nerdesque

I’ve crossed over! You may recall that post I did a few months ago that argued for Korean ownership of Dokdo? This was as a response to some Japanese nationalists who had gotten wind of my criticism for one Korean’s approach to the problem.

The post caused a debate with one Japanese person, Ken (who can be a very logical and effective debater when he doesn’t let his nationalism get the best of him). The debate raged on and on, and eventually someone caught wind of it and posted it on a Korean bbs, The response was rather limited as most of the people were unable to read what I wrote, but there were a lot of incoming inquiries from google translate. After a while the hits from Gasengi died down….

Until yesterday.

My site’s traffic saw a huge jump yesterday and I wanted to see why, so I checked where people were coming from. It was then that I noticed that someone named secret, on Gasengi took it upon himself to TRANSLATE MY ENTIRE BLOG POST… INCLUDING THE COMMENTS!

They’ve also published a picture of me there, and have to this extent not asceretained that I am of the persuasione of those not indivgenous to that which is localle amongst this doemain. The verbiation is cryptologically onsetted here because one protagoneist desires to as of yet assure the continued secrecey hence.

If you get it.. you get it. They could have figured it out easily by reading other posts.. but whatever, I want to keep it on the DEE ELLL for now. If you don’t get it. There are purposeful spelling mistakes there to inhibit easy translation, tho something tells me these people are smart and will figure it out anyway.

Well all I can say is that I am honored that I am receiving all this positive attention and I am glad that people on both sides of the argument are realizing that it is better to talk logically instead of using racism or nationalism to argue over something that can and should be solved through debate, and through my blog, these people have an avenue to interact with each other.


I want to reiterate again, that I don’t think it is right for people to use racial slurs, like “Japanese Monkey, Jap, Chotpali, Chinilpa, or even the suffix NOM” You may feel like it is okay to do that in your own language, but you never know who can read what you write. It makes the Korean side look weak when people do that. STOP.

I would also say to the Japanese side… you look exceedingly weak when you group your Takeshima argument with assertions of Korea’s attempts to steal the origin manga or karate or whatever from Japan, or even worse, try to explain that the colonial era was just and that Koreans wanted it. While it is true that we can say that the colonial era did plant the seeds of rapid Korean economic growth, it is not fair to say that Koreans ought to be thankful for this, as it was in place to serve the needs of Japanese, not Koreans. I have not read the Japanese nationalist boards, but I also think that I should say that it is important to remove any racial slurs that may be, or anything along the effect of “garlic smelling”, the term “Chosenjin” (without a “kita” in front of it) or any other language used in a derogatory way towards Koreans. Let’s talk about Dokdo or Takeshima here… not breed hate

I really hope that one day Koreans and Japanese can consider each other allies, friends, and brethren, not just on a personal level among specific individuals or on official diplomatic rhetoric, but the two societies as a whole. So much more is to be gained in this manner than to keep ripping scabs off of each other’s wounds.


Posted in About me, Nerdy Stuff on October 9, 2011 by yujinishuge

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