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June 08, 2012


Asian/Pacific Islanders Month speaker highlights Korean heritage

By Rob Schuette, Public Affairs Staff

A multimedia reporter from Eau Claire and her Family used a multidimensional presentation to share the story of her Korean heritage with the Fort McCoy community during the Asian American/Pacific Islanders Heritage Month observance at Fort McCoy May 24.

PHOTO: Jenny You (left), guest speaker at the Fort McCoy Asian American/Pacific Islanders Heritage Month observance, and her Family display traditional Korean clothing. Photo by Anita Johnson
Jenny You (left), guest speaker at the Fort McCoy Asian American/Pacific Islanders Heritage Month observance, and her Family display traditional Korean clothing. You and her Family also discussed other aspects of South Korean life, including food, language and historical events, such as the Japanese occupation of the country during World War II and the existence of North and South Korea today. (Photo by Anita Johnson)

Jenny You, a reporter and producer for WEAU TV-13 Sunrise and weekend newscasts, was born in South Korea.

“I am honored to come here and tell you about South Korea,” You said. “Although, I have never been to Fort McCoy I have reported stories about the installation.”

You’s presentation also connected with many of the military and civilians in attendance who served or worked in South Korea.

She used her multimedia skills to create video vignettes to help illustrate some of the things people might see or experience in South Korea. During her college career, You helped develop the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s digital journalism course.

“I was born in South Korea, but we moved to the U.S. when I was 3 years old,” You said. “So I don’t have much of a memory of the country.”

One of the first things visitors to South Korea notice is that although it is smaller than Wisconsin, it has 50 million people compared to Wisconsin’s 6 million.

People interested in visiting the Korean Peninsula shouldn’t be deterred if they don’t speak the Korean language, she said. Korean and English are South Korea’s official languages, so Americans will be able to make their way around. You said the younger people, especially, will be able to speak English.

You told a bit of the history of Korea, ranging from the time it was part of three kingdoms to its occupation by Japan from 1935-1945 during World War II. Her grandmother, who was born in 1935, was forced to learn Japanese and take a Japanese name during the Japanese occupation.

After World War II, the country was occupied by the Soviet Union in the north and the U.S. in the south. Consequently, North Korea became Communist and South Korea became a pro-Western state.

The Korean conflict began in 1950, and You’s grandmother and her Family fled from North to South Korea.

The Korean War ended in a cease fire, so the war never officially ended. You’s father said in response to a question from the audience that he still hopes the two countries eventually will accomplish a reunification.

You also took the audience through a video tour of traditions, including weddings, New Year’s celebrations, cuisine, which is very healthy, and entertainment. South Korea serves as the hub of Asian culture, she said.

Master Sgt. Matthew Fitzgibbons, incoming Equal Opportunity adviser, said generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have helped develop and defend the United States, often in the face of tremendous racial and cultural prejudice.

Fort McCoy Garrison Deputy Commander Col. Rob Humphrey thanked You for her presentation and said he wished he had received her cultural presentation before he served in South Korea as a lower-ranking enlisted Soldier.

For more information about ethnic observances in the Fort McCoy community, call the Equal Opportunity Office at 608-388-3246.

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