Portland, Oregon
Project: Creative Direction, Photography, Graphic Design

An exploration of identities in my Korean-American, multigenerational family.

Han” is historically rooted as a Korean expression of deep sorrow and oppression that surfaced from the Japanese occupation of Korea in the early 1900’s. Han can be described as the feeling of “losing ones collective identity” alongside the feeling of unwavering strength to always respond with resilience and perseverance. This project focuses on the experiences of generational han and resilience and highlights it through the story of my own family.  

My grandma, Jae Ok Chang (장재옥), born in 1934, lived in South Korea during the time of the Japanese occupation leading into the North Korean occupation/Korean War. She recalls story after story of hardships she faced during this time, like being referred to by a Japanese name so that they would’nt have to refer to her birth name, and experiencing life threatening situations. Still, she courageously gave birth to 5 children and worked countless hours every day to provide just enough for her family to survive.

My mom, Young Suk Chang (장영숙), born in 1962, second of five siblings, grew up in South Korea and immigrated to the United States with my dad in 1991 with just $500 to start a better life.  The many challenges they faced here in America were different than what my grandparents went through, but their mindsets were the same- to never give up in any circumstance and to overcome every obstacle with bold courage. When I asked my mom where she found the motive to push through some of their hardest situations, she would tell me that she looked to her mom and remembered the fearless life she lived in order to make a life for her family whom she loved. 

My little sister, Sarah Chang Lee (이은수), born in 2001, fourth of four siblings, grew up in Portland, Oregon. Living and growing up in a multigenerational home with my grandma and parents, my little sister shares that she believes she can do anything she puts her mind to because she’s witnessed the fearless strength that was passed down from all the generations before her. 

Han Zine Concept

Unintentionally, “han” brings together people from an array of different BIPOC identities and creates space for deep collective connection, and belonging. Though we all don’t share identical experiences, “Han” may be a starting point where we can begin to understand and see beauty in each other.

Han zine will explore the complex stories of identity from the BIPOC community with the purpose of bringing people closer together and filling in cultural gaps.