Interview with Sowon Kim
1. What ignited your passion for writing and how did it change you as a person?
At first, writing was just an activity I enjoyed. I don’t remember exactly how or when I started writing, but I do remember I always had stories in my head, waiting to be written down on paper.
Around fourth grade, I got more immersed in the world of activism, and I began searching for a way to express myself and address social issues in a way that stayed true to myself. Soon, I realized that writing was a perfect option. I’m someone who prefers spreading consciousness through abstract ways instead of doing so explicitly. Writing fiction would allow me to do that.
Over time, writing became a passion of mine. This changed my life completely because now, all the activism in my life comes with a personal touch (characters, setting, writing style, etc.)
2. Out of all the short stories you’ve written, which one stands out to you the most? Why?
I actually have only written one short story (the rest of my work is either a novel or a novella.) Its title is, “Psychodrama,” and it tells the story of a young girl and the decline of her sense of identity. Through this short story, I wanted to express how seemingly unimportant racist jokes can make a lasting impact on the victim.
3. How has being multilingual benefitted you?
If I had to list all the ways being multilingual has benefited me, it would take me a sweet time. To mention some, countless opportunities have been given to me because of my multilingualism, I’ve been able to visit a variety of places without trouble, etc.
4. What is your view on language barriers and cultural differences? How do they affect students and our generation?
Cultural differences and language barriers are inevitable, and they aren’t negative things at all, despite the stigma towards them. They make our world more diverse, which adds to the beauty of society.
However, the way we perceive cultural differences is definitely an issue that is affecting our generation. Many people (especially students) remain in the bubble of their own worlds throughout the majority of their lives. When encountering something different **(could be a language, food, rituals, or practices) the first word that comes to their mind is *weird* or *primitive* or *strange*. They have input into their heads that anything different isn't normal. These kinds of thoughts may lead to harmful jokes and stereotypes, like “all Indians eat with their hands.”
5. Do you think your unusual life experiences helped make you the passionate person you are today? How so?
Definitely. No doubt.
For some context, I was born in South Korea, but because of my parents’ missionary work, my family and I moved to Peru when I was barely a three-month-old toddler. My parents, as missionaries, support and help people in poor areas through various programs, and I’ve helped them with their work multiple times.
Thanks to my unique situation, I got an extra insight into social issues like poverty (from my parents’ work) and racism (from being a foreigner with different physical aspects). This fueled me to have a wish to make a change in this world, and this wish soon became a passion.
6. What modern social issue is the most striking to you?
This is a tricky question that I always have a hard time answering. I always used to say racism, but some time ago I realized that the answer to this question is highly subjective and that it all goes down to experience. For people who have been mistreated because of their weight, the answer would be weight stigma. For those who have suffered from a low income, it would be economic inequality.
In my opinion, all social issues are equally striking. I am in no position to say “this social issue is more striking than the others,” when I have not experienced all of them.