Sunday, October 5, 2014

Great stuff to read: Why I changed my Korean name - and why I changed it back

Jae's given name, Seonjae, written in Korean. (via

I found this wonderful piece on XOJane the other day, and felt compelled to share it with you guys. Many folks in English-speaking countries know that it's fairly common for people with Asian names to take an anglicised name for everyday use - to save them having to spell it and pronounce it one the regular, as well as just generally "fit in." But I can imagine it takes its toll sometimes, to use a totally different name - to literally identify yourself as a different person - for years on end.

Jae's article really captures this experience in a thoughtful way, and also addresses some experiences that I think a lot of non-Asian people can relate to, as well. My favourite passage is this one:

"But along the way, I started feeling fragmented, compartmentalized, and inauthentic. I put too much faith into my own American Dream, which was that I held absolute control over who I could become, all the time, about anything. When I wasn’t who I aspired to be, when I felt held back by my body, skills or emotions, I felt like a failure, because Daphne wasn’t supposed to fail. As I felt more and more disconnected from my physical home Seoul, I felt like I existed in a vacuum of my own created identity, 'home' an elusive feeling I searched for in endless projects, parties and anywhere I could belong to for a little bit."

Enjoy - and thanks to Jae for allowing me to share this piece!

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