Friday, February 3, 2017

Zoua Nikki Thao - Week 5

Viet Thanh Nguyen's Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War, discusses the dissonance of two countries that were failed American wars -- Vietnam and South Korea. Nguyen draws readers into a deeper look in how America's involvement in these countries during the Vietnam War has affected the multiple aspects of Vietnamese and Korean lives. As we come to understand that the narratives and stories from these two Asian ethnic groups differ, we must not forget the one thing they have in common, that is, their place in the Vietnam War was fueled by American fear.

 For Vietnamese Americans, there is a great emphasis on the suppression of memory. These memories are full of pain, and there is no denying that trauma has been inflicted on them by both Americans and South Koreans. As Nguyen mentioned, there are times where his mother would just drive him around without saying a word (303). This heartbreaking reality still exist today as I have these silent car rides with my grandparents. I always wonder what they are thinking as they sit in the car, staring out at a land that will always seem foreign to them. What battle are they fighting as they witness a land that is painted in concrete and not bomb craters?

On the other hand, Koreans in America emulated the "model minority myth" in America. Having this label placed on the Korean American community can be damaging as they may feel like they have to live up to the standard of success shaped by America and previous generations. I believe that internalizing this identity can cause many Korean Americans to feel displaced from their community and not come to terms that they too are part of a failed war. They too, are part of the "yellow peril," which brings me to connect this to a recent incident that happened in Koreatown in Los Angeles. This is relevant because Nguyen mentions the tensions that took place in this Los Angeles Koreatown during the riots. A Korean grandmother was attacked by a white/European woman, and LAPD does not know whether it was a hate crime or not, but it is currently under investigation.

Question: How do we as educated Southeast Asian American college students begin the process of uncovering the silenced and forgotten stories of our people?

Nguyen, Viet Thang. Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War, Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2016. Print. 02 Feb. 2017.

"Korean Grandmother Gets Attacked by Racist Woman in Korea Tow (CCTV)." Youtube. 3 Feb. 2017. Web. <>.

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