Between the World and Me: Through the Eyes of an Asian Teen

In his ground-breaking novel, Coates tackles the struggle of African Americans through letters to his son. But what does this all mean for an Asian teenager?

“ You are the bearer of a body more fragile than any other in this country.”


These were the words of Ta-Nehisi Coates to his son in his novel Between the World and Me. In his epistolary memoir, Coates, an American author and journalist, attempts to explain to his son about his own fear and insecurities on this “terrible and beautiful world.” As a man who faced discrimination at a young age, Coates traces his own experience and intertwines it with examples today to touch on one of the most sensitive and grave issues of America today: the lives of African Americans.

I am a Korean Australian teenage girl who has fortunately experienced little racism. The most serious encounter being only when three Australian boys yelled at me “die Chinese girl! Die” as I was entering my mom’s car. Worse, I have seldom witnessed racism in the lives of Blacks. For me, my connection with them was through texts: the countless U.S. history textbooks that fill the chapters with the Civil War, the lengthy essays and speeches in AP Lang prompts that inundate students with topics on slavery and equality, the limitless passages in the SAT that continuously highlight the Black struggle. My relationship with racism was felt inauthentically. They never felt tangible.

When you enter Mr. Brondel’s class and see the screen with the word “slavery”; when you flip over to the essay prompt as Mr. v starts the timer; when you open the SAT package and the proctor says “start the reading section”; you groan and sigh to find that the topic is on African Americans again. Even I as someone who tries to appreciate texts, it is at times frustrating to read about a topic that I have so little relation to.

However, Coates’ use of rich language drew me in to take a peek at their lives. The use of ‘body’ as a fragile belonging of African Americans elucidates what it means to live in fear. For us, the body is just an identity that we own. But for Coates, it is a precarious, delicate part of their lives that could be broken, stolen, or even abused: a part of his son’s life that is prone to be vulnerable. Coates, by doing so, makes such struggle real; the multitude of textbooks, prompts, passages in my shelf slowly took form into life. For once, the words and feelings started to make sense.


Some of my fellow peers, on the other hand, may argue the contrary. I asked my friend the other day whether or not she could empathize with the struggle of African Americans. She told me that she did because she was once an Asian in a country of White. Sure, perhaps she felt excluded from the majority. Sure, she may feel as if she was marginalized. But as I was reading Between the World and Me, I realized how her thought, which many other teenagers around me may agree, is false. The African American’s fight for equality is so unique and ingrained in such complex heritage that it cannot be generalized to mere ‘racism’ or ‘discrimination.’ No matter how much I face marginalization or discrimination, I can never fully understand, empathize, or feel their pain and fear. Their experience and story are distinctive; it isn’t something we can completely understand.

But by no means am I saying that we should all now relinquish our fight for equality just because we cannot wholly feel their experience. I am not in any way pitying their lives or degrading ourselves. I am just arguing the need to realize that the struggle of African Americans can never be completely felt by those who say that they were merely excluded in a society. I do not know what the solution is to gaining equality for all race and peoples. But what I do know is that Coates has shown me that the struggles are more profound, more complex, more humane than just a chapter in a textbook or a passage on an exam. And for that, I want to thank Coates for showing me a glimpse of their lives and for making my connection to them more real.

– Sarah Se-Jung Oh (’19)

Featured Image:


My Reaction from Miss Peregrine and the Peculiar Children

Tim Burton is back.

A twisted imagination. A sinister but enchanting world where darkness coexists with brightness. A gothic world full of weird creatures with contradicting personalities, wearing stripes and twisted curves that never end.

Tim Burton’s gothic world (Wired)

It’s the world of Tim Burton – the artist, the idiosyncratic director of countless films that moved us with Corpse Bride, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alice in Wonderland, and the list can go on. And recently, his new 2016 movie Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children has arrived to surprise us with his charm once again.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Wikia)

Like many Burton heroes, Jake is an outcast. Growing up, his childhood is full of magical, but remarkably descriptive tales that his grandfather had always spoke of – the Welsh manor inhabited by headmistress Miss Peregrine and her “peculiar” children with bizarre abilities. But soon, the sudden, mysterious death of his grandfather triggers the astounding adventure full of time loops, engaging, unique characters, and horrendous monsters called “Hologausts.”

The Peculiar Children (20th Century Fox)
The Hologaust (The Agony Booth)
Original Book by Ransom Riggs (Riggs Website)

As a passionate, heated fan of Tim Burton, I was thrown back the moment the movie was released. I remembered reading the book Miss Peregrine and the Peculiar Children written by Ransom Riggs years past, and I never imagined this would become a movie, and even more so, one by Tim Burton! In truth, I was not only surprised, but slightly hesitant, because I remembered the book being quite complex, elaborate, and full of characters and events. In fact, I even got lost in the middle of the book with its the rapid pace and so many happenings that constantly forced me to reread, just to follow the plot. But it turns out, I didn’t have to worry at all. 

The beautiful and decorative visuals with grand music set the motion for the fantastical adventure, along with Burton’s classic gothic production design. And at the same time, this film touched me with a different feeling. Unlike Burton’s other adventurous film Alice in Wonderland, Miss Peregrine and the Peculiar Children possessed a more intimate, humane connection with the main characters. It wasn’t just a display of the uncanny, but full of personal emotions like love, friendship, and coming of age. Beginning the scene in the busy, contemporary 2016 era with real-life “normal” humans for once, and Jake explicitly shown as an everyday teenager with conflicts with his parents, already felt like a new approach.

Moreover, there is an implicit tragic backdrop to this story. A true, historical depiction of tragedies faced during WWII and Nazism – where Jake’s grandfather Abe escapes from Poland and how the peculiar children are forever stuck in September 3, 1940, the day before their home is destroyed by the German bombs by a time loop, or even the name “Hologausts” for the monsters.  

I was impressed and shocked at not simply how entertaining and smooth the film went, but just the incredible scale of creativity and imagination Burton possesses. Nothing in the movie was what I pictured when reading the book. The exciting individuality in each character, the queer but alluring mood, and primely, the thrill during the fight between the children and Hologausts was so remarkably illustrated. I was captivated the entire time throughout the movie. Indeed, I admire Riggs for his novel book with his fresh, dynamic idea and plot, but for me, there was always that slight lack of delivery. I understand it must have been a great challenge to express all the dashing plotlines and ideas into simple words.

With this, I truly realized what an staggering job Fantasy authors must go through just to fluidly communicate the setting and plot for the readers, and what an unbelievable thinker Tim Burton is.

In other words, Miss Peregrine and the Peculiar Children is definitely another major film by Tim Burton that must be watched.

– Sammie Kim 18′

(Featured image from 20th Century Fox)


Movie Review: The Beauty Inside

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the prettiest of them all?

If you’re looking for a movie to watch this weekend — perhaps for a date with your love interest, or just with your best friends — The Beauty Inside is the movie for you. This Korean movie, featuring twenty-two talented main actors/actresses, depicts a philosophically enticing love story between an aspiring furniture designer and a furniture retailer. At first, this movie may sound like a typical romance movie, with a female and male character falling in love by chance, then getting married — however, it’s not. Instead, this movie has such a unique and revolutionary plot that distinguishes this film from other ordinary romance movies.
(Asian Wiki)
(News 1 Korea)
(News 1 Korea)

What the viewers will inconspicuously notice about the movie is the eerie tranquility that the film possesses. The colors most used in the movie are a hue of cold tones and light gray, along with other light but slightly sad colors with a hue of blue or gray in them. These colors seem to distill a calm and peaceful but slightly melancholy tone to the film, which make the film’s mood hopefully disconsolate. Most of the characters in the movie and their personalities seem to match this tranquil mood. The two main characters, Yi-soo and Woo-jin, both have extremely peaceful features, particularly the female character’s soothing voice.
(Ask KPop)

However, this tranquility is contradictory and oxymoronic to the disastrous circumstances the film depicts. The odd “disease” that the main character has of waking up with a different physical appearance every single time after he sleeps, in reality, is something that would have been deemed crazy and out-of-this-world. However, in the movie, the peacefulness seems to veil the catastrophe. It is almost as if someone has been taking too many doses of alcohol that reality is being thrown behind the blurriness of the peace created by the alcohol and one’s unconsciousness.

(Drama Story)
(Drama Story)

The romance is what ties the two contradictory aspects of the film together. The warmth of the love between the two main characters shines brightly on the cold, but crazy aspects of the movie. This is why so many audience members have enjoyed watching this movie; not because of the cheesy loveline between the two main characters, but because of the poignant and lovely emotions portrayed through a clever connection between two significant aspects of the movie.

I would strongly recommend this movie to anyone looking for love, or anyone in love. You may watch this movie not realizing the love cells that are existing inside of you, but after watching the movie, you will be able to find your emotions boiling up with the fierce fervor to find someone to love and perhaps create a artistic love story as this film.

– Ariel Hyunseo Kim (’19)

Featured Image: Next Entertainment

The Best and Worst Deli Food

To love it or to hate it, that is the question.

You can’t help but have a hate-love relationship with KIS’ deli food.

They can be your savior when you’re looking for that extra something to keep your mouth occupied after a(n) (un)satisfying lunch, but they can also be quite a disappointment when you make the wrong selections. When making the decision that will determine whether you will wind up craving or disliking the deli food, make sure to keep your eyes open for the following treats that the KIS student body has chosen as their best and worst.

Ice cream and a cookie. What could possibly go wrong? (Daniel Park ’17)


  1. Cookie—Simply put, it’s the best comfort food the deli offers. And like how all good things come in twos, the deli’s cookies also have two types. First, there’s the classic and chic chocolate chip cookie. When it’s freshly brought out from the oven, the buttery goodness decorated with large chunks of rich, oozing chocolate will never fail to impress. It’s sweet—to the perfect degree—, it’s chewy, and not to mention beautifully round. Its sister, the macadamia cookie, is also as scrumptious, if not more so. When you’re feeling a little “nutty”, try taking a different route and opt for this little goody.
  2. Ice cream—KIS’ own version of a froyo. This frozen dessert is so popular that there’s a ticking time bomb attached to it; if you’re too late, you may run into the devastating experience of watching the person in front of you greedily take hold of the last ice cream. Why is it in such high demand? Well, it’s ice cream (duh) and you can choose its topping! Whether you sprinkle it with crunchy cereal or envelop it in glazing blueberry, I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!
Greasy, cold, and just downright gross. Only get this if you are very, extremely, ridiculously desperate for something to eat. (Daniel Park ’17)


  1. Hamburger—Hmm… Well, to be fair it is a patty of minced beef between two pieces of bread (maybe just not the best one). The bread is cold, the meat is rock solid and like thick, chewy leather, and the vegetables inside could be a bit more fresh. Also, just a quick warning that you may end up with hamburger-breath afterwards—definitely not a pleasant smell. If you’re looking for something juicy, healthy, and neat probably not your number one choice!
  2. Pizza—It glistens, but not in the good way. Slathered with an overflow of grease, you even need an oil paper to keep it under control. Not only that, but this is covered with cheese, and only cheese. If you choose the combination option, your pizza will be spiced up with the extra complimentary toppings of dried up veggies. Yum.


But regardless of whether they are the best or the worst, it’s undeniable that the deli foods are what provides us with momentary feelings of relief. After all, whether it’d be during breakfast, lunch, after-school, or even between classes (Sneaky, sneaky), they are always waiting for us, packed and ready to go. Now, take a short trip down to the cafeteria and tell us what you think!

Special thanks to our model Wonil Chung (’17)!

– Emily Kim (’16)

Captions: Faith Choi (’16)
Header: Daniel Park (’17)

What are your favorite and least favorite deli foods? Leave us a comment down below!