One Pot of Rice

From 2009 to 2011, Joyce Kim, Sarah Park, and Gonji Lee had the fortune to live in South Corea with a leftist movement community, where we learned, worked, and laughed enough to cover a lifetime. 

The community we lived with in Corea is hard to describe, as the U.S. context makes it hard to imagine the level of collectivism and united radicalism that we encountered during that time. The people we lived with are elders from the 1987 student democracy movement that strove to dismantle the military dictatorship under Chun Doo Hwan, and from there they established a political community led by a badass woman, which was unheard of at that time.

Our collective name was Han Sot Bap or one pot of rice, to convey that we could draw from the strengths of community together, even from across an ocean.

During those two years, the three of us met several organizations that are a part of their political network. Their work included an anti-imperialist feminist collective, an environmental justice group that educates older adults on how to garden in an urban landscape, a daycare to care for the infants of movement people, and a youth empowerment group.

The organization Gonji trained under developed a collaborative partnership with people in the DPRK to build a bread factory to feed young children in DPRK, as well as a dental hospital. The organization funded the raw materials while people in the DPRK worked as dentists, bakers, and administrators. This barely touches upon the multitude levels of imaginative political work that this community encompassed.

Nine years later in mid-October, Joyce, Sarah and Gonji will be returning to Corea to re-convene with our mentors. During our two years, this community not only provided political education about reunification, U.S. imperialism, and community organizing, but they also bestowed an immense amount of emotional and material labor to care for us. They taught us how to cook Corean food, connected us to free Corean language lessons, took us around the entire peninsula to witness unfathomable landscapes, and furnished our home.

Their acts of love inspired our own endeavors to build an interdependent community here in the U.S.  This includes the collective effort to birth SOOBAK (SoCal Outrageously Organized Badass Anti-Imperialism Koreans), a collective in Southern California for progressive Korean Americans to build community, contextualize how our families fit into Korean and American history, and centralize queer liberation, racial justice, and anti-imperialism.

We hope to fundraise $2009 to take with us to Corea to help fund their movement and pay our respects to what they've so generously given into our lives. There are many ways we can be in partnership with leftist movements abroad, and many of us know how much time and labor can go into raising the money to do our work. We invite you to give to this one in a million community. Much love to you all and toojeng!
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Sarah Park 
Emeryville, CA
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