My journey with “korean mourning rituals” began in search of understanding myself. Like many others, I use poetry as an emotional outlet, and as a way of understanding why I feel the way I do. Sometimes, even being able to put a name to what I feel. “korean mourning rituals” is a poetry collection comprised of 30 poems, created over the span of two years. “korean mourning rituals” is an accumulation of poems about intergenerational trauma, romantic relationships, family matters, and navigating the colonial settler state as a Korean american womxn. In this paper, I will be dissecting one poem selected for “korean mourning rituals,” and its editing process. Additionally, I will be discussing what I have planned for distribution of “korean mourning rituals,” as well as the self-publishing process and the different avenues I sought out.
One of the poems in my collection, “and the paperwork asks for my family’s history of mental health,” I dissect the intergenerational trauma of my Korean American family as a way to understand the guilt, sorrow, and difficulties buried within me. Intergenerational trauma is trauma transferred through the generations, even if those beyond the first-generation did not directly experience the traumatic incidents (Bombay, Matheson, Anisman, 2). This intergenerational trauma, when specifically tied to Koreans, is called, “han.” “Han” is described as a cultural phenomenon, that scholars often have trouble defining. Theologian Suh Nam-dong describes han as, “a feeling of unresolved resentment against injustices suffered, a sense of helplessness because of the overwhelming odds against one, a feeling of acute pain in one's guts and bowels, making the whole body writhe and squirm, and an obstinate urge to take revenge and to right the wrong—all these combined,” (Yoo, 221). Han, when applied to the Korean diaspora, is referred to as “postmemory han,” which refers to the feelings of han experienced by second-generation Korean Americans. “Postmemory han” is the idea that even if these second-generation Korean Americans did not directly experience the trauma the first-generation Koreans did, they still feel residual han, regardless of whether they actively pursue “remembering” their family’s trauma (Chu, 98-105). This “nonconsensual remembering,” is a concept I have, and continue to, explore throughout my written work, and is the nucleus of “korean mourning rituals.”