Suki Kim Summary & Persoal Response
English and Literature
Submitted By jayhova321
Summary and Personal Response
Professor D. Ogden, Ph.D.
April, 13, 2015
In the essay “Facing Poverty with a Rich Girl’s Habits,” author Suki Kim describes how her lifestyle as a wealthy child of a millionaire changed overnight. Due to bankruptcy her father lost everything and being that in Korea bankruptcy is a crime punishable by jail time, her family fled to America. They lived in Queens, New York where they rented a home from another Korean family as she describes queens as “the wild west” (62).
An interesting focal in her essay is when she explains her first English word she learned in junior high school which was “F.O.B., short for fresh of the boat” (62). She could not grasp the understanding to why the other kids referred to her that way when her family had flown from Korea to America. She also learned that she was “Asian” and found it to be very offensive because the skin reminded her of the Forsythia flowers that characterized the lower class when she was in Korea. Another interesting key point Kim describes is taking public transportation for her very first time. This was an important moment she defines as she was used to being chauffeured. Without the use of maids she had when her family was rich, she noticed things became seriously messy around the house, and found it to be humiliating to take their dirty clothes to the laundromat. This was a challenge for her because she was accustomed to her princess lifestyle of servants for her daily needs and wants. Kim began to realize the major difference in culture between Korea and America in the regulations of the classrooms. She mentioned a couple kissing in class while the teacher totally ignored them; deeming Americans more liberal and tolerant compared to South Korea’s educational structure. Kim became aware of the difference in classes even within her own Korean ethnicity. She established that the richer Korean students did not go to public school in Queens and most of her accompanying Korean ESL students were all those who would have placed in lower class had they still lived in Korea.
Suki Kim purpose was to express to her audience how it felt to leave a lifestyle she had grown to know as a child and having to experience poverty in another country. She also wanted her audience to know how it felt to be Asian in America and that not speaking English was a culture shock. Her genre can be literary, narrative. Kims’ audience would be considered people from Korea or her race who had or has experienced a culture shock living outside of Korea. I believe her tone in the beginning was an attitude of frustration, misery and disorderly. Towards the end of the essay it was a tone of victory.