Ann Y. K. Choi: Confucius or Confused?

Ann Y.K. Choi

Ann Y.K. Choi

Author / Educator

According to the 2016 Canadian Census, almost 200,000 Canadians of Korean origin live in Canada. The upcoming 2021 Census will likely reflect a larger number. 

While almost all Korean immigrants have been from South Korea, it is important to recognize the many different developing identities of Korean Canadians. Some Korean Canadians have achieved prominent roles in Canada, including Yonah Martin, who immigrated to Canada in 1972 and currently serves on the Canadian Senate. Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, who also immigrated to Canada in the same year, has twice won the Canadian Screen Awards for Best Leading Actor in a Comedy Series. The list of Korean Canadian individuals contributing to the larger Canadian society is growing, however we have yet to shine a spotlight on their impact. As well, the stories of the average person – the convenience shopkeeper who used to be an engineer in Korea, the university professor who is the only Korean faculty member, and all the generations of Korean Canadians who cultivate a Korean identity through various cultural and religious associations or those who no longer feel any tie to their Korean roots – is worth examining to see how the influence of Confucian thinking continues to play an impacting role in Korean ethics, etiquette and way of life. What does it mean to juggle vastly different cultural expectations that come from competing social identities and norms? 

Ann Y.K. Choi discusses this topic in relation to her work as an author, speaker, and educator. Much of her writing has been published as essays, short stories, and books, touching on issues around cultural identity and promoting the Korean Canadian voice. However, Ann is always mindful of the expectations that are set based on Korean cultural traditions which are deeply rooted in Confucian and Neo-Confucian thinking, and negotiating strategies to manage barriers and the benefits of living in a diverse country such as Canada. 

Joining Ann in a discussion of Asian upbringings and the role that Confucianism plays is a panel of TAIWANfest guests, including artist and curator Alicia Chen, graphic artist and designer Tong Zhou, Miss Chinese Vancouver 2020 Runner-Up Julianne Nieh, and President of the Taiwanese Canadian Association of Toronto, Jean Chen.

About The Artist

Ann Yu-Kyung Choi is a Toronto-based author and educator. Her novel, Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety, was a Toronto Book Awards finalist and One of CBC Books 12 Best Canadian Debut Novels of 2016. Her writing has appeared in several publications including Quill & Quire, Writer’s Digest, and The Toronto Star. In 2017, the Korean Canadian Heritage Awards committee recognized Ann for outstanding contributions to Korean culture within Canada. Ann is also the co-founder of The Authors Book Club, an initiative that connects authors with readers in Canada.

Ann Y.K. Choi

Ann Y.K. Choi

Author / Educator

According to the 2016 Canadian Census, almost 200,000 Canadians of Korean origin live in Canada. The upcoming 2021 Census will likely reflect a larger number. 

While almost all Korean immigrants have been from South Korea, it is important to recognize the many different developing identities of Korean Canadians. Some Korean Canadians have achieved prominent roles in Canada, including Yonah Martin, who immigrated to Canada in 1972 and currently serves on the Canadian Senate. Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, who also immigrated to Canada in the same year, has twice won the Canadian Screen Awards for Best Leading Actor in a Comedy Series. The list of Korean Canadian individuals contributing to the larger Canadian society is growing, however we have yet to shine a spotlight on their impact. As well, the stories of the average person – the convenience shopkeeper who used to be an engineer in Korea, the university professor who is the only Korean faculty member, and all the generations of Korean Canadians who cultivate a Korean identity through various cultural and religious associations or those who no longer feel any tie to their Korean roots – is worth examining to see how the influence of Confucian thinking continues to play an impacting role in Korean ethics, etiquette and way of life. What does it mean to juggle vastly different cultural expectations that come from competing social identities and norms? 

Ann Y.K. Choi discusses this topic in relation to her work as an author, speaker, and educator. Much of her writing has been published as essays, short stories, and books, touching on issues around cultural identity and promoting the Korean Canadian voice. However, Ann is always mindful of the expectations that are set based on Korean cultural traditions which are deeply rooted in Confucian and Neo-Confucian thinking, and negotiating strategies to manage barriers and the benefits of living in a diverse country such as Canada. 

Joining Ann in a discussion of Asian upbringings and the role that Confucianism plays is a panel of TAIWANfest guests, including artist and curator Alicia Chen, graphic artist and designer Tong Zhou, Miss Chinese Vancouver 2020 Runner-Up Julianne Nieh, and President of the Taiwanese Canadian Association of Toronto, Jean Chen. 

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Ann Yu-Kyung Choi is a Toronto-based author and educator. Her novel, Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety, was a Toronto Book Awards finalist and One of CBC Books 12 Best Canadian Debut Novels of 2016. Her writing has appeared in several publications including Quill & Quire, Writer’s Digest, and The Toronto Star. In 2017, the Korean Canadian Heritage Awards committee recognized Ann for outstanding contributions to Korean culture within Canada. Ann is also the co-founder of The Authors Book Club, an initiative that connects authors with readers in Canada.

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