My parents were born in Seoul in the fresh aftermath of Japanese colonialism and the Korean War. Before the U.S. split the peninsula with the creation of a border at the 38th parallel, my grandmother waded across rivers in secret, with newborns in tow, so that her family in the north would have a final opportunity to meet her children. I am among countless Koreans in diaspora whose families were separated from their kin and their roots in what is now the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea because of war and militarist occupation.
My name is Yuni Chang. I’d like to introduce myself to you as WRL’s new Field Organizer. I’m excited to work with an anti-war organization whose vision is resonant and principled, whose practice of revolutionary nonviolence is necessary for a healthy and ever-growing global Left, and whose commitment to building with and learning from frontline communities is genuine.
In the years following the Korean war, my parents witnessed the rise of dictators and the violent repression of leftist student activists. Encouraged by the prospect of freedom and opportunity elsewhere, they left for the U.S. But the legacies of what my parents had experienced shaped my own childhood in the States, as peers targeted me and other Asian American kids for being “North Korean spies.”
In the past year alone, the imperialist drive of this country has announced itself in full daylight - as this administration has dropped a record number of bombs in the Middle East and lobbed threats and mixed messages of nuclear war with Iran and the DPRK. The Orientalist rallying cries of neoconservatives and hawkish liberals for a preemptive strike against my people and my family - that if countless die, it is acceptable so long as it happens “over there” - has enraged me to action.
As a recent graduate from Yale, I was a student of social movements and abolitionism because I was and remain moved by the history of anti-militarist Black and Asian organizing. I became committed to the end of all forms of imperial violence when I learned about how South Korean soldiers in Vietnam also left destruction and trauma in their wake, and about how class-mobile East Asian Americans police, surveil, and terrorize Black and Brown communities - whether as cops, small business owners, landlords, or real estate developers. It is rare to find a group like WRL, with whom I share my deepest values, that is seeding and leading work towards renewing an anti-war front at a moment when we desperately need one.
I’m excited to work with you all to shut down the war machine, and to ensure that everyone can live the secure and fearless lives we deserve!