Korean American.

My dear photographer friend, Jan and I we're chatting over coffee one day and he told me he had a bucket list of shots he wanted in his portfolio. I'm always one for a challenge, so it peaked my interest. And of course, there was one shot I knew I could help him out with.... Modeling in traditional Korean attire: hanbok.

I have to be completely honest. I was a bit embarrassed when I shot these images and even more embarrassed when I saw these pictures, so I was not planning on posting any of if, but Jan being the great photographer that he is, truly captured the beauty of a traditional hanbok. And I know my heritage is not something to hide, but EMBRACE!

I have to say, growing up in a Korean American household is tough. The expectations are set HIGH since day one. You have to get all A's. You have to play an instrument and sit first chair. You can't wear makeup. You can't wear tight clothes or show too much skin. You have to get into a good college. You can't stay out too late. You NEED a good job. You need to get married and have kids. It's literally one thing after the next, and you are often compared to other Korean American peers. There's seriously one thing after the next. Can any of you relate to this?!

Growing up, I didn't understand why my parents we're so strict, and why they wanted me to be "perfect." As I got older, I started to understand. My parents gave up a LOT to come to a foreign country where they not only couldn't speak the language, but weren't accustomed to the culture either. They came and struggled for years so my brother and I could have a life they could never dream of: the true AMERICAN DREAM.

As much as I HATED all of the rules my parents had enforced and the constant comparisons to my peers, I am truly thankful and blessed because without them I would not be the strong, independent, competitive and career driven person I am today. Although, I've never been to Korea before I am able to speak the language, moderately read and write, cook (and eat) the food and embrace traditional values and customs. I hope to visit one day, but until then... let's pretend these pictures we're taken in Korea and I'm the star of a K-drama ha! Also, let's excuse my messy, "I just wokeup hair." It was an early start :)!

Margaret Nam-LifeWithMarg- Korean-Hanbok

Photos by: Jan Galvan.

On me: Korean traditional hanbok borrowed from my dear friend, Paddling in Stilettos.