Oral Histories

Interview of Kim Boone-Nakase

One of the first wave of Korean adoptees to come to the U.S.
Series:
Korean Americans in Los Angeles after 1965
Topic:
Asian American History
Interviewer:
Cline, Alex
Interviewee:
Boone-Nakase, Kim
Persons Present:
Boone and Cline.
Place Conducted:
Boone’s classroom at the Monterey Hills School in South Pasadena, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Alex Cline, series coordinator, UCLA Library’s Center for Oral History Research; musician. Cline prepared for the interview by conducting extensive research on the history of Korea and of Korean Americans, particularly Korean immigrants who settled in the Los Angeles area, via books, periodicals, and online sources. He also consulted with advisors who are closely connected with L.A.’s Korean American community and who are acutely knowledgeable about it, including attorney and activist Angela E. Oh and UCLA associate professor of anthropology and faculty member of UCLA’s Center for Korean Studies Kyeyoung Park. Assistance from series interviewees such as Johng Ho Song and John Lim also frequently proved invaluable.
Processing of Interview:
The transcript is a verbatim transcription of the recording. It was transcribed by a professional transcribing agency using a list of proper names and specialized terminology supplied by the interviewer. Boone-Nakase was then given an opportunity to review the transcript but made no corrections or additions.
Length:
2.8 hrs.
Language:
English
Copyright:
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Audio:
Series Statement:
This series includes full-life histories of a number of prominent Korean Americans who represent their community’s tremendous expansion during the period after federal anti-Asian immigration laws were repealed in 1965. The series focuses on the remarkable growth of the Korean American community in Los Angeles; that community’s impact on the history, economy, and culture of the city; and the development and evolution of Koreatown, the only such officially designated community in any city in the world. While concentrating largely on Korean immigrants who are part of the so-called 1.5 generation, or immigrants who relocated to the United States from South Korea while still relatively young, the series also includes influential members of the L.A. area’s Korean community who are first- and second-generation Korean Americans.
First two years of life at Isabella Orphanage in Pusan, South Korea—Travels to the United States to meet her new family with Harry and Bertha Holt—Harry Holt’s background—Conditions which led to the profusion of orphaned children in South Korea—Speculation about Boone’s early life—Her adoptive parents, Charles and Mary Boone—First awareness of looking different from her parents and neighbors as a small child in Victorville, California—Her parents adopt Kim’s sister Robin in 1959—The family moves to Hawthorne when Boone is six years old—Elementary schools she attended—Racial composition of Hawthorne at the time—Ways Boone’s parents kept her aware of her heritage—Her mother’s protectiveness—Relatives and experiences in Texas—Her relationship with her sister—Father’s work in aerospace takes the family to Huntington Beach in 1969 during Boone’s teen years—Visits a Korean church as a youngster—Awareness of late-sixties pop culture—Conditions in Huntington Beach during her high school years—Her perception of her racial identity as she reached her teen years—U.S. history and current events during the sixties and seventies as experienced from Boone’s Asian American perspective—College—Marries and has one child by birth, then adopts two children—Racial composition of Boone’s own family—Minimal contact with the Los Angeles area’s Korean community—How adoptive parents vouched for the legitimacy of their adoptions in front of the California State Legislature during Boone’s youth—She remains in touch with the Holts and their organization, Holt International—Her awareness of the relative level of happiness of other Korean adoptees when she was young—The rarity of members of her generation becoming interested in studying their cultural roots as young adults.
Boone’s first name, Kim—She learns to enjoy authentic Asian cuisine—Racial issues that arose in her own family, particularly with her Caucasian daughter Robin—Her ability to understand white American culture—Issues that arose when she adopted Robin—Boone’s family adopts their third child, Pamela, a five-year-old Vietnamese girl—Health and emotional issues the family had to face when raising Pamela—How Boone as a mother approached her relationship with each of her three unique children—The family’s dynamics once it had become a family of five—Scenes from a multiracial American family’s life—The family moves a couple of times, eventually settling in Corona—Boone divorces, which affects her two daughters—How Boone’s family kept Pamela in touch with her Vietnamese heritage—The relative importance of keeping transracially adopted children aware of their culture—Boone lands a teaching job in South Pasadena, where she moves and ultimately remarries—Her children’s status at present—Welcoming a grandchild and stepdaughters into her present-day life—Her second husband, also a Korean adoptee—Positive aspects of mistakes made by early adoptive parents of Korean children—Transracially adopted children in light of the global nature of much of today’s world—How entrenched cultural attitudes toward adoption worldwide are gradually changing—Celebrity adoptive parents draw more attention to transracial adoption—Domestic versus intercountry adoption—Important considerations when considering adopting transracially—Boone’s daughter’s interest in their own roots and stories—How they both attached to Boone as a mother—Boone’s sense of her own racial and national identity—Reflections on her own parents' status as pioneers of transracial adoption—Korean people’s feelings about Boone’s transracial adoption story.