Stand Up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica Kim

Hello, Jessica Kim! Thank you so much for visiting Watch Connect. Read. today. I greatly, greatly, greatly appreciate it. I loved reading Stand Up, Yumi Chung! during a flight from Chicago to Seoul in December. And I loved sharing it with Dr. Alice Kim during our time in South Korea.

What are three things Yumi Chung would want everyone to know about her?

1) Yumi is funny, which might be a surprise to her classmates who only see her as a shy girl who doesn’t say much. It isn’t until Yumi accidentally steals someone’s identity that she gains the confidence to share some of the hilarious comedy that’s in her head.

2) Yumi is both Korean and American and it’s enough. Sometimes it feels like she’s constantly toggling between the Korean culture of her immigrant parents and the American culture she’s growing up with, but through her journey, she learns to accept herself and her family just as they are, a combination of both identities.

3) Yumi loves her family, even though they might not see eye-to-eye on a lot of things, she knows they support her and want the best for her, no matter what.

What planted the seed for Stand Up, Yumi Chung?

Jessica Kim: I really wanted to write a book about a kid like me: someone who was born and raised in America by immigrant parents trying to find her place in the world. There’s so much beauty and tension that exists growing up as a second-generation American and it compelled me to explore the themes of colliding identity and values in a fun, fast-paced story with humor and heart.

In order to show that friction, I needed my main character to be passionate about something that’d drive her traditional immigrant parents nuts, and it was then that I conceived of the character of Yumi, the aspiring stand-up comedian!

Visit Jessica's website to view more activities. 
I flew to South Korea this past August to celebrate my 38th birthday and to visit some of my favorite Korean restaurants. Yumi Chung’s parents own a Korean restaurant. What’s your favorite dish on the menu?

Jessica Kim: I have to go with the galbi tang, which is a very hearty delicate soup of beef short ribs! It’s my ultimate comfort food that is nourishing and warm, like a hug in food form.

Please finish the following sentence starters:

I hope Stand Up, Yumi Chung! 
encourages you to be your most authentic self.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me what’s one thing Yumi learns from her adventures?

It’s all about the Tutti Fruitti jelly beans: When Yumi totally bombs her stand-up comedy set, her mentor teaches her that it’s okay to make mistakes because it teaches you what’s working and what’s not. She explains that getting a big laugh (or having success) is like finding your favorite jellybean, in her case: Tutti Fruitti. And sometimes you have to go through some bad jellybeans and meh jellybeans to get to the best ones. Such great advice.

Borrow Stand Up, Yumi Chung! from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

Photo: © Nicholas Andrews

Jessica Kim writes about Asian American girls finding their way in the world. Before she was an author, Jessica studied education at UC Berkeley and spent ten years teaching third, fourth, and fifth grades in public schools. Like Yumi, Jessica lives with her family in Southern California and can’t get enough Hot Cheetos, stand-up comedy, and Korean barbecue.


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