angry reader of the week: yul kwon

Gather 'round, because it is time to meet another Angry Reader of the Week, spotlighting you, the very special readers of this website. Over the years, I've been able to connect with a lot of cool folks, and this is a way of showing some appreciation and attention to the people who help make this blog what it is. This week's Angry Reader is Yul Kwon, who you might recognize from Survivor: Cook Islands. (He won.)

Who are you?
I'm Yul Kwon. But people still generally refer to me as that Asian guy who won Survivor.

What are you?
I'm Korean-American. You can tell from the big cheekbones and the giant melon where my head should be. I once thought that my head was large because I had a big brain. Later, I realized I just had a very thick skull.

Where are you?
Physically, I live in near Washington, DC. Metaphysically, I'm suddenly finding myself in a weird space. I was raised as a devout Catholic but haven't gone to church or confession in... well... long enough that it's on my list of things to confess. I didn't think this was such a big deal until my friend told me that skipping church constitutes grave sin and that I'm forbidden from taking communion as long as I'm conscious of grave sin. I pointed out that I wouldn't have been conscious of anything - let alone grave sin - if she hadn't just apprised me of the fact. But the damage was already done. I guess I'll have plenty of time to contemplate the irony of the situation while I'm being stuck by pitchforks in the afterlife.

Where are you from?
I was born in Flushing, NY, but I grew up mostly in the San Francisco Bay Area.

What do you do?
I've had a lot of odd jobs, including being a lawyer, management consultant, political aide, reality show contestant, yogurt store owner, and now, government employee. I joined the Federal Communications Commission last year, although I'm currently on leave to get ready for the birth of my first child this month. I'm also hosting a new documentary TV series called America Revealed that will air sometime next year, so I've been traveling all around the country to shoot this. I'm a little nervous that my wife might go into labor early while I'm still away. She's already given me a heads up that if I'm not there when the baby comes out, she's giving our daughter her last name.

What are you all about?
I'm all about are eliminating restrictive and simplistic stereotypes about AAPIs in the media, increasing the representation and voice of AAPIs in politics and government, increasing awareness of the need for more bone marrow donors in the AAPI community, fighting domestic violence, and in general, using media and politics to enact meaningful change.

But right now, the thing I'm most concerned with is trying to figure out a name for our baby that won't scar her for life. My wife and I don't seem to have any trouble coming up with names that would be horrendously cruel and funny, like Donkey Kwon, King Kwon, Genghis Kwon, or Chaka Kwon. But we can't seem to come up with something that would promote a healthy and happy little girl. Maybe we should conduct some sort of online poll on this website. Although I have a feeling we would just end up naming our baby "Angry Asian Kwon."

What makes you angry?
I get angry at the intense partisanship that seems to dominate politics nowadays. It feels like so many people in elected office are putting the interests of their party or themselves above the interests of the country, which is causing far more gridlock and posturing than necessary. I'm also getting angry at the hyperpartisanship of the media. Real news is gradually being replaced by personality-driven, opinion-driven, and sensationalistic commentary that is often passed off as serious news. I think it's hurting the country, and that we're increasingly finding that there's no room for real discussion or constructive dialogue. The fragmentation of media outlets provides people with greater choice and allows them to consume media that fits their particular tastes and preferences. But the danger is that if people only watch or listen to opinion-makers who validate and cement their pre-existing world views, then it becomes impossible to have a conversation with people on the other end of the spectrum because your basic understanding and assumptions regarding the world are so divergent. It's almost like people are speaking completely different languages nowadays.

One thing that I'm not angry about anymore is the fact that I was born with such short and stubby fingers. I used to believe that I could have been a world-famous singer-songwriter if only my fingers were long enough to play the guitar easily. But then I saw that youtube clip of the 5-year old North Korean girl who could play the guitar like she was channeling Eric Clapton, and I realized that I had nothing to blame other than my own lack of skill. And complete tone deafness.

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