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What Raising Kids In SoCal Really Looks Like

Wooyong Choi

A selfie shows Wooyong Choi in a gray ball cap.
(Wooyong Choi for LAist)
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Wooyong Choi

Koreatown • Age 45 • Restaurant sales

Lives with Hyunjung Kim (wife), Evelyn (9) and Amy (5)

I'm an immigrant here, and I came here when most of my cultural identity, my values were set. However, my children, you know, they are American and they will, you know, grow up learning American values and American ways of life.
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“And I think for me, the biggest struggle is... I mean, because also I want them to retain a part of their Korean identity, but also I want them to grow up as Americans.”
About Parenting, Unfiltered
  • We gave point-and-shoot film cameras to 12 Southern California parents of young children and invited them to document their lives in the Fall of 2019.

  • Join this group of families, from South Los Angeles to the San Fernando Valley and San Bernardino, as they show us what parenting really looks like, through their eyes.

Participatory Parent Photo Project:  Wooyong
(Wooyong Choi for LAist)

“I took this photo when I took my younger child to school... They say that, you know, kids prefer their moms. But on this one occasion, because I spend time with them and I'm alone with them, they open up to me. And, you know, this is one of the most precious times I spend with my daughter.”

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“My wife and I went out around all the other schools in the area and felt like the other ones were very academically focused and rigorous, whereas this school still gave the children a little more freedom, a little leeway to run around and have fun.”

Right about now it's time for them to actually, you know, get interested in studying. And I felt like giving them our own space to practice.

“I think the most important thing in life really is to do what you enjoy most. Now, that being said, that's not always the case, you know. So that, that's why now I think you should not only do what you love, but also what you're good at. And, you know, ideally, you want to find something that can be both.

“I want them to be whatever they really want to be, because I never had the opportunity for me to start that early, to explore what I can do.”
Participatory Parent Photo Project:  Wooyong
( Wooyong Choi for LAist)

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“I think it's important for a person to have faith in something regardless of religion. I've been to a few churches at different denominations... Catholic Church (is) the church that fits me the best and for my family as well. I think that is important for a person if they stray away somewhere, it's important for them to have somewhere they can come back to.”

“This is Amy’s birthday. At her school...She really wanted to invite her friends back home. But, you know, I said the house is a little cramped. Maybe next time.

“My children, as they grow older, they'll still face moments where it is just difficult for them and them alone to process. And I think it is important for me and my wife to be there to, you know, if there is something that they don't really know, then they could ask us. And, you know, we might not even have all the answers. But, you know, we don't know everything, but at least we can...we have, you know, the wisdom of age and the life experience that we had, you know, and we can confer as a family and between us and to give us the answer that they need. And hopefully that'll make their life a little easier.”

Participatory Parent Photo Project:  Wooyong
( Wooyong Choi for LAist)

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“When I was young, playing outdoors is really a big part of my childhood memories. Going outside and you know, catching grasshoppers or seeing snakes, and foraging chestnuts. And nowadays, most kids are, when they're outside, they're always on their phones or iPads or watching YouTube. And, part of me does accept, you know, there is a generational gap and it is inevitable.”

That's why actually even now I try to spend as a family, me and my children, to spend time outdoors.
Participatory Parent Photo Project:  Wooyong
( Wooyong Choi for LAist)

“I’m working, you know, from home and I’m on the computer all day (now). I think the children... previously they had a kind of an air of mystique about what he did about his job and they thought that I was doing was kind of, going outside and doing these amazing things. And now that, they're seeing me indoors and like, ‘Oh, he's just sitting in front of a computer all day.’”
Participatory Parent Photo Project:  Wooyong
( Wooyong Choi for LAist)

“They asked me, ‘When we can go camping? When can we go camping?’ After corona.

“So, you know, I make little space for them to... pretend like we're outside and, set up a small tent, stay in there.

“I like to enjoy the time being with them because, when this time is over, I'm not gonna have the same time as this, like 24/7 I stay with them.

“I think [it] definitely led me to re-examine my, my approach towards parenting and my attitude towards children. This is my first ever time raising children and this kind of exposure and this time has given me to be more sensitive towards their emotions and how I approach their struggles.”

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