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From mythical turtles to moon spirits: the legends behind Chuseok and Mid-Autumn Festival

Today, on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, many East and Southeast Asian families are gathering for a millennia-old holiday celebrating the harvest season. In Korea, festivities for Chuseok, or Korean Thanksgiving, began yesterday. In China, lanterns have lit up the skies for the Mid-Autumn Festival, or the Mooncake Festival. Both have their own unique set of traditions that are observed today that trace back as early as the first century. 

While similar in the sense that these holidays bring families together and celebrate love, good fortune and gratitude, a deeper dive into their origins reveal individual tales of heroism and mysterious events that highlight the countries’ rich histories. 

Meet Sohn Kee-chung, the Korean Olympian forced to represent the Japanese empire

Korean Olympian Sohn Kee-chung had to represent Japan

Sohn Kee-chung, an ethnic Korean marathon runner, is a poignant reminder of his country’s dark past. His record-breaking performance in the 1936 Berlin Games was widely celebrated, but there was one caveat to those looking on at his success from home — Sohn had no choice but to represent the Japanese empire. 

Born in 1912, just two years after Japan’s annexation of Korea, Sohn had only ever known living under colonial rule when he entered the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Still, a dedicated nationalist, he signed the roster for the Games with his Korean name along with a small drawing of the Korean flag. Officially, he was recognized as a member of the Japanese delegation with the romanized Japanese name “Son Kitei.” To this day, Sohn is listed on the official Olympics website with these attributes. 

First Asian American curve model for SI Yumi Nu speaks out about fatphobia in Asian culture

Yumi Nu

Yumi Nu, who recently became the first Asian American curve model for Sports Illustrated, has spoken out about fatphobia, revealing how bullies used to call her “Godzilla” and “Yao Ming.”

On representation: Speaking to NBC Asian America about her cover feature, Nu explained how as a child there was hardly any representation of women who looked like her. Among the few Asian American women in the media, she noted that there wasn’t any diversity with respect to their sizes. 

Meet the Filipino American Civil Rights Icon Who Was Forgotten By History

Larry Itliong

Larry Itliong dreamed of becoming a lawyer when he immigrated to the United States as a teen in 1929. However, the circumstances of being a Filipino American worker at the time would eventually lead him to a higher calling.

Itliong started young in leading the fight for migrants’ labor rights during a tumultuous period in America, according to the Smithsonian. While a growing number of people recognize him now as a key figure of the Asian American movement, many are still unfamiliar with his story.

Young People in China Are ‘Lying Flat’ to Beat Societal Pressure

lying flat

Young adults in China have recently embarked on a new trend called “tang ping,” the supposed antidote to the societal pressures of finding a good job and clocking in long hours.

In essence, “tang ping” (躺平), which literally translates to “lie flat,” is a deliberate rejection of the notorious rat race — a movement that does not advocate laziness but “having different choices,” as some put it.

Before Brown v. Board of Education, These Chinese American Parents Fought for Desegregation in 1880s SF

Tape v. Hurley

A Chinese American family from San Francisco won a lawsuit in the 1880s after the eldest daughter was denied admittance to an all-white school, creating a vital civil rights case for Asian families in America. 

Barred from an education: Joseph and Mary Tape, who had both immigrated to the U.S. at a young age, were not allowed to enroll their 8-year-old daughter, Mamie, in Spring Valley Primary School in September 1884 because she was of Chinese descent.

Meet Patricia Chin, the Jamaican Woman Who Escaped Political Violence and Helped Bring Reggae to the World

reggae

Patricia Chin, also known as Miss Pat, is an influential figure in the reggae community and the woman who helped popularize the genre in the United States and around the world.

How it all started: Miss Pat’s journey to reggae began when she and her late husband Vincent “Randy” Chin opened their music store called Randy’s Records in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1958, where they sold jukebox records, according to Rootfire.

When Hordes of Angry White Men Attacked South Asians for ‘Stealing Jobs’ in Washington

Bellingham

On Sept. 4, 1907, about 500 white men attacked the homes of South Asian workers in Bellingham, Washington, convinced the immigrants were taking over jobs at the local lumber mills.

Why this matters: The incident, known as Bellingham’s “anti-Hindu” riots, is a dark chapter in Asian American history in which law enforcement allegedly cooperated with racists under the guise of “protecting” immigrants.

Filipino Sailors Created the First Asian American Settlement in Louisiana

Filipino fishermen

The first permanent Asian American settlement was a village in 18th-century Louisiana where Filipino fishermen resided.

What was Saint Malo: The Manilamen were part of a group of people who created the first Filipino and Asian American settlement in North America, according to HistoryTheir settlement — named after Juan San Maló — was a fishing village along the shores of Louisiana’s Lake Borgne.