Korean American Day 2023


Korean American Day 2023

In honor of Korean American Day, we spoke with Film student Kevin Jin Kwan Kim, who captures the journey of countless Korean immigrants embracing "American" names in his short film “Daniel ‘Jun Ho’ Lee.”

JANUARY 13, 2023

When Jennie was 12 years old, her family emigrated from South Korea to Southern California. Like many Korean immigrants, she and her brother were tasked with choosing “American” names—혜정 (Hye-Jung) became Jennie and 영준 (Young-Jun) became Kevin.


Film student Kevin Jin Kwan Kim has a similar story to Jennie’s—and depicts it excellently through his short film “Daniel ‘Jun Ho’ Lee.” The film follows “a 1.5-generation Korean-Canadian boy as his name changes from his birth-given name after immigrating to Canada.”

Credits: Director @kev.jkk, Producer @nastya_itkina, 1st AD @nastasjasedi, DP @azlflrs, 1st AC @vicente.v.h, 2nd AC @bernininingo, Gaffer @trackingzach, Grip @ivar.k.s, Swing @elaine_yanyy, PD @rikcaleray, Set Dec @sharons.neverland, Costumes/Scripty @sheeeebang, Sound Mixer @matildalauze, Colourist @pat.gong, Sound Editor, @ayanamadi, Editor @kev.jkk


Q&A with Kevin

Kinn: Tell us about your origin story. How old were you when you came to North America? What do you remember about that experience?

Kevin: I was born in Korea and moved to Prince Edward Island when I was 7 years old. The story depicted in the film is pretty much exactly what I went through. On the first day of school, the teacher called me Kevin and I had no idea that was me. Being so young, I adapted very quickly to the new country and my new name. However, I soon moved to Vancouver and became a teen and I was suddenly exposed to so much of my own culture again as there's a big Korean community here. It really made me reflect on who I was, what my name meant, and eventually began accepting and learning about my own culture again after straying away from it for all my youth. I'm still learning and adopting, but I have felt much more fulfilled about who I am and what I am doing after I have started exploring this side of myself.

Kinn: Can you tell us a bit about what inspired you to create this film?

Kevin: I wanted to create this film because it's a story millions around the world can relate to. Our name is significant and often overlooked as we immigrate and assimilate into western culture. I wanted to bring this story to light and hope that people will rethink about replacing their birth-given names.

Kinn: In the film, the protagonist ‘Jun Ho’ becomes Daniel. What is your Korean name? 

Kevin: I used "Daniel 'Jun Ho' Lee" because each of those names are very commonly used so I thought others would be able to relate to it better. My own name is "Kevin 'Jin Kwan' Kim" or 김진관.

Kinn: How did you choose your western name, Kevin?

Kevin: I wanted to include this in the film but didn't fit in the timeframe. One random afternoon my aunt put a website in front of me with a list of English names and their meanings. I didn't really understand or care about those names (I was 6) and chose Kevin because it meant "a strong man" and  thought it sounded cool. Took me maybe 5-minutes to choose.