Asian Woman by Tanya Ko Hong


“Asian Woman” by Tanya Ko Hong


“Isn’t it about time Chosǒn (Korean) women lived like humans?” – Na Hye-sok


This is what you do with your life:


Take what your father gives you

food, care, shelter

Learn to be a wife

cook, sew, maintain your household

Obey orders, serve your family, command



This is what you do with your life:


Take what your husband gives you

food, care, shelter

Bury the jealousy of his concubines

be their big sister

Bear sons or you are useless

raise them to be fine young men

never take your eyes off them

Never tempt a lover


This is what you do with your life:


Take what your sons give you

food, care, shelter

make your son’s wives obey

Demand your son’s wives bear sons


This is what you do with your life:


Teach your daughters:

           to be like a song


three years deaf

           three years blind

                     three years mute



           them to be

                     like you



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Tanya Ko Hong’s artist statement: My art is a border, a threshold between English and Korean, voice and voiceless, secrets and truth, dark and light. I came from South Korea, where as a woman I was taught to be submissive, silent. Poetry was forbidden, but absolutely essential. Living in Los Angeles, I’ve learned what it means to use my voice. My work engages creatively and critically with the role of women and diaspora. My works says, I am here and won’t be silent. My warm hands melt the walls of marginalization. I stand at the shoreline, collect the shells of our untold stories. I am here to bring our sisters to the lighthouse. We will support and create our art in freedom.–Tanya Ko Hong (고현혜)

Author: A Room of Her Own

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