Personal Statement From Yangsook Choi
“I came to America to finally pursue my dream as an artist at the age of 24. My determination
was clear; no matter what I did I would use my profession as a channel to somehow connect to children. My heart was hardened by the injustices towards children by the rules made by self centered grown ups. I felt I needed to do something about it when I grew up. But I simply never expected myself to work this directly for children.” (Choi 2004)
v Yangsook grew up in Seoul, Korea.
v Dreams while growing up were to be the first female heavy metal singer giving Korea a strong female role model
or to be a biologist which would “feed my curiosity in life”. (Choi 2004)
v Her mother and father did not encourage art. Her mother said “art
would bring an ambiguous future.” (Choi 2004)
v She worked as a flight attendant for Cathay Pacific Airlines.
v She came to New York in 1991.
v She received a full scholarship and attended Kendall College of Art and Design in Michigan.
v She originally studied interior design but changed her major to illustration.
She graduated in 1993.
v She moved to New York City in 1993.
v She received her MFA (Masters in Fine Arts) from the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
v She had her first book contract by the time she graduated art school.
v Peter Sis (a children’s author/illustrator) became her advisor on her thesis project which evolved into her first
book titled, The Sun Girl and the Moon Boy, a Korean folktale published in 1997.
v The publisher requested Yangsook change her first book's story line to make it more marketable. She says, “I didn’t want to change something that’s Korean-it’s like changing the
nature of Korean history, culture and emotions”. (Lim)
v She resides in New York City.
v She dedicates herself to telling stories of people and conventions of Asian origin.
v She has written and illustrated 3 books and has collaborated with many authors as an illustrator.
v Each syllable in a Korean name has a meaning. ‘Yang’ means
sweet and nice, ‘sook’ means clear and pure, and ‘Choi’ means high.
v Her American name is Rachel.
v She feels that her Korean background influences her stories. Yangsook says,
“in the children’s book market, my Korean culture and background are very unique and different” (Hong 2002).
v To write for children the author must have a relationship and communication with kids.
Yangsook believes the message needs to be positive with the power to enhance their lives.
v As an author, she keeps an idea notebook and she reads.
v Sometimes, she creates the visual story before the words.
v She sees herself branching out from multiculturalism to fantasy.
v She would like her books to be translated and published for Korean readers who have traditionally read only folk tales,
classical stories and comic books.
v She writes following a simple credo: “I don’t write for children as an adult, I write for children as a
child myself.” (Lim)
v Honors include International Reading Association Children’s Book Award, the Parents Choice Silver Honor, and the
Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award.