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Dr. Rhee’s Kimtschi Shop: My Conversation With kate hers, the Kimtschi sister

Update: Dr. Rhee’s Kimtschi Shop reached its goal!  From kate and hanjo:

Update #4: Wir haben es geschafft! We did it!

Liebe Kimtschi Freunde,

We made it to our goal – thanks for making it happen!
We are surprised to have reached the goal with 24 days to spare – now we hope to raise a bit over the amount so that we can start to plan our next shop in another city.

Der frühe Vogel fängt den Wurm. Dem Vormarsch des Kimtschi steht nun nichts mehr im Weg.


kate + hanjo


Right now my young kids think I’m cool. In a few years they’ll think I’m a dork. And if they ever meet kate hers, they’ll realize that I’m a massive dork in comparison…

Land of Gazillion Adoptees: How many MN adoptees do you think you’ve interacted with in your life?

kate: Probably at least a hundred – having met through the years in Minneapolis, Korea, at KAAN and IKAA conferences. I just checked my address book and I have 20 friends who are adopted from Korea who currently live in Minnesota.

Land of Gazillion Adoptees: (What’s with these KAD’s from MN? They’re everywhere…) What are you up to in Germany and why did you move there?

kate: I came to Berlin in 2009 as a DAAD scholar to conduct research and continue my artistic practice. Berlin is a great place to be an artist.

Land of Gazillion Adoptees: Nice. You have a number of projects you’re working on. Can you talk about your latest and greatest?

kate: My newest project is an interactive art project and collaboration with my partner, Hanjo Rhee, a second generation Korean-German scientist. The project is called Dr. Rhee’s Kimtschi Shop, and it seeks to investigate cultural consumption, explore how authentic culture is evaluated, and question the function of a national treasure, all through food, bartering, and audience assessment.

This project seeks to dismantle outdated and essentialist notions of a fixed Korean identity – while celebrating cultural tolerance and engaging conversations of multiculturalism in Berlin – especially due to the comments that Angela Merkel said in 2010 that Germany’s attempts to create a multicultural society has “utterly failed” and the heated debate concerning Thilo Sarrazin’s book, “Germany does away with itself.”

Actually, I agree with Merkel that Multiculturalism is failing in Germany, but I found her claims premature and resigned as if its a waste of time to keep trying to improve conditions. Even in the United States with its long history of immigration, civil rights movement, and identity politics movement in the 90’s, we still are struggling with multiculturalism as a political movement because minority ethnic groups, gays and lesbians, women, and religious groups are still discriminated against and the dominant culture can also be intolerant of difference.

The failure explanation that because immigrants do not integrate and do not learn German is too simple – what about it also being the responsibility of the dominant cultural group – ethnic Germans – for multiculturalism to succeed? Real multiculturalism is “the advocacy of extending equitable status to distinct ethnic and religious groups without promoting any specific ethnic, religious, and/or cultural community values as central.” And most interestingly, given the huge numbers of Americans (which by the way – I mean the white Americans since the majority of Germans do not consider me truly American) immigrating to Berlin – more than half of which don’t learn German, no one complains about them. Sounds kind of racist to me.

Land of Gazillion Adoptees: Where can folks go to find more information?

kate: The Dr. Rhee’s Kimtschi Shop project is currently launched on Kickstarter to raise the funding we need to carry out the piece. Watch the 3 min. 44 sec. video if you have a moment and international donations are accepted! I appeal to the Korean community to help a Kimtschi sister out and help us get this project off the ground! And of course my website is constantly being updated:

Land of Gazillion Adoptees: I’m looking forward to my Dr. Rhee’s Kimtschi full color photo step by step Baechu Kimtschi recipe and a Dr. Rhee Lab Brand Jar Label…

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