May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, and part of DHG’s focus on inclusion and diversity is highlighting the lives of our people. We connected with Kisik Park who is a Senior Associate on the DHG Tax team in our Norfolk office. Kisik was born in Korea and moved to the U.S. when he was 13 years old. He shares about his heritage and the importance of recognizing various cultural perspectives.
In what ways does your family celebrate your Korean heritage?
Everything my family and I do at home still incorporates our Korean heritage. Some things may be a little Americanized, but we live life like we did in Korea for the most part. We celebrate Korean holidays with friends and family. There are two main holidays – New Year’s Eve and the Korean Thanksgiving which both follow the lunar calendar.
For New Year’s Eve, we make tteoguk which is a delicious rice cake soup and for the Korean Thanksgiving meal, we make a dumpling rice cake called songpyeon. During these holidays, we enjoy conversation and fellowship with family and friends. The Virginia Beach Korean community is fairly small, so it almost creates that small world feel when we get together.
I keep in touch with family and friends who live in Korea, mostly via the internet but in the past, I had to call or send letters. My Korean heritage is very important to me and really, it’s just how I live day to day.
What part of your heritage can you share with your friends and colleagues that they may not know?
In Korea, we have a cultural concept called jeong that is basically a feeling of affection and a tight bond we share toward those who have the same cultural background. That emotion or innate human connection we feel is something we share in Korean culture.
Why do you think it’s important for DHG to build awareness and recognize celebration months like this one?
We live in a very multicultural society right now. With so many Korean generations living in the U.S., it’s important to keep our cultural heritage in everyday life. I see the value in everyone recognizing people’s differences and trying to accept those with various cultural backgrounds for who they are. This benefits everyone and allows us to share and learn from our cultural differences.
As you meet with clients or visit prospective clients, how is inclusion and diversity an important part of our client experience?
I have several Asian clients and as we’ve gotten to know each other better, it’s amazing that we share many common cultural beliefs even if they are from different countries. Having that cultural bond helps us form an even stronger relationship. I have one client that used to own a dental practice, and we communicate everything in Korean. I think it’s been valuable to bring my perspective into the conversations, and it helps me provide clients a good experience.
What are some ways DHG and its leaders support you as you grow in your career?
DHG is doing a great job to support our people, and everyone is treated the same regardless of our cultural backgrounds and heritages. I’ve been at the firm for a little more than 3 years and really value the fact the DHG is supportive of my career growth and the personal time I like to share with family and friends.