Feature: Michael Jung Roach
I’m Michael Jung Roach—or at least that’s my legal American name given to me by my loving parents (shout outs to my mom and dad if they’re reading this, love you two).
My Korean given at birth is (depending on which Romanization you look at) Jung Sung-Soo – 정성수, and I absolutely love both names.
Fun fact – I’ve totally adjusted to being called my Korean name now that I live in Korea!
Where were you born and raised?
I was raised my whole life in the Midwest—specifically the Crossroads of America, the state of Indiana and grew up in a small town called Plymouth. I lived there my whole childhood/teenage years before doing big time University life in Bloomington, Indiana. It was there I graduated from Indiana University (HOO-HOO-HOO-HOOSIERS) with a degree in English.
Basically I was surrounded by corn and farms.
My only entertainment in Plymouth was a Wal-Mart, a drive-in movie theater (AWESOME), a normal movie theater, and maybe the occasional restaurant. I’ll tell you it’s awfully fun being raised in a community where you’re the ONLY Korean let alone East Asian ha!
At least everyone remembers you in school.
For real though, I love Plymouth and am grateful to have been a part of the community there—it’s a wonderful place to raise kids, that’s a fact. More on Plymouth, Indiana !
OK, so where do you live NOW?
Currently I am residing in Seoul, South Korea and I feel as though God has planted me here for the rest of my life…or at least a very, very long time.
America you had me for twenty-some odd years so it’s only fair that my birth country gets to bond with me too.
Great, so you’re Korean ethnically. Do you associate with Koreans? Got any K-Homies?
Well, truth be told I never had any Koreans to hang out with in Plymouth because…let’s be frank, I was it.
If you consider playing video games by yourself as a Korean “hanging out” with an ethnic Korean, then yes, I TOTALLY did.
In all seriousness, even in college I only knew really one other ethnic Korean who I would consistently see and chill with (shout out to him, JR, you know who you are).
Nowadays, since I live in Korea, I don’t really hang out much with anyone BUT Koreans, and I am very much liking that right now.
I love all people though, just throwing that out there. It was a lonely, Korean-less childhood unfortunately.
So do you LOVE Korean culture or are you all about that ‘MURICA!?
I in fact do absolutely love Korean culture. Since I was little I always was pretty interested in my heritage,mostly because I was trying to find my identity as a Korean-American. Living here I feel so…at home, as strange as that sounds, and even the second I got off the plane I knew I belonged here. I could go on, but I digress.
I also love my American roots as well, and I firmly believe there are positives and negatives to both cultures, and that it’s important to weigh the two objectively and appreciate what God’s given me. And yes, I do listen to K-Pop and K-Hip Hop.
Have you heard about the Korean diaspora?
Yup, I have, and that’s precisely why I’m writing this. However, I’m not QUITE sure what generation I am as a Kyopo. I guess 1.75 because I was adopted when I was months old? I don’t know.
So what are you passionate about?
I am absolutely passionate and devoted to being a B-Boy, or “breaker”, or in more mainstream media terms a “break dancer”. A primary reason I feel God moved me back home to Korea is to pursue a career in being a full-time pro B-Boy.
As hard as that sounds, so far I’ve been blessed with a lot of opportunities. It’s pretty much my life—I think about it, eat it, and sleep it.
So any other passions?
My faith in Christ and being a fully-devoted, unashamed and convicted Christian is actually my first passion. In the United States throughout high school and into college I did youth ministry work, and often times even here I find myself counselling others spiritually as a man of Christ. That’s why I talk about God just as much as I talk about my breaking career ha ha! I’m not going to bash you over the head with bible verses or slander you—that’s not what we as Christians are supposed to be about anyway, but yeah, I’m a big fan of the Big Man Upstairs and am eternally grateful to Him for my life.
Random! Favourite food!
Easy. KIMBAP. I could eat that all day, every day. If you haven’t eaten kimbap, you’re not really living. ( I hear you Mike !)
Did you ever visit South Korea before and how has life been there so far?
I never visited my roots prior to about a year ago when I first moved here. Life here has been great actually. Prior to coming I read blogs and articles about kyopos getting “hate treatment” and being looked down on—lots of negative feelings and warning signs of “when you come here, look out”.
However I’ve felt quite the opposite; I’ve had ahjussis and ajummas tell me that I belong here, and that I’m one of them. I’ve even had quite a few say “welcome home”, which always hits me right in the heart.
My age group has also been great to socialize with—sure, I do get the occasional joke or comment of “well you’re not KOREAN-KOREAN yet”, but really to all of us that comes with fluency in the language. I say that only because everyone says, “you’re totally Korean before you open your mouth. No one knows otherwise!”
Yo, what do you think about the Korean Diaspora Project?
I think it’s absolutely wonderful and a great opportunity for like-minded individuals to get inspired and get to network with others that share an invisible but very tangible bond in being a kyopo. I hope it gets even stronger and I wish more than the best for the project!!
Alright, alright, you talk a lot. Anything else to add?
I got you, I got you. I’d just like to tell kyopos everywhere to continue pursuing their passions and dreams fervently, with reckless abandon. Such is the Korean way—it’s in our blood, whether you know it or not!
Furthermore, don’t be ashamed of who and what you are; people might not understand it, but a lot of us do, and for that, we’re all in this together. Be grateful to God that you are what you are and be thankful that you are no one but YOURSELF.
If you want to stalk me…I mean get to know me better, or generally be friends, here are my social network pages:
Facebook: facebook.com/mikejroach [MESSAGE ME FIRST PLEASE]
YouTube: youtube.com/user/dancermikeroach [WARNING OLD FOOTAGE WILL BE UPDATED SOON]
Thanks Mike, and hope you keep us posted on what you’re up to !
( If you’d like to be featured, just drop us a line on our contact page here. )