Moon is the Human Resources Generalist in KYCC’s administrative office. Born and raised in Koreatown, she was an active member of KYCC’s youth programs as an Elementary Tutorial Program volunteer, TEAM high school program participant and Summer Day Camp counselor.
Where is your hometown?
Here. Koreatown. I was born here and haven’t moved from the same apartment I’ve always lived in, near Los Angeles City College on the edge of Koreatown. I only moved for college, but I came back. I live with my mom and older sister. My sister has also been here for most of her life. My parents came to the U.S. in the early ’80s. They came [to L.A.] first and, after my sister was born, they lived in Delaware for about two years. Then they drove back and basically stayed here forever.
Do you live or work in K-Town?
I started volunteering at KYCC in 10th Grade while attending John Marshall High School. My friend was volunteering in the Elementary Tutorial Program, and she introduced me to KYCC. That’s how I first joined.
After graduating from college, I came back home to L.A. I thought about pursuing nursing, but I had to take part-time classes on the side and I needed a job. At the time, I was offered a part-time position in KYCC’s Clinical Services. Along the line, I decided I wasn’t going to pursue nursing and I started working part-time in both the clinical and administrative office. Eventually, I was offered a full-time position in HR.
My position is to be a bridge between the agency and staff. I support the staff to focus on their work better because they’re the ones who are face-to-face with the community.
Staff comes to HR for a lot of different reasons. The number one thing we offer is confidentiality, so when staff does come to us, it can be very personal. Life happens, whether it be a death, sickness, financial reasons or just something with their family. I think of the HR room as a safe space. When a staff member is busy with things outside of work and needs a place to breathe in between, they can come to us for resources or emotional support. Sometimes they need a place to let go to be able to gather themselves to continue their work.
I like working at KYCC because the staff likes what they do and it shows in their work. It shows in the numbers too, in terms of how we serve the community. I see how people do their work and how thoughtful they are in the process.
I lucked out having this place as my first real job. It’s a good company in terms of its goals and foundation. Stories from the clients and staff are so real—there’s no sugarcoating any of the issues. I learned a lot about what problems there are and how common they are. We’re all going through the same things really. You can’t do this job if you don’t care about the staff and the person who comes into the office to talk to you.
There is value and humanity in every person. KYCC has shown me how to be genuine and that every person matters.
What are your thoughts on Koreatown?
It’s a lot more crowded and diverse. When I talk about the changes in Koreatown, I always talk about the population. I notice it in the heart of K-Town. There’s traffic. And when you go into any restaurant, it’s packed. More people are coming here and there are a lot more ethnicities. I don’t go out on Saturdays because I know it’s going to be crowded.
Even at Han Bat Sul Lung Tang, there can be a huge wait—a line out the door. Han Bat is what I grew up with. I also grew up going to KTP every Sunday to eat lunch. That was the go-to if you went to church. You go to service and go to the KTP Food Court to eat lunch with family. Sometimes we’ll still go, but it’s always crowded.
I’m not mad, but it’s a mixture of feelings for me.
Also, I think the heart of K-Town has become safer, but there are still incidents and crime in my neighborhood. Someone got killed a couple of weeks ago.
Where is your favorite place in Koreatown?
Denny’s next to the 101. We always get the sampler with onion rings, chicken strips and mozzarella cheese sticks. Even to this day, my mom goes there with her friends. Growing up we used to go there often. One time, when I was younger, my mom was meeting someone there and left me and my sister at home. This was before we had cellphones. It was past 10 p.m. and my sister and I were getting really worried.
For us, it was a huge adventure to walk to Denny’s. It’s across the bridge and the area does not feel safe. So we disguised ourselves as big men by wearing oversized baggy clothes and went to find our mom. My thought was, if there’s a crazy person, be crazier.
There’s always been a battle among Koreans: IHOP vs Denny’s. But I never went to IHOP until senior year of high school!