WBEZ | Korean http://www.wbez.org/tags/korean Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Nail salon workers to get access to Asian language licensing exams http://www.wbez.org/news/nail-salon-workers-get-access-asian-language-licensing-exams-109099 <p><p>It&rsquo;s no surprise to walk into a nail salon and find mostly Asian staff. But despite a concentration of Vietnamese, Korean and Chinese professionals in the cosmetology and nail technology industries, Illinois has never offered the licensing exams in Asian languages. Now the state is looking to change that.</p><p>&ldquo;You know why I opened a cosmetology school in Chinatown?&rdquo; said Mora Zheng, owner of the Elle International Beauty Academy in Chinatown. &ldquo;Because I just want to let more Chinese people work legally, have good benefits, have a good salary.&rdquo;</p><p>As a small group of students sat huddled around a table in a nearby room, applying fake nail tips to plastic mannequin hands, Zheng explained that jobs in the beauty industry are popular with Asian immigrants because the schooling only takes a few months. She said that allows them to start earning money quickly. According to the <a href="http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes395092.htm" target="_blank">Bureau of Labor Statistics</a>, average yearly income for manicurists and pedicurists in Illinois is $26,720.</p><p>But Zheng said she&rsquo;s noticed a disturbing trend: lots of students finish school, but don&rsquo;t get licensed to practice.</p><p>&ldquo;Some people, they (are) scared (of the) English written examination,&rdquo; said Zheng, referring to the licensing exam administered by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re scared to fail.&rdquo;</p><p>The <a href="http://www.idfpr.com/profs/info/NailTech.asp" target="_blank">IDFPR</a> offers the cosmetology and nail technician licensing exams in English and Spanish. Zheng said it&rsquo;s time to add Chinese, because otherwise, qualified professionals end up working illegally in nail salons, and they are not paid fair wages.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Nail%20tech%20exam%203.JPG" style="height: 201px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Most of the students at the Botanic School of Nail Technology on Chicago’s North Side are native speakers of Vietnamese, Korean, or Chinese. School owner Rosemary Hyunh has crafted a bilingual curriculum to help them pass the written licensing exam in English. (WBEZ/Jian Chung Lee)" />&ldquo;We shouldn&rsquo;t have to work harder if there&rsquo;s no rational basis for the exams to only be in English,&rdquo; said Anne Shaw, a lawyer and advocate for Chicago&rsquo;s Chinese-American community. Zheng enlisted Shaw&rsquo;s support when she started to cast around for allies to bring the issue to the state&rsquo;s attention. Shaw said the fact that the exam is already offered in Spanish shows that the state does not deem English to be an essential skill for the profession.</p><p>Shaw believes expanding language access to the licensing exams will have far-ranging, positive effects. She argued that not only would it make it easier for immigrants to earn an honest living, but that the overall state economy would benefit by easing the way for small business owners.</p><p>Still, Shaw was surprised to learn from Zheng that the licensing exams weren&rsquo;t already offered in Asian languages.</p><p>&ldquo;You know, I really don&rsquo;t believe there was any intent to discriminate,&rdquo; Shaw said. &ldquo;This is one of the downsides of not having someone that&rsquo;s elected that has an Asian-American background. We have zero state legislators that are Asian-American.&rdquo;</p><p>But Shaw and Zheng found an ally in the office Governor Pat Quinn with his appointment of Theresa Mah. Mah is a longtime activist and organizer in Chicago who serves as Gov. Quinn&rsquo;s chief liaison to the Asian-American community. The IDFPR will soon offer the cosmetology licensing exam in Chinese, and plans to offer translations of the nail technician licensing exam in Korean and Vietnamese. According to <a href="http://files.nailsmag.com/Market-Research/NAILSbb12-13stats.pdf" target="_blank">Nails Magazine</a>, Illinois is among the ten states with the largest number of Vietnamese nail technicians.</p><p>But some argue that translating the licensing exams could harm the industry.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Nail%20tech%20exam%202.JPG" style="float: left; height: 225px; width: 300px;" title="Mora Zheng, owner of the Elle International Beauty Academy in Chinatown, says many educated nail technicians work without licenses because they fear they will fail the English written exam. She is pushing to have the exam translated into Chinese. (WBEZ/Odette Yousef)" />&ldquo;I really think it shouldn&rsquo;t be translated,&rdquo; said Rosemary Hyunh, owner of the Botanic School of Nail Technology on Chicago&rsquo;s North Side. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s just going to be too many nail salons,&rdquo; she explained. Hyunh, a Vietnamese-American raised in Chicago&rsquo;s Argyle Street neighborhood, said her views are shaped by her family&rsquo;s experience in the nail industry.</p><p>Hyunh said some of her relatives immigrated two decades ago to California, where they had successful nail shops. But she said their fortunes changed once California began offering its written manicurist exam in Vietnamese in 1996.</p><p>&ldquo;It got exploded so big over there that the prices started dropping,&rdquo; said Hyunh. &ldquo;So they had to find new states to start this whole new nail industry again.&rdquo; Hyunh said her aunts and uncles fled California to start new businesses in Chicago, a relatively unsaturated market.</p><p>Could something similar happen here? Chicago <a href="http://docs.chicityclerk.com/journal/2009/may13_2009/may13_2009_Zoning.pdf" target="_blank">zoning laws</a> prohibit personal service establishments, including nail salons, to locate within 1000 feet of each other. But Mora Zheng says even if competition heats up, that&rsquo;s no reason not to translate the tests. She tells her students if they do their best, they&rsquo;ll be fine.</p><p>&ldquo;Prepare yourself well, (and) you don&rsquo;t need to worry about others,&rdquo; Zheng declared. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s why I tell my students, &lsquo;in your heart, always sunshine.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Hyunh said even though most of her students don&rsquo;t speak English as a native language, she&rsquo;s crafted a bilingual curriculum that helps them pass the licensing exams in English. She understands that translating the tests could help some immigrants get on their feet faster, but Hyunh said she won&rsquo;t be changing her teaching methods.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud" target="_blank">@WBEZOutLoud</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 06 Nov 2013 17:38:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/nail-salon-workers-get-access-asian-language-licensing-exams-109099 King me: my inaugural visit to the Korean spa http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-04/king-me-my-inaugural-visit-korean-spa-106693 <p><p dir="ltr" id="internal-source-marker_0.4246171511994621"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1077252262_y4XkDwTK_4.jpg" style="float: right; height: 212px; width: 300px;" title="" />No big deal. It&rsquo;s 9:45 on a Tuesday night and I&rsquo;m just laying, completely naked, on a massage table in a line of other massage tables also covered by other completely nude women, none of whom I know.</p><p dir="ltr">Still more nude women are enjoying the sauna and hot tubs nearby and some others are sitting on white plastic stools, showering. A Korean woman who I estimate to be about 55 or 60 years old, wearing a black bra and panties, is scrubbing my body vigorously with what feels like a brillo pad. She&rsquo;s scrubbing behind my ears, she&rsquo;s scrubbing my breasts, she&rsquo;s scrubbing my belly and she&rsquo;s got my butt, too.</p><p dir="ltr">I often hear a loud cupped slap as one of the nude women down the line from me gets popped with the hand of the underpantsed woman working her. Occasionally I am doused with a few buckets of hot water to wash away the threads of dead skin that have been exfoliated.</p><p dir="ltr">I&rsquo;m covered with a towel but not in any sort of modest way: my breasts will be covered while my crotch lays bare, or just one thigh will be covered. The scrubbing feels raw and hurts but then the second the woman moves onto the next part of my body, I miss the scrubbing, in a strange way. The woman&rsquo;s name, I can see from the sign hung near the table, is Linda. Linda is also the name of my old boss so it&rsquo;s funny to imagine her doing this job. I think she&rsquo;d be strangely good at it.</p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1077252262_bMNfatYi_l3.jpg" style="float: left; height: 233px; width: 300px;" title="" />By the end of the event, after Linda had flipped me around like a seal and slathered me with baby oil and given me a satisfyingly intense shampoo and conditioner, I felt utterly defeated. But in a good way!</p><p dir="ltr">This was my first experience at <a href="http://www.kingspa.com/c-about.php">King Spa</a>, the mega Korean spa over in Niles, Illinois. I still can&rsquo;t quite wrap my brain around it, because the spa reminds me of Las Vegas, except I&rsquo;ve never been to Las Vegas. It&rsquo;s also like a shopping mall, but one where you can walk around barefoot and sleep overnight. But I haven&rsquo;t actually been to one of those, either. It was also a lot like the baths I&rsquo;d been to in Hungary, only instead of feeling like I was in the 19th century, I felt like I was in the 22nd century. In a Korean version of Las Vegas. Do you get where I&rsquo;m coming from?</p><p dir="ltr">At King Spa, where my friend <a href="http://www.ericareid.com/">Erica</a> was my guide, we checked in and were given keys on wristbands that would serve as our de facto credit cards the entire experience. (It&#39;s sort of like the card you&rsquo;re given at FoodLife: you ring everything up on it and then pay when you&rsquo;re done.) We removed our shoes in the anteroom and then got naked in the ladies&rsquo;, where little colorful things are for sale that I couldn&rsquo;t adequately identify but some seemed to be massagers and some seemed to be little adorable slippers and hair ties.</p><p dir="ltr">It took me little while to get used to the full-on nudity. I&rsquo;m not <em>super</em> shy, but I am not so used to walking around nude in front of a lot of strange women that it comes to me naturally. My bod is not as red-hot as it once, believe it or not, was so I was a smidge self-conscious. But once I got over that, we had fun trying out the various lovely hot tubs and sauna.</p><p dir="ltr">I was tempted to try the sitz bath, just for fun, as it has many &ldquo;healing properties&rdquo; that benefit new moms like me but the process really just looked like someone ties a garbage bag around you from the neck down and lights incense near your crotch.</p><p dir="ltr">The phrase &ldquo;anal intake&rdquo; and the reassurance that it&rsquo;s &ldquo;mentioned in many ancient medical references&rdquo; didn&rsquo;t tempt me that much (Didn&rsquo;t ancient medical references also encourage tempting the uterus to leave the part of the body that it&rsquo;s bothering?)</p><p dir="ltr">One of my complaints about ladies&rsquo; day spas is that you are starved as you are pampered: the most you can ever expect to eat is a tiny cup of trail mix and you suspect that that mix is merely a test to see whether you have any willpower or are a big fat hog who doesn&rsquo;t deserve to get a massage. At King Spa, you actually get to eat. There&rsquo;s a restaurant with a wonderful array of Korean food, juices, ice cream, you name it. I went for the Bibimbap which included a big bowl of meat, veggies and egg with rice, kimchi, pickled radishes and other yummy stuff on the side. Erica got some shrimp dumplings.</p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1077252262_qXACTWGV_4.jpg" style="float: right; height: 233px; width: 300px;" title="" />After we ate, Erica showed me around some of the various saunas. &nbsp;I am not a big sauna person: sitting still in a very hot room doesn&rsquo;t do it for me, so I failed to truly take into appreciation all you can get from the gold sauna or the salt sauna or the amethyst sauna (&ldquo;They all have different healing properties,&rdquo; Erica explained. I gave her a suspicious look and she shrugged.)</p><p dir="ltr">They&rsquo;re basically like different theme rooms in a cheesy Wisconsin Dells hotel but in this case they&rsquo;re all incredibly hot and you lay on the floor in your standard-issue shorts and top (women get pink, men gray, kids yellow, and theirs are the cutest.)</p><p dir="ltr">One room is a gold pyramid, one looks like a magical cave, one looks like a regular cave, one is super hot, another super cold. There&rsquo;s something strangely exciting to me about the construct of a tiny house inside a larger, actual building, so even while I didn&rsquo;t particularly adore the sauna, just the prospect of all these little rooms to go and try was enjoyable.</p><p>The part that&rsquo;s most interesting, that I&rsquo;m trying to wrap my brain around, are the parts of the spa that seemingly have nothing to do with a spa. There&rsquo;s a meditation room, yes, but there&rsquo;s also a movie theater with a bunch of La-Z-Boy recliners in it, plus another room with a bunch of similar chairs in it with some flatscreen TVs where you can <em>spend the night</em>.</p><p>Did I mention it costs $25 to get into King Spa and that it&rsquo;s open 24 hours? Something doesn&rsquo;t quite add up to me about the fact that there is basically a hotel that you can stay at for $25 a night as long as you agree to wear their clothes and sleep in a cushy chair and then go sit naked in a hot tub for as long as you please.</p><p>I was relaxed by the time we decided to leave, thanks to the yummy food, the hot bath and Linda&#39;s pummeling, but not all my questions were answered.</p><p>I think I&rsquo;m going to have to go back a few more times to figure this all out. Maybe by then I will have gotten up the nerve to allow the wormwood steam sitz hip bath to let its water vapor &ldquo;reach inside the vagina&rdquo; and to try out a one-person jacuzzi that looks onto the main lounge of the spa. I just hope Linda is there to scrub me down again. I miss her already.</p></p> Thu, 18 Apr 2013 08:39:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-04/king-me-my-inaugural-visit-korean-spa-106693 Chicago, Cook County must offer ballots in a new language, but which one? http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-cook-county-must-offer-ballots-new-language-which-one-94116 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-16/forOdette.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Election officials in Cook County and the city of Chicago are rushing to comply with the latest elections-related mandate from the U.S. Department of Justice: to provide bilingual assistance to Asian Indians in time for the 2012 election.</p><p>“We need to get moving and get this process rolling,” said Kelly Bateman, Assistant Executive Director of the Chicago Board of Elections.&nbsp;“The election’s March 20, so you go back a good six weeks before the election, if not more,” added Bateman, referring to the Republican primary voting date in Illinois.</p><p>Bateman and her counterparts at the Cook County Clerk’s office have just a few weeks to translate all written materials and publicity pieces for the election. They also need to find bilingual poll workers and interpreters for election day to assist Indian immigrants who are registered voters. This assistance is currently available to Spanish-speaking and Chinese-speaking minorities, which qualify under <a href="http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/vot/sec_203/activ_203.php">Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act</a>.</p><p>The <a href="http://www.census.gov/rdo/pdf/PrescribedFlowFor203Determinations.pdf">federal formula</a> to determine which language groups get bilingual assistance depends on the number of voting age citizens with limited English proficiency, and the portion with less than a fifth-grade education. Until this year, the U.S. Census Bureau considered the data every ten years. Going forward, the determinations will be made every five years, based on data from the <a href="http://www.census.gov/acs/www/">American Community Survey</a>.</p><p>Bateman says her office is well-versed in providing this assistance, but accommodating Indian Americans may present some different challenges. “There could be 50-plus different types of languages or dialects in the Asian Indian language,” said Bateman. “So we need to narrow it down to one language that is recognizable and understandable by the community.”</p><p>The three most common languages spoken for Indians in Cook County are Hindi, Urdu and Gujarati, but there are dozens more, including Tamil, Punjabi, and Telugu, to name a few. And they’re not all united by a common written script, as with Chinese. So Bateman and officials with the election office in Cook County are getting knee-deep into the data to learn which precincts Indian Americans live in and which languages they speak.</p><p>Bateman says even though the written materials will only be translated into one language, poll workers and interpreters can help with others.</p><p>Bateman’s office and the Cook County Clerk’s office were surprised that Indian-Americans were the next group to qualify for language assistance. Based on numbers from the 2000 population survey, they expected Korean to be the next language.</p><p>“People can see that influx of Korean-Americans. If you go to Glenview and Northbrook, and also the Niles area, a lot of Korean businesses are booming in that area,” said Sik Sohn, Executive Director of the Korean American Resource and Cultural Center. “So that’s why I think that we expected that the Korean language would be added.”</p><p>Sohn is happy for his Indian-American counterparts, but he’s disappointed that Korean-Americans did not qualify for bilingual voting assistance. Sohn wants to see the latest data, and says based on that, he might appeal.</p><p>South Asian organizers say language access will overcome an important barrier that many Indian immigrants face when voting. But Chirayu Patel said there’s a bigger obstacle. “I think there was a lack of connection in terms of my voting, how does that affect the issues that I’m facing?”</p><p>Patel registered South Asian voters on Chicago’s far North Side for the 2006 midterm elections. He said many of them cared more about politics in India than what was happening in their congressional district.</p><p>“I think the biggest thing that we did was make that connection in terms of why voting, even if it’s at the local level, why that matters in terms of addressing the issues that you have,” Patel said.</p><p>Patel says it’s great that the feds are giving Indian-Americans a better chance to voice their opinions at the polls. The question is, will they use it?</p></p> Thu, 17 Nov 2011 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-cook-county-must-offer-ballots-new-language-which-one-94116 Something You Should Eat: Shrimp banh mi from Del Seoul http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/something-you-should-eat-shrimp-banh-mi-del-seoul <p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe width="485" height="273" frameborder="0" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/17198145?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;color=c40215"></iframe></p><p>Everyone has been talking about the Korean-style tacos served up at <a href="http://www.delseoul.com/">Del Seoul</a> in Lincoln Park. &nbsp;I do happen to love the well-marinated kalbi that's finely chopped, buried beneath a mound of Napa cabbage and Asian greens dressed with <em>gojujang</em> (Korean red chili paste) and topped with sesame seeds; not as much of a fan of the store-bought tortillas, but you can't win them all. &nbsp;One thing I wasn't expecting to like was the hearty shrimp banh mi. &nbsp;This Vietnamese-style sandwich is typically the province of well-regarded bakery/cafes such as <a href="http://www.nhulansbakery.com/">Nhu Lan </a>in Lincoln Square or <a href="http://www.balesandwich.com/">Ba Le</a> in Uptown. &nbsp;But for some reason, the combo of grease-free fried shrimp with the spicy mayo makes this sandwich really sing.</p></p> Tue, 30 Nov 2010 12:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/something-you-should-eat-shrimp-banh-mi-del-seoul