The Faces Behind Hyphen: Sylvie Kim

September 10, 2010

Who are those hardcore souls who give so much of their MSG-laced sweat and hot sauce-induced tears to Hyphen magazine? This month, as part of Hyphen’s fundraising campaign, you'll get to know some of these ass-kicking heroines and heroes who aren’t anyone’s sidekicks or comic relief, and who live beyond the final scenes. Way beyond....

Sylvie Kim (blog co-editor and film editor) offers that voice of reason that is assuring in its clarity, perspective and humor. She is thoughtful, but completely present with you in the moment. Sylvie’s that go-to friend you need for support -- the kind who is warm and completely grounding in the way you want, at the same time. So it’s really perfect that she tag-teams on co-editing the Hyphen blog.

How and when were you first introduced to Hyphen?

I was working full-time and taking Asian American [studies] classes -- something I didn't do in undergrad -- one of which had a volunteer requirement. I googled Asian American organizations in the Bay Area, and was drawn to Hyphen because I enjoyed the writing and the look of the magazine (the hipness factor). In February 2008, I started blogging for them, then was asked to be the film editor in August because I had minored in film studies. I’m still going to be blog co-editor -- a role I took on in February 2010 -- but I’m stepping down as film editor now that I’m back in [grad] school.

What do you think makes Hyphen so unique?

There being no monetary motivation brings different people together; everyone is willing to be there. People have to be so resourceful with all volunteers.

What kind of impact do you hope it has?

Hyphen is fairly well known in particular circles: in the Bay Area, among Asian Americans, and in media circles. It would be great if it was more known beyond them, and was part of the national consciousness. Like Bust -- there’s a certain level of familiarity for people.

How have you seen it change over time?

Hyphen has become a well-oiled machine; we're better at recruiting, getting people acquainted, and running meetings. And the vision has sharpened. 

What/who have been some of your main influences, in terms of your work at Hyphen?

Asian American writers who have expanded outside of the Asian American readership, like Jeff Yang, Oliver Wang, and Jeff Chang. They’re called by other people to bring the Asian American perspective. They cross boundaries and cross demographics, and have wider appeal. I think, too, like Angry Asian Man, that sticking to your own voice brings more people in.

How has your relationship with/perspective of API issues changed over time?

I got a late start since I grew up in Ohio. I had my Asian awakening in college. By that time I was already behind; I wasn’t up to speed. Hyphen has helped me catch up, and has taught me to have a critical eye.

Do you tend to crave sweet or savory food more?

Savory. But I have to finish with a sweet, usually a cupcake.

If you had to choose your last meal on earth, what would it be?

Probably something involving pork belly.

What are you most nostalgic for from your childhood?

How everything was so unscheduled -- you could just ride your bike to a friend’s house to hang out. Now you have to call, email, text or Facebook someone before going over. I miss that spontaneity of just meeting up with friends.

What’s your favorite guilty pleasure?

America’s Next Top Model. I’ve watched every season since the first one.

Did your parents make you go to language school?

No.  I don't even know if there even was a Korean school in Ohio. The few times we went to church someone would try to teach us. It wasn't until I took four quarters of Korean in college that I learned to read and write Korean.

What are you listening to now, in terms of music?

I just got the Scott Pilgrim soundtrack. I'm also listening to old-timer '60s soul music.

Do you prefer to eat family-style or order individually?

It depends on who I'm with. If I know they have good taste, family-style. If I'm not sure of their taste, I order separately.

What would your superhero alter ego be?

I would want a version of Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth. Maybe not a lasso, though.

What is your favorite nickname that other people have dubbed you?

A lot of people have chosen Skim -- a combination of my first initial and last name. Kim is a popular last name, though, and I’m sure there’re a lot of Kims with a first name that starts with S.

Please donate to support the work of our hard-working volunteers. We don't do this for the love of money, but that doesn’t mean we don't need it, lasso of truth be thrown....