Photographer Steven Speliotis is at it again. His latest conquests are Min and Eunnie Cho. Steven strolls the streets of New York with an open mind looking for beautiful subjects. So what attracted Steven to these sisters? “I was attracted at how lovely they are & at how comfortable they were together…seeing two beautiful ladies interact so comfortably & so animated I wanted to photograph them. When I first met Eunnie, I was impressed with her ambitions in becoming a music critic & producer in the arts. I thought for sure she was a model but she is tired of every photographer asking her to take off her clothes. I thought her ambitions & relationship with her family was far more interesting. I asked her to photograph with me & tell me more… Besides I think partially clothed women are far sexier..!!!” Here’s a little background on both Eunnie and Min. What do you think?
Being an Asian American woman (for me Korean – American) I feel responsible when I say or do something.
ASIANCE: Eunnie, being born in Korea & now living in New York, how do you feel about how others look at you and some of the stereotypes Asian women have ???
Eunnie: Being an Asian American woman (for me Korean – American) I feel responsible when I say or do something. I try to be more aware and careful because I represent Korean women (Asian America Woman).
ASIANCE: What was the main reason you wanted to come to New York?
Eunnie: Education-really attracted me to come to the US. I wanted this so that I can actually compete with guys. When I was in Korea, even though I was stronger and bigger than most Asian men, I was cared for and over protected by men most of the time. I thought that I can be equal to guys here.
ASIANCE: Since you’ve come to New York, have you been pleasantly surprised by the life here?
Eunnie: What I love the most here! – Tall women! And gay couples- they make me the most happiest. I am pretty tall in my country (5′ 9″). I still remember when I was young, my parents seriously worried about my height. Being a tall girl was tough. I could not get a date when I was in secondary school, boys were scared of me. But now… tall girls are getting popular! Gay, I’ve never seen gay or Lesbian couples in Korea, even though there’s a high population they are still underground. I live in Greenwich Village, so I bump into a lot of same sex couples; I find them to be positive and honest. Life here makes me so happy.
ASIANCE: What does New York have to offer that makes you glad you’re here?
Eunnie: Some of the things I experienced here which I love the most-are the museums and free performances. I’m in the best city in the world, especially in the summer with the Met, in the park-opera, Shakespeare in the park was amazing… This only happens here!
ASIANCE: Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
Eunnie: In 10 years I want to have my own art production company which produces a combination of Korean music and theatre. Also my dream is to introduce talented Asian artist to the world. Working in the Arts Administration field and producing my own works is my ultimate dream.
ASIANCE: What about the man or men in your life?
Eunnie: The Men situation – since I broke up with my last boy friend 2 years ago. I am not in an exclusive relationship. In Korea I kept myself very busy preparing to come to New York. I would only sleep 3-4 hours per day. I was working during the day and then studying the GRE and preparing admission for Tics School of The Arts at night. I also realize in my current situation that I should be free!!! So I decided to play it cool & be single and invest in myself!
ASIANCE: Do you find a big difference between Asian & American men that you’ve dated?
Eunnie: Asian men and American men are not different. It really depends on a guy’s personality. I also see a lot of my white girlfriends who are more conservative and traditional than I am. I really don’t look at a man’s race. I think it depends more about the family. I actually care more about a guy’s family when I date. But there is one thing that is different, American men can be more creative than native Asian guys when I’m communicating with them. This might be because of the education system. I am enrolled in Performance Studies, and the people in this field usually become critics or scholars or writers after we graduate. For me, creative and interesting topics and communication skills are very important.
ASIANCE: When did you realize you wanted to be an Opera Singer? Did anything in particular inspire you?
Eunnie: I used to pursue being an opera singer for 10 years however I realized my limitation as a singer but at the same time found my talents as an organizer.
ASIANCE: Tell us more about your talents as an organizer. Was there something in particular that happened that helped you realize this talent? Was there someone who inspired you?
Eunnie: My best interest is classical music performance however studying experimental theatre, contemporary art, Avant-garde movement, pedestrian movement…etc is really useful and challenging to me. Also I believe that whole processing will be great foundation for me as an art administrator.
ASIANCE: I understand your Mother is also your mentor. Would you please elaborate on your mom a little?
Eunnie: My mom is an abstract illustrator and teacher. She is the best supporter, friend and my role model as an independent woman. She is not an ordinary Korean mom, especially in Korea. Women are required to be good wives, mom… and go through lots of sacrifice and pain. However my mom never gave up her dream and at the same time she was a perfect mom. She supported my sister and I like a good friend and advisor. She even gave us great advice on boys!!! (We can talk about it later!)
ASIANCE: I’m sure our readers would like to hear your mom’s advice…
Eunnie: Being around such an ambitious mom naturally inspired me and challenged me. I always wanted to have my career and never want to be spoiled by men.
ASIANCE: What did you find most challenging having such an ambitious mother? In what ways did your mom & dad support you emotionally when you decided to move to New York?
Eunnie: When I decided to study here, even though I was 26 years old, as a single woman it was not recommended to study abroad alone, especially if you don’t have a man! So, of course my parents worried a lot, but they fully supported my decision.
ASIANCE: But you’re not alone here, you have your sister, Min with you, Tell us about your relationship with your sister.
Eunnie: My sister, my best friend, my roommate, a great advisor and my private chef! Min is studying design and Fashion management at Parsons. She’s an artist but also has the very good sense as a business woman. I believe we both get our talents from my dad who’s been working as an investment banker for the past 25 years. My Sister and I are very close in age, so we are more like friends and sometimes severe competitors 😉 We both love healthy competition and a good challenge.
ASIANCE: How & where do you and Min compete? What activities do you enjoy doing together? What activities do you enjoy doing alone or with others?
Eunnie: We enjoy swimming and competing and gambling too.
ASIANCE: So are you happy you made the choice of coming to New York?
Eunnie: Now I am very very happy being here. Of course my life in Korea was extremely happy however I was too safe and relaxed all the time. Even study was not that difficult for me, and I had such a big supporter (my family) all the time. And I am way bigger than my other Korean friends, but in New York, I’m more like a baby because I’m still struggling with my language barrier and culture differences.
ASIANCE: Would you please share some of these culture & language barriers…???
Eunnie: Just being in school is very tough for me. There’s a lot of reading and writing and it’s impossible for me to catch up to the other graduate students. There are very few international students like me in my school’s program.
ASIANCE: That must be very frustrating…How do you keep yourself so positive & moving forward?
Eunnie: I fulfill myself with new knowledge everyday and I become wiser.
ASIANCE: Do you have a favorite place you go to see theatre arts & entertainment in New York?
Eunnie: Yes, my favorite place in NYC is the Public Theatre on Lafayette Street, also known as Astor Place. This summer I waited on line to get free tickets for “Shakespeare in the Park” performance ‘Mother Courage’. Even though I had to wait for hours, it was an amazing experience. I read a whole book, finished 2 sandwiches and even took a little nap!!!!
ASIANCE: How was the Performance of “Mother Courage”?
Eunnie: There’s always something fun going on in The Public Theatre. Actually, I love and support the Public Theatre and enjoy the energy so much, I can’t resist!
Min's Background information – I was growing up in Korea. My family members are very small. There are grandma, father, mother, my sister (Eunnie) and me. In Korea, family is the most important factor in the life. So, I was also educated in that way. My father is an invest banker and my mom is an artist. I love my parents so much. To me I think even my sister; we got most of artistic inspiration from my mom. She is a very talented artist although she had to give up her big dreams because of my grandma. I told you that in Korea, especially in the old generation, the family is the most important thing to care about. My father was too busy with his outside work. My mom had to care for us and grandma. She was drawing a teacher in school. She also dreamed to study abroad, but she couldn’t. I believe that is why she wants us to study and supports us. In my case, I loved my mom’s drawing since I was in elementary school. Her drawing is very powerful and impressive. So when I was young my dream was to be an artist just like my mom. I started to paint till high school. My mom wanted me to do fine art as my university major. However, I was afraid that I could not be a great artist just like my mom although I got a lot of support from mom. It was not the only reason to change my major. I also was interested in design that is a little bit different from fine arts. To me design was more challengeable for two reasons. First, my mom was not an expert in design actually. The other reason was I can make money with design. It was more challenging to me. Consequently, I am here in NY to study Design and Management programs at Parsons. This program is perfect on me. I learn lots of thing about developing products and doing business. Nowadays I am so into the fashion business. I keep doing internships in the fashion industry both in NY and Korea. Although now I am studying design & management, when have time, I am going out for drawing. I am drawing people, their fashion and window displays. I do not want to loose my talent that is from my mom. Now I am studying Chinese and Japanese step by step. I love to learn new things. Sometimes I think “Is this too much?” However, who knows? I can be a fine artist, fashion designer, marketing person, PR person, consulter, or educators. Nobody knows what I would be.
ASIANCE: How about your experience with men?
Min: Yes, I had some experience with men. However, I do not really think of other guys except one. I have only one guy who really gets me in my life.(others, no forget about it.) He is the only one who can really understand me, and support me whatever I do. I’ve been in a relationship with the guy almost for 6 years. He is a Korean. Now he is in Korea. We are a long distance couple since we started our relationship. We were high school friends. I think because our relationship started as a friendship, we can be a perfect couple for 6 years. He also has his passion. He is a photographer. I like his job. His job is perfectly matched on his character. Also, I love his job because in some part, we have a lot in common. Sometimes, we can share our ideas and it is really helpful. Nowadays I am learning photography. He is a very good teacher. I am not a professional like my boyfriend, but I also like taking pictures. I love the sound of a shutter. One day he will give me one of his cameras, he promised me. I like this relationship. It is so comfortable and safe. I feel like I can do whatever because he is always standing behind me. Our relationship is more like a family thing. I feel like he is one of my family members. Haha, my sister sometimes asks us “Isn’t it boring to be with the same person for such a long time?”yah,, maybe. sometimes. But to me, our relationship is more important than having fun temporarily. I guess this character is one of the big differences between my sister and I. Even though we are sisters, many people often say “You guys so different”. But, I enjoy it. I like it. Although we are so different we are always together. I am sure rather than anybody my sister and I are closer. We talk about everything with each other. We love to spend time together. When we fight we want to kill each other, and we hate each other because we have such different personalities. But, usually both of us want to make up because we are so bored without each other. My sister is part of my life; I can’t imagine my life had I not had a sister like Eunnie. If you ask me where I see myself in 5 years, maybe, I will be in London, or Italy. I expect myself in a very different city where I’ve never been. I think I will be walking on a very strange street holding my sketchbook and pencil and maybe camera also.