Yujin Cho has plans – for herself and for the benefit of her family.
The 19-year-old was born in Seoul, South Korea. She was 3 years old when she moved to Chicago with her parents, who were hoping to find more opportunities in the United States.
“My father was a successful journalist in Korea, but he struggled to find comparable work here,” Cho said. “My mother stepped up and worked very hard to make a way for herself and our family. I respect my mother so much for her good example.”
The family stayed in Chicago for four years and then moved to the Atlanta area.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer
“We were able to connect to other Koreans in Atlanta. It was a great place to live,” Cho said. “I took the American name of ‘Kelly’ when I was in the second grade because it was easier for my friends to pronounce, and I felt like I was fitting in.”
Cho said her Korean name means treasure.
She is fluent in Korean, and Cho credits her father with encouraging her to become immersed in the Korean language and culture.
“I am grateful to my dad for that,” Cho said. “Being fluent in Korean makes me feel connected to my home country.”
About four months ago, after Cho completed high school in Georgia, the family relocated to Charlotte for her mother’s job in the food industry.
Cho soon was hired as a stylist by women’s boutique Apricot Lane, which is in the StoneCrest shopping center.
“I think the biggest blessing in my life so far is my new job. Working in retail has pushed me outside of my comfort zone,” she said. “I find that I love being able to style people, and I never thought I would be good at something like that.”
Cho’s long-term goal is to continue her education and help her family.
“I want to take classes in both fashion and journalism to see where my eventual fit would be,” Cho said.
Cho and her family maintain a home that honors their Korean culture. They remove their shoes before entering the house, putting the footwear in the designated place as a sign of respect. The adults sit down to eat before the children sit. And rice accompanies every meal, she said.
Cho said she enjoys cooking spicy soups and likes to make the traditional kimchi jjigae, a type of Korean stew.
Cho is an active member of Korean Presbyterian Church, where she enjoys volunteering. She lives in Ballantyne with mother Jean Song; father Young Cho; sister Joyce, 14; and sister Hannah, 10.