EXCLUSIVE (Part 2): Maryland’s First Lady shares journey coming to America for first time, how she’s keeping Korean heritage alive
Updated: Feb 9, 2018 1:12 AM
By Abbey Smith
(ANNAPOLIS, Md.) - Born in South Jeolla Province, Naju, South Korea, Maryland's First Lady Yumi Hogan says it was "the American Dream" that first brought her to the states in her early twenties.
"I grew up in the countryside, just like Salisbury, on a chicken farm," explained Hogan.
But like many international travelers, the sudden change in culture became somewhat of a challenge.
"The most challenging part is the same thing for all people who move from other countries, which is the culture shock, language, and the food," said Hogan.
To help comfort her, Hogan dipped into her long-time passion - art. She explains that her artwork embraces both her Korean roots and current life experiences through traditional and contemporary techniques. Today, one of her most prized pieces hangs on a wall inside the Government House.
"When I was young, my mother and my grandmother actually made silk. So there was a memory from when I was about 5 and a half, 6... it's still in my head. So like a soft wind, calm... just like in memory - silk."
Little did she know, it was this very passion that would lead her to love and eventually make history.
"[My husband and I] met in an art gallery at an art show," said Hogan. "He was a simple, you know, real estate business guy."
That "simple, real estate business guy" is now the Governor of Maryland, making Yumi the nation's first Korean-American First Lady. She says it's a position she never dreamed of having, but is very grateful and honored to have.
"I'm the first one, so sometimes my shoulders feel heavy," laughed Hogan. "I'm also the first Asian-American First Lady in our state, so I have to be a good model."
Today, Hogan's artwork has been featured in many art shows and museums across the globe, including Maryland, Virginia, Washington D.C. and South Korea.
"Every year, I do at least two exhibitions always, even when I'm busy," explained Hogan. "People are always asking, 'how? when do you have time?' But I always make time. Sometimes I do not sleep. Art is something that's always in my head. You never give up that first dream."
In addition to her artwork, Hogan has also received many prestigious awards for her leadership, including the Inspirational Leader Award from the International Leadership Foundation, as well as the 2017 Ellis Island Medal of Honor.