When Monica Kim learned she received a coveted MacArthur fellowship Wednesday, she immediately called her mom.

“I had to kind of explain to her exactly what the MacArthur was,” she recalled, laughing. “But it was also very meaningful to tell her.”

Kim’s parents, who immigrated to the United States during the Korean War, inspired her to research the subject in graduate school, despite their initial hesitations. “Within American society, very few people really talk about that war at all,” Kim said, “so they were initially concerned that people wouldn’t care if I decided to pursue this work.”

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