In Honor Of

Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

We sat down with Paul + Williams’ VP of PR & Marketing — and Dockers® alum — Hyuna Emily Park to talk representation, allyship and the healing power of music. We’ll also be making a donation to an organization near and dear to her heart, SafeWalks NYC.

Hyuna Emily Park is wearing Favorite Tee Shirt, Original Khakis, and Dockers® Vintage Denim Zip-Up Jacket.

Hyuna Emily Park is wearing Dockers® Vintage Pleated Chino, Dockers® Vintage Grandad Plaid Button Down Shirt, and Henley Shirt.

Immigrating to America from Seoul, Korea at the age of 8, Hyuna Emily Park navigated a dual identity defined by exploring American ideals while keeping her Korean heritage intact. Today, through her work with brands like Dockers, she prioritizes uplifting other people of color, ensuring their voices are heard and that their stories are celebrated.

  • I started as a PR intern with Dockers during my sophomore year of college and ultimately landed another PR internship with my current company, Paul + Williams. Dockers was and still is a client of Paul + Williams, so it was a relatively seamless transition and interesting to see the agency side of things. I’ve been with the company ever since! Now I’m the VP of PR & Marketing and Dockers remains as one of my clients. I oversee our PR team, strategy, and communications – as well as cultivate talent/collaboration partnerships for the brand.

  • I think it’s amazing to know and see all of the creativity and manpower that it takes to bring something to life from start to finish. To know that my input and ideas are contributing to a larger work that will be seen by the world is incredibly rewarding. But I think what makes it special is knowing that I can use the tools that I have as a professional to uplift the voices that I want to hear, or deserve to be heard. I didn’t grow up seeing many who looked like me, so today, I’m passionate about elevating other voices and sharing their stories through larger platforms, like Dockers.

  • Yes in the sense that there were a few who stood out to me as catalysts in representing the AAPI community, like Michelle Kwan. I thought Michelle was the coolest person ever – an incredible athlete who always displayed poise and grace. I was obsessed with watching her, not because I was a skater but because it was so empowering to see someone who looked like me, win medal after medal without wavering. No, in the sense that there just weren’t many of them – us. There weren’t enough of us represented in the media aside from a few tokenized actors and actresses, so I never felt fully inspired or empowered. I think we’ve come a long way since then, but I think we still have a lot of work to do.

  • Language is such a personal thing for me in so many ways. For starters, my grandma speaks fluent Japanese and Korean – she was a child when Japan infiltrated Korea and forced all of the schools to teach Japanese. She then moved to Japan for a few years because she was able to find work as a rare bilingual woman in the workforce. I was always fascinated by that. My mom, who is a professional ceramicist, got her graduate degree in ceramics in Germany so she lived there for five years and became fluent. She used to read German children’s books to me before bedtime when I was younger and would teach me some words here and there as I was growing up. Even when I was in Korea, I thought that was so cool knowing that my mom was able to introduce that to me. When I moved from Korea to New Jersey at eight, I didn’t know how to read, speak, or understand any English. The self confidence that I always relied on, was all of a sudden, gone. Luckily, I had an amazing teacher, Mrs. Cahill, who realized the situation and approached me in a way that was unique and, I think, brilliant. She told me to ignore any written homework and suggested that I go home, watch Nickelodeon and repeat everything that I heard word for word. Obviously that sounds like the best and easiest homework assignment ever, but that was a turning point for me. That’s how I was able to learn English incredibly quickly – I was fluent by the time the school year ended. I’m fascinated by the effect that languages have on my life and wanted to learn the phonetics behind all of it. I think language is a phenomenon, really, in how we as humans communicate and how we translate what we’re feeling and thinking into words and sounds. Ultimately, I communicate with others for a living – so I’d like to think that language has been shaping me from early on, into the person that I am today.

  • If language shaped me, I think music definitely saved me. I know that sounds so cheesy but it’s true – I’ve been around music my entire life from both sides of the family. My mom’s father (grandfather) was a trumpet player, my mom was a singer, her twin plays the piano, her younger brother played guitar, my dad played the guitar…the list goes on. My mom, though, was the biggest influence on me – she always had music playing in the house and it was a lot of the ‘70s: Elton John, Rod Stewart, Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams…etc. I heard her singing all the time so I always sang along with her. She was an emotional listener too – she’d always say that certain songs reminded her of certain memories or emotions and play them accordingly – and I think she passed that onto me subconsciously. My passion around music really kicked off with the piano, when I was five. I’ve been playing piano ever since and took up the clarinet in grade school too. I then surrounded myself with anything and everything regarding music: concert band, jazz band, marching band, chorus, gospel, musicals, you name it. If it involved music, I did it. From 4th grade through college. It was the one thing that I could pour everything into. Even after college – even when I couldn’t play as much anymore, music gave me comfort. Whenever I was dealing with depression or wasn’t feeling well, my mom would send me songs to listen to. She’d say, “listen to music that makes you feel lighter. Always good music. Always surround yourself with it.” So, I associate so many life moments with music because of this practice – of surrounding myself with music all the time. I still send her songs, when I’m feeling a certain way or if I know she’s going through a hard time. It’s such a simple thing, but it means so much.

Hyuna Emily Park is wearing Everyday Mac Coat, Favorite Tee Shirt, Original Khakis, and Dockers® Vintage Denim Zip-Up Jacket.

  • Well, my legal given name is and has always been, Hyuna. On our drive to New Jersey from JFK after landing in the states for the first time, my aunt threw out the name “Emily” for me. She suggested the name “Jason” to my brother, whose legal name is Jae Seung, because it sounded alike. She felt that “Emily” was fresh at that time during the ‘90s. I agreed and never looked back. I was known as Emily throughout all my schooling and only answered to Hyuna at home, where my parents encouraged me to speak in Korean to preserve the language. Flash forward to this past January 2022, when my coworker was the first person to ever say, “why don’t I call you by your given name? It’s beautiful, it’s what your parents gave you, you should go by it if you are comfortable.” I had literally never thought about what my name meant until then – why was I Hyuna only at home with my parents? Was Emily a different person? Who was Emily at work? Is Hyuna able to be present at work too? I ultimately realized that the motivation behind my work is my family. I work to support them. I work to uplift them. I work to tell the stories of others who may be cut from the same cloth as me. I wanted my name to reflect all of that in my professional life and for people to recognize my Korean name, just as much as they recognize Emily. I wanted others to recognize the great work that I/we do and proudly put my given name on it. I’d been catering to make it easier for others my entire life and I wanted to reclaim my space, both personally and professionally.

  • Obviously there has been and currently still is, a big spike in hate and violence towards the AAPI community. If anything, the cases keep going up and there has not been enough attention in the media to help fight against it. If you find yourself in a situation where someone is being violent towards the AAPI community – or any community for that matter – stand up in solidarity. Help out your fellow community as we are stronger in numbers. Try to diffuse any violent tension and protect those, especially the elderly, who may not be able to protect themselves as they’d like to. Oftentimes, the AAPI community feels unseen and unheard due to the myth of the “model minority” so it’s helpful for allies to stand together with us when possible. You also don’t need to be caught in a violent situation to be an ally. Educate yourself and learn about the different cultures within the AAPI community – and never assume anything! Ask questions and reach out (we don’t bite), listen to their stories and try to gain new perspectives for yourself.

  • I unfortunately was a victim of an attack on the subway last May and experienced firsthand the violent racism targeted towards the AAPI community. As a New Yorker, despite being hyper aware of the rampant attacks in the city, it can be difficult to think that such attacks can happen to you. It was one of the most terrifying yet eye-opening experiences I’d ever experienced and wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. It’s deeply uncomfortable and maddening to think that people like my parents have to think twice about leaving their house because they’re unsure if they’ll make it home safely. SafeWalks NYC is a small, AAPI led organization that sprung into action as a response to the recent attacks against the AAPI community in New York City. They began in Bushwick, Brooklyn last January and offer accompanied walks to and from home for those who feel unsafe walking in the streets. As attacks continue to increase, especially against AAPI women and other women of color, the organization is working to be an accessible option to all those who need it. As a small organization that was born out of the immediate need for safety in the community, SafeWalks NYC is growing quickly but still needs as many volunteers and support as possible – so I’m so grateful that Dockers will be making a donation to SafeWalks NYC in honor of AAPI Heritage Month.

In honor of AAPI Heritage Month, Dockers® will be making a donation to SafeWalks NYC.