Jeong is a Korean term that is defined as “a type of deep-seated love which can be directed to all, living or not” according to SeoulSync. To expand, it can be both simple and complex. According to Christopher K. Chung, M.D. and Samson J. Cho, M.D. it can include “feeling, love, sentiment, passion, human nature, sympathy, heart” as well as “basic feelings such as attachment, bond, affection, or even bondage.” “In essence, jeong refers to the emotional and psychological bonds that join Koreans. The uniqueness of this phenomenon lies in its ubiquity and its source: the collective nature of Korean society.”
For Koreans who've endured much political turmoil throughout its entire history of the nation, extending Jeong to each other has been a necessary form of survival skill and self-preservation, and ultimately a revolutionary act of mutual aid and collective care.
During this wave of violence against Asian American and Pacific Islanders, I, as a Korean American, can only think of this form of survival that sustains us as a way to not lose heart. When I feel Jeong, it helps me to not be led with fear in this country. I consider acts of kindness and loving gestures that uncover, reveal, and lay bare hope as a practice of harm reduction. To learn more, I asked a few people in my community what Jeong means to them.