There’s a new Korean kid on Sesame Street!

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The first Asian-American muppet has taken up residence on Sesame Street .

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Ji-Young is a seven-year-old Korean-American, and, according to a report on , her two passions are rocking out on her electric guitar and skateboarding.

The 52-year-old award-winning Sesame Street will introduce Ji-Young (whose name means wise and brave one, although Ji can also mean sesame) on a U.S. Thanksgiving Day broadcast.

See Us Coming Together: A Sesame Street Special will feature Canadian Simu Liu, Padma Lakshmi and Naomi Osaka among other celebrities appearing in the show; it’s on HBO Max, Sesame Street social media platforms and local PBS stations.

Ji-Young’s puppeteer is Korean-American Kathleen Kim, 41; she says becoming a puppeteer on a show she watched growing up has been a dream come true.

She told NPR, “I feel like I have a lot of weight that maybe I’m putting on myself to teach these lessons and to be this representative that I did not have as a kid.”

Overt racism got a boost in North America during the Trump administration, and the pandemic-fuelled anti-Asian incidents; discussion of the many troubling racially-motivated events of 2020 helped Ji-Young come into existence.

Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street , created two task forces: one to look at its content and another to look at its own diversity. The result was Coming Together, a multi-year initiative addressing how to talk to children about race, ethnicity and culture.

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Kay Wilson Stallings, executive vice-president of Creative and Production for Sesame Workshop, told NPR they knew they needed an Asian muppet.

For puppeteer Kathleen Kim, it was important that Ji-Young not be what she calls, generically pan-Asian.

“It was very important that she was specifically Korean-American, not just like, generically Korean, but she was born here.”

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In See Us Coming Together , Sesame Street is preparing for Neighbour Day where everyone shares food, music or dance from their culture.

Ji-Young is upset after another child tells her to go back home, the “go back where you came from” insult familiar to so many immigrants and visible minorities.

Ji-Young is reassured by the Sesame Street population that she belongs as much as anyone else.

As the new kid on the street, Ji-Young will be showing Korean culture, through things like food, to the others. When it comes to trying tteokbokki (chewy rice cakes), she already has Ernie on-side!

Research has long shown how media affects the way children perceive themselves and others. The importance of representation in media cannot be overstated — and children in particular need to see people who look like they do.

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