U.S. imperialism ties Hawaii and Korea in Joseph Han's novel 'Nuclear Family' : It's Been a Minute We don't often think of Hawaii and the Korean peninsula as having any kind of shared history. But author Joseph Han disagrees — and he makes the case in his debut novel Nuclear Family. In this episode, Han and guest host B.A. Parker discuss the book and Han's experience as a Korean immigrant in Hawaii. And they unpack the long effects of U.S. imperialism and military presence in both places. Along the way, they get into ghosts, grandmas and Guy Fieri.

Joseph Han on U.S. imperialism, Korean ghosts and Guy Fieri

Joseph Han on U.S. imperialism, Korean ghosts and Guy Fieri

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Huan He/Counter Point Press
Author Joseph Han and his debut novel Nuclear Family.
Huan He/Counter Point Press

We don't often think of Hawaii and the Korean peninsula as having any kind of shared history. But author Joseph Han disagrees — and he makes the case in his debut novel Nuclear Family.

Drawing from Han's experience as a Korean immigrant in Hawaii, the book is set in the months leading up to the false nuclear missile alert that shook Hawaii in 2018. And it follows a Korean American family trying to find financial success while wrestling with their eldest son's attempt to cross the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) into North Korea.

Guest host B.A. Parker talks with Han about his motivations for writing the novel, and the long effects of U.S. imperialism and military presence in the two places his family calls home. Along the way, they get into ghosts, grandmas and Guy Fieri.

This episode was produced by Janet Woojeong Lee. It was edited by Jessica Mendoza. You can follow us on Twitter @NPRItsBeenAMin and email us at IBAM@npr.org.