2024 BrightPlan Wellness Barometer Survey launched 2024 BrightPlan Wellness Barometer Survey launched

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Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

BrightPlan Team

In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we’re excited to share an interview with one of our BrightPlan team members. Daniel Lee, Vice President of Financial Planning and Advice, brings a wealth of expertise and strategic insight to his role. And he’s also Korean! We interviewed him to get his take on heritage, finance, and his favorite cultural foods. 


What is your favorite part of your Asian American heritage? 

My favorite part of my Asian American heritage is the experience of being part of two cultures. I love celebrating holidays from both backgrounds and it's cool to see how some holidays, like Parents' Day in Korea and Mother's Day and Father's Day in the U.S., have similar traditions, while others, like Independence Day are celebrated in different ways. Additionally, the bilingual advantage is a real treasure — particularly when it comes to watching both English and Korean shows without needing subtitles. I also feel that understanding two cultures deepens my appreciation for the many other cultures around the world.


Are there any Korean customs or traditions that you feel align particularly well with the concept of being financially well? 

In Korean culture, it is customary to give cash gifts during major life events such as weddings, funerals, and the first birthday of a child (Dol). These gifts can be substantial and are meant to help cover the costs of the event or contribute to future needs. Cash gifts can feel less thoughtful than physical gifts in America, but in Korea, I feel that it reflects a culture of mutual financial support and investment in each other's significant life stages.


Which common misconception would you like to take a moment to set us straight on? 

Korean food isn't all about BBQ! Sure, the bulgogi and galbi, grilled right in front of you, get top billing worldwide, but Korean cuisine is filled with vegetable-heavy dishes like 'banchan'—those delightful little side dishes that crowd every Korean meal table. So, while the BBQ might draw you in with its sizzling charm, it's the unsung heroes—those vibrant veggies—that really make Korean dining a well-rounded and healthy affair.


Are there any interesting or unique Korean traditions around money you could share with us?

It is customary to give your entire first paycheck to your parents in Korea. Some choose to give a portion, and you can also choose to celebrate the occasion by treating your family to a meal. Either way, it’s a gesture to thank your parents for their sacrifice, love, and financial support throughout the years.


Is there a cultural food you regularly crave? Can you share a recipe with us? 

I would definitely say Gimbap, a popular Korean dish consisting of seaweed rolls filled with rice and various fillings. There are many variations, but basically, you take cooked rice seasoned with rice vinegar and salt, layer it on a sheet of dried seaweed along with fillings like carrots, cucumbers, omelet, pickled radish, and spinach. Then, roll it up, cut it into bite-sized pieces, and enjoy!


Get to know Daniel more here