Mi Soon Burzlaff, Bravo Your City, Woman Entrepreneur
I love to travel so when I got an email from Mi Soon and checked out her site, I was interested in meeting with her. Bravo Your City is a user generated global travel site that is curated by travel professionals. The site looks great and is easy to navigate. In essence, it is a new kind of travel magazine.
Mi Soon grew up in the midwest but was born in Korea. She was adopted as an infant in Seoul and brought to live with her family in Minnesota. There are 150,000 Korean adoptees and over 50,000 of them are living in the United States. Both of Mi Soons adopted parents are teachers. Her parents had adopted two girls from Korea and also had a son.
MI Soon went to the University of Minnesota to major in English and creative writing. When she graduated she was waiting tables and writing but then she earned a Fullbright Fellowship to go to Korea at 24 years old. Everything changed after that.
The first day she arrived in Korea she was picked up at the airport by a woman who was very connected. Much of the paperwork in Korea was lost after the war but this woman found Mi Soon's birth certificate. Her name before being adopted was Yang which is not that popular in Korea so it was through the police department they were able to find the information on Mi Soon. WIthin 24 hours of arriving in Korea, she was going to meet her entire natural family that she had never had contact with the last 24 years of her life.
Ends up Mi Soon has four older sisters (one 20 years older than her) and one younger brother. She was the only person in her family given up for adoption. Her father was in a very bad car accident and they were still recovering from the war. They literally could not feed another mouth. She did not speak Korean so communication was difficult. The entire 24 years she was gone they had all been wondering about her but she had not been wondering about them. She was literally in shock having this family reunion with people who looked exactly like her but she did not know.
Mi Soon knows several Korean adoptees who have met their families and the language barrier is tough. The advice was also not to get too close. Very conflicting. While she was in Korea she taught English and studied Korean and got to know her family. She did it for two years and then decided to stay on another year Her family from Minnesota came over twice to visit and meet her family. They were very embracing of each other.
Mi Soon was going back and forth from NYC to Korea over the next three years. During that time she wrote a book called Bravo Your Life , a collection of nonfiction stories about life and family in South Korea that tells the story about her becoming part of her birth family and a society that she knew nothing about before arriving.
While she was in NYC she met her partner. She found out she was pregnant during one of her extended stays and they decided to not get married but have a family. When her book came out she just gave birth to her second child. Mi Soon settled down in NYC after the past 5 years of going back and forth to Korea. They were living in Williamsburg and Mi Soon thought that she would write and do the Mom thing. At one point they moved to Patterson NY thinking it would be the place to settle down and raise the family. They both realized it wasn't for them. Her partner is a freelance programmer and an entrepreneur and Mi Soon is a writer so they could really go anywhere.
They decided to take a break from NY winters and moved to Costa Rica. They stayed for one year in a mellow beach town. It was a great experience but it was time to go back as the kids were getting to the age where they needed to be enrolled in a school. They moved back and landed in Berkeley.
The idea of Bravo Your City had been ruminating in her head for a long time. She wanted to create something that would get her back into freelance writing and was a platform for social travel that she could never find. She wanted to be a travel writer for her own city while using the crowd to create unique content. She understood the psychology behind writing and travel and felt that Bravo Your City shared the spirit of neighborhoods and cities. Think of going to your favorite city and interviewing locals about their own town and creating an online magazine was one of her thoughts. All of that rolled into one would be the basis for Bravo Your City.
They are growing quite rapidly at 100% more eyeballs every month since BYC launched. I am definitely going to do some research for our holiday trip on the site. As a writer it was her journey that pushed her to write that first book and eventually launch something that is an extension of her. Bravo!