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'Sesame Street' introduces its first Asian American muppet, Ji-Young

Sesame Street Asian American Muppet Ji-Young
Posted at 5:23 AM, Nov 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-15 10:43:08-05

At only 7 years old, Ji-Young is making history as the first Asian American muppet in the "Sesame Street" canon. She is Korean American and has two passions: rocking out on her electric guitar and skateboarding.

The children's TV program gave The Associated Press a first look at its adorable new occupant.

"So, in Korean, traditionally, the two syllables, they each mean something different, and Ji means, like, smart or wise. And Young means, like, brave or courageous and strong," Ji-Young explained during an interview with the AP. "But we were looking it up, and guess what? Ji also means sesame."

Ji-Young will formally be introduced in "See Us Coming Together: A Sesame Street Special."

Actor Simu Liu and tennis star Naomi Osaka are among the celebrities appearing in the TV special, which will drop Thanksgiving Day.

Ji-Young's existence is the culmination of discussions after the rise in anti-Asian hate and nationwide protests against racism in 2020. According to the AP, "Sesame Street" has since established two task forces — one to look at its content and another to look at its own diversity.

What resulted was "Coming Together," an initiative by the show to address how to talk to kids about race and culture.

Ji-Young's puppeteer, 41-year-old Kathleen Kim, told the AP that she thought it was important that the new character not be "generically pan-Asian."

"Because that's something that all Asian Americans have experienced. They kind of want to lump us into this monolithic 'Asian,'" Kim told the AP. "So it was very important that she was specifically Korean American, not just like, generically Korean, but she was born here."