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‘Sesame Street’ Welcomes First Asian-American Muppet

Credit: Unsplash

Aside from the iconic characters like Elmo and Big Bird, Sesame Street has introduced a new Muppet to its ensemble, making history with the addition of the first Asian-American character, specifically of Korean descent.

The newest Muppet is Ji-Young, a 7-year-old American-born of Korean heritage. According to an interview in character, Ji-Young enjoys playing the electric guitar, skateboarding, and has a deep understanding of Korean language and culture. Her name, it turns out, cleverly references the show’s title.

“In Korean, the two syllables in my name each have their own meanings. ‘Ji’ means smart or wise, and ‘Young’ means brave, courageous, and strong,” Ji-Young shared in the interview. “Interestingly, ‘Ji’ also means sesame when looked up.”

Behind the scenes, puppeteer Kathleen Kim brings Ji-Young to life, having grown up watching Sesame Street herself. Kim expressed the weight of responsibility she felt in helping create Ji-Young, but recognized it as a meaningful endeavor.

Kim acknowledged the importance of the role and the lessons it could teach, emphasizing that the message of inclusion is paramount.

Ji-Young is set to debut in “See Us Coming Together: A Sesame Street Special,” which will be shown on HBO Max, local TV stations, and Sesame Street social media platforms on Thanksgiving. The special episode aims to celebrate the rich diversity of Asian and Pacific Islander communities as part of the show’s ongoing commitment to promoting racial justice initiatives.

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