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This post in part of my new interview series. This time we are interviewing Juno Kim, aka the famous Runaway Juno. I met Juno earlier this year while squid jigging in Malaysia and we became fast friends.  She is an expert photographer, and has started a conference to Empower Asian Asian Women. Read all about it below!

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So Juno, introduce yourself, and your popular travel blog.

I’m Juno Kim, and a storyteller at RunawayJuno.com. I photograph, write, and publish my stories. I believe there are always stories to tell, in any corner of the world. It’s my passion to discover and deliver stories from people, and place. It’s been four and a half years since I first opened RunawayJuno.com, and got tremendous amount of love from people around the world. My purpose is to inspire people to find who they are, through my stories! With colorful photos of course!

How long have you been traveling, and where are you at now? 

I just hit three years two weeks ago! I’ve been traveling on and off since I was in University, but I set off for the long-term travel three years ago. You can read my remark in this blog post : http://runawayjuno.com/runaway-tales/three-years-bucket-living-travel/

This year I half-settled in at Kota Kinabalu, Malaysian Borneo. There are many reasons, but most of all, I wanted to have a safe place I can call home. I’ve been nomadic, and I still am in some sense, but I’m more of a home person. I enjoy having my place, display my silly souvenirs, and cook.

I met you early this year in Malaysia when we were both Squid Jigging. After the week I walked away with only one Squid. How many did you get, and what did you think of the experience? 

I’ve been to squid fishing back home when I was little but that was my first time ‘competing’. I liked that we all got to experience what ‘squid jigging’ was. It was kind of crazy to see 200 media all at once, but definitely one of the most unique events I’ve ever been! At the end I got two. The success was delicious as squids were. 🙂

Give us one adventure travel story you have had? 

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I had many wonderful adventures (more of soft-adventure) during my travels, but last winter in Alaska was one of the proudest moments. I traveled from Anchorage to Fairbanks, and continued to the Arctic. Two days in the Arctic was nothing like it. Disappointedly it was an unusually warm winter. I didn’t get to experience -40 degrees weather but standing outside in the winter night was the coldest I’ve ever felt, and Korea’s winter is notoriously cold. But I wouldn’t change anything for the dancing northern lights in the dark Arctic sky.

What I really wanted to talk to you about is your upcoming conference AWE (Which I think is a wonderful idea btw). Give us all the juicy details about it! 

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Our mission is to empower Asian women to think, act, and achieve. While growing up, I wasn’t told to think outside of the box. The phrase was always mentioned at school, but there was a bigger box outside of the small box that we cannot exceed, like a Russian doll. I had a big epiphany when someone asked me “Why not?” when I thought I couldn’t leave my job. I mean, why not? This is not only my story, but so many others. We are not educated to be provocative. Sometimes, we just need to hear from someone that it is okay to follow the true heart, and everything will be okay.

The main target audience is Asian women, because that is my background, but in fact, the message we deliver is to everyone out there. Male and female, Asians and non-Asians. Everyone is trying to find the true self, aren’t we?

Tell us, where did you get the idea for this?

 

I wanted to make a safe community that we can share our dreams and challenges. Our purpose is to empower Asian women to think, act, and achieve. The idea came from all the inspiring people I met along the way, and my mother who is the bravest woman I know.

It is hard to be women in Asia, sometimes I think. My generation is still fighting for the gender equality, but our society is already deeply male dominant. I was rejected from several jobs because of my potential future as a mother and a wife. Despite the difficulties, I met so many inspiring people, women, who fought and survived. They weren’t afraid to be different, strong, and a bad-ass.

My mother is a typical Korean housewife by appearance. But once you get to know her, it’s impossible not to be wowed by her. She was born right after the Korean war. She didn’t have time to go to school because she had to take care of all the extended family as one of the only female family members. Yet, she is the wisest and most intelligent woman I know. She has been my biggest supporter, even when I didn’t even know what I was doing. I see her in myself daily, and I thank her for that. I always ask, ‘What would mom do?’ in a hard situation. She is the role model and essence of the vision of AWE.

For those interested where can we get tickets? 

Please visit http://conference.aweasia.org/register/. Currently we offer Early Bird registration price.

Even if you can’t come, you can still support us through various ways. We take any amount of donation, and we invite all of you to be our honorary members! To support AWE ’14, please read: http://runawayjuno.com/runaway-tales/empowering-asian-women-please-support-aweasia14/

I want to wrangle some travel tips out of you before I let you go. You do a lot successful photography any tips for photography? 

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My theory about great photography is 40% gear, 50% practice, 10% luck and talent. Anybody can be a great photographer, but you need practice. Always true to your feeling and angle, but don’t be lazy at other people’s product. Constructive criticism helps! I have a long way to go as well. It is my true passion since I was 8 years old. 🙂

Recently I opened my solo travel photography exhibition. If any of your readers are visiting Kota Kinabalu, the exhibition opens until 31 July! All the photos are also open for sale 🙂 : http://runawayjuno.com/runaway-tales/respect-photography-exhibition-cad-centre-arts-design/

In parting, what is one travel tips that you always adhere to?

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Be yourself. Travel in comfort. It’s easy to get intimidated by ‘cooler’ type of travelers when you are on the road. But, try not to. Travel is not about looking cool, showing off, or doing something you secretly don’t want. It is important to step out of the comfort zone, but it doesn’t mean that you have to be wild all at once. When you are on the road, you have to feel comfortable no matter what. Traveling is a hard job!

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