“Sesame Street” debuts Ji-Young, first Asian American muppet

Ji-Young is a new muppet on "Sesame Street." She is just 7 years old. She is Korean American. And she is making history. She is the first Asian American muppet on the TV show.

Ji-Young was seen on "See Us Coming Together: A Sesame Street Special." It aired on November 25 on TV, cable and online.

Ji-Young spoke to the muppet Ernie in a recent interview. She explained that her name has special meaning. The two syllables each mean something. Ji means smart or wise. Young means brave or strong. "But we were looking it up and guess what?" she said. "Ji also means sesame."

How Ji-Young Came To Be

Work on the new muppet began after 2020. That year a white police officer killed George Floyd. Floyd was a Black man. The event led to many protests. Also, there were more hate crimes against Asians. A hate crime is something hurtful done against another person because of their race. It could also be because of their religion or other things.

We wondered "how we might help," said Kay Wilson Stallings. She works with "Sesame Street." Their thinking led to the Coming Together show. It also led to the new muppet.

Teaching Children About Differences

Ji-Young will teach children to be "upstanders." Upstanders stand up for people who may be picked on because of their skin color or other differences. Stallings hopes kids will learn how to be upstanders by watching the show.

Ji-Young wants to share her Korean culture with friends and neighbors on "Sesame Street." She hopes to make some Korean food.

"I would love to try it," said muppet Ernie, who spoke with Ji-Young. "You know, I've tried bulgogi. I really like bulgogi." Bulgogi is made of thin strips of meat. The meat is quickly stir-fried or grilled.

Kathleen Kim is the puppeteer for Ji-Young. Puppeteers make puppets come alive in puppet shows. Kim is Korean American like Ji-Young. It's a dream for her to be the voice of Ji-Young on "Sesame Street." She grew up watching the show.

Kim hopes Ji-Young can help stop anti-Asian feelings. She wants to teach kids about race. She wants it to be normal to see different-looking kids on TV.