I like the topic. I think the essay needs a bit more structure to it. How do these ideas link together? I think your general idea is
1. I moved to the United States and feared I would have to force myself to fit into a "white" society.
2. Was pleasantly surprised by the racial diversity and acceptance in the U.S.
3. Was unpleasantly surprised by legal trouble that my parents and my family dealt with because we were Korean and unfamiliar with the American legal system.
4. Realized many other Koreans had these problems and that while the U.S. was accepting of many cultures, the language and cultural barriers made it difficult for Korean immigrants to have equal access to opportunities or participate fully in the legal system.
5. Decided to pursue a career in law in order to help Korean immigrants understand and deal with the U.S. legal system.
Hopefully that's what you were going for. I tried to clarify some of those ideas and made some style edits. My rewrites are in bold. I didn't attempt the part about your family's store as I was unsure of the details.
All I had known of the United States when my family packed up to move here 11 years ago was that it was a country of English-speaking white people. I was enthusiastic about experiencing a whole new world, but at the same time extremely daunted by the unknown. On a sleepless night before my first day of school in the United States, I repeated to myself that I had to be strong and determined to “whiten” myself as soon as possible to successfully transition into a new life.
The only think I knew about the United States when my family packed up and left Korea 11 years ago was that it was a country of English-speaking white people. I was excited to experience a whole new place, but at the same time, daunted to take on the unknown. On a sleepless night before my first day of school in the U.S., I became resigned to “whiten” myself as soon as possible, to successfully transition into a new life.
The next day, I was completely caught by surprise when I witnessed kids of a great variety of different races conversing and playing together on a school yard. Having only lived in a mono-racial society, it had never crossed my mind that such diversity could exist. It made me dumbstruck, but as the pressure of having to “become white” died away, I felt extremely relieved and grateful that I could be myself. To a young 11-year-old Korean immigrant in a very multicultural city of San Diego, the United States was a country of diversity and equality in which no race should feel left out.
The next day, I was completely caught by surprise when I saw kids of a great variety of different races talking and playing together in the schoolyard. Having only lived in a mono-racial society, it had never crossed my mind that such diversity could exist. The pressure I had put on myself to become “white” started to die away, and I was relieved and grateful that I could be myself. As an 11-year-old Korean immigrant in the multicultural city of San Diego, I came to regard the United States as a country of diversity and equality in which every race was accepted and afforded the opportunity to succeed.
My perception began to change in the summer of my sophomore year in high school, when my family was unfairly forced to close down the clothing store that we had owned for a couple of years. It was the first family business that my parents opened after years of working in demanding part-time jobs, which my whole family had been ecstatic about. We had attached ourselves to it very dearly, and I remember not being able to sleep at night in a joyful excitement for what seemed to be a great turning point for my family. But everything changed when we received a sudden notice demanding the closure of our store in a month. I was completely taken aback by the unexpected misfortune that befell upon my family and felt angry and frustrated, but there was nothing that we could do to stop it. In a consultation with a lawyer, we were told that we had a high probability of winning if we pursued a court case, but we did not have enough money to hire a lawyer. Completely helplessly, we had to let go of our store.
The feeling of helplessness that I had felt so strongly during that time turned into a determination to become successful and prevent any future unfair experiences for my family as well as for others around me. It was from that time that my mother began to suffer from depression that she continues to cope with to this day, which vividly reminds me of that time.
[After reading the last section, this transition makes it sound like your family was forced to close the store because they were Korean and the closure was racially driven. But, after reading the following paragraph, where you talk about other Koreans with similar problems as your family’s, it sounds like these troubles came from a lack of legal knowledge and a language barrier. As others have said, it’s important to explain the actual situation.]
On the bright side, it had given me a sense of purpose and the strength to pursue my endeavor throughout college. It was the decisive moment that saved me from the confusion of my future and directed me to find my passion in law. As I shared my family’s experience with others in the Korean American community, I was dumbstruck by how many of them have experienced situations like my family had. Many of the Korean Americans, particularly those who have immigrated to the United States, have experienced similar pains because of their lack of legal knowledge, inadequate English skills, and financial difficulty.
As I shared my family’s experience with others in the Korean American community, I was struck by how many of them had been in similar situations. Many of the Korean Americans I spoke with, particularly first generation immigrants, had experienced similar pains because of their lack of legal knowledge, inadequate English skills, and financial difficulties.
I maintain my admiration for the United States that I had grown when I was young, but I felt that more could be done about my community. There is a diversity of races and yet with clear barriers between them that prevent voices from being heard. There was an alienation of Korean Americans in the American society that prevented them from having a voice in the legal system. I had decided to move into a Korean Buddhist temple in my sophomore year of college to increase my Korean knowledge and have more contact with Korean Americans. With my bicultural background, as I became more and more knowledgeable of all the challenges facing the Korean American immigrants, I felt a stronger sense of duty to become a bridge between the two different cultures.
My family’s struggle and the helplessness that I felt as a result was the decisive moment that spurred my passion for law. I maintain the admiration for racial diversity and acceptance in the U.S. that I developed when I was young. But, while there are many diverse communities, there are clear barriers for some that prevent all perspectives and voices from being equally heard. There is an alienation of Korean Americans in American society that prevents them from having a voice in the legal system. After living in a Korean Buddhist temple in my sophomore year of college and becoming very close with many Korean-American immigrants there, I became more and more knowledgeable of all the challenges facing the Korean immigrants in the United States. With my bicultural background, I developed a strong sense of duty to become a bridge between the two different cultures.
I committed myself to become more knowledgeable about what was being done in the community for the disadvantaged segments of the society. When I entered college, non-profit was naturally the first area that I turned my head to. I researched for a volunteer opportunity at the local law center to gain exposure to the workings of a non-profit legal organization that I hope to establish myself later for the disadvantaged Korean American immigrants. I also found volunteer opportunities in another non-profit organization YWCA to assist with programs reaching out to the community and learn of the ways that I could help out the disadvantaged. My unique background in non-profit organizations, as well as my experience at legal institutions like the East Bay Community Law Center and the District Attorney’s office, will add a considerable value to my law school class.
[It's not clear if you're talking about the Korean American community, or some other community in this paragraph. I'm not sure this paragraph belongs in your essay. Most of these things should be on your resume and you can explain them there. Also, I think you're weakening your point by saying the value you will bring to a law school is your experience at these organizations. You've written your entire essay about wanting to help Korean Americans navigate the complicated legal system in the United States. This is what is interesting and unique about you. Your concluding paragraph should focus on that.]