The Fixer Upper: Welcome Home star's mother moved to the U.S. from South Korea at the age of 19, not knowing how to speak English

By Hannah Chubb
July 19, 2021 05:52 PM
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Credit: Magnolia

Joanna Gaines has seen plenty of success over the past decade — and she says the strength of her mother, who immigrated from South Korea to the U.S. at the age of 19, has everything to do with it. 

The Fixer Upper: Forever Home star, 43, who recently launched the Magnolia Network with her husband, Chip Gaines, spoke about her mom's story and how it has impacted her own life while appearing on SiriusXM's The Hoda Show with Hoda Kotb in New York City on Monday.

"A couple of years ago, in 2014, when this all started happening, [Chip and I] were at this lounge area that looks over Central Park, and we took it in for a second and we both started crying," the mom of three began.

"We thought, if my mom, who came here at 19 years old from South Korea, would know that her daughter would one day experience the world like this…" she continued, stopping as she got emotional. "So we went back there last night to just really experience that magic."

Chip Gaines and Joanna Gaines
Credit: Cindy Ord/Getty

Joanna told Kotb that when she thinks of her mother, she thinks of someone who "worked her butt off" to get ahead in life. She added that, when her mom moved to the States, she didn't know English and couldn't get a driver's license, so she had to ride her bike everywhere.

"When I think about how much she fought for the family, for all the things, the dreams… when she talks to me now, she says 'never in a million years would I think that I would have a daughter [who gets to do these things]," Joanna explained.

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Joanna Gaines/Instagram

She continued: "Through the lens of all that she's been through — the hardship, the fight — I think, for her, I think for both of us, it's that thing of like, Mom, you set me up well. You set me up well because of the way you fought for this, your passion, now I get to kind of live in that wake."

This isn't the first time Joanna has spoken out about her mother's heritage and how it has inspired her.

RELATED VIDEO: Fixer Upper's Joanna Gaines Tells the Today Show Her 'House Rule' for Her Kids and Their Phones

In November, ahead of the launch of her second children's book, The World Needs Who You Were Made to Be, Joanna explained, "My mom is full Korean and my dad is Caucasian. Kids in kindergarten would make fun of me for being Asian, and when you're that age you don't know really how to process that; the way you take that is, 'Who I am isn't good enough.'" 

She continued: "Fast forward to today and my Korean heritage is one of the things I'm most proud of. I'm trying to make up for that lost time – the culture is just so beautiful. I think discovering who you are and what you were made to do is a lifelong journey."

On her new cooking show, Magnolia Table with Joanna Gaines, Joanna dedicates an episode to the Korean dishes her mother taught her to make and some modified versions that her kids now love.

July 15 was the official debut of Chip and Joanna's Magnolia Network, which includes access to the full first seasons of Fixer Upper: Welcome Home and Magnolia Table, the complete Fixer Upper archive and more.