Joanna Gaines Breaks Down to Mom About Not Embracing Her Korean Heritage: 'I Always Wanted to Say I Was Sorry'

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Joanna Gaine's mother
Michael Buckner/Diversity via Getty; decency
Joanna Gaines had a tearful moment with her mom on the final episode of her podcast, The Stories We Tell with Joanna Gaines.
The Fixer Upper star, 44, invited her mum Nan to the show for an emotional deep dive into her past. Growing up with an American father and Korean mother, Joanna hasn't always accepted her "half-heartedness," a difficult journey she talks about in Monday's episode.
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"I don't know if I've ever said that to you," she tells her mother, beginning to get emotional, "but I always wanted to say I'm sorry for living in half. And the best thing about me not fully accepting, that was you."
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Holding back tears, she continues, "The culture that was half of me as a Korean little girl, as a Korean teenager, as a Korean woman. That I felt this guilt and this regret. Damn it, that's my mom, that's her culture."
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RELATED: Joanna Gaines struggled with insecurity after being bullied as a child over her Korean heritage
She also recalls spending time in New York City, especially Koreatown, when she was in college and how visiting the neighborhoods made her miss her mother as she saw "other mothers who holding hands of their daughters".
"Up until that moment, I wasn't fully aware of who I was," she explains. "That I am this culture, this Korean story, this Korean story, my Korean mother, my Korean grandmother. That's the richest part of me. And walking away in abundance really changed the narrative for me.”
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Later in the episode, she adds that she feels "so free" now, especially seeing her daughters embrace their Korean culture. (Joanna shares daughters Ella, 16, and Emmie, 12, and sons Drake, 17, Duke, 14, and Crew, 4, with husband Chip.)
As her mother sniffles at the emotional mood in the background, Joanna says, "I just wanted to tell you mom that I'm in a place of absolute pride right now."
In addition to discussing her legacy in her new memoir, The Stories We Tell, the Magnolia Network star recently shed light on the subject with a powerful video shared to Instagram. In a series of clips released in November, Joanna returns to Koreatown with her daughters to explore the meaningful neighborhood with them.
RELATED: Joanna Gaines returns to Koreatown with her daughters 20 years after the eye-opening first visit
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Joanna shared in a November cover story with PEOPLE what an eye-opening experience it was for her to visit the neighborhood for the first time when she was 21.
"I've seen more people who looked like me than I've ever seen," she said. "I left because I truly understood the beauty and uniqueness of Korean culture, and for the first time I felt whole, like this is complete who I am and I'm proud of it."

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