My dad is a good man. He is very responsible, good at his job, and hard-working. While he is not exactly the romantic family man type of father, he is dedicated for family. Compared to millions of other typical Korean dads, who still believes they are the king of the jungle hence get to be the “bum” back in home after work and command other family members, he is far better. Most of all, I would not be able to enjoy what I have now without his dedication and hard work.
But he is still Korean dad.
Ever since I came back, there were moments of conflict. I, who grew up in States, was accustomed to state my position clearly in words and direct communication. My dad did not. My dad took this as me just throwing excuses and not respecting him, unlike his colleagues’ kids. Now we somewhat got over with it. I do not meddle in his land and he does not meddle in my land. Still, there are moments when I get pretty irritated, such as him NEVER EVER answering the phone in home (instead he tells my mom or I to do it) or asking about my future plans and “advises” on it out of blue. It is better than being ignorant, but I cannot help thinking, ‘since when were you that interested in my future plan, when you barely sent me an e-mail or regularly asked about me to my mom?’ (due to the working hours and time difference, my mom got the most updates on me real-time) While I value his advice on some topics, like interpersonal stuff, it is a bit baffling when he started to say I should do this and that on field that is not his expertise. Lastly, when he suggests that we should have a conversation, that conversation usually ends with him saying whatever he wants to and me only allowed to say “yes, yes, gotcha.”
I am aware of the fact that my parents are not CCK like myself. I am also aware that my dad is not a big travel bug like my mom, visited USA less frequently, and does not speak fluent foreign language. I do understand why some people of homogenous country treat light-skinned foreigners and dark-skinned foreigners differently, rather than calling them “racists!” instantaneously (I knew an American girl from Ohio working in Korea – I was pretty baffled when she says Korea is such a racist country and she is so thankful that she is American. Not entirely false, but she failed to understand that Korea is historically homogenous country just started to take baby-step for diversity and forgot US had a long history of obvious racism too!). I know non-CCKs’ definition of foreigner is different from that of CCK’s. I also understand while homosexuality in some countries is socially accepted, in some other countries it is seen as perversion, mental illness and/or sin. It is not because these people are just ignorant scumbag; they grew up in a different society with different values and thinking process.
But I really do not know what to do, or how to react when my non-CCK, Korean dad calls homosexuals as “homo saekki (Korean, literally brute, figuratively and realistically “fag” or “bastard”).” If these are the words from some person of my age’s mouth, I could have just yelled that you are such a narrow-minded impolite douche. Obviously, I can’t really do that to my own father. Especially when I am perfectly aware of him being middle-aged Korean man, and how Korean society views homosexual individuals. On the other hand, it is hard for me to stay quiet since some of my dear friends are homosexual. Things would have been so much easier if I were just any non-CCK Korean who has no homosexual friend and have Korean understanding of homosexuals, or an American with very little understanding of Korean society. Well, I’m neither. All I could say was “Dad, please. Some of my good friends are homosexual.”
As we eat our meal at the Moroccan restaurant, the chef’s family and employees – all Moroccan – were enjoying lazy and relaxing Sunday brunch, and family time in the same space. There was a very cute, lovely, cheerful 8-years-old girl. After watching some Korean pop program on TV, she got bored and started to play doctor with her cousin in perfect Korean. I thought it is great she is fluent in Korean, but I was not that surprised. Nor did I thought her as a foreigner – the ultimate CCK question, what is the definition of foreigner and who can define it? Though she might be Moroccan physically, is she really a Moroccan when she is living in Korea with Moroccan family, interacting with Koreans on daily basis and attending Korean public school? In the middle of friendly conversation, I heard my dad: “so how many foreign students are there in your school?” I froze for a few seconds. I was just begging secretly for either the girl or others in the presence not to take offense of my dad’s question. No one took offense. To my dad, of course she and her family are foreigners. To me, that’ is hard to tell.
He is my father. Without him, I would not be here, writing this. Without him, I would not be enjoying many comforts in my life that I have now. We chit-chat and joke around. Yet he does not feel like a close family member to me. Being a CCK (or just “someone who is literally all over!”) I really do know that blood tie is not the only thing about family. He is my dad and always will be, but is he a family to me?
I don’t know why CCK/TCKs have all this questions coming up in life in addition to all the other common questions……