Sisyphus’ Rock, or Lead Balloon.


Recently I feel like I’m doing something that is utterly impossible, let alone hopeless.

Why am I studying my ass off over LSAT?

First, I figured I have almost zero chance here because of who I am and what I am.  Let alone my liberal arts degree in non-Ivy League university (not that I feel bitter about my university, but South Korea in general tend to discount foreign universities that is not Ivy League.  Even if you are Oxbridge / Sorbonne graduate, sorry, Cornell looks better here), I’m not their average, nice, obedient Korean woman newbie.  And I’ll probably never be.  And, even if the employer said they want someone who is international, and complain how they can’t find the “truly international person” on newspapers on a daily basis, at the end they will hire someone who is a nice, average, shy, hierarchy-obedient Korean newbie.

Long story short with loads of generalization: let’s say there is a position for a marketing management with bilingual skill.  Joe and Jane are candidates.  Both are sane and capable.  Joe has better skills than Jane.  In States, it’s pretty easy to predict that Joe will get the position.  In Korea, Joe’s chance drops.  There is greater chance of Joe not getting the position despite of better skills, because so many employers prefer someone who is not out of the group order and be a family member (i.e. you do all of their shits without complaints).   And you just have to know the group order, which is different for each group.  I’ve seen so many cases where other candidates with far worse language skill and critical thinking get the job over me, despite the job description saying “language skill/international experience very important,” “this position is for someone with significant international experience,” etc.  Did I have a disastrous interview?  No, not at all.

After several interviews, I realized they are scared to hire me because I am too “foreign.” Plus young woman.  Too risky!

What’s even more funny is, if they are to hire someone foreign, they’d rather hire a white person.  Because they are so international.  Then they complain it is so hard to effectively communicate with these white employees.  Trust me, I know plenty of white employees of Korean firms, leaving the country at the end of their contract with bitterness (and they complain to me, because I understand).  So, as a person who is biologically Korean and speak fluent Korean with Korean parents and Korean passport, but inside not really, I don’t look good.  They’d rather hire someone who is biologically foreign and speak almost no Korean with foreign passport and inside foreign.  Now that looks good.  Throw all the troubles out of the window.  Then, the employers complain on newspaper how they lack truly international candidates.

Second, and more important than first, I want to leave here.  I don’t want to spend my life here.  I don’t like it.  It’s not that I have trouble accepting who I am, or denying my Korean self.  I’m fine with myself.  I’m CCK, and I’m made up of a bit of my parents, Midwestern America, South Korea and a bit of Japan.  I like it.  But it’s the society I’m living in now.  The tolerance level of different individual is so low, compared to other societies I lived (granted, there is a bit of difference since I was an official “foreigner”).  My dear friend/fellow CCK Akli and I talked about this a bit, and we all agreed that North America is probably the most comfortable place for CCKs – there are all kinds of people, and most of time people leave you alone.  Japan?  As long as you speak fluent English and have some western influence in your life, you are unlikely to face unpleasant discrimination.  Here, at least for me, I don’t feel I am happy and able to be myself.  I’m Korean by looks and blood and passport.  Although people know that I grew up in States, they expect me to know everything about Korea and follow it, and get it right away – which is not very possible for some Koreans!  Then they get angry if I mess up something.  If you are a white person who spent 10+ years in Korea, things are different.  Of course you are clumsy because you are not one of us.  Of course you don’t know…even if the person lived here for 10 something years.   And the culture itself emphasize too much uniformity among the club members.  I’m tired of more things are said than done.  Sometimes I think even if I fail to get a job in States thus forced to come back here after grad school, I’ll be happy at least for that 3+ years, because I was away from Korea and spent some time in my homeland.

Third, if it is my destiny to be eternal outsider like Leo Africanus’ fish-bird, so be it; but instead of letting it ride me, I will ride it, so I can live the life I want, at least partially.  It’s fine I don’t completely belong anywhere.  But if I am to be a constant wanderer, I need a skill to sell.

Though I have my reasons for studying,  I still get hesitant.  It sounds like I’m trying to float a lead balloon high up in the air.  Am I  going to get the score I want before the end of this year? I don’t know.  I always did well in language-related stuff like literature and sucked at math, while other Korean kids were the opposite.  Since English wasn’t my first language, I couldn’t beat the native speakers, which placed me in a strange situation.  Even if I get the score I want and fortunately get in to the school I want, will I do well?  I don’t know, for the abovementioned reason.  Let’s say I did everything well and I’m in the stage of job interview.  Would I be able to secure a job that is willing to sponsor my visa (either US or Japan), or offer me a very non-Korean working atmosphere even in their Korean branch?  Oh god, the horror.  The nightmare of my potential employer canceling everything at the last moment on my last year of college flashes back.  I was watching my friend getting accepted into a program with far-worse English than me, because she was US citizen. Ridiculous, but you can’t really fight back government.

And will I be happy, trotting down the path of law?  I don’t know, but once in a while I feel like my true passion is language thus maybe I’ll be happier living as a translator/interpreter.  But then, the future picture of interpreter/translators aren’t that bright, if not worse than lawyer.

Maybe I’m spoiled.  Maybe I worry too much.  Maybe I’m just being a lazy ass.  Maybe I just want to rant.  Maybe I just wanted to rationalize why I kept listening to Syrup16g songs and watched “Jizz in my Pants” Sherlock version more than thrice.  At the moment, all I know is if I don’t get to run away from this small peninsula, or have to return again like last time, I’ll probably end up killing myself.

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