“Someone was playing a joke when they made me, you know, ‘Let’s make this guy a writer and a guitar player, but let’s make him write with his left hand but play with his right, and let’s have him born in the middle of May and give him a Christmas name like Noel, and let’s make him a dodgy, schizophrenic, two-faced Gemini.’ Cheers!”
– Noel Gallagher, Oasis

And I think I can apply this quote to myself too.

“Someone was playing a joke when they made me, you know, ‘Let’s make this girl actually Korean and look like totally Asian by giving slant small eyes, but let’s make her grow up in midwest where there is almost no Asian, and let’s make her born in 86 but treated like 85er, and give her AB bloodtype with pieces zodiac, born in the last day of pieces so in some way she is Aries. Oh, and let her have a job at university after her graduation yet deal with bunch of businessmen. Cheers!”

So where do I start?  I am biologically South Korean and my parents are South Korean.  But I grew up in Midwestern America, where the Asian population is either low to the bottom or nonexistent.  There is a term for kids like me – TCK, Third Culture Kids, or CCK, Cross Culture Kids.  I call this a blessed curse or cursed blessing – it looks “cool” and sophisticated, but often we TCKs go under enormous amount of stress and pressure.  We often have somewhat easier entry to the workforce, but in the end we still feel isolated, taken advantage of, taken for granted and not getting anything in return.

I have South Korean passport and nothing else.  Most of times I think and act and behave like Midwestern American and I feel more comfortable that way.  But when dealing with Koreans – now I work at Seoul, South Korea – I have to flip the switch.   Maybe life could have been a bit more simple if I were a mono-cultured kid.

Back in college, my MBTI was ISTJ.  Recently I took the test again, now I’m INTJ.   Pieces.  Tiger. On multiple intelligence, I scored highest on language and interpersonal.  I suck at math – not just arithmatics and stuff, I also have some trouble memorizing numbers, such as password.  And I’m Asian who suck at math and science. Ha!

Hopefully I can give some first hand experience of what it is like to work in South Korea and its office culture, and what is it like to be only TCK in the mono-office…or ranting to release my stress away? I also hope to be more confident and easy with myself, i.e. finding my 居場所 in this wide world.


Please let me know before you link or copy my posting to somewhere else.  Let me know the nature of link page.  I do not approve any kind of distortion (summarization included) of my original posting.

8 responses »

  1. 안녕하세요, 저희 뮈슬리 제품 새로 나와서 제 블로그 들러주시는 분들에게 샘플 보내드리려고 해요. 제 메일로 샘플 받으실 수 있는 주소 부탁드려요! 그럼 좋은 하루 보내세요.^^

  2. Fully enjoy your webpage. I worked overseas in Seoul as an expat for a large Korean chaebol for a good number of years, and readily identify with many of your postings. As a white guy, I was often described by locals as a reverse banana, basically an oriental guy with a western face. My son, who is about your age, is a 50/50 Asian-Caucasian hybrid who has lived in three continents, speaks four languages, and amazingly is not a nerd, and also struggles with math! I can truly relate to your experiences, and frustrations, and wish you all the best in all your endeavors. Enjoy your unique nature, and thrive in this crazy world. If you have faith, keep it, if you don’t search for it, and be sure to keep a good sense of humor, and a good sense of the obsurd. Enjoy life!

    • Hello Yankee Boy,
      Thanks for the comment, and I’m glad you enjoyed my blog. I bet your son is not nerd because he is half caucassian (jk, I know lots of non-nerd Asians and nerd caucassians) Feel free to drop by – it is always good to have someone to relate with, especially when there’s a lack of friends!

  3. good point with the article about South Koreans’ birthrate.

    and now I am wondering if you are woman or man ha!

    nice blog! (oh I am South Korean getting a job soon)

  4. Hi there! I came across your blog through the TCK site recently and wanted to say that I can relate to a lot of points you’ve made in many of your pieces. Like you, I have a South Korean passport and nothing else. My grandparents moved to Thailand in the 1970’s (I always joke that they took the wrong boat because most immigrants were moving to the States at that time) so naturally, my dad, being the oldest son and all, moved our family here when I was two. Our community was heavily Americanized so I attended an all American school my whole life and then moved to Seattle for college. I graduated college in three years and got a job straight out of college (OPT process) with a small company that was willing to work with me to obtain the necessary visa. As you might know, it is extremely difficult to get a working visa and obviously, mine didn’t get approved.

    Now, I’m back in Thailand but because I’m not Thai (you can’t be a dual citizen here as well) i’d pretty much have to go through a similar but easier case of getting a work permit here. I’ve never lived in Korea and know for a fact that they will disregard any experience and skills if you state that you’re Korean. It’s like they don’t care about any of that. When I found out that I would not be able to continue to stay in the States, I started looking for jobs in Korea. I went through a lot of phone interviews and they would really like me until they realized that I held a Korean passport. I’ve been hoping to find someone that I could talk to and get some opinions on life in Korea and how all the transitions might be!

    Thanks so much for sharing your experiences.

    • Hi Sohyoung, thanks for sharing experience as well. As you’ve already noticed, I’m now in grad school in the States, and as the internship period rolls in, the same annoying fact is about to face me again. Ugh….Sorry for late reply, but please feel free to visit. It’s good to have people who share similar experience and support each other by sharing.

      I hope you are having some good news by this time!

  5. I just stumbled upon this. Great stuff! I am currently teaching English in South Korea, and I agree with your sentiment that it is not a “real job”. I came here to spend time with my fiance before we go back to the US next year. As an act of redemption, however, I was a TOEFL teacher back in the States, where I feel the job was much more demanding (due to diligent international students) and rewarding; My skills were put to use more effectively. Here, in contrast, the ESL field is lacking in professionalism, and, to be bluntly honest, it’s basically just babysitting. Regardless of my background, I’ve enjoyed reading through your blog, and hope you come back to write more when you have the time!

    • Hi druzzrug,

      Thanks for your kind comments, and I am glad you enjoyed my babbles. Haha.
      Yeah…I felt some of what you said when I did tutoring stints here and there. There are plenty of parents who think everything will be fine and their kid’s grade will improve just because they made the kids to go to this hagwon/school/tutor/etc. To be fair, I know a handful of my American friends who came to Korea to teach English and take their job seriously. Actually, one of them found that teaching language is her calling. But then, I also met a lot of people who came to Korea just to partay and have some fun time…the conversation goes “oh you are from Korea! The food was so good / incredible night scene / ajummas blah blah blah…” Oh well. Anyhow I hope you are doing well somewhere in this world, and please come by when you can!

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