Tag Archives: korea

Ridiculous Meeting

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I decided to write a post about the meeting between me and this senior manager, which I mentioned here because it deserves a posting.

Now, the sr. manager is not an evil, ill-willed person. Thing is, she is narrow-sighted and judgmental. And she talks a lot, without thinking. Not the best combination. Sometimes, it’s almost like her toungue and mind are directly connected and there is no filter between them. She often sucks at explaining. There are several times when I was listening to her Korean explanation because I asked something, and I couldn’t help thinking “wait…why am I not understanding this? This is Korean explanation?”

For instance, I once had a lunch with her and we started to talk about the national health insurance reformation (Korean). She simply said “Doctors, nurses, and hospitals are complaining because they are greedy.” Having several doctor and nurse friends, I almost lost it. Even if I don’t have such friends, you probably shouldn’t form such a judgmental opinion without researching and studying both sides’ argument. Oh, but wait, this is an age of cyberbullying. What am I talking about…

Anyway, after that busy post-chuseok chaos, as I said, she called me to a meeting and said I’m probably not suitable for the communication managemet (hurrah!). Now, the ideal meeting would have discussed just the sr. manager’s impression, a thing or two about the job, how I feel about the new task, and what we are going to do about it. Well of course this meeting would be more than that. So here are some of her comments.

– I don’t think you have what it takes to do the job.
–> In this particular situation, hurrah! But really, I think it’s ridiculous to judge someone’s ability only after two days of doing the job, especially when the job is new to the person and that two days were extra-busy days.

You can’t take the job like a half-way task. It’s going to take one year for me to finishing teaching the skills for the job, and I can’t commit myself unless you really take yourself as a full member of this team.
–> Um, ok, but let’s not forget that (1) I still officially belong to another team and (2) I am still doing that another team’s job, like full time. Why should I expected to be a full member of another team in this situation?

– Everyone in my team reviews like you do, and also manages and tracks the communications.
–> Alright…IMO that’s probably not true, and if that is true, then why did this company hire me? If what she says is true, then they probably didn’t need me. Personally, I frigging hate it when Koreans say “but you are not the only one suffering! Bear it!”

– *She brought up what sort of clarified the complaint about my work. First, I really don’t know why she brought it up. Second, are you trying to intimidate me? For what?

– To be honest, I feel uncomfortable teaching you the new skills because you went to graduate school.
–> ??? Okay…but you knew my specification and if you thought so, you probably had to re-think giving me another task and maybe decline it. And you expect me to be a full member of the team?? Like hello?

– I hope I didn’t make you feel bad.
–> Well that’s something you probably need to worry/think before the meeting…or as you talk. All you did was just pouring out when there is an imbalance of right to speak, to someone who has less power.

 

I totally respect her dedication to work and her skill. But at the same time, I feel like she’s someone who has been in a very small circle and kept running in it, it just became the only world she knows. And she is expecting the same to everyone else, when not everyone is like her. Which is pretty typical of Korean bosses.

If someone is learning a new thing, it has to be done in a baby step, preferably with a guide and enough time. A lot of things in life can be learned by doing this. Of course there are geniuses who just gets it and improves so much faster than all others. But honestly, how many of such people are in this earth? What’s the percentage? We weren’t born with all the high-level skills. However, many – especially Korean organizations – forget it.

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Something is wrong in Korean organizations

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Bee awhile. Sorry for not being around. But then, I usually write something when I am unhappy with something and I have no outlet for venting. So me being away was a good thing. Now that I am writing this, you bet there is something bad.

I’ve been pretty happy with my job as a legal editor at a patent firm. Unlike most Korean workplaces, they don’t pick on me for petty things, and as long as you don’t screw up, you are left alone. It’s not a lot of payment, but it pays bills and I have very little overtime works. Then this happened: out of blue, my boss called me for a one-on-one meeting and as you can guess, I almost shit myself, thinking “OMFG did I screw something up?”

It turns out, according to my boss, there has been some complaints about my editing. Ok, acceptable. It’s something that frequently happens when you work.

Me: Oh, ok. Um…could you be more specific? Like is it more of general emails or legal/formal documents?
Boss: Uh, bit of everthing.

That doesn’t help.

Me: Ok…do you suggest anything I can do differently to amend this situation?

She was so ambiguous so I don’t know. I don’t even know why she brought this up if she doesn’t really have any suggestion. So, like a good Korean employee, I simply said “ok, um, I’ll give some thoughts on what I can do differently,” when in fact I was thinking “how the hell I can change the situation if you don’t tell me what you want?” It was sort of hinted that some people are unhappy how they have to re-review my edit, but IMO that’s ridiculous – if you had a third person review your document, of course you have to review it as well.

Then a week later, another senior manager called me up for a meeting. She started to ask about my usual workloads, out of blue. I just answered the best I can. Basically, the company got a load of works and they wanted me to manage the client communciations on the top of doing my usual review work. NO. NO NO NO NO. I’ve been there before, and I know a plenty of nightmare stories. In the end, you have to do what your boss/employer tells you to do. It’s never a winning game for you because of an imbalance of firepowers. Your work increases, but your compensation is little to none. Of course you start to make more mistakes here and there because you just don’t have enough mental space to give sufficient care to differnet balls you are juggling (and some of the balls are alien to you). Then your employer/boss starts complaining about your mistakes, and simply makes you an incapable employee – you get all the faults, and the employer/boss saves his face. How convenient. I wish I can do that to.

Since this is Korea, I mildly protested. To this senior manager, I just said “uh…let me think about it,” but we both knew it means nothing. Then to my boss, I said:

– If it’s me completely changing my duty from one thing to another thing, that’s acceptable.
– If it’s me helping a part of others’ task from time to time (which I have been doing gladly), that’s acceptable.
– But if I am to do my current work at full force and also do another work at full force, it will not go well. I can’t give you my best result and others will be negatively affected. Then usually, the person burdened with two tasks will have more work but underappreciated. I’ve been there (and many others did, too) and I don’t want to go through it again.

My boss’s answer? Well, you know, “oh I understand…but this is a learning opportunity…” NO I DON’T WANT A “LEARNING OPPORTUNITY.” If you really want someone to learn something, you need to cut out some time and space for the training, and pay for the person’s training.

In the end, I had to do the new task, while still doing my review work at 100%. *smh* Making things worse, I had to start the new task right before the Chuseok (lunar thanksgiving). Before and after holiday is the busiest time for all offices. The new task itself wasn’t a difficult job per se, but it had an awful lot of things that I have to keep tracking. Try working with several new tasks you are unfamiliar with, while you are swamped with your original duty and your computer keeps having errors. My soul was slipping away.

At the end of the day, that senior manager called me for a meeting. She said she doesn’t think I am suitable for the new task and she can tell based on her years of experience. Usually, I would say this is bs because it has been only two days and I wasn’t in a situation where I can focus on a new task. I would have tried to prove that they are wrong. But in times like this, that words were Angels singing from the heaven. Consequently, she said she will just assign a part of her job from time to time…which is what I initially suggested and they did not listen for f**ks sake.

In addition, I ended up knowing some backstories and gossips that I really didn’t want/have to do since the senior manager is a judgmental person who talks too much without thinking (I’ll probably write a separate post about it). So I sort of figured out what the work complaint I mentioned earlier was about. It seems like that a certain person high in the command (maybe more than one?) complained about my work, comparing me to someone who was working here years ago, doing something similar with my job. That someone had 10+ years of experience in this field, so he knew how the document should be written and what should be aimed without any explanation.

If I may say in a figurative way: the job posting says, “Wanted: guitarist with some experience.” So I applied and was employed. Then, someone complains, saying “she doesn’t play that well, not as well as Eric Clapton.” Well, then you probably should have figured out what you want and announce it. Or, train your guitarist.

But none of them will happen in a Korean company.

Instead, I was required to play piano as well: “oh hey, I know you are a guitarist, but now we want you to play piano as well. Oh? You’ve never played piano before? Oh well (shrug).”

This is not my first time working in a Korean company. If someone asks, I would say these are the prevalent problems in Korean companies: lack of organization, strict hierarchy, unreasonable expectation, “I don’t know what I want, so you figure out and I’ll blame everything on you.”

K-Jeossi/Ajeossi in My Father

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Been a while since I wrote my last blog post. The past 3-4 years were the worst parts of my life. I was stressed out. My health declined so badly. Massive PMS attacks that doctors have nothing but to say “here’s your pill” or “I know it’s hard but try to relax” or “maybe it’s allergy…?”  Let’s not even go to academics. I basically fought with my nails and teeth with useless admin/authorities. Good news is, I didn’t die and I graduated. Then, a week later, a dumb teenager rear-ended me with her giant Lincoln Navigator. None of my bones broke and there was no blood, but still I had to limp and yelp for a month or so, and it took a good 4-5 months for me to feel ok to go out and work out.

For the time being, I’m back in home and I’m glad to have some time to relax. Well, not absolute relaxation, but it certainly is less chaotic.

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I’ve had a fair share of conflict because of my TCKness and my Korean family…especially father. My being away yet again for years and being a bit more matured in socials helped somewhat for me to deal with my family. It’s pretty simple – I try to go out and set the time so I don’t face my dad a lot in person. I get up later than him, and don’t come back until he is in bed or about to go bed. And I try to not to talk to him a lot.  Things were alright…but then things happen.

I asked whether anyone would like some tea, and my mom said she’d like some. We have a water purifier pot, and a water purifier from fridge. I don’t know why, but my mom says use the water from purifier pot if I’m making a soup or tea. Because I was about to boil water, I thought it would be less work for me if I make my Dong Quai tea as well (because of my PMS, I boil a lot of Dong Quai tea, cool it in a bottle and drink it like water).

Now you can imagine what’s in front of me in the kitchen. Three different cups/steel bowl with different teas, and a big pot of water boiling. Not a good situation to turn my eye away. So I made an agenda in my head: wait until the water boils, pour them in to the cups and bowls, and fill up the water purifier. Then 30 seconds later, the father came in to the kitchen, was about to pour the water form the purifier, and found that it’s gone. Then he saw me with all kinds of cups and bowls with tea in it.

F: You used all the water for the tea, right?
Me: Yeah…
F: Well why didn’t you fill it up? I wanted some water.
Me: (still looking at the fire) You can drink from the fridge. 
F: Well I wanted to drink from *here*. Whoever used the water purifier should fill it up. 
Me: Umm…you literally walked in to the kitchen right after I finished pouring.

Then he started complaining how this takes forever. I didn’t say anything. Then he brought up some old story that I don’t even remember – I fixed everyone’s PC with a tool back in high school dorm? Clumsy way to be friendly. I didn’t say much except “I don’t think that’s true. Where did you hear it?” “Your mom.” “That never happened. Not true.”

By then, the teas were done so I took it to my mom and took one for myself. My father still said “well, from now on, whoever used the water purifier should fill it up, ok?” I said, “Again, you walked in literally like 30 seconds after I finished pouring.”

Then he yelled stuff like I’m talking too much, I should just do what he tells me to do. I just said “yes, yes, sure” and went into my room.

Honestly, I just want him to leave me fucking alone. I respect his territory or whatever it is, and I don’t want to get into trouble. I expect him to do the same. Just because you are paying someone/gave birth to someone doesn’t mean that you can just enter and throw trash in without the person’s consent. I fucking hate when he slaps my butt as being “friendly.” I say something then he’ll scream at me again.

And really, what’s the big deal about getting the fridge water? If I find that there is no water and someone in the kitchen is boiling something, I’d just shrug it off and go to the other source. Or wait. If someone feels like he has been disrespected over kitchen water or someone explaining what happened to the water, all I can say is you have a damn low self-esteem.

That’s what I hate about many Korean ajoessi (40+ years old Korean men). They see everything, even their family, as a ranking game. They never imagine that they can be wrong and those with different opinions can be “right.” If there’s something they don’t understand, everything is “impolite” or “rude.”

Sadly, I see one in my father. And I just hate it. I know I can’t fix it. And honestly, I kind of don’t want to be too close to him because of it, as long as he is not ready to give some credit to those who are different from him. One of my fantasy is, as soon as I get to move out, I will contact my family – especially father – as little as I can.

 

Mad World

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I took a TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication) today.  TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) isn’t much of a big deal for me, so TOEIC isn’t too hard either, if not easier.  Listening and reading boring 200 questions can be tiresome though.

These tests are not big deal for me, because I grew up in the United States and got good education, thanks to my parents who were dedicated and could afford to do so.  But for many others, these tests are big deal.  A lot of people did not have same experience with me (which is why I dislike people who credit no one else but himself for good outcome).  So far, I took TOEIC twice in Seoul – one in a high school building right next to my home, and another high school a bit away from my place.

These are 4-stories building, and I think their capacities are about 3-500.  Every single time I take TOEIC, the whole building is full.  The entire classrooms and wings are posted with test room numbers.  As the test is finished, a big crowd heading down to the 1st floor fills the building.  Many of them are college students, taking TOEIC for their job application (and this is why I took TOEIC, too – they just need it).  I saw more than five people, talking on the phone, saying things like “oh shi*t, that was so tough,” “How was it? I frigging bombed it.”  The sight of it makes me frustrated every time.

This just shows how system in South Korea is massively flawed.  English is a language.  It is a tool for certain purpose.  For instance, based on our common sense, someone who works in a domestic sales or teaching young students does not use English on daily basis for her/his job.  This person doesn’t really need to be a good English speaker.  Or, a college student who majored in Classic Korean Literature probably won’t need good English skill either.

The opposite is truth in South Korea, though.  You just have to have that TOEIC number even to apply for…everything.  A reporter once asked several Korean companies why they require TOEIC/TOEFL for candidates, and the candidates would actually use English on daily basis if hired.  Not one company could answer.

There is no evaluation system to make a good analysis of each candidate.  Well, to begin with, many of them don’t know how to write a job description, let alone the necessity of it.  So the only “standardized evaluation” they depend on is TOEIC and TOEFL.  How sad.

This is the core of problem in South Korea and its education.  It is so competitive.  Failure is not an option – especially in a world where certain behaviors and positions are expected depending on one’s age and gender, and being different is frowned upon.  So people end up spending loads of money, time, and energy on their kids, to make sure their kids to go to high-ranking college.  The finished products are dozens of test-taking grinders, who can’t do anything but getting a good grade and excel at tests.

The Korean public education is destroyed long before, but the government is turning blind eyes.  Sick and tired of the situation, the parents who can actually afford it (or have a chance to do so) send their kids abroad.  Those who can’t send their kids even temporarily, even if it’s not developed countries.

It’s more of “looking good” than the quality.

Mad world, it is.

Don’t Be So Wry, Sir.

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http://samurai01.egloos.com/tb/2802138

The above link is a blog post written in Korean.  I would look at his blog from time to time, since he is studying Japanese history, which is closely related to my 2nd major (And also a topic that continuously interests me).  Usually, I don’t really comment everything on someone’s blog.  Everyone is bound to think differently.  If I don’t like it, I don’t have to pick a fight.  Just leave it and do your stuff.
But this post really bothered me.  Mainly:

– That these parents of Korean students in prestigious American university have no reason to “spend frigging +$50,000” other than placing their kids to some financial firm at Manhattan.

– That the Korean students at his prestigious American university are well-behaved and nice, more than he used to think.  Because their parents “brainwashed” them to behave so being pretty wealthy family, and some thinks it’s the way to keep their reputation as “pretty wealthy family.”

First point.

What kind of crooked view is this?

Sure, maybe some Korean parents have such strange desire to place their kinds in some well-known financial firm in Manhattan.  But why make such a big leap of generalization, based on one school in one specific region?  Same can be said for many white American parents of my high school.  I know a plenty of them said to their kids’ college advisor, “I am not going to let my kid apply non-Ivy schools.”  I also know a ROTC guy (not Korean) who was terrified when he got his camp assignment – everyone in his family went ROTC and served in a same camp, and this guy didn’t get in.

I know a lot of Korean international students’ parents who sent their kids to America for a lot of different reasons.  Some just couldn’t handle the intensity of Korean high school students (which also greatly affects parents too).  Some didn’t want their kids to be order-following test-grinding machine (my parents, I guess).  And some had family crisis, such as divorce, so they sent their kids abroad.  Some had kids that really, really wanted to go abroad and study.

So don’t you fucking make such generalization, based only on a small portion of population, limited to a certain area.
Second point:

Again, what the heck is wrong with him?  He just can’t even appreciate someone’s good behavior?  And the reason behind their good behavior is only because they are from wealthy family?

Maybe, unlike myself, he had a plenty of well-behaved people around him so started to take them for granted.  All of the well-behaved, gentle people I’ve ever met were not limited to a certain social class.  The cleaning man and guests at the local homeless center were some of the best gentlemen.  Some of the most impolite, good-for-nothing kids I’ve ever met were from everywhere, from very wealthy family to just average.

At least based on my experience, someone’s manner and behavior have nothing to do with their family’s earning and social class.  If there is one standard that can tell anything about someone’s behavior and manner, that’s their parents’ value and personality.

Honestly, if you had a chance to meet someone who is nice and well-mannered, you are lucky just fucking appreciate it.  Don’t add things in and twist your view, like “oh, of course, it’s just another dirty trick to satisfy their vanity.”

Look, blog writer.  Few years ago, you wrote, as watching 20-something lady so surprised after crashing her Nissan Infinity, you didn’t really feel any sympathy, thinking “well, she’s got rich family, I bet.” Then you found yourself getting greatly worried over your friend’s phone call, saying he was involved in a car accident.  And that you were embarrassed to hold such double standard.

How do you know that Nissan Infinity is from her parents? Maybe it was her dream car, so she worked really hard or got a loan or was on a really good deal lease.

You, apparently, finished your Ph.D in one of the most prestigious universities over 6-7 years.

Shouldn’t you know better?  Generalization is no-no in the States, for most of people.  And, when you are writing things in open blog, you really should be careful of what you are writing.

See, this is why I don’t like many Koreans in America, especially those who came over much later in their life.  They generalize everything.  Everything is either black of white.  They only see a very small part of life.  They can’t just accept things as they are.  And, it’s not uncommon for them to bash on younger people who have international experience, saying “oh, those kids must be so spoiled, rude, just lucky kids with rich parents, blah blah blah” without ever considering the fears and stress they have (and consider them “nothing” compared to their own worries.  Now who’s impolite?).

People like you make us wanting to further distance ourselves from Korea.

Few years ago, a good friend of mine, Susie, shared one of her worries.  Back then, in her early 20s, Susie was going to one of the best schools for biology, so she was working at on-campus bio lab.  Susie is pretty hard-working student, who hates getting involved in politics and arguments.  So she just do her job, say bye, go back to her place and work on her assignments.

There was one Korean MA student (mid 30) in the same lab.  He finished his BA in Korea, and never lived abroad.  For no reason, he started to spread bad gossip on Susie.  He would approach Susie’s lab mate, and say stuff like “Susie’s so rude, she doesn’t greet me properly, it’s pretty selfish to just finish her job and go, blah blah.”  Susie was so stressed out, because 1) she didn’t have nerve to spare on this, and 2) she really could not figure out what she did wrong to him.  She said greetings to him properly, and they weren’t that close.

The only answer we could think of was…that he was just jealous.   He was jealous, because, being 30 something, he was struggling to swim in this brave new world he had never been, let alone language.  Then there was Susie, who was far younger than himself, yet speaks far better language and seems to handle stuff far better than himself.

Honestly, if I were him, I would just ask for help or focus on my damn business.  I don’t really understand him.  But now reading the above linked blog post, I think I know why.  Even if they go abroad and spend long years, they are still very Korean.

My Father is Constant Reminder for Why I Never Think Korean-Korean Guy as My Partner.

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I thought things have been going alright between my father and me.  I don’t mean that we started to talk so much and spent a lot of time together under rainbows and flowers and unicorns.  He didn’t pick on me, and I just kept my head low and did my things.  Well, there was a reason things were going too well, because he picked on me. Again. For nothing.

Few days ago, I ordered a gadget which I’ve used back in the States.  My father wondered what it is, so I handed him the manual.

Father: well, if you want me to read it, you’ll have to turn on the lights and get me my glasses.

So I rise from my chair to do them.  Then he said it’s not necessary, he was only joking, and I take everything too seriously.

My reaction?  What the fuck.

If someone handed you a manual, you can surely get your glasses and turn on the lights on yourself.  It’s not that difficult.

Earlier on that day, he said my amount of studying is nothing compared to what he did back in high school and college, and how he studied until he nosebleed. Guess what.  You were in your own country, your mom doing all your laundry and getting your meal.  You just had to study, not to worry about paying the bill on due date, tax filing, location of Korean supermarket and how to manage your movement for weekend shopping so you can do grocery shopping AND still work on your 40 pg paper, and most importantly, constantly worrying about your language skills, because you were studying in your first language.  And you just nosebleed a lot: doctor said you just have weak blood veins in nose.

Today, I was busting my butt off for working on some of the last sections of my online course (I am getting tired of this. Urgh).  It was near dinner time, so I called my mom’s cell to check where she is about.  No answer.  Maybe she’s back at home.  So I called home.  Father answered.

I: Is mom there yet?
Father: No, she’s not here yet.  I’ll call her.
I: No, that’s fine.  I called her a minute ago and she’s not answering.
Father: Okay I’ll call her.

…Did he not hear me? Nevertheless, I said I’ll be back.  On the way back, I had a bad craving for Garden Fresh Pizza from Papa John’s, so I dropped by to pick it up.  I made it back to home, with deliciously smelling fresh-cooked pizza (note: my father doesn’t like “healthy” “vegetable” stuff.  He doesn’t even try it, or try to). I said hello to him, sat down and munched down my pizza.  Then he found me with my pizza.

Father: Is that your dinner?
I: Yes?
Father: Then why didn’t you call me? I’ve been waiting so we can eat together.  What you did is rude.

I was dumbfounded.  Rude? If he is the kind of guy who just can’t eat alone, I’d knew it.  But he is man who can set his own table and eat alone (note2: as a Korean man, he deserves credit for this one).  If I remember correctly, there was no mention of anything like “let’s eat together” or “I’ll wait.”  To be honest, I’d rather drink a cup of milk for my dinner instead of having 5-star French course meal with my father only.

But, what can I say as a powerless daughter of Korean family.  I just said “yes, yes, my fault, sorry about it.”  So I ate my yummy pizza and he had his dinner in the kitchen.

After he finished eating, then he started picking on me again.  That:

– It is so ludicrous that I didn’t even call that I’ll just have my pizza for dinner while he is waiting for me.
* My answer: you didn’t say anything about it.  How the hell would I figure that out?  I’m no mind reader.

– Are you ignoring me? You don’t feel any weight around me?
* My answer: no, more like I want to minimize my contact with you, because I don’t feel like developing a good relationship with someone who can’t put his/her feet to others’ shoes and doesn’t give any single credit to others who are different from yourself.  So I guess my answer to your 2nd question is yes…?

Then he AGAIN complained how I don’t ever greet him in the morning or evening.
*My answer: AGAIN, I have my agenda to run, and my way of getting things done.  You didn’t really call me anyway like other fathers back in my school.  I didn’t complain.  You are complaining.    If you are grown up, you really should not expect others to do it for you.

Of course I didn’t say any of my answers out loud.  I just say yeah, yeah, sorry *munch my pizza*.

He still wants to be babysitted.  He doesn’t understand other family members have their own life and their own things to do, and not everyone will be just sitting there, waiting for him.  He doesn’t think that there are different ways of doing things done; and he thinks it’s bad because it’s nothing like his way.

Unless he approves that there are different ways, and accepts that his daughter grew up in a very different culture/surrounding from his, there will be no improvement.  That’s the minimum starting point.  But now I really don’t hope for anything.

He is a constant reminder of why I don’t like Korean-Korean guys and never consider them as a potential partner.

Never Complete

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I’ve been very busy.  My law school prep course is tight, and the people who are taking the same course are not the most contributing kind.  I just finished submitting my 2nd paper of the course and it’s 1:43 am here.  Phew.  I feel like I am back in my college, writing papers until 3 am with app kind of books, papers, cups and clothes spreaded all over my room.

Recently I became a friend with Jay, who is in pretty much same situation with me.  Jay’s passport is South Korean, but he went over to Arkansas at age 3 and spent his entire life in South.  Then something happened and he had to come back, now serving his military duty like a good South Korean citizen.  He is going through some of the phase I went through (or currently going through) so it has been a pleasure to talk with him.  Maybe it’s because him talking about how all of his friends are in Arkansas, and how he misses the American South – good barbeques, cool beer at patio in the midst of warm, humid south air and laid-back people.  I didn’t have a chance to property visit American South (okay, I visited Florida once but that’s not really South…no offense, Floridans), but I understand him.  Likewise, I miss crazy snowstorms, how everything was either gray, black or white, the crisp cold winter air on my cheeks, reddening my skin, and kind Midwesterners, wrapped in their Gore-Tex Northface shell jackets and hats.  And we are two Koreans in Korea.

Maybe it was because of this chat, but a thought suddenly occured to me – that I probably will never feel “complete” or “at ease” wherever I go.

When in Korea, I hate the fact how the whole society is homogenous, stigmatizes different voices, treat “foreigners” differently based on their nationality/skin color, thinks it is totally okay to sacrifice individual for the sake of group, and communicating vertically only.  And how all the “foreign” foods that isn’t really expensive or that special suddenly becomes twice the original price and treated like some kind of luxury. And the total lack of middle ground market for clothing and pants: they are either all really short, really small, or really decorated over the top.  In addition, most of the pants don’t fit me well here.  I misses Japanese people’s respect of privacy and misses a lot of things about America.  Of course, friends those are not in Korea, too.

When in the United States, I hate the fact how people have allergic reaction to any kind of government regulation (Grow up, people!), shipwreck med insurance system, D- grade infrastructure, evangelist politicians and total lack of public transportation.  Then I start to miss a lot about certain things of Korea and Japan: those two countries superb public transportation and infrastructure (both countries has bullet train AND public transportation covering entire nation; US is like x10 bigger than those two.  What are they thinking?!?!), awesome public med insurance and 24-hour operating service/stores.  And free restaurant deliveries.  I again start to miss home and a small number of friends in Korea.  I’ll probably miss more once my school starts, since I managed to make a bit more friends in Seoul.  And how you can “get around” some rules by connections and negotiations in Korea.

When in Japan, I hate how people don’t ever tell anything in a straightforward manner and unwilling to take any risk or responsiblity. Usually, there are no words equivalent of “flexiblity” (not in a literal sense, though).  Bureaucracy there is so bad, and the decision making authorities are so unwilling to change, even if it is verge of survival.  Sometimes they are way too obsessed on small details.  And, kind of like Korea, it is so hard to be considered seriously if you are not one of them (fortunately, I suffered less of this because people around me were so great and I look Asian – Japanese – enough for most Japanese).  Soon I start to miss how things are so much more straighforward and flexible in America and Korea.

Sure, I appreciate my unusual international experiences.  I know that is my edge, and I know that’s what makes me as me.  But think about it – most others feel pretty settled and fine in a certain place.  Your friends are there and you lived there long enough.  All the pieces that makes you are at one place, so whenever you want to go back or get some peace of mind, you can just go to that one place.

But what about someone like me?  My entire childhood is spread around the world.  I can’t simply drive several hours or get a weekend trip to revisit my past and remiscine good ol’ times.  I don’t have my private jet.  You can’t just plan to visit America from Korea over a weekend.

Whether I end up living in America, Korea, Japan, or somewhere else, one thing is sure: I will never feel complete or settled.

People say acceptance is the key to everything.  I accept, I guess.

But it still saddens me – that I will never feel complete or settled for the rest of my life.