Tag Archives: midwest

Why Mitt Romney is So Personal To Me


One trademark of TCK/CCKs is that they feel very vivid, 4D worldview.  Unlike many people whose international experience is limited to indirect experiences, TCK/CCKs can actually recall every sensory images related to the foreign place they have lived vividly.  So, for instance, a TCK/CCK reaction to watching the bombing of Baghdad would be: “How the heck can they do that? They can’t do that, my nanny is still living there!  The marketplace where I used to buy locum after school would disappear now!”


Well, who would have known that Mitt Romney would bring such an experience to me.  I went to the high school where Romney graduated.


“Well, he was the son of then-governor of Michigan, and his family was affluent. Obviously he would go to either Cranbrook Kingswood, or Detroit Country Day. (two most popular and well-known private schools in Detroit area)”– was my thought.  Just that.


But later, the news spread how Romney bullied a kid (and possibly more than one) back in school.  In the school that I attended.  In the town I “lived.”  Reading that news, I just couldn’t see Romney like I used to.  Romney went to Cranbrook back in 60’s: I went to the same school decades later.  However, I doubt there has been much change in the school, the town and people in it.   I’m pretty sure I mentioned it before, but the town – Bloomfield Hills – is just not a friendly town.  Sure, I know a few people who were incredibly kind.  And if you meet the people individually, I bet they are nice.  But overall, the town is not kind to stranger.  It’s a password locked glass sphere.  You are just not part of the town unless you lived in the area for good +10 years.  The school’s dean (white woman) and another teacher (black man) were married for more than 10 years, but I really don’t recall seeing them holding their hands together or doing anything that is commonly done by a married couple in public.  A lot of residents send their kids to either Cranbrook or DCD from kindergarten to 12th grade, thus the locked sphere continues.  When Tiffany & Co. released the famous silver chain necklace and bracelet, 80% of the girls were wearing it (note: not me).  When Puma released casual snikers line, every single guys in school were wearing it.  When Tory Burch released the famous flats for women, every single girls started to wear it within a week (note: again, not me).  Think of the Desperate Housewives, J-Crew and Ralph Lauren.  That’s the town.


As you’ve probably assumed, a lot of kids (Korean-Korean kids too) there are spoiled.  A guy somehow brought his dad’s Jaguar convertible and managed to crash it into the woods.  A senior kid was caught of plagiarism.  He was kicked out from school, but somehow managed got the diploma.  I still don’t understand.  Another senior kid and sophomore kid were caught when smoking pots.  I don’t know the details, but the senior kid was not kicked out; the sophomore kid was kicked out.  The Korean kids, too, would just casually go to the local Armani Exchange Store and Gucci to spend good $300.


The school administration was so not helping.  If someone gets into the trouble, some scholarship kid who doesn’t have rich parents or can’t make donation would get punished; a kid whose parents make a lot of donation would get by, even if they bring drugs or weapons to school (I’m serious, I heard this from then-teaching faculties.  I maintain a good relationship with some of the teachers.  They were great.).


So that’s the sum of the town and school shared by me and Romney.  Then he has been on the “elite” track pretty much all the time. The bullying itself might not be a big deal, but knowing the whole town’s air and what the school was like, I have to admit I don’t hold a favorable opinion on Romney.  Because, based on my experience and knowledge of that place, I doubt Romney has any good understanding of the world outside of his glass sphere, he actually represents American public at large. And people rarely change.

I just like movie, that’s it, so stop making a big deal.


“I didn’t know you liked movie that much.” said my dad.  I just shrugged and answered, “well, who doesn’t like movie?”  I expected this movie conversation to end at this point.  Instead, my dad turned to my mom, and kept going on.  “Since when did she watched that much movies?  Was it from junior high, or highschool? college?”

Now my mom was confused a bit too, just like me. “Well…” she said, “she was in Midwest, and there’s not much to do except sports and weekend movies.” I nodded too.  It was a small, suburban Midwestern town.  You don’t have that much option on entertainment, unless you have a car, or can do drug or drink loads of alcohol.  I did neither of them – I did not want to get kicked out from school.

So I couldn’t really understand why my dad started to have this idea of me being a big film fan.  Sure, I like movie, but I don’t think I like movie more than average people.  If you think that’s wrong because I talk about this strange Asian movies and Hong Kong film stars, well, I’m Asian living in Asia. Duh.  I took a film class in college, but that was just for one semester.  I didn’t hate it but I didn’t love it either.  I am nothing like Tarantino or Spielberg, who loved movies so much that they started making their own film from teenage times.  Besides, if I really liked movie that much, I would have gone to New York University.  I couldn’t help wondering what gave him such an idea.  But I couldn’t really ask him directly, since I was scared of “offending” him again.

It turned out that since I memorize all the western names of American/British actors so well, he thought I am a big movie fan.

Understandable, but really, me memorizing western names so well isn’t because I’m a big movie fan.  I grew up in States.  Almost everyone around me had names such as John Radstone, Skyler Woskobski, Sarah Crnich, Tim Schnake, and so on.  Kims and Chois make minority.  Compared to other Koreans, those “foreign names” are not that foreign to me.  So name like Benedict Cumberbatch, Richard Armitage and Jake Gyllenhal aren’t big deal to me.  Frankly speaking, I feel like I get the western names more quickly and easily than Korean names.

“Er, dad,” I said, “it’s not that I am a big movie mania.  I like movies but no more than average.”

“But how come you memorize all those western names?”

“She’s just used to it.” My mom intervened.

“Yeah, like…I spent so much time in Midwest so I’m used to hearing and memorizing all the western names.  And I watch more American and British TVs than Korean.  That’s it.  It’s not like I am a passionate movie fan or anything.”  I said, and looked my dad’s face.  He looked pretty confused and disappointed.

I couldn’t help thinking about a fellow TCK (Korean background)’s blog posting.  After she came back to Korea, she kept bombing her English exam.  Her parents thought something is definitely wrong with her – their daughter was speaking fluent English, but kept failing her English exam!  The thing was, she could not understand any of the grammatical terms in Korean.

Time passed, and she started to learn another language other than Korean and English.  Then everyone, including her parents, started saying, “oh, it would be easy for you, you speak some foreign languages already anyway.”  She was confused, because she never really thought of herself as speaking a foreign language.  She grew up, living with English language.  One day, as her dad sad another foreign-language-thing, with a lot of gut, she said to her father:

“Dad, I’ve never spoken in foreign language in my life.  Not once.”

You can pretty much imagine her father’s face.

The Shoe Journey #1


Maybe it was that random inspiration little voice talking in your head, maybe it was the compass item to be carried with TCKs as souvenir, or maybe it was because I was way to annoyed by my spatially challenged apartment’s shoe shelf overflowing with shoes.  I really wanted to write about something on my blog, but I couldn’t figure out what to write about.  Today, as I walk down street, suddenly with a lightbulb I thought of shoes.

Yeah, yeah, I can picture the male readers of my blog cringing at the corner, thinking “holy hell, Ceberus was another shoe-crazy woman” and expecting a posting bombarded Louboutin, Jimmy Choo, and other brand names with kill hills you can’t possibly pronounce, let alone wear.  Well, no worries, because it won’t be my posting.  I thought of shoes, because, regardless of your place of birth, background, nationality, school, occupation, etc., shoe is something you can’t completely separate from your life, and one of the few things people have in common all over the world.

That being said, I ought to write my first posing shoes about Dr. Marten’s legendary 1460 8-hole boots:


Dr. Marten, 1460 8-hole in black


My father first became Dr. Marten fan when I was still living in South Korea.  That was before when Dr. Marten started their official exporting to Korea.  So how did he know about Dr. Marten?  Living in the center city, it is very easy to be exposed to cutting-edge trendy stuff, voluntarily and involuntarily.   My guess is, my dad was looking for a new pair of shoes, stumbled into local shoe store carrying their direct import shoes, introduced to these sturdy and comfy pair of shoes, and fell in love with them ever since.

Through him I got my first two pairs of DM.  One looked like 2976 (Chelsea) but with more round, upward toe, black.  Another one was the famous 1460 in black.  When my parents’ friends visited our home, they would joke “so your kid is going to army soon?” upon seeing my 1460.  I wore it pretty much all the time with anything.  When I was leaving to States, I carried 1460 with me in my luggage.  Even in States, I would wear it constantly.  Though lesser than when I first got them, I would still keep them, carry them wherever I go and wear them frequently.

One night in my college junior year, I found I can no longer wear my beloved first pair of 1460 black.  Being DM, it was ever-sturdy; but the sole started to crack everywhere visibly, and where the yellow stitch holds sole together with leather started to crack too.  My toes would get cold.

Only then I realized, that this 1460 travelled everywhere with me for more than 10 years.  In Michigan, in Illinois, in Indiana, in Japan, in Korea.  It ran the grass fields of Illinois with me.  It walked the snow-covered fields of Michigan with me.  It walked the campus parking lots with me in Indiana.  It walked the busy pedestrian roads of Tokyo with me.  It walked around Incheon Airport multiple times with me.  Physically, it was closer to me than my parents for the past 8,9 years of my life. Me and my 1460 black – by then we have been together for 12+ years.   But it has to go – its time came to the end.

So just like that, with a small vacuum in my hand, sitting on my bed, I was staring my old pairs of 1460 on Friday night, with lot of melancholy and emotions swirming in me.

Next day, I took my 1460 to the dorm’s shoe donation box.

Then, I ordered another pair of 1460 black. Unlike old days, this new pair isn’t made in UK.  But it’s still that black 1460.

We all know DM is such a unique iconic shoes for rebels and counter-culture movements.  Kurt Cobain wore it.  Joey Ramones wore it.  Joe Strummer wore it.  When Sex Pistoles and their gangs trashed the club, DM was on their feet. Charlatans are still wearing it and so does Avril Lavigne. Sure, it is special because it is a certain statement: screw you, leave me alone.

Yet DM is special to me because some other reason.  Would my 2nd pair of 1460 black will travel all over, like my 1st pair?  I can’t tell, but I hope so.  One thing I know is, no matter how old I am, wherever I am and what kind of journey I am on, I will carry my 2nd pair of 1460 with me, just like my 1st pair.

All that whining music saved me















Some people are not a big fan of downbeat, introspective, dark shoegazing music.  I.E, sissy and whinny.  Music does affect people’s mood.  For this reason, there are plenty of people claiming a depressed person should avoid listening to these sissy sad music; some goes further, dissing these bands/musicians altogether.  “Look,” they say, “stop locking yourself up in your bedroom and play that silly music all the time.  Come out and enjoy the weather.  Listen to some happy music.  That will cheer you up for sure.”

It’s not entirely untrue; but looking back my life, that didn’t hold true for me.

Plastic Tree

Plastic Tree

I might look like a normal geeky kid with no trouble record, decent grade and alright relationship with people, but I was so lonely in highschool.  After experiencing some tough incidence in my junior high, I knew that anyone can possibly backstab me and I’d better be careful.  I also knew that small community of girls can be very tiring – all that gossiping and making a big deal out of nothing.   I don’t know whether it was because of my INTJ man-scanning instinct or experience, but either way I am not all-out open person when I first meet someone.   My high school was a big, elite-club, cliquish bubble community.  Everyone knew each other – even teachers and students, since the school had preschools to high school.  Think of J-Crew catalogues.  Imagine Gossip Girl and Desperate Housewives: now move the setting to small, wealthy Midwestern town.  If you still can’t imagine, watch this:

Now you have the idea – I almost had goosebumps when I first saw this video, because it was so like my high school.

I turned for Korean student community.  After all, I wanted to try what it is like, and was excited to see that many Koreans in my school.  I thought I would have no problem, because I’m Korean.  Soon I started to see my expectation was wrong.  I could never understand why Korean kids always have to do everything together, even if you have to sit with someone you really don’t like during lunch.   If they spot you hanging out with some white kids or bail out of some kind of group activity because of your schedule, all of sudden the whole Korean community started to bash on you and deem you as some sort of traitor.

Syrup 16g

I still don’t understand why Koreans are so obsessed with “proper treatment of senior classmen” even when they are no longer in Korean school.  If you fail to use honorifics Korean or fail to call your (Korean) senior classmen with sunbae nim, again you just turned the entire Korean student community to your enemy.  I still don’t understand why Korean students HAVE to go to Korean church, when there are hundreds of other churches or religious community.  Lastly, I still do not see why the seniors expect you to do whatever they tell you to, and get flipped if you don’t, even with a proper explanation and excuse (they believe you are simply lying).   No wonder why so-called Global Club was consisted entirely of Koreans.  After my first year with Korean Student club Global Club, I quitted.  That was also the last time I ever joined any kind of Korean club.

I hung out of some Korean girls, mostly out of social appropriation and not making any enemy.  I couldn’t really be a full member of that group – after our school vacation, they would always bring some Korean pop CD and magazine to share.  While all of them are giggling about this new Korean actress and drama, I was really not interested (I tried).   For some reason, they were able to distinguish this actress from that actress while they were in States; I couldn’t.  I tried to listen my favorite Japanese pop album, then a plenty of them flat refused my suggestion, saying they don’t like to listen to a singing in foreign language.

Dir en grey
Dir en grey

By nature I enjoy being alone and capable of doing many things on my own (example: I can totally eat alone in the big restaurant).  However I was lonely and felt there was no one to turn to.  Until I find two of my good friends (bless their souls), all that whinny, sissy music was the only thing I can turn to.   I tried some happy pops, but I couldn’t really fall for it.  The words were about some distant world that I’m not a part of.

That was my blowhole.  Listening to these musics in my bed, doing nothing, with open window, cold winter breeze and sometimes snow, I could let all the things I wanted to say out – the things that no one quiet understood at the time.  That’s probably why I can’t let go of them, no matter how these bands fell into mannerism/plagiarism/bad music/breakup, etc.  They are part of me.  If they were not there, I really don’t know what would have become of me.  And I’m glad I was able to reach out for the music.

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.

Maybe They Don’t Want Me


On April 7th, I had my job interview with a major shipbuilding/raw material trading company.  Of course it is Korean company.  I thought let’s go and try it, because 1) the more interview you have, you get better and 2) the company works A LOT with foreign market.  There office was one of the driest office building I’ve ever been to.  On the top of that, the entire office space had carpet.   My throat started to dry up really bad.  Ever since I moved back to big Asian city, I started to have nasal obstruction and dry bronchi in Spring.

This isn’t my first interview with 40-50 years old Korean executives.  But after this one, I have this weird feeling.  I feel that the interviewers don’t quiet know how to deal with me.  They feel uncomfortable with my presence around.

No, I’m not talking about how way too cool I am.  Let me turn the table around and put it this way.

So you are typical middle-age Korean salarymen.  Your position is about senior manager and you are 50 something.  Of course you grew up in South Korea under Korean parents and Korean friends and classmates.  You started your career in a Korean company, and you have been working for the same company about 20 years.  Your subordinates are Koreans of 20 and 30.  They obey you.  Now, you are about to interview loads of candidates – of course someone who will be your subordinate and drink all that liquor as you command, and come to the office as soon as I say so, even though it’s 7 am Sunday. Here’s the next candidate.  She looks Korean, speaks fluent Korean but feels a bit different.  Foreign.  But she is Korean.  Um….alright, let’s check her resume.  So she went high school and a good college…in States.  It’s not California, New Jersey or New York, where there is bunch of Koreans. And, unlike other Koreans who got Western education, she literally grew up there.  And she was in Japan, too.  I’ve never quiet seen something like this…hmm.  I called her because her resume looked interesting but oh, what should I do, what should I do?  Think, think…well I’d rather have a good obedient Korean who covers my ass rather than an unidentified living creature, which I don’t know how to manage.  It’s better to be safe than taking a risk.  Alright, off you go…NEXT!

I feel this is what’s happening in their head.

I admit in the world like this, candidates with degree of more “practical,” specific field – like accounting, engineering, finance, etc – is preferrable to employers.  I don’t have one, and I would not be surprised if that part plays a big role in their decision.  But honestly, it is baffling when all these Korean employers are saying how globalized (or trying to be) they are, and how the candidates are so not globalized and incapable.  Then some “global” candidate appears.  The employers are then scared to hire him or her.  Now about the capability – they can’t even write a clear job posting, or organize what kind of skillset they are looking for.  My generation of candidates is probably the “smartest” candidates of Korean job market history.  Yet the employers complain.  Just stop all that bullcrap about how global and open-minded they are, and go right to the point on what kind of people you are looking for.

So why not scrap all of this and go off to grad school or travel?

Here’s my weakness.  I am very reluctant to quit before I see the tangible result.  Sometimes along the road, I start to feel – or realize – that it will probably fail.  But I keep doing it anyway, saying you never know until the end.  To be honest, I’m not really happy here.  Sure there are some things I would like to keep – such as superb infrastructure, cheap public transportation, floor heating, cheap beauty products and service and medical insurance.  Still, if I have a choice I’d rather live in States.  Yes I know, US has not so impressive infrastructure, expensive insurance (subject to change, of course), lack of heating device other than radiator that dries heck out of your skin, immobility without a car, and so on.  But I was happier there.  People usually let me be.  Here, everyone pushes me to be outsider and insider at the same time.  I feel like the society here is pushing me to be something that I am not.  Sorry folks, I can never be the nice, obedient Korean girl next door.  While I do not deny my Korean self, I feel only about 20% of my self-consciousness is Korean, other 20% Japanese and 60% Midwestern American.  And employers, please stop bragging how globalized you are, when your managers are narrow-minded Koreans.

Like I said before somewhere in this blog, if I am to go to grad school, I really want it to be my ticket out of this rat hole.  But what’s the probability?  About 10 years ago, the probability was high.  After that , here I am, whose employer refused to sponsor my visa at the very last moment.  Let’s say I get into one of those top law schools and graduate safely.  Would I actually be able to settle down in States, or, at least, get to work with a group of people who are not solely made of Koreans and live in somewhere else?  If that’s not possible, then what is the point?  Obama, please do something about the immigration law.  Damn my green South Korean passport.  Maybe I should just buy off a man with American or European citizenship.

This is also my excuse of why there was no posting for a while on my blog.

Two way road


From my personal experiences, and also according to my acquaintances’ anecdotes, it is just so hard to have a good, healthy and rational debate with Koreans (some say Chinese, too).  I am not talking about how Asians and Westerners differ in building their logics.  A lot of Koreans just cannot detach their emotion from what is discussed, let the topic be sexual minority, recen politics or childbearing.  In addition, Koreans seem like they just have to shove this “South Korea is #1 in everything” idea to everyone else’s throat.  To many Koreans, if you question that, you are flat wrong or flat stupid, because (to Koreans) it is universal truth and they have a mission to make sure everybody agrees with them.  They just can’t bear a single negative opinion on their home country (yet it seems like they have a tad more tolerance of white European foreigner saying negative things than their fellow Korean-looking foreigner saying it).

Making the matter even more complex, I am a biological Korean who does not feel that much attachement to South Korea, grew up in typical American way – speak up and be yourself! – and have very objective parents.  In college, I was anxious when another Korean student started bashing on Japan.  If I stand up for Japanese, I’ll be the witch.  Stuck between American and Korean pals put me in a complex situation.  The Korean student wants to spread his mission mantra; American either disagree or unwilling to listen this mantra.  And I was in dilemma: I want peace, but if I say “let’s talk about that one some other time” or “Errr…I don’t think so,” I’ll be the most wanted person among the Korean community.  On the other hand, if I join the “South Korea #1 in everything” mission, I’ll probably become just another “that Korean girl.” Oooh, what do I do, what do I do?  Can we just all be happy and peaceful together forever?

I am not a pitbull always on a search for something to kill; if I sense the ugly argument looming, I usually cut it out or leave the place physically.  But what if another person gets all emotional and keeps throwing at you, unwilling to accept and see the difference as it is – even more just because I am Korean on facade with native language skill – what should I do?  How should I behave yet be myself, under a culture that frowns upon being direct and firm?  Especially when people like me – who knows the language well and have the looks – tend to get a lot more cold eyes and disadvantages, because I think differently yet have all this external qualities of “one of them?”

As time goes by, more and more I realize that every good work – good communication, good sports score, good craftmanship, good performance – is not a just one man’s work.  Everything has to be in its place, doing its job, giving its best.  Likewise, a good communication is a two-way road; everyone has to be willing to listen and agree, as much as they are willing to speak.  If another person is not ready to agree or listen, it won’t work out at all.

St. Paul is known for his missionary work in Greece.  He converted many not by lecturing, but engaging into a dialogue – he visited the town’s plaza and academy almost every day, having a sincere discussion with Greek scholars.  In the past, I used to think it was possible only because of Paul’s awesomeness.  Now I re-think about this, it was possible because the Greeks knew the basics of debate.  Back in ol’ days, dropping by your local academy or plaza and engage into a discussion was a form of popular entertainment.  They were ready to listen and speak.  Would St. Paul’s missionary work through conversation be that succesful, if he were with hunt-and-gathering primitive tribe in Amazon? (No intention of talking down of the primitive forest-living tribes, I am just throwing this as an example of people who are not quiet ready for debate, listen, and able to accept the different opinion or belief).

The more I think about it, I feel that the good communication does not happen with one genius.  Both sides need to be ready to listen and accept the difference and study how different they are from each other.  If there are more people in the world who are willing to listen and accept the difference and diversity, the world peace can be found right around the corner.  But sadly, as Machiavelli said, “Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past; for human events ever resemble those of preceding times. This arises from the fact that they are produced by men who ever have been, and ever shall be, animated by the same passions, and thus they necessarily have the same results.”

I guess mankind still has a long and winding road to the world peace.

And why did I get so philosophical, all of sudden?

10 inch snow and they call it “snow bomb explosion.”


Many westerners think of warm weather, tropical rain forest, beach and elephants upon hearing the word “Asia.”  True, but a lot of them forget that there are norther Asian countries and these countries can be freaking cold, with snow.  The city of Seoul gets its regular dose of snow too, albeit not as much as American Midwest.

On January 4th and 5th, Seoul had a lot more snow compared to the average.  It was about 10 inches.  Media screamed that this is the largest amount of snow in 41 years.  The entire city became winter snow pandemonium.  Buses were delayed, if not flipped upside down; subways were packed with passengers for all day, not to mention delays; highways and bridges became a big parking lot; the city’s snow cleaning squad was not enough so the city called support for army’s Capital Defense Squad; about 3,500 army boys joined to clean the snow; the city lacked snow tractors/blowers so the mayor made an official statement, asking for help of everyone who has snow cleaning vehicle; subways and buses extended their business hour, running until 2 am.  I was about 20 minutes late, yet I was the 3rd earliest.  Officially excused to late, leave right on time and wear Ugg to work. Yay.

Despite the craziness and inconveniences, it was pretty funny to my eyes.  In Great Lakes areas, it snows almost ever day for over 15 inches in winter.  People are so used to it.  Salts are regularly put on the road for thrice a day.  Snow blowers go around 3-5 times per day.  People, wearing their snow boots, fleece hat and gore-tex jacket, drive to work.  That’s it. So the amount of snow did not surprised me; I was rather surprised by the entire metropolitan Seoul fell into a havoc and panick attack just because of 10 inch snow.  I know Seoul is just not ready for this kind of snow, but it was still a new experience for me.

Michigan night pic found from Google: I do remember this color. Seen this million times.

At the same time I really liked it.  It reminded me so much of my days in Midwest – all that snow, white scenery, trees, snow piles on a road, cold, crisp, clear air, quietness, navy-blue evening sky…calmness.  Great to listen to music.  Pull out any music – snow and coldness makes it sound like 5 times better.  Listening to Joy Division’s Atmosphere, I was just full of mellow, pleasing feeling of melancholy.  I used to mindlessly bike around with my iPod on.  I know I know, I will start complaining about snow and lack of urban conveniences once I go back.  Maybe it’s not even the same Midwest I lived or remember.  Maybe I am just fond of Midwest because I was lucky enough to meet people who are nice to me or share a lot with me only.  Maybe it was just all daydream illusion.  But I miss it – a corner of my heart does not want this Seoul snow melt away.

Typical winter day in Midwest.

Used to walk the roads like this one.

Used to walk the roads like this one.

This is all you see when you drive down Midwest in winter!