Tag Archives: minority

My Last Blind Date and Some Scary Wedding.

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Today’s posting would be something of girly and not very important personal update with Korean flavah.

Do you remember this post?  Yes, the wedding has happened and I went there with my family.  I could see they spent fortune on this wedding.  But the quality was…disappointing.  I know Korean wedding (to be more specific, Korean westernized wedding) is not the most exciting event in your life.  Invitees bring some money for gift, the couples just do ceremony in white dress and all, people clap, some boring and politically correct speech by someone with nice title and connection with family, maybe a song or two, everyone rush to the canteen/catering, eat and leave.  Sometimes the venue staffs will herd you out, so they can have multiple ceremonies per day.

Based on the venue, gossips, make-up and dress rentals, I wouldn’t be surprised if they spent one million hundred KRW (about 87,000 USD) in total.  I don’t want to comment on the amount of money – I didn’t pay it, they never asked me to chip in so I don’t get a say.  But if you spent that much money, you either expect a breathtakingly beautiful decorations, or 5-star rating food or…I don’t know, Adele singing live?  None of that happened. In sum, it was expensive yet totally tasteless wedding.  Expensive yet out-of-place Emanuel Ungaro dress, not-so-great food, whole bunch of mismatching flowers…My family all thought, “it’s just waste of money, I feel really bad for them…but they didn’t have any taste to begin with, no?”

Now, after the wedding, I keep hearing about the landmines that’s waiting to explode between Marza, Marza’s family and her husband’s family.  Well, well, fingers crossed (this is cynicism).

Since I am writing about wedding, I think this is a nice Segway moment to talk about adult man-woman relationship and marriage in Korea.  I know a lot of you American folks are cringing at “arranged marriage” and think it’s some barbaric custom.  But I, an Asian who grew up both in no-Asian town of America and Asia, am not too averse of it.  There are different “kinds” of arranged marriage.  Basically, the core of arranged marriage is your (or the date’s) parents get the potential date for you.  If you have laid-back parents who places priority on their kids’ emotion, then it’s not required to get the marriage date ASAP.  Now, if you have parents who are really anxious, the pressure is on, obviously.  Overall, the pressure increases as you get older – Korean people have problem accepting their children’s choice of life when it isn’t the norm, at least to them.  And there’s the notion thinking “my child doesn’t know better” – Amy Chua didn’t make up her Tiger Mom story.

Maybe it’s because there’s no such pressure on me (or any of those around me) yet, but anyway, I’m okay with it.  What’s to lose by meeting more new people? And they are recommended by people who know you very well.

So I had one of this nature last weekend (note: other than general background and contact information, our parents’ involvement was next to nothing, which was good.  Really, it was just like any other blind date).  The guy – let’s call him Peter – was recommended by my mom’s friend, who is a fine, gentle, hard-working person.  Korean Korean.  All I know is Peter’s family has been working as oriental med doctors for more than 100 years.  Though their earning is good, they still follow their ancestor’s will: that is not to move away from its original place, and keep the business at manageable size.  That deserves massive respect.

We texted to arrange a meeting place.  He just kept asking this and that in text, making me think “he can just call….” but then I thought maybe he doesn’t feel it’s appropriate.  Okay, whatever.  He suggested a Japanese dining bar.  I thought it a bit unusual – usually you are going a bit of high-end place for your first blind date, no? Ohhh, maybe he wants it to be casual.  I guess it’s not a bad idea to have first date over a cool pint of beer.

The date has come and I was there.  I was on time, but I wasn’t sure Peter – today’s “host” – is here yet. I called.

Ceberus: Hello? Hi, this is Ceberus, the person you are meeting today. 
Peter: Yeah.
Ceberus: I’m at the place, right outside. 
Peter: Yeah.
Ceberus: Are you in?
Peter: Yeah.
Ceberus: Okay I’m going in, see you in a minute.
Peter: Yeah.

Honestly, I was a bit off at this point.  This already sounds odd, no?  If a man is thirty something, I expect him to be able to respond to the “business” calls in formal manner.  How hard is it to say “Hi! Good evening! I’m in so come on in!”?

Anyway I went in, and I asked him to suggest/order for me because it’s my first time here.  He just ordered foods.  Fine – but if you are just going to order foods, what’s the point of meeting at izakaya?  We could’ve gone to the other Japanese restaurant.  Since the host isn’t ordering, I couldn’t either.

We started chatting.  I found that he served at public service unit (all Korean men has to serve in military: if your physical condition prohibits to do so, such as bad waist or terrible eyesight, you are usually placed for public service), so I brought up some of my guy friends doing the same thing.  Then for some reason, he started to talk about some fist fight initiated by Korean age hierarchy.  Which is hardly a good topic to start if you want to leave someone a good impression.

We soon started to talk about our majors.  His major was oriental medicine (in Korea, oriental medicine courses are treated similarly with western med schools and they are officially doctors, subject to medical insurance).  Surprise.  I said my major was political science.  Then Peter looked very excited, saying he wanted to study politics but couldn’t do it due to his father’s objection.

Oh, this may be a good sign.

No it wasn’t.

His question: “so which political party do you support?”

….I thought politics, religion and abortion are big no-no in any kind of first meeting, regardless of country.  What the heck is happening.

I had to find a way to answer this politely, so I just said “well…they all look same!”

Peter said he wanted to study politics because his childhood home was near to the Blue House and envied the president’s parade.

Fine, this I can take as a sweet childhood memory.

Then he said, all man should aim for being a president before dying.

Fine.  But you are thirty.  Time to wake up.

I really wanted to talk about other stuff, but he was too excited and went on. He said Korean race is the best and brightest in the world and he supports nationalism.

Oh fug.

You are talking to a TCK, people in general hating nationalism and ethnicism.  And this is 21st century, the era of globalization.  What time are you living in?

So finally I had to say: “Peter, honestly, having been grown up in one of the most diverse countries in the world, I don’t really sympathize with nationalism and ethnicism-centered education of Korean history.  In fact, I really don’t like nationalism.  IMO, it’s the seed of all wars and hatred.”

He looked startled, and said, he thought I would be interested because I’m…politics major.  Again, I had to explain: “there are two kinds of politics major students. One is those who want to change the world with their hands; another is those who likes observing the whole situation from background and analyze the data.  I’m the latter.”

I don’t think he was too happy with it.  Same here anyway.

At least he was well behaving, so we had a tea, and he drove me back to home.  In his car, he talked about his studying.  I chimed in.

Ceberus: It sounds like your dad is oriental doctor, too.
Peter: He is.
Ceberus: Oh, that’s wonderful!
Peter: No, not really.
Ceberus: Why?
Peter: Well, dang, I want to play but it’s impossible to skip my study and lie since he knows everything.

I’m speechless…

So that was the end of my blind date.

Someone said: the more blind dates you do, the list of awful man increases.

Sometimes though, I feel like Korean men, in general, are immature than American guys.  I think I know why.  In the States, kids – men included – are encouraged to live independently.  People rarely live with their parents (and there’s some stigma attached to those who do, though there is increasing number of kids who are doing it due to recession).  For most people, they live away from their family and do a lot of things on their own once they start their college education.  Meanwhile they have experience of earning money on their own.

For Korean guys, this isn’t the case.  Since their birth to college, majority of people live with their parents.  They’ve never done things by themselves – doing laundry, preparing meals, earning stipends, repairing their bike, etc.  A lot of them live off from stipend given from their parents.  It’s pretty obvious who matures first.

I understand why.  But I just can’t sympathize with them (I bet I startle them too).  Maybe it’s one of those pains of hidden immigrant.

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Never a Typical Case

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Getting so many rejection letters, I think it’s time to rant sort out my thoughts once again.  The tough thing about being a TCK is that you are never a “typical case” in almost anything.

Google up about going to American law school.  There are myriad of articles about how law schools are scamming people, how it’s waste of money, and how it’s worthless.  True.  A lot of American law school graduates are suffering from unemployment, whether they went to Harvard or some unknown, out-of-ranking school (yes, the ranking itself isn’t very trustworthy, I know).

But does that apply to me?  Am I an applicable case to this?  Not really, because I am not an American citizen, though I have American educational background.  If I were an American citizen with family and settled life in the US, I would not have considered going to law school as a good option at this point.  I would rather get a whatever job that comes first.  But I’m not an American.  But I can’t cope with Korean business culture.  I’m in-betweener.

From experience, I know the so-called “common case” never applies to me.  At the end of my college senior year, I had a job interview.  An alum – international like myself – was working there.  I did well in the interview.  I had a plenty of skills matching to their job description.  So, according to the textbook, I should have gotten a job.  That did not happen.  The key was, I am not a citizen.  I graduated from an American college with great reputation.  So even if I did not get that job, I should have received several interview offers.  That did not happen either, because of my vague status.  In States, I was still the “international” whom they had to sponsor visa, or unable to apply at all.

How about in Korea?  Koreans tend to think that if the school’s name is not familiar, it’s not a great school.  In addition, the American schools are valued a bit differently from US; a school that is not very highly regarded in the States sometimes transforms itself a very good Ivy-League-ish school, just because they have a lot of Korean alums or people are familiar with the name.  In Korea, many people haven’t even heard about my school’s name.

The different job interview styles were pretty traumatic for me.  In college, I was trained in American job interview – where you are there to chat, and all is fine as long as you don’t make them think you are a psycho.  But I had to face Korean style job interviews, where everything is very formal, interviewers are able to compare candidates in real time, and most cases where candidates are expected to get the “correct answer” to the questions.  I attended whole lot of interview prep sessions, but certainly I was not prepared to be surprised by the different styles of interview.  I didn’t even know there are different ways.  So no wonder why I ended up shocking Japanese job opening promoter by asking “so, is your job interview more of western or Asian way?”

I know job market in America is horrible now.  I totally agree when someone says “don’t bet too much on getting a job in America as a Korean international after law school,” because I was in a similar situation.  But again, my aim is slightly different.  Many law school students/candidates aim to find a job within America first, and they are citizens.  I’m not a citizen.  Getting a job in America isn’t my priority.  Actually I will be much happier if I get placed into somewhere else.  Many Korean international law students aim to come back to Korea and work.  That’s not high on my list either.  And I just can’t seem to find a solid resource on case like myself.

I have received multiple rejection letters from schools I wanted to go.  It’s irritating.  But, like I mentioned before, being atypical case, maybe not getting into a school that is considered highly in US is better for me.  Maybe I will end up going some school that is not considered very highly in US, but highly in Korea.

What’s most irritating is that there seem to be no resource for me, and I just have to keep on sailing, without knowing what’s ahead – tropical island or shortcut to hell.

Maybe I Should’ve Gotten an English Name.

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Unlike most Korean-American or Korean students in English-speaking country, I don’t have English name – like Sarah Lee, Jay Kim, and so on.  Sure, there was a time when I wanted one, because it looked fancy.  But then, for some reason, all the names I wanted to take were already taken by someone around me.  My name isn’t too hard to pronounce compared to many other Korean names, though I have to admit it’s always my name when DMV or local city hall admins screw up.  It worked fine in Japan, too (which I have to thank my grandfather, who named me).

Ironically, ever since I came back to South Korea, I start to think maybe I should’ve gotten an English name.  It seems like no matter how I “hint” or directly say to people that I grew up in the United States, not in California, New York or New Jersey where there are loads of Korean population, people don’t understand my upbringing, or why I behave in such a way.

I’ve ranted on my blog many times.  I don’t deny that I am Korean.  All I’ve been saying is that I grew up away from Korea, so please don’t frown upon me if I make a mistake.  It’s just that I don’t know and not used to, like blue-eyed foreigners they love.  But, for them, I HAVE to be 100% Korean.  After all, I look like Korean, with small eyes and dark hair, have Korean name, do not have foreign citizenship, have Korean parents, and – lo and behold – she speaks damn fine Korean, knowing the pop culture references and slangs!  Of course she HAS to be 100% Korean, just like us!

So while other foreigners are excused from dreadful, soju-bomb exploding 3-hours-long hweshik (roughly translated as “social drinking,” which is the most important ritual in Korean business culture – google it and you’ll get some idea), I have to go because I am “Korean.”

When other foreigners say they don’t want to join the forced drinking because of their personal preference/health/religion, they are fine.  When I say I can’t join the forced shot drinking because my body doesn’t process alcohol well and often causes 2-weeks-long rash all over my body, they think I’m either exaggerating or lying to get out, or being really rude.

When other foreigners say “I think this can be a problem,” they listen.  Or at least they pretend to listen.  When I say “I think this can be a problem,” all of sudden I’m a brat.

Here’s something I go through on a daily basis.  Few days ago, I was at my friend’s party.  There were some Korean guys on my table.  Naturally, we introduced each other and started talking (in Korean).

Guy 1: So where are you from?  Are you Korean American?
Me: I’m Korean but I grew up in States.
Guy2: Okay, so when did you go to the States?
Me: 13.
Guy1: Oh wow. But you speak really good Korean?
Me: Haha…well my parents are Korean?  And I came and go all the time?

Then another guy made some kind of joke with Korean pop reference.  Of course I understood so I laughed.  Then the guy looked pretty surprised.

Guy1: Oh so you know XXX? (The reference)
Me: well, yeah.
Guys: Oh then you are like full Korean!  Okay, we’re not worried then.

I don’t even try anymore.  It’s quiet common to see major newspaper articles here saying “this foreign person eats Kimchi well!!  He/She can take hot peppers too and soju!  With Korean spouse!  He/She is pure Korean!”

I wish the world is that simple.

Back to the name business,  sometimes I think if I had an English name, maybe it could have been worked as a convenient shield for me.  Upon me saying “hello, my name is Grace Lee” or something of that, then locals here would feel me more “foreign” and grant me more space and time.  Or, maybe it would’ve been better if I spoke far worse Korean than now.  Then I don’t even have to try.

If only people can understand how it’s okay for someone to be less than 100% Korean – or be a bit different from the rest.

Sherlock S1E2 – Things I approve and disaprove

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This episode is the most hateddebatable (there, I said it in politically correct term) one in the BBC’s Sherlock, probably the most succesful hit drama of 2010.  I am sure you can find loads of different opinions and critics (especially the lazy writing and so lame stereotypical depiction of Asians) about this episode.  I quiet agree with most of them.  Thus I’ll just pin-point things I approve and disapprove on the 2nd episode, The Blind Banker.

+ Approve

– Some actions
– Some more Sherlock-John relationship
– Some more knowledge on main characters
– Sherlock gets minor counter-punches from “the small little brain”ers

+ Neutral

– Chinese shop selling Japanese “lucky cat,” actually known as maneki-neko.  Yes, it is so very Japanese item and some had a big problem of Chinatown store selling Japanese stuff.  But hey, that’s what Chinatown shops are, all over the world.  They sell pretty much everything Asian.  I don’t take any offense on this.
– “OMG They made all Asians villains! / OMG They killed off all Asian characters!”  Well, they ARE mobs and they are bad characters in police drama, right?  Of course they’ll get arrested or killed off.  It’s not because they are Asian.
– Sherlock “dumbed down.”  Well, please read my 3rd point on Approve section.
– “How come there’s no non-whites?”  Well, we have to remember that this series is based on Victorian British police novel.
– Though I’d prefer sticking with the Canon’s stick-figure passwords, replacing it to Chinese character was not too bad.

+ Disapprove

– A very lazy, stereotypical, unrealistic depiction of Chinese gang:  Like please, “Black Lotus?” It sounds like a lame clan’s name on fantasy-based video game.  I am convinced Stephen Thompson (the writer of The Blind Banker) did not do a proper research.  Had he only refered a bit from Triad or Black Snake Society (the real life Chinese gangs in real world) instead of lame “Black Lotus,” and make sure the gang is doing a proper real-world criminal business (human trafficking into Europe, counterfeit selling, credit card fraud, and/or drug smuggling), the script could be so much better.
– Mob boss on the scene doing Chinese circus:  Like seriously.  Have you ever seen a high-profile criminal revealing his face in public, at the scene?  Heck, even low-level Muslim terrorists always cover their face. I give credit for having a woman mob boss though.
– A very lazy, stereotypical, unrealistic depiction of Asian:
1) An Asian woman who is in charge of tea section in museum.  Yeah, of course!  She’s Asian! She knows everything about tea!  It does not matter she’s an unqualified ex-smuggler! (You need something of MA degree if you want to be in charge of a particular section in museum…)
2) An Asian woman calmly waiting for her tragic death: Yeah of course!  Asians take family relationship so seriously!  They don’t struggle against “destiny,” so of course even if a mob member, who is also her own brother, comes to kill her, she’ll be just sad, submissive and wait to die.  Er…alright, but usually don’t people panic and run for your life when someone comes to kill you off? Including Asians?  Or wait, what kind of professional gang sends a sibling to kill their own family?  Usually they assign someone else as a punishment.

To be honest, it is true The Blind Banker is getting some unfairly harsh criticism, mainly because ep1 and ep3 was superb.  But well, I can’t help summing up the ep2 as:

Stephen Thompson thinking, “Let’s write something exotic and cool…Alright, for exotic, Chinese people.  And let’s throw in some Chinese circus because it’s so cool and exotic and mysterious.  And yeah, some Chinese letter too.  Done and done, exotic and so cool!”  I don’t expect BBC to have a Chinese/Asian proofreader or editor. I’m fairly sure Stephen Thompson either has no Asian friends or been to Asia.  I’m also very sure he didn’t even google for the things he wrote.  Overall, a lazy writing.

BBC, if you can, please make sure you have Asian opinion if you’ve decided to write another stereotypical Asian crap.  It doesn’t have to be Eliot Chang, Margaret Cho, Masi Oka, or Yunjin Park…

God chose me to be his/her prank target today.

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In order to balance out my study life and actual real world life, I force myself to do regular socials.  Few weeks ago, there was a nice social for expats so I and my friend went there.  We met a fellow foreigner (wait…can I say “fellow foreigner?”) who was just transferred from Japan.  Since my friend and I both lived in Japan and speak Japanese, we formed a nice little Japanese bubble.   During the follow-up emails and such, he suggested me to send a copy of my resume.  I did, and ta-dah, the interview came along.

Now, after having been duped several times and experienced multiple interviews with domestic and international employers, I don’t hold my hopes high.  However, I thought this might be a good opportunity for me.  I lived in Japan/Korea/US, know the local culture very well, and speak Japanese, Korean and English fluently.  The company was sort of business consulting, specialized for westerners trying to enter Asian market.  The office wasn’t far from my place either, which was a bonus point.

So I went to the office.  Thought they seriously lacked personnel in the office, I did not mind, knowing the company just opened their Korean office few months ago.  I was to be interviewed by my reference-person’s boss (either British or American), who is in Korea for a business trip.  The surrounding looked alright, given that I tend to work better with non-Koreans.  I came prepared.  I read off their company website, read job description, thought of few typical interview answers – such as, “tell me about yourself” – and took a copy of my own resume.  There I was, ready to play catch-ball with questions, waiting for my interviewers to throw the questions in.  Instead, the interviewer went on and on for about +20 minutes, explaining what their company does.  I appreciate his thoughtfulness, but I really think he could have cut it down to 10 minutes.  He saw my copies of his company website and I told him I read the company website.  Growing up under Korean parents who have zero tolerance on impolite behavior, I am brainwashed to not to ever cut off when someone is talking (even more so if he is my potential boss).  What could I do?  Just nod, smile and let him finish.  Thus, after that 20+ minutes I was pretty exhausted.

Then he asked, “have you read our job description?”

Well hello, I’m already DOING the interview for the very position, and who on earth with their right mind doesn’t even read job description and go to the interview?!?!?!

Finally we moved on to questions.  Which made me feel a bit uncomfortable, if not strange – because, according to my experience, a lot of interview is about what kind of person I am.  Thus many questions, if not all, are about your strength, weakness, unseen experiences on resume, background, etc.  I don’t think he asked any of that…except that he asked where do I see myself in future.  Now that I think of it, I think he just asked it because he felt he needs to do.  Generally all the questions felt like he is either quizzing me with answers already in his mind, or “Can you do this? that? this?” Most of them, I think, can be inferred from my resume…but this is a subjective opinion so I’ll put it aside.  Then as he answered my questions, I was further confused.  In the beginning, he said whether I am familiar with high-tech industry (which I answered, “well given that I am fast-learner and always curious person…” blah blah, you know the drill).  Then, in the end, he said they are looking for generalists.  Er…sorry, so your job description is…?

I came back to home after the interview.  Took a short break, checked my e-mails and LinkedIn, and changed to do some workout.  It would be a good idea to pick up my pants, which I left to local seamstress shop because the pants were a bit too long for me.  Few days ago, I left my perfectly fine and new two pairs of Uniqlo pants to the seamstress shop.  She said she make the adjustment by Wednesday.  So I visited there Wednesday.  She said it’s not ready yet.  Honestly, I wonder how long does it take to shorten your pants, especially when you already pin-tucked your pants with the length you want.  Oh well.  I went back today.  I said my address and told her I left two pairs of pants for length adjustment.

Then the seamstress was going here and there, looking for my pants.  She said she doesn’t see them.  I said:

Ceberus: Well, I left two pairs of pants for length adjustment.  Don’t you remember?
Seamstress: I don’t see them though…
Ceberus: A pair of jeans and another pair of black pants?
Seamstress: (blank face) Er…could you describe it for me?

Yeah, like it is so easy to describe your own pair of jean.  Unless you are talking about some limited edition premium jeans with swarovski crystals on the butt or grand decoration, how can you really describe your jeans? Oh it’s blue and there’s white washing on your knees?

Ceberus: Well, it’s from Uniqlo.
Seamstress: (another blank face, searching for the rack)
Ceberus:…(sigh)
Seamstress: I will have to look for it…can you come back later?
Ceberus: I can’t believe this.  You put another day of delay, and now you are saying my pants are gone.  Fine.

I was on the border line of getting late for my workout, so I backed out.  After the workout, I visited the shop again.

Ceberus: well, did you find it?
Seamstress: You’ll have to come back tomorrow.
Ceberus: …(visibly unhappy) Do you mean, you found the pants but it’s not done, or you just don’t know where the heck my pants are?
Seamstress: (smile) Well…I’ll have to look for them.

Like seriously.  What can I say.  How hard it is to track down your customer’s stuff?  I’m not talking about she should have a grandiose account managing system.  All she needs to do is tuck the memo or copy of receipt on each hanger.  I almost wanted to unleash the hellfire but I was too tired.  I just gave her a visible eye roll, and dashed out without talking.  I will visit her tomorrow, and if she has not located my pants’ whereabouts, I’ll have to make her pay for the pants.  But then, that means I’ll have to do shopping again, just to buy identical pairs of pants.  Fudge…alright, empty-brain time.

I logged on to internet.  Then, I found a cheaper deal than the pair of ankle boots I ordered a few days ago – my old boots are so very old, it’s visibly falling apart.  So I tried to cancel my old order.  But they say, by the store policy, cancellation is not possible.

Those three happened all in one day.  One fucking day.  I am so sure that someone high up in the sky got pretty bored, rolled a dice, and made me his/her prank target for today.

All that whining music saved me

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Oasis

Oasis

 

 

Radiohead

Radiohead

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Standard

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.