Tag Archives: responsibility

I’ll Be Good Catholic Again


I am baptized Catholic, but I wasn’t all that religious.  I believe in spirituality, though.  I don’t necessarily agree with all Catholic teachings (such as, women still not allowed to be priest, contraception, not accepting LGBT, etc) but I never had any bad feelings on Catholicism itself.   In fact, I admire what sisters and fathers are doing in some of the poorest and most dangerous places of this world.

But I stopped going mass.  I am not a morning person at all.  And, even if I went to Catholic college, I didn’t go to mass.  I was busy doing my works and papers.  I didn’t feel it was all that necessary.

Today, I went to the local community service organized by my college alum club here.  The church is located in one of the poorest neighborhood, and it is run by a Franciscan father, who is also an alum.  We started off with a mass.

As I mumble prayers (CCK’s catch: in addition to not really remembering prayers, I get mixed up with Korean and English prayer), out of blue, I thought: this is home.  This is where I belong.  The thought grew stronger as people finish the mass with my school’s alma mater song (which, obviously, is almost like hymn and about praising Mother Mary).

When I was living in Japan, my wonderful host family – without them, my Japan experience would not have been this great – were Christian.

My best friend, whom I met in high school in Michigan, was also Catholic.  We didn’t ask “hey, are you Catholic?” right away.  After we got close, we found out that we are all Catholic.

When I first moved to Indiana, a great local family who made my life in college so much easier was also Catholic.

As I entered the Church today, everything was so familiar.  Fathers, Eucharist, big sculpture of Jesus and Mary – all that.  Then I thought, maybe, it is something I can’t escape.  Something I must accept.

After I came back from the church, a neighbor down the hallway knocked at my door.  Red, a cheerful retired man, was at my door.  He has been very friendly ever since I moved to South Jersey.  He took my package and wrote me a card.  He came to check whether I’m doing alright, and got all the furniture I need.

“Oh, yeah, mostly.  I got them from Ikea.”
“Ikea!” Red replied, “No, you shouldn’t by that cheap stuff!  Come on, I’ll show you my furniture and pictures, and let me give you some furniture shop address.”

As we walk down the hallway, he asked what I did today.  I said I bid farewell to my mom and aunt, and went to the local church for community service.

“Oh, you Catholic?”  said Red, “I’m too.  I go to St. Andrews, you should come along for a mass there.”

I felt like crying.  This entity/system/religion/spirit/God/whatever has been watching me and following me for my entire journey up to now, helping out whenever it can. Yet I never really paid attention.  I’ve been taking it for granted.

I can’t escape this.  And I’ll be happy to accept it.  I felt destiny.

TCKs to be the good of this world


The Rise of New Ruling Class: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/01/the-rise-of-the-new-global-elite/8343/

Back in the college, a lot of my reading assignments were the copies of The Atlantic Monthly’s article.  I hated it, since they were pretty long.  Ironically, after the graduation, I started to like it, and now I am a regular subscriber.

The main article of February issue was the new riches and how it is affecting the inbetweeners and have-nots.  And also how the opportunity pool is becoming slimmer and slimmer.  Me being both (pretty much…), I was very interested in what the article would say.

According to the article, the nouveau-riche of globalization are young, self-made and working, which is a difference compared to old-school riches.  Fine, and I know a lot of hardworking, self-made riches.  In fact, I do not object when someone says most riches are rich because they work harder than others (plus some luck).   But as the article goes into the description of average attitude of new riches, I became increasingly uncomfortable – a lot of them, being a self-made hardworking people, tend to think the rest of the world is jealous of them, and others who did not make it to their level are just incompetent.  Think of how Wall Street bankers pissed the public off during and after the bailout.  It makes sense under that rational.

At this point, I could not help thinking about my high school experience and college volunteering in a local homeless center.  Back in the college, I was (probably) the only international student in my department to participate in a local community service – I worked at a local homeless shelter late evening shift as a proofreader and resource manager (helping people using PCs and books).  Originally, I wanted to work in the city hall but the seat was taken, so the only choice left for me was homeless center night-shift.  Like most people, I too associated homeless with many negative images – junkie, lazy, dangerous, sick, dirty, etc.  I still remember the nervousness on my first week.  Boy, but I was flat wrong.  Many of the folks were so friendly and kind.  And most importantly, a lot of them were able, good-natured and hardworking people who simply missed out lady luck’s blessing.  If I remember correctly, 19th British term for poor people were “unfortunate ones.”  They couldn’t be more right.

I don’t deny the nouveau-riche’s sweat and blood.  Many of them worked for it and they deserve it.  However, is it really all because they were smart and worked hard?  Some never get a chance no matter how they worked their blood and sweat out.  Their hard work came to fruition, because the right chance came at the right moment with right luck.  Sure, these don’t fill up the large portion of wealth fruit pie – but without them, no matter how hard you work, it will never be realized. Those are out of control, unlike a person’s hard work.  And I believe that is why you need to be able to share what you have with have-nots; what came as your luck might not be yours, originally.

Some of the nouveau-riches’ attitude and bubble described in the article made me think of my rich, six-digit-median-income suburban high school.  I mentioned in my blog that the whole neighborhood was a real-life J Crew/Ralph Lauren catalogue.  Everyone spent their entire life in the town bubble, hanging out only with similar kinds, and their international experience was nothing except summer trip to Bahama and Carribean.  Though I had some of my favorite people in school, I, who came from a small country in East Asian corner, could never relate to them (and I wasn’t much of interest to most of them, either).  I still don’t consider myself as a member of that community.  The attitude depicted in the article was very much like that neighborhood – even in the recession, the town’s median income is still six digits, and made it to one of the top 10 most expensive suburban town in America.

However, one person mentioned was different: Dr. Mohamed El-Erian, current Chief Executive Officer of Pimco.  Born to Egyptian father and French mother, he grew up in Egypt, US, UK, Switzerland, France, studied in Oxford and Cambridge, and now working for American company.  He was mentioned as a different nouveau-riche, someone aware of that the new elites cannot turn away from have-nots, and how turning away from them will ultimately crumble down what elites have now.

El-Erian sees this because he grew up in multiple, different spheres: he grew up in rural Egypt, a poverty-stricken country where the gap between haves and have-nots are huge, and prosperous western Europe.  It wouldn’t be possible if he were just like another new elite, who spent his/her entire life in one country and fails to understand the world as a whole, other than commodity.  And I think this is how TCKs should be, and can be – we can be the positive force.  Hopefully, how non-TCKs view us will change soon, and give us a chance.

Choi family of Kyoungju city, Korea, is a legendary wealthy family, often quoted as one of the original Asian noblesse oblige.  Some of their family rules tell a lot to this situation:
– Do not earn more than 10,000 sacks of rice: whenever the annual earning sum exceeded 10,000 rice sacks from their serf, Choi family either lowered the land fee or returned the rice to the servants and farmers.
– Always use 1,000 sacks of rice for the have-nots.
– In time of famine, do not deal real estates.
– Make sure no one is starving within 24 miles.

The new elites/riches might think noblesse oblige is out of date, and today is time where only the fittest survive and everything is purely meritocracy.  I disagree. Wealth without restraint is the worst form of vulgarity – and it will hurt the wealth itself someday.

From 1:00ish – he can’t he more right.  And he is self-made man, too.  With a bit of luck.

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.

Simple Updates


I have been somewhat busy.  Two companies that I am very interested had their job application due March 19.  That’s a day before my birthday.  And as I mentioned before, many Korean applications want the candidates to write out “personal statement.”  In other words, (and in average) there are three to five questions where you have to answer within the given word limit.  Many of these questions are interview questions in US.  In addition, depends on the company the word limit is such a variety – a firm that I am most interested in limits the answers to be no longer than 2,000 words.  Then one of the firms I applied last week limited the answer to be less than 300 words.  Of course they are pretty much asking same stuff.  So now I applied three companies so far – I keep my fingers crossed.

In the middle of daily job hunting, I got a connection invitation on LinkedIn from my college alum.   It’s good but I wondered why on earth he would like to connect with this young gal alum at a small Asian country.  It turned out that he saw my profile randomly on my college community on LinkedIn, saw my status as “seeking employment” and wanted to help me out.  In addition, he hosted homestay an exchange student from Korea and his daughter visited South Korea several times.  What a small world!

He offered me to call him so we can talk about possible career opportunities and practical advice.  Yes, I had to get up at 6 am and am pretty sure some of my answers did not make sense, even with strong black tea.  But it was incredibly helpful – he introduced me to several new ways and connections.  On the top of that he gladly revised my English resume.  Though that early morning international phone call really screwed up my normal sleep cycle, I am not going to complain.  I can’t.  I guess all that karma paid off – for sure I’ll do more good.

Meanwhile I had some strange contacts, too.  A guy whom I sent a job-lead e-mail said he will try to call me.  So I emptied that day’s schedule.  But he ended up not calling me.  At the end he did call me, but then started to go on and on and on about my last job and duties.  Well…I would not have sent him that job-lead e-mail if I am still related to my last work.  I said I am no longer involved in that work.  Then he went on about how the things in his company works with much detail.  Some of it was helpful, but my job-lead e-mail was not about that.  It was simple: “I know you, and here’s my background.  Please let me know if you know any fit opportunity for me  or can spread the word.”

And then, another guy whom I met through one of the recruiters, is flirting with me.  Yes he is a very friendly guy, and thanks for your interest in me…but I really don’t want to initiate a romantic relationship who is +10 years older than I am.  I haven’t been dated for two years and consider myself pretty open person, but still.  No.

My Korean-style job session is over for now.  And there are more employers who posted their openings – and luckily some of them are the field I am interested.  To be honest it is a bit frustrating that I have an open schedule but not THAT open.  Now it is the major hiring season here, so I would not dare to take a luxury of vacation trip away to Bali.

I hear stories that many Koreans made it through big name grad schools, because the competition rate was lower than before, thanks to bad economy.  Maybe I should have gone to the grad school.  But what I care most is what AFTER grad school.  If I am to go to grad school, I want it to be a “ticket” out of here, or at least not having to deal with bunch of mono-cultured Koreans.

Seriously, if only I was born 5 years earlier, my life would have been much easier.  This morning I read an article regarding the international economic depression, written by an economic professor at Yale.  He, too, said no one can really predict what would happen – when would this depression end? How long would this depression continue? We really don’t have much data to predict.  In human history there was only one economic depression that affected every single country on earth.  The one at 1930’s.

I know, I know – the life itself is a bet.  It takes turn at the most unexpected part.  Or, when you expect it would be curvy, the road is straight.  Someone said there’s no road ahead because it’s all about what I make of it.

Yeah…I should’ve graduated college in 90’s.

Stormbringer, or Disasterbringer


The well-known life coaching book, Secret.  Paulo Coelho’s novel, The Alchemist.  What do they have in common?

All these two books say: whatever you wish, dream on, be positive and keep up with your effort.  Everything on this world is on your side, and your wish will come true.

I like it, and to some extent I believe it.  But there are some period – let it be day, weekend, week, or month – making you wonder that God hates you for sure and the entire world is against you.  It’s one of those days.  You wake up, open up your fridge to make a delicious scrambled egg, only to find that all of your eggs are expired.  Holy snap, but I’ve already defrosted my bacon and potatoes!  So you head off to local supermarket, but the traffic is bad.  And then you find the supermarket is not open today. you shrug, turn back, and then now someone has crashed your car window and took your car audio away.  You are hungry, wasted your time and gas, and got something stolen.  You wonder – what the fuck is wrong?  Did I do something wrong?  Why, oh why, does God hate me?  I’m sure he hates me!  Maybe because I didn’t go to the mass last weekend? Yeah, one of those days.  Know what I mean?

To me, half of this week was it. As of the end of January, I finished my work from the office I kept ranting talking about on this blog.   I did not want to be a lazy hikikomori bum, and now several plans on my mind, I was so ready to get on the new days.

Day 1.  Internet breakdown.

I thought this is a perfect time to write an e-mail to my dear friends.  So I turned on my modem and computer. Well, something’s wrong .  I could not even connect to Google.  Maybe my computer failed to recognize the connection?  I tried reboot.  Nope, still doesn’t work.  Alright, maybe the cable was loose?  I checked it, rebooted.  Nothing.  Okay, maybe it’s IP communication problem.  I’ll just turn off the modem, wait a bit and reboot.  Still, nothing.  So I tried turning off the modem and my computer.  No connection.  Finally I picked up the phone and called the customer service.  After doing exactly what I was doing for hours, the representative said they will send the maintenance technician on the next day evening.  I knew my mom would be at home, so I said okay.  Turned out, my mom had some last-minute plan change and she would be away.  Great.  It turned out the main cable of our apartment town had a major problem, so instead of sending 300 technicians to each household, they repaired that one main cable.  Next day, the internet was back.  But I failed to write e-mails as I planned.

Day 2.  PC Crashdown.

I turned on my computer, wrote all that e-mails I planned.  One last thing – I tried to install the Korean version of Microsoft Office, so I can review what I learned from my evening MS office class on that day.  Installed the Korean version, and deleted the English version, which was originally installed on the computer.  For some reason, the applications started to go crazy.  Whenever I open one excel file, I would get multiple Excel windows throwing Korean and English ribbon menu.  What the heck?  So I tried pretty much everything.  Tried windows uninstaller released from Microsoft’s official website, direct erasing from explorer, and lastly, touching up the hard drive registry by myself.  Nothing worked.  After 2 hours of researching and trying, I was very annoyed.  Computer, it’s either me or you dying tonight.  I’ll just say I ended up formatting my hard drive and re-installing the entire window, not to mention re-installing of all that drivers, downloading/installing all of my programs, and adjusting settings.  I won, but I went to bed at 4: 30 am, only to wake up on 9:00 am.  Because if you sleep too much, it messes up your sleep cycle.

Day 3. Sleep Deprivation.

It was one of the better days.  Despite severe sleep deprivation, I managed to catch up with Brian, drinking coffee.  I’m usually a tea drinker.  If there is time for me to drink coffee, that was my final exam period in college.  So if I am drinking coffee, that means I am so goddamn frigging tired, probably able to hurt someone if I am further annoyed.  I still pulled myself to the evening MS office class.  But really, for the whole day I was just out of my mind.  How can you be, if you had only 4.5 hours of sleep?  If this day was minus Brian, I would’ve gone crazy.

Day 4.  Cancel, cancel, cancel.

I got up early and went to Yoga studio, so I can make up last day’s missing workout.  The door was locked – it was their weekend off.  So I had no choice but to walk all the way back to home.  I and two other pals, who studied Japanese in college and still passionate about using it, planned to go to this Japanese-Korean language exchange community’s weekend social.  I was excited.  As soon as I finished putting powder on my face, one of the friend called me, saying she can’t make it tonight.  I am not mad at her – her reason was totally understandable.  But there I was, feeling a dark shadow looming over my supposed-to-be wonderful Saturday night.  So I checked with another friend.  He was not fully recovered from his bad sore throat.  What can I do, except pushing it to next week?  By that time I was halfway dressed, so I was back to my pj in 10 minutes.

Then my mom called me, for a dinner out.  Great, my facial powder will do justice.  I was back dressing up, completing my makeup and all ready to go out.  10 minutes later, she called: “Oh my, the traffic is really, really bad.  There’s no way I’m going out for dinner.”  So again, I was back in my pj, with makeup only to be cleansed within 30 minutes.

In sum, I spent about half of this week doing nothing, despite of my willingness.  I absolutely hate it when I am done with planning and also physically/mentally ready to turn on the engine, but everything doesn’t work out and you are forced to turn yourself off.  Then, usually, when you just want to sit back and relax, everything forces you to go on.  For the times like this, even the most religious one can’t help asking: “God, why do you hate me so much?” or at least “God where are you? What are you doing up there?”  Well, if you are too busy, you don’t even have a chance to ask.  It’s uncanny how I wanted to relax a bit for this coming week, but now I have more meetings than this week so I am unlikely to relax, at least for the first half of the week.

Well, well, one of those weeks…I’ll just cross my fingers and hope next week to be a better one.   To be honest, there were some good stuff this week – like delicious dumplings and ramen for dinner.



Whether I like it or not, I will give a try for the big name firms in hiring season here.  As I wrote before, their hiring process is crazy and requires preparation.  For this reason, I will pinpoint the firms I really want to try and put my effort on it, instead of just applying here and there just because they have interesting job opening.  I still think the hiring process is unreasonably too time consuming, but I’m in South Korea – even if I fail, it will be a good experience and I will get to know the rule of game here.  If nothing works out, well, law school then.  I know it won’t be easy and going through three years of law school would be a hell hole.  But hey, if you can’t make money, better to learn something.

I am slightly hesitant, though.

From my experience, I think it would be better to go law school or whatever higher education after having 2-3 years of real life experience at least.  People who just hop on to the next level of academic degree because they had no idea what to do or were unwilling to work, tend to be total tools and immature (of course, people who continuously pursue high academic degree with clear purpose, like getting a job in academic field, does not belong to this category).  My college Japanese teacher once said, when in faculty meeting, professors who just continued their academic life without any wage-earning experience have really narrow viewpoint and frustrates her a lot (she has several years of working experience in Japan).  But professors who went through working in an organization are able to draw big picture.  I do feel for her.  The college professors who were so pleasant to work with all had several years of office working experience.  Earning your wage by working with others – from nice white-collar job to burger flipper – really open your eyes, and for sure you learn things that you cannot learn in school – both positive things and negative things about life and human.  By facing a lot of jerks and unexpected situation, you discover what kind of person you want to be, how to avoid being one of them, and why jerks turn into jerks.  And through that, you get to figure out what you want and who you are.

But on the other hand, so many people – more experienced in life – are telling me it is better to start studying when you are young.  It’s true, though.  Your brain functions better, you can get more things done and there is higher possibility of your parents saving your ass.  On the top of that, I will go to some kind of grad school sooner or later, so why not now?

Decision, decisions, decisions…

I think too much before planning something – it almost hurts my head.  I contemplate about what would be the best choice and the most rational choice.  Yet almost always I never get an answer.  Then I always go “screw it, I’ll just do what I want, give it a go and see how it goes. If it fails, oh well.”  I know I know, you are probably thinking, ‘then why research and plan to begin with?’ But I believe there is a difference between going for something you want just because you want it, and doing so with a good background knowledge and aware of possible results.  Evidences?  I don’t know, I just feel like it.

Well, for sure I’ll start with taking courses on Microsoft office and joining Korean-style employment process preparation club.

Life goes on


I quit my work.  After a short break, I will try out for the spring hiring season.  Instead of spreading my resume here and there, I will choose several firms and max my effort on them.  This is because South Korea’s hiring process is crazy, and also because my experiencing of not-very-well managed office.  Unless you don’t really want it or like it, and fairly sure about your choice, you can’t do your best, enjoy your job nor give the best result.  If it doesn’t work out, I consider it as an experience and I will head to law school.  The attitude – “fuc* it, I’ll do it and if it doesn’t work out, screw you guys, I’m going home law school.

Amy, a very good family friend of ours, is a Korean Canadian, living in Toronto with her Korean husband.  When she was getting married, we were surprised and her family was against it.  We recently heard a news about her – they are seriously considering divorce and her husband moved out already.  They have three kids.

Mary, a friend of mine, is now back in her Cali home and working on her grad school apps, while babysitting and also enjoying ballroom dancing.

Marianne is facing a graduation from her grad school in UK.  She’s going to get MA degree on English literature.  She was torn between going med school or continue studying literature.  I don’t know she made her mind up or no.

Rick, a classmate of my high school, died in an accident.

Cece, my best friend in high school and 6 years of friendship continuing, is going to go to med school in South Korea.

Ben is now suffering in grad school, working on his higher degree.

Soo wants to go to med school, but at the same time she is not too sure because everyone in her family works in medical field, so she never had a chance to learn about any other options.  Now she is working on getting her US citizenship, staying and waiting at her aunt’s house. It’s not her favorite place.

My Japanese mom’s youngest daugher is now engaged and moved out.  She’s alone in her home with a puppy.

My American mom’s daughter said she will take a break from her school for one semester (for now).  She is a bit bummed, but still enjoying her life.

Many of these people are very dear to me, and I do care for them.  I want to be near with them so I can visit them almost every day.  But now I am in South Korea and many of them are all over USA and Japan.  It’s not like I can drop by on my way back to home or weekend pleasure walk.

Life goes on – whether you die or live or sick, people walk their own path, live out their lives.  God only knows what is ahead in the path, and sometimes I think God himself doesn’t know what’s ahead there, waiting to be unfolded.

「僕が僕をやめること それが一番いけないことだよ、と。」

Stop staring at me, like it’s automatically my job.


All names that appear on my blog posting are either shortened or changed for the sake of individual’s privacy.

A very good friend of mine, Annabell, is a TCK like myself – a Korean, she was born in Seoul, South Korea, moved to Kuwait, went British school there, lived a bit in UK and USA, came back to South Korea, then went on to USA, and then back to good ol’ Korea.  Her first job was an executive secretary at a very well-known Korean conglomerate.  For sure she experienced, heard and saw lot of stuff, and still she has loads of horror stories to be shared to this date.

One of the thing she told me about was how everyone just passed their job to her, disregarding that she already has works as much as others, because back then she was the only & the best English speaker/writer in her office (she studied English literature in USA – you can’t beat her when it comes to English).  Her colleagues really got on to her nerves, saying stuff like “well, hello, NYU graduate” right on her face, when she was just trying to get the job done.  Well, but when there was an English call from foreigner or their foreign office, everyone panicked and looked for Annabell desperately.  She said she can still remember that ear-popping high-pitched screaming from the end of hallway – “Annabell!!!!! English Call!! Your call!!” Every time she hears this, she was so tempted to give them a nice middle finger and ignore.  Of course she couldn’t.  Whatever involving English, it was automatically pushed to her, on the top of her daily, full loaded executive secretary assignments.  So in fact she was doing two parts of works.  Whenever she tries to mention this and amend the situation, the answer was always same: “but it’s easy for you/it’s nothing for you.”

Once, some manager came over and asked her to translate a contract, written in English.  Like a sane person, she replied

Annabell: Well, shouldn’t you get a professional translator out of corporate expense, especially because this is a legal contract? I mean, it’s not a happy-new-year e-mail.

Manager: Oh come on, getting translator is too much hassle and money.

Annabell: (looks at him blankly for 3 sec) alright, but before you ask me for translation, you and I are going to write an agreement saying you are asking me to do this, I’m not a professional translator, and I am not responsible for any of losses or mistakes caused by unprofessionally translated contract, signed by you and I.

Manager: What? Come on, it’s easy for you.

That’s pretty much what Annabell had to go through on daily basis, not to mention her inhumane 20 working hour per day. Basically, she was taken for granted.  Yeah, sure, in terms of English it is, but you have to remember that is not her only job.  Quoting from Annabell,  “boy, I hated it so much that I almost wanted to sucker-punch them in the face.”  If there was anything that helped her bearing 2 years was 1) thick paycheck and 2) unlike other senior executives, her boss was working as much as she did.

And not too soon after since I got an office job in South Korea, I found myself in pretty much same situation.  It was not a big deal when I was a total noob and did not have much responsibility of my own.  Then, several responsibilities were assigned to me, and pretty much everyone in my office said it would be hard for them to help me out, because it involves me so much English and the structure itself is different from other jobs.  So I was on my own mostly.  But I still got all that other works on the top of new assignments.  Then, on the top of all that, another charge was added on.  Som e of my coworkers began to blame me for making mistakes and not paying enough attention, forgetting that I saved their ass.  When I threw my white towel and asked for a break, they did not get it or thought I am making such a big deal, being a stuck up.  I even heard one saying “well, actually we can do all that English work you are doing.” Then why do you ask me to do it?  Go ahead, take it. They also said “we thought it would be easy for you, because you speak good English.  Why didn’t you ask us for help earlier?”  Well, you already said there’s not much you can do for me, and I really don’t think anyone could be a big help for me except leaving me alone and let me concentrate.

Naturally, I started to stop voluntarily greeting non-Korean office visitors.  You said you can do it, go ahead, do it.  But then, as soon as some white/black/dark-skin/high nose/blue-eye guy pops up in the office, and say something, everyone just stares at me.  Like saying “hello, there’s your guest!”  No, you said you can do it as well as I do – so why stare at me, like I’m the only person who can do it, and why get so pissed when I say ‘I’m the only one who’s doing all English stuff on the top of Korean stuff?'”  I fucking hate it whenever they do that, and obviously, sorry for the innocent guests, I can’t really be nice like I used to.

I keep thinking life would be so much easier for me in South Korea if I did not have that Mongolian look, let alone fluent Korean.

PS: HS is still spilling my beans all over, before I even mention it (reference).  I’m not gonna go on to using abbreviations on business e-mails.