Arirang: The Layers of a Much Loved Song

//I wrote this as a response to “Song of Ariran” by Kim San and Nym Wales, a reading assigned from my Modern Korean history class. It was about the life of a Korean rebel who before the age of fifteen, lived in Tokyo, Manchuria, and Shanghai chasing after Korea’s independence among exiles and diaspora. It was the most personal response (because it was a free form reaction) and the most intimate response among the history major responses. Fair enough, because I am a Korean American, and these events can be traced back within my family history…

I knew before reading this piece that Arirang was in fact a sad song. It is a song that today is immediately linked to Korea. There are remakes of the song, but more along the lines of pop music, rap songs, or dance covers, rather than the original remakes that landed people in jail for the revolutionary lyrics. I originally knew Arirang from it’s version talking about lovers; reading this piece expanded my connotation of the song.

 

For some reason, I have a tendency to get emotional when I listen to Arirang, and this began before I knew the meaning of the lyrics. Something about the melody was yearning, raw, and powerful, never failing to draw tears from my eyes (which is ironic considering I never lived in Korea and don’t know all of its culture). Perhaps is it part of the inner Korean crying out, the blood of my ancestors? I’m not sure.

Continue reading “Arirang: The Layers of a Much Loved Song”

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Asian? American? Both?

This is an essay I just finished for my cultural anthropology class. It was probably one of my favourites to write, as I’ve been contemplating these topics for a while and the assignment gave me the opportunity to solidify and further explore my thoughts.

Enjoy~

ASIAN AND AMERICAN?

When I visited Korea with my family two summers ago, every Korean person we met would immediately ask us where we were from. I thought that coming to the country of my heritage would grant that I would be able to escape this question, but apparently not; in Korea, I was the American, the foreigner. But when I came back to home, the same question persisted. “Where are you from?” “Montreal.” An awkward pause, and then I pick up what they really meant, and I clarify, “I’m ethnically Korean.” Here, even in my home country, I am still the foreigner, the Asian rather than the American. Why is it that people rarely identify me as I actually am, an Asian-American?

Continue reading “Asian? American? Both?”

Evil Has NO Nationality

My heart hurts and my head is spinning. How can humans be so cruel?-

I’m in a Modern Chinese History class and I just read two primary documents about the  Rape of Nanjing. Let’s just say, it’s remembered as a RAPE for a very clear, explicit reason. For example, the competition that happened between two Japanese sub-lieutenants to see who could kill 100 Chinese first. And when they didn’t see who won, they decided to extend it to who could reach 150 instead, because it was fun, so why not?-

Continue reading “Evil Has NO Nationality”

Disgust on a Whole New Level: Sex Trafficking

I’m presently taking a Introduction to International Studies and tomorrow’s class focuses on the topic of Human Trafficking and after watching the required video focusing on Sex Trafficking in Eastern Europe, I feel absolutely filthy and disgusted beyond anything before. I feel like to balance out the horrors I learned about I need to spend a good hour just watching fluffy Buzzfeed videos or maybe some candy Kpop music videos or variety shows. But then I’m running away from the weighty truth of the situation and like many others, just ignoring it…

Continue reading “Disgust on a Whole New Level: Sex Trafficking”

McDonald’s in Korea?

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//This was a post I did for my Korean Civilization class~ After this post, I won’t use past material for this tab, to force myself to learn and reflect on what I learned.//

When we think of McDonalds, we would usually imagine a clown figure or perhaps the famous Big Mac hamburger. We usually wouldn’t associate the golden arches with imperialism or intrusion, but to Korea when McDonalds was introduced, this is how it was interpreted.

America had its age of imperialism but now it has advanced to a new, and perhaps more long lasting form of cultural and soft power imperialism. Even the people who started McDonalds in Korea didn’t realize the weight of their actions. For Koreans, a Big Mac was more than just a burger: it was an opposition to the Korean character. Continue reading “McDonald’s in Korea?”

North Korea in the 1966 World Cup

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I’ve grown up in a soccer environment as my dad is a soccer coach and my brother has played soccer since he was in elementary school. This documentary therefore affected me in both the soccer way and culturally. For some reason I never realized that North Korea also played soccer. It was a huge (yet also pleasant) surprise that North Korea made that big of a mark in the World Cup. My first response to learning about this was shock but then as I learned about the circumstances of the times, my shock became pride. Granted, I’m not North Korean, but I am Korean and we’re all the same regardless. Continue reading “North Korea in the 1966 World Cup”

New Category: HISTORY OF MY ANCESTORS

Hello all! 🙂

I would like to bring up something exciting to my readers and followers! I’ve been taking Civilizations of Asia:Korea this semester and it’s been extremely fascinating and enlightening. We’ve discussed important themes of history like colonizations, what it means to be a nation, the accuracy of history, and so on. Throughout the semester, I’ve been keeping a mental list of topics I want to dig deeper into and so with this new category, I’ll share with you all my findings and thoughts on Korean history.

Why the overly dramatic title for this category? …well, why not? I was going to maybe use something like “Korean History” or “Thoughts about Korean History” but nah. I’d rather use HISTORY OF MY ANCESTORS and imagine some large, deep voice saying it like from some epic movie (Morgan Freeman maybe? Liam Neeson? Along those lines). And also, well, because my ancestry is Korean, so there is some logic behind the weirdness.

Please anticipate the posts under this category! I don’t know how much I can post in the remaining three weeks of classes, but during the summer, I’m definitely going to spend some quality time with some lovely books about the history of Korea and the history of Asia. 🙂