Thoughts on Not Fully Knowing Korean, on the In Between

I was never confident of my Korean language ability.

It wasn’t because of something someone said to me; rather, most Koreans would exclaim that my Korean was good, but I think that might have done with them knowing that I’m Korean-American and thus not expecting me to be able to speak in Korean at all.

No, I always felt like my lack in Korean was a handicap. I stressed out when I watched something without subtitles. I even remember watching a movie with my parents and reading the subtitles on a different screen, my eyes darting back and forth between the actual movie and my subtitles.

Recently, I’ve tried to intentionally not use subtitles. And let me tell you, it’s like an itch that I constantly want to soothe, but then I remind myself that when I’m talking with Koreans or watching a show with Koreans, I can’t pause that moment. I can’t pause life and make it feel comfortable to me, I can’t jot down vocab in the moment and force everything around me to bend to my Korean language proficiency.  Continue reading

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

Sam Kim’s “Seattle” Analysis

Sam Kim came onto the radar when he auditioned for Kpop Star, a talent search competition. He is my brother’s age (1998), extremely talented, and a Korean American. His Korean is not fully proficient and yet now, he is singing in the language and immersed in his heritage culture.

His story fascinated me. In his audition, while a judge is complimenting him, he shyly admits that he doesn’t know what the judge is saying. And throughout the show, he speaks in English most of the time, as he can express himself more succinctly. But now, he is in a culture and language far from his hometown Seattle. He has culture shock of going to his heritage. And yet, he pushes on.  Continue reading

When Choosing a Character’s Race…

I usually check the new book section in my university’s library. Recently, a book caught my eye by its simple design and intriguing title, “Full Cicada Moon.” I opened the book and read the inner flap and was immediately suspicious but interested at the same time:

the book was about a half Japanese and half black girl. And the author was white.

I flipped through the pages and the free verse form was cool but I still felt uncomfortable. Why would a white person write about someone who was in such a unique racial position? Just to get attention? Just for the sake of the novel? Was the author aware of the impact her writing would have?

The questions were suffocating me and I put the book down and left.  Continue reading

I Love Asians Sign?!?!?!

When I walked back to my study table from the restroom something caught my eye…

It was a loud, blatant sign that said I LOVE ASIANS. And guess what, folks? It was on the laptop of some white guy. And I’m pretty sure that sitting across from him was an Asian chick (His friend? Girlfriend?). Either way, just…really? REALLY NOW?

Sorry for being blunt but that’s honestly disgusting. This is a fruit of Asian people being fetishized. Seriously. Like you’re going to use the same sign to say things like I love bacon, I love Beyonce, and then you’re going to use it to say that you like a certain group of people? Continue reading

Fear?…

Is it bad to want something?- Like, to want it to the point that you’re willing to thrust yourself fully into it, like a mad person, even if there’s failure?…

For the first time in a while, I am finding myself really wanting something but almost everything looks stacked against me, haha. And yet my heart rages on, urging me, pushing me to push myself over the edge of dedication. But I don’t know if I want it, because what if at the end I’m crushed by failure? What if rather than rebounding from it, I’m crushed from my fall, crippled?  Continue reading

Time to Digest

Have you ever had those classes that make it seem like the information is coming at you like a crazy avalanche but at the same time, it doesn’t scare you? Yes, you feel the information and concepts coming at you at 100mph and you’re vaguely aware that you’re going to be buried under mounds of knowledge, but rather than being worried, it excites you because you know that when you dig your way out and master the things that once overwhelmed you, you know that you’ll be stronger and more ready for what’s next.  Continue reading