Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Mission Statement

When you are the child of immigrants, your ancestral homeland usually looms large in the background, sometimes unwelcomingly so. I was born in Vancouver, but my parents never bought into the whole assimilation thing: they never voted, they never took much pride in Canada Day, and they never got into hockey.

I spent 18 great years in Vancouver, but it never quite
felt like home to me, and I haven't been back in 5 years.
Growing up, I came to resent Korea as the place that my parents kept trying to drag me back to, in a figurative sense. By pushing their childhood and their homeland on me, they made me feel like an alien in my own country. The worst thing was that while they constantly reminded me that I was Korean first and foremost, they never made it seem like it was that good of a thing. Rather, my impression was that being Korean was some kind of burden that I would have to overcome, like a club foot or something.

Geez, how appealing.

Then they started to literally drag me back when they permanently moved to Korea a few years ago. From then on, I spent most of my college winter and summer breaks there. I hated being removed from my friends and from what I perceived to be my real home, but what was truly annoying was the feeling I got from my parents that they expected me to feel right at home because I was, of course, supposed to be defined mainly by my ethnicity and race. As a minority in Canada, I’d spent most of my life trying to prove the exact opposite!

But after graduating from university and needing some time to mull over my future, my only viable option was to go "home" to Seoul, with my student visa expiring and all. This time, however, I tried to approach the whole thing differently. I was sick of always feeling like a foreigner, whether it was in Canada or in the US or in Korea. This time, I’d commit to living in Korea as much as possible. I may not have a place where I belong, but perhaps that could also mean that I could fit in anywhere easier than most people.

It was October of 2010 when I arrived in Korea as a fresh graduate of Brown, and it’s been a truly wonderful almost-two years since. I will return to the US at the end of August, and when I walk the streets or ride the bus these days, I feel a little pang of sadness as my time here in Seoul as an early 20-something post-grad nears its end. So as a way to chase away those blues, I decided to create this blog to commemorate what has been one of the most satisfying periods in my life and give it the proper send-off that it deserves.

This won't really be a travel blog, and this definitely won't be some vaguely offensive, cutesy-puke "OMG, they do/watch/believe/eat THIS in Korea!!!" kind of thing; instead, I’ll try to write about the thoughts and experiences that I've had because of my past two years spent in Korea. It may result in some seemingly random posts, but hopefully, they’ll all tie themselves together somehow. Thanks for reading!

Cheonggyecheon in the summer night

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