The more I learn about the culture here, the more I realize how much more there is to learn about Korea. It’s like opening a new can of worms every time you open a new can of worms. And I’m not talking about how to pour a drink for an elder or even stuff your mama told you about. I’m talking about sayings, mannerisms, the way people interact with each other and where they root from. It¡¯s funny when you finally do trace back to them, you really get a sense of the Korean peoples wit and character.
I grew up in a white-boy town just 30 minutes south of Chicago. It wasn’t until I went to college in New York when I discovered the rich culture of Korea. After discovering it, I wanted more. I went to a school where 50% of the student body was Asian. I had all Korean friends and did all things Korean, hitting up cafes, clubs and noraebangs, etc. Even that wasn’t enough. I eventually moved out to LA, where there were an ¡°uhm-chung¡± number of Koreans. Growing up, LA seemed to be the Mecca for Koreans. If you lived in LA, you were Korean. You couldn’t get more Korean than that. But yet after 6 years of LA, it still wasn’t enough to satisfy my insatiable appetite for more. I have now made the move to Korea (Keep in mind, this is not the only reason why I moved out here. Please refer to the June 28, 2005 POST for more detail). This is the ultimate Korean experience. I don’t care how you slice it. You can’t get more Korean than this. I can’t really complain now, can I?
For a Korean-American, it just could be a never ending quest to fully understand the Korean mind. Or that it may take me more than my 2 year budgeted time frame here to fully get it. I feel like Pinocchio in my yearning to become more and more Korean. It¡¯s like my dream is to become a real Korean boy. Or you can also say I feel like a clone in the movie, The Island. In my attempt to fully understand the Korean culture, it¡¯s like trying to have Ewan McGreggor assimilate to the real world in that movie. This clone looks like everyone else in the real world, but something is definitely off. He’s aware of some basic fundamental things in the world like food and speech, but he’s still very far away from being able to function as an everyday human being.
I am a Korean-American. I grew up in the States. Very often I think about how my life would have been had my parents never emigrated. Knowing me, I think I would have been driving cabs or something mindless like that. There are many things here in Korea that are familiar to me. At the same time there are many things that are foreign to me. This country is so culturally rich it¡¯s starting to make me greedy. I need to learn more. It¡¯s a bleak thought for me to think it will take forever, but at least at this point, I can surely say I’m learning something new everyday. Everyday is a new adventure. And I hope to log as many of these experiences here as possible. Some funny and some serious. Some of the political and spiritual ones I’ll keep private for now.