I know that this blog is mainly – actually, mostly about Southeast Asia (Cambodia, to be exact) and a little bit on my current status in Boston but I really couldn’t resist the temptation to share this video with you when I stumbled upon it via a friend of mine. It’s a beautiful video of South Korea filmed by David Dutton. As you all know, I am from Cambodia – meaning I grew up there and much of who I am now has been shaped by my life in Cambodia. However, there is another cultural aspect of me that really has affected me in who I am today – I am Korean – after all. Many people that know me also know that I don’t particularly embrace the Korean inside of me.. actually, most of the time, I even neglect it and push it away as far away as possible. I tend to shy away from people trying to connect Korean culture with me but this is not because of my negative feelings toward the culture. In fact, a little part of me is actually proud to be Korean – I’m just scared and a little uneasy about this culture that I am supposed to know really well but just seem almost foreign to me.
My parents, my sister and I are the only Parks or Shin (my mom’s side) of the family that are outside the country. Meaning, everyone else, all my family.. are in Korea. I did go back once every year or so.. but the more and more I visited, it became a stranger place to me. If I could relate to anything, I could relate to very little and everything I knew and understood in Korea were all just a part of what I could remember from when I used to live there or from how our parents raised us. Every time I spoke about Korea in a negative way, it pained my parents to think that it’s their fault we were brought up away from our own ‘culture’ and I did at times blame my parents for expecting same cultural values and morals as other Korean parents would when in reality, my sister and I have been exposed to so much more. I can’t blame them but now I’ve begun to understand and sympathize (not yet empathize) more. However, it still stresses me out to think that I can never fit into this ‘nationality’ I was given. Everything on the outside screams out ‘Korea’ for me but there’s always a part of me that feels uneasy as I try to fit myself into the
stereotypes expectations (I remember going back for summer vacations and I hated the looks or the stares I would get from people in public because I dressed differently or acted differently. As a young, self-conscious, high school girl, that pressure.. having to look like I belong but not knowing how, was tough). And of course, there is another side of me that wishes I had more connections to this beautiful country other than blood and family. But I don’t complain because I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be who I am and where I am today if it weren’t for how I was brought up as a Korean in Cambodia, now living in Boston.
Despite all this, I still LOVE all Korean food, I do listen to K-pop occasionally, I do watch Korean TV, I am fluent in Korean and I go to a Korean church. So.. in truth, I am pretty Korean. I just don’t express it as much.
Anyway, going back to the film, this is beautifully filmed and put together and really captures the true characteristics of South Korea. I really do think Korean culture is beautiful even though I may comment more on the negative things about the country. I haven’t been ‘back’ in about two years.. I briefly went last new years when I slipped my disk and was flown to be in the hospital for a week in Korea but that doesn’t count. I can’t wait to go back one day.. though I still need to give it more thought whether I could live there or not.