Korea, my ‘home’ or so it says on my passport. Life as a #TCK.

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.

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4 thoughts on “Korea, my ‘home’ or so it says on my passport. Life as a #TCK.

  1. Really love this post! And I know what you mean. I have an American dad, and a mom from Liechtenstein; I grew up in the States but ended up living in Switzerland with my US and Liechtenstein citizenship.
    I am a proud American citizen but I feel ashamed of America and it’s easier for me to relate to or admire nearly every other culture I encounter.
    I am a Liechtensteinan who doesn’t have the first clue what it means to be from Liechtenstein or to be Liechtensteinian.
    I love my adopted home, Switzerland, but often felt like a ghost living there. Still, my Liechtenstein relatives give me a hard time for turning Swiss since I now speak a Swiss dialect of German instead of the Liechtenstein one.
    It can get so confusing and messy sometimes but still wonderful! I’d rather have too many cultures within me than just one, any day of the week. ;-)

    • Thanks! You have all sorts of diversity going on over here! That’s amazing. It is frustrating at time but I cannot agree with you more.. I would definitely have too many cultures than just one. Afterall, I wouldn’t be who I am today if I wasn’t exposed to these beautiful cultures. Any plans on visiting the US soon?

  2. I REALLY REALLY LOVE READING YOUR BLOGS. I just don’t know what to say sometimes because words cannot express how deeply I feel for you.The more I read about you the more sad I feel deep inside. On the other hand, you are a multi culture girl growing up with three different cultures:D You are one unique korean girl. How do you feel in the inside? More korean, cambodian, or american? Sooo interesting!

    • I don’t think I could choose one. Every country I’ve been in and every event I’ve faced has really shaped me into who I am today so I don’t think I could choose one! I’m really thankful to be able to say that! It’s definitely an experience not everyone gets to have.

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