Good Korea or Bad Korea?

So, as we all know lately there has been a lot of news about North Korea.

Let me tell you, there are a lot of crazy things going on with that country.

Over the years when people have asked me where I was from, I would say New York. Then proceed to change the question to what nationality I am.  I respond to that I am Korean American. 75% of the time people leave it at that.

Well, that doesn’t happen in the South.

After people ask me what nationality I am and I inform them that I am Korean…the look on their faces are priceless.

Then immediately follow up with this question:

“Are you from the Good Korea or the Bad Korea?”

Now, I KNOW they are asking me if I am from the North or the South.  I KNOW, I want to give them an explanation, but I don’t. I just tell them South Korea, but one day I made the choice to explain. Maybe I shouldn’t have.

I was at my friend’s birthday party. It was super fun.  I was having a good time, laughing and cutting up with everyone. I was enjoying my time and everyone was enjoying the dumplings I was frying up. As it was time to leave, a party goer asked me the important question….”Where are you from?” The discussion led to the above question of my allegiance to the GOOD or the BAD. I paused and decided that MAYBE, just MAYBE this person, who obviously had a college education and was in the same generation as I was, would understand. NOPE.

I told him the truth. 

You want to know the truth? Well BEFORE there was even a North or South, there was a peninsula called KOREA and it was the same country. When the Koreans were all a part of said one country, technically where the DMZ is, my dad’s side of the family was on the Northern part, but they fled to the South as soon as the war started.

He looked at me and with a straight face proceeded to word vomit,

“OH! So you hate all of us and want to bomb the sh*t out of us and kill us all huh?” 

“whatever you want to think man.” is what I said.

OBVIOUSLY I was annoyed.

“NO, NO seriously! you do right?”

I walked away. What was I supposed to do. There was no way I was going to have a real conversation with someone about this, especially someone who had one too many. If you know what I am saying.

The part that really upsets me about this question is that, there are no good or bad Koreans, there are just Koreans. And No, this does not mean I agree with what is going on the North side of the DMZ. North Korea has issues, I know this.

Are there two countries now, yes, but it was not like that before the war.  It’s bad enough that the question are you from the North or South bothers me, but to ask if I am from the Good or Bad is just ignorant.

My husband, a white, blonde haired blue-eyed man even tells me that he does not understand why it even matters which Korea I am from considering….

  1. I am born and raised in the great United States of America.
  2. Before there was a divide, we were all just Koreans.

Now, I love my husband and if HE can make the distinction and understand the whole story, I do not understand or comprehend the issues that everyone else has. It really strikes a nerve with me.

So, I pose a question to all of you…

Are you from the good or bad part of America?

XOXO

Christine

What is being a “Not Active” Racist?

Do you know what being a “Not Active” Racist is?

I didn’t know what this meant until just recently.  It was used to describe an incident that I had with a certain individual that is a racist, but apparently he is not an “active” racist. He does not speak his mind when he is in front of people that are not white, but he will speak trash and talk shit when they are not around. BTW do you know that this person is a government employee. Yeah, he is. 

So the back story. One of our friends was celebrating his birthday, so we were asked to meet with them for dinner at a restaurant. I knew nothing about this person. I was also told that he was racist, very racist. Well we got there, and I realize that he is very quiet and is not really responding to anything that I say. Now when you look at me, I am OBVIOUSLY Asian. When you hear me speak, I am OBVIOUSLY from “the North” or a Yankee as they would call me. Also you will know that I do not care to speak my mind or speak in hushed tones either. Regardless, after this meeting, I asked the friend if he doesn’t like me because I am Asian. And he said no and that it was just because it was the first time that I had met him. I knew better.

Here it is, six months later and I told my husband that if I felt uncomfortable I was going to give him the signal and that we were leaving. I did not know how he would treat me, so I got ready for anything and everything. We rang the doorbell, and the homeowner opened the door and I see Mr. NAR, we make eye contact and the first words out of his mouth were “OH SHIT!” Everyone in the kitchen area just laughed and chuckled. First indication he was obviously talking about me, and probably not in a nice light.

I entered the kitchen and said hi to the people I knew, and then introduced myself to the people that I did not know, EVEN HIS FIANCE. YES, I was nice. I introduced myself and even shook their hands! After I said hello, I turned to Mr. NAR and said,

“I know we have met. I heard what you said and that was VERY nice of you.”  **BIG SMILE**”

You know when everyone says “You could cut the tension with a knife,” yeah it was like that. So I got a tour of the house [it was a housewarming party] and when I got back to the group I said how I was so happy to see everyone and that it was nice to be there. Although some people were more happier than others. Everyone just smiled, chuckled. I did not mention names, but someone came to his defense and said that Mr. NA just didn’t like anyone. I looked at him dead in the face and I circled my face and stated, “NO, he doesn’t like me because of this. There are some characteristics that I have that Mr. NAR just doesn’t like.” Of course, no one said anything, but they chuckled and laughed. Mr. NAR did not even come out to say anything. 

So the group separated, and all the people that I knew hung around with me and then the people that were not interested in getting to know me went with Mr. NAR to the other room. I was having a great time. I could heard the things that were being said in the other room. Something about one of our mutual friends, who made a very brave decision to do something to support her best friend. Mr. NAR was making mean comments about that. REALLY RUDE comments.

Finally during the night, Mr. NA left. There was a dramatic shift. The people that were not interested in getting to know me came over and asked me questions. They were very nice. Asked me where I was from, and they didn’t mean New York. I respect that, and I appreciate it. They asked me instead of just assuming. 

I asked some of my friends if anything was said about me before we got there. OF COURSE like I had known all along. Apparently right before I got there, they were just talking about me. Mr. NAR was just talking about how much he hated me. Who knows what he said and in my opinion, I do not care. My issue with him was more of the fact that he was RUDE. 

I had a discussion with a wonderful friend about this whole situation. She was right and I knew it, that there is racism, prejudice and discrimination everywhere you go. They are mostly opinions that people are raised to have about other people. OPINIONS. So, I know that I cannot change everyone to be on the same page as me. I also know that when they are raised to believe that anything but white is wrong, then hey! that’s up to you.

I KNOW that I cannot change the opinions that they have, BUT what I do expect is that they respect me!

You can hate the fact that I am Asian all you want.

BUT have the respect to treat me like a person.

I may be imagining things, but honestly after he left, everyone got along great and there was no separation. We all had fun singing, telling jokes, and talking about the past memories we have together. We met some new friends and hopefully we will get to see them again tomorrow for a birthday party! 

So overall, was I hurt by the way I was treated? NO, because I knew he hates me, but I was not ready for the RUDENESS. All I really hope is that his fiance washed her hands after she shook my hand. I mean who knows if he would even let her touch him after that!

Really though, would I have been offended by someone who called Martin Luther King Jr’s Birthday, “Dead N***** Day?” NOPE! 

 

XOXO

Christine

Is nowhere safe?

For Christmas, my husband wanted a golf membership and how could I deny such a request.

He wanted one from Centennial Golf Course, so we went to utilize his benefits this past weekend. Let me tell you, we may live in Tennessee but it was still pretty cold; the weatherman was way off target! HAHA Although the weatherman was way off base, there were still a lot of people playing on the course.

I enjoy spending my day on the golf course with my husband, and although I am a horrible golfer, I think it is a fun sport to play. You’re probably wondering where I am going with this, believe me I am getting there. By the ninth hole, which let me tell you, was a HARD hole even for the greatest of players, I gave up on that hole.

I had to use the bathroom, so when we drove up to the green of that hole, I walked into the clubhouse and warm up. I was walking out of the clubhouse back down to the green of the ninth hole. I look out and there are two golf carts full of men standing by the door. I just ignore them and walk, I hear some laughing/snickering.

As I got about 50 feet from them, I hear a man shout “Alooooooooo-HA.” And they all start laughing. In that split second, I thought to myself, I had a choice, to ignore or to say something. I decided to say something.

I stopped, turned around and said REALLY loud for all to hear, “OH YOU THINK THAT’S FUNNY?!?” Dead silence. “IT’S NOT FUNNY.” and I turned around and walked back down to my husband. Who of course thought that I was yelling at him.

I explained to him what happened and he just shook his head, and he knew I was upset. I was upset that even at a place where I find peace, I get gawked at and ridiculed.

I talked to him and we decided, that going forward, if anyone says anything about me in that manner. I will NOT tolerate it and I will not be nice anymore. I am used to be being blunt and honest and speaking my mind. I feel like I lost a piece of me when I moved down here, because I should be more patient and “nicer;” they call it “Southern Hospitality.”

There is nothing hospitable about the way these people treat me. The way they decided to approach me, the one that does not look like them, just does not have any class. Can’t they just speak it quietly among themselves if they have to?

So from this day forward, I am going to be the nasty Yankee that they perceive me as. I am going to get in their face and make them regret ever doing it again. Because obviously, the approach I am taking right now is not working.

Wish me luck on my endeavors!! Do you have any stories like this?

XOXO

Christine

The New Language

Living in New  York for 28 years, I always thought that the words we said and phrases that we said were all understandable and EVERYONE knew what they meant. I was so sure that anytime I talked to my friends they knew EXACTLY what I meant…

It all changed when I moved to Tennessee

Ya’ll, fixin to do something and yuns….What do these words mean? Believe me i was shocked. I was eating dinner with my in laws one night and the server came up and asked, “Whatchyuns like to drink?” I lowered the menu and my mother in law looked at my face and started laughing. She knew it was all over my face. THE LOOK that I had NO IDEA what he just said.

Basically, WHACTYUNS is WHAT WOULD YUNS….YUNS as in YOU GUYS. So what would you guys like to drink.

It was really a mind blowing experience.

As three years have rolled by, let me share with you some other wonderful words that have come to light in my life:

Fixin to… Basically means getting ready to do something “Fixin to go meet some friends.”

Ya’ll … You know, YOU ALL. Or everyone “Ya’ll coming over after the game?”

Plum…not the fruit, but an adjective, extremely. “My shoes are plum worn out!”

shit fiiire….this is one of my persona favorites. it just means something bad. LOL

Lordy Day or God Bless…  I say this when I am not trying not to use the Lord’s name in vain. I am trying to get away from using the GD here. they frown upon that.

Seen…. we all know what seen means but here it is used as “I seen your cousin yesterday”

I am not going to lie and say that I have not used these words or phrases before. After three years they have been implanted into my brain and after these years I now have learned to understand these words more and more. It amazes me how things can differ from region to region in the great United States of America.

What do you guys think? Have you ever been to a part of the country where you did not understand a word?

XOXO

Christine

Is your name Jimmy?

Part Two

In my previous post I was talking about how I was just asked “How long I had been in the country.” I also mentioned that it would get better and it does. When things like this happen, you really wonder what people have learned in school about other countries and cultures.

So back to the story…

While we are trying to decide who is going to touch the sturgeons first…

Volunteer: “Excuse me is your name Jimmy?”

Hubs: “UM no.”

Volunteer: “Oh okay. My friend’s neighbor’s, son is supposed to come today and he married a Taiwanese girl.”

Us: “Oh, okay”

Volunteer: “Are you Taiwanese?”

Me: “Um no, I’m Korean.”

Volunteer: “Oh. Do you speak Taiwanese.”

Me: [my patience is running out at this point.] “No, I speak Korean”

Volunteer: “Oh is there a difference?”

Me: [in my mean, stern, annoyed tone]

“Yes, they are two totally different countries.

Now before I start cursing an old lady out, why don’t you tell me about the damn sturgeon?”

Volunteer: “The sturgeon are one of the oldest prehistoric ….”

Yes, this did happen. Was I mean? Yes! Honestly, I don’t think I had much patience for this. Does Taiwanese and Korean sound the same? I will say the fact of the matter is that first she asked me how long I had been in the country, which is rude in itself. Everyone that looks like me are not immigrants, there are people that look like me that were/are born in the United States and are citizens all day and every day.

Secondly, to go and ask follow up questions that are completely asinine are beyond me. So am I sorry that I lost my patience? Yes and No. Should I have been more forgiving to that old lady? Yes, considering that she looked about 70+. Do I regret reacting the way I did? NOPE.  Hopefully by my reaction she will go and find out about how many DIFFERENT countries, cultures and languages there are in Asia. 

 

XOXO

Christine

How Long Have You Been in the Country?

Part One

One of the first times I ever left the Northeast was to see my husband [he was my boyfriend at the time] in his home state of…you guessed it. Tennessee.

Confession: I am obsessed with aquariums. Yes, I have a list of them and I have highlighted all of the aquariums I have gone too. I also don’t care about how many times we go to the same aquarium… I LOVE THEM. [Except the Ripley’s chain…. I have noticed that those are all the same]

For my birthday he was taking me to TWO aquariums! [My birthday falls around Valentine’s Day so we were killing two birds with one stone….long distance relationships…sigh]

First stop was the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, TN. It was amazing! Love the place. To this day I think I have been there over a dozen times…can you tell I am OBSESSED?

We were walking around and exploring each exhibit and we stumbled upon the sturgeon tank, which also was a touch tank. We walked over to it and noticed there was a older woman volunteer standing there, and this is when it gets interesting.

Lake Sturgeon

Volunteer: Good Afternoon! How are ya’ll doing today.

Us: Great! Thank you

Volunteer: Well, where are ya’ll visiting from?

Hubs: Well I’m from Knoxville

Me: I’m from New York

Volunteer: [looking directly at me…] Oh, okay. Well how long have you been in the country?

Hubs looks at me with that devious smile of, I know you’re going to be angry…and at this exact moment I am so floored at the question. I mean really? I just said I was from NEW YORK?!?! That is a part of THIS country. The United States of America!

Me: 27 years, my whole life. I was born and raised in New York.

Volunteer: Oh. [Like she does NOT understand how I was not from another country]

Now, you would think that it would end there right? Absolutely Not! I was amazed already at the conversation we were having…but there’s more!

To be continued…

XOXO

Christine

What’s in a name…Aloha!

You are all probably wondering about the name of this blog…

well this is the story that started it all

At my first real job in Tennessee… through the busy weekends when check in and check outs were busy times, I was out by the front office doing something called express check out. It had been 4th of July weekend and let me tell you we were all in our festive gear. I was wearing a straw fedora-esque hat and had a red white and blue fake flower lei around my neck.

Now, just for your reference, my name tag had my name and the state that I was from underneath it. So it is not like you could not figure out what state I was from and especially with my “yankee” accent [as my lovely employees enjoyed to say… boy I do miss them].

While doing my express check outs, which basically I would take guests’ room keys and make sure they sign the check out form and wish them a great trip back to whatever state they were from. Well, one car pulls up and I cannot recall where they were from. I greeted them. Ask them if they had a wonderful time.

The wife  [and at this resort most of them were of the older demographic] proceeded to look me dead in the face and said

Woman:  “Aloha… … …..”  [I do not remember the whole phrase, but it was long and the only thing I could comprehend was Aloha]

I looked at her with a puzzled face. She looked at me with wide eyes and I said

Me:  “I’m sorry,” in my what did you just try to say to me face.

Image

me…circa 1980’s

Woman: “Oh, I said hello good morning and how are you in Hawaiian.”

Me: “oh, well hello, good morning, I am fine, thank you.” In my most polite, most not annoyed tone of voice

Woman: “I thought you were Hawaiian. Sorry.”

Me: “No, I am Korean. Unfortunately we do not understand Hawaiian. And I am from New York.”

Now, please understand I have NOTHING against Hawaiians. I actually know a lot of people who are. What I do NOT understand is why everyone down here, and I say this because I have only experienced this in the southern part of the United States, assume that I am Hawaiian.

My husband also has a theory on this and he believes that it is because I speak English and that is why people assume that I am Hawaiian. Not because I am an American born Korean in the United States of America…

I am automatically Hawaiian because I speak English without an accent.

 You would think that this would only happen once…NOPE!

XOXO

Christine