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Korea Will Change You

June 6, 2013


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Yay! We mentioned in our TL;DR that we just passed 5 Years in Korea! Wow. That’s quite a long time. We sometimes speak with people who have been here for, like, a couple of months. We remember what that was like! But we also remember how different we were back then as opposed to now. We mentioned a bunch of ways Korea changed us in the video above, like in our taste buds, portion sizes, perceptions of masculinity and sexuality, our sense of danger, and our paying more attention to our appearances. There are a couple of other things that have changed with us that we didn’t mention in the video, though, so we’ll talk about those here:

Our Taste in Music:

Ok, so we’re music hipsters. We listen to lots of weird indie stuff. People might be really surprised by our taste in music, because they think that we only listen to Kpop, for some reason (maybe because we’re known as Kpop people on YouTube?) Point is: we didn’t like Kpop when we first came to Korea. Our music snobbery got in our way for a while. Hardcore snobbery. It was hard for us to think of Kpop as “real” music, whatever “real music” means. The idea we had before was that music is only good music if it’s made by the musicians alone, and Kpop seemed so fake in comparison. Kpop bands don’t get together from high school and jam out in their mom’s garage and play gigs at local bars and struggle to make ends meet and bartend part time while they practice with their band the rest of the time. There’s none of that with Kpop. Kpop bands are assembled by companies. Members oftentimes don’t know each other before forming the band. Kpop bands oftentimes don’t make their own music, but have songs written for them by people from different countries. There’s none of the traditional sense of sincere artistry in it. Well, that’s what we thought before, or – more specifically – what I – Simon, super music artsnob – thought before.

But that’s changed. I found that I was spending too much time focusing my energies on reasons to NOT like kpop, rather than just letting myself like it. It’s music! Doesn’t matter how it was made: it’s still music. Doesn’t matter if it was one person who wrote the song or a hundred. The song’s there to listen to, and oftentimes it’s ridiculously fun to dance to. Why deprive myself of the joy of liking something? So I can feel better about myself, think highly of myself for not liking a song? Why take pride in NOT liking something? That’s silly. We hear this a lot when we speak with foreigners in Korea not into Kpop. They never speak of it like a “meh, it doesn’t really do it for me.” There’s a passion and a fervor in their eyes, and they speak angrily against kpop. I didn’t want to be one of those angry people any more…

It was really Brown Eyed Girls “Abracadabra” and 2NE1 and Big Bang’s “Lollipop” that got to me. I thought “hell, these are awesome, AWESOME songs. So freaking fun! Why am I trying to deny liking them?” I gave up my pretentions. Sure, I stopped thinking of music as this infallible art or something like that, and good riddance. Pretentious people in any field, be it music or literature or movies suck at parties. They’re condescending fartsuckers and live bitter lives of resentment. Spend your life enjoying more things rather than defining them.

You know, I just realized that I shouldn’t be writing this post while partially drunk. Tomorrow’s a holiday in Korea, and there’s some great energy going on outside, and we’re sitting here at 1AM working on this video and blog post, so we decided to grab a couple of drinks and get back to work, Mad Men style. I forgot that I had a serious post to write, so – my apologies if I’m a bit incoherent.

Our Mission in Life:

Before we came to Korea 5 years ago, we planned on being in Korea for a year. Our plan was this: Korea one year, Japan maybe a year or two, and then back to Canada to teach and “start our lives.” Our idea was that we should travel when we’re young. Why wait till you’re retired to travel? By the time you’re retired, you’re old and in pain and sleep a lot more. Why not enjoy your travels when you’re young and get it out of your system? That’s what we thought.

Yes, it was unconventional, but we thought ourselves risky for doing so. Oooh! A year or two overseas! That’s different! And while we were in Korea at the beginning, we spoke with people who would sometimes ask us “when are you going to start your REAL lives” Real lives. Yes. That was the term used. Like, what we’re doing in Korea isn’t our real life. We have to go back to Canada, back to our roots, and buy a mortgage and buy a car loan, work our 9 to 5, and do all of the things normal people do. Not that we’re bashing that! Not at all! Sometimes we look at our lives now and think that there’d be comfort in a regular life. We just noticed, though, that the idea we had from people who lived lives like this was that the lives we were living here weren’t “real” or weren’t “right.” It’s just a phase, and soon we’ll return to normalcy.

We thought that for a bit, too, but the more we lived here the more we realized that maybe we might want to live here for a long time. Maybe we don’t have to go back and do things the way they “should” be done. Maybe we could live perfectly legitimate and real lives here. We don’t have to get a mortgage. We don’t have to have kids. We don’t have to own a car. We don’t have to do the things that normal folks do, and we wouldn’t have to worry about being unfulfilled as a result.

We’ve met so many awesome people here. Just yesterday we had people from Australia here filming something with us. Two white guys living in Australia, traveling to Korea, and speaking Japanese. How cool is that? We know Canadians living in Korea who married Korean people and have started lovely families here. Are their lives not real? That’s silly. So we look at ourselves now, two white people living in Korea and making YouTube videos. What’s wrong with that? Is that not a real job?

Sorry if that’s a bit of a ramble. Our point is this: coming to Korea and living here has really changed our perceptions of what’s normal and acceptable. Our fruits are far from our roots, but that doesn’t make them rotten. And I hope that, by being here and sharing our lives with people online, we can motivate others to try something different. There’s a world of possibilities out there. So many places. So many options. So many lifestyles. So many lives to live. All of them real. If you’re bored of your life or unhappy or discontent, move! Go somewhere else! You have friends where you live: make new friends! You have family where you live: make new family! It’s not like your old friends and family will cease to exist. Go new places. Do new things, and find something that’s right for you. If life hands you lemons, go somewhere that life grows mangoes. That is, if you like mangoes. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like mangoes…



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