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COMMENTS

When we were in LA, we spent a couple of days with Jen, who – by the way – is totally lovely. She asked Martina a really interesting question that really had us questioning ourselves. The question was this: do we consider ourselves Korean-Canadians or Canadian-Koreans?

It caught us really off guard. It’s not something we ever thought about. “Neither” is our first response. We have no Korean blood in us. We’re not Korean. Jen went on to say, though, that we’re in many ways more Korean than she is. We’ve been living in Korea for over six years now. We’ve been really immersed here. We have a home, a business. We eat Korean food every day. We speak Korean every day (not high level Korean, though: but more than enough to carry on conversations). We pay Korean taxes. When we were in LA, we were culture shocked by all of the things that are not like how they are in Korea.

But that’s not the point of our conversation. Though we’ve spent most of our adult lives in Korea, we still don’t consider ourselves Korean, yet we’ve adapted to Korean culture in many ways. Those of you angry Tumblrinas, please note: WE ARE NOT CALLING OURSELVES KOREAN. We were fascinated by the question, though, and what it implies.

Namely, the question of identity got us thinking. Back in the day, your language and your geographical location and your nationality and your heritage were very often all the same. A Korean person spoke Korean and lived in Korea and had Korean family. There was little mingling. But the world has changed a lot in the past 100 years. My parents are from Poland, but they have half-German grandparents. Then they moved to Canada. My first language was Polish, but then I dropped it for English. Now I’m living in Korea, and my identity and career are all based on Korean stuff. What do I identify as, then?

We hung out with Dan Matthews while we were in LA as well, who spent some time with us when he was shooting his documentary. He’s a Korean adoptee who spent his entire life outside of Korea. When he came to Korea, he hung out with us a bit, and we showed him around the area and taught him a bit about it. How does he identify?

Again, I’d like to make clear that I’m not here claiming some people are “more Korean” or “less Korean” than others. I’m not necessarily sure what I feel about the question of identity, either, because it’s something we’ve only been discussing recently, a lot more so after Jen asked us that first question. I’m not sure how much longer people are going to be able to identify themselves based on any country in the future, really, the more we travel and bring our history with us to plant in new places.

I remember when we were in Poland for our Polish meet up. It was a very difficult time for me, for reasons that I couldn’t really understand. I’ve always felt like a terrible Polishman. I remember visiting Poland when I was 16, and my uncle scolded me for not knowing Poland’s historical figures, and he stated that every good Polishman knows Poland’s history. I remember my brother not wanting me to speak Polish around him, because my pronunciation is terrible. I don’t know Polish well, I don’t speak it well, yet there I was in Poland, with a bunch of loving, Polish Nasties, all of whom I wanted deeply to identify with, but I felt deeply ashamed to. I had no right to claim any Polishness. I just had a Polish family and a bit of the language. That’s all.

A big part of this is why I’m fascinated with the gyopo experience in Korea (a “gyopo”, by the way, is a Korean who grew up outside of Korea). We’ve spoken with many who have a really difficult time here, some of whom have been scolded publicly for not being Korean enough, for not speaking enough of the language. It’s something I feel when I think about my Polishness. And it’s something that I consider while we’re here in Korea as well. What place do we have in this country? We’ll always be considered outsiders, no matter how long we live here.

I’m not sure what else to say here. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter, even though I don’t have any clear answers or questions. I just don’t know what cultural identity means anymore. I just know I’ll get a ripping from angry social justice warriors for questioning cultural identity, which won’t help me out much. What’s your position?

I also know that I was really happy to do this video with Jen, who could share her experience as a Korean American and touch on the questions of cultural identity as well. We hope you liked the video as well :D

If you’re looking for something more fun, though, I’d recommend checking out Jen’s video makeover on Martina. Side note: Jen’s got SUCH A NICER CAMERA THAN OURS. Ooooh look at that lighting!

 

And, lastly, click on this pretty button below for more TL;DRs, and for more collaboration videos. We’ve got another one coming next week with Korean Englishman, who’s, like, very similar to us but very opposite in many ways. Yay!

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  1. Eotteokaji

    Random thing I noticed about Jen, is that her mannerisms are definitely more American style. I’ve noticed native Koreans don’t really talk with their hands much. In interviews they just sort of sit still and reserved, but Americans/Westerners tend to move a bit more, and even use more facial expressions, and in general are a little more expressive.
    Interesting..

  2. babyybear
    babyybear

    I think we all should start going by “hybrids” or something because even though I’m a Polish American and associate more with being that, I’m still 1/10th Japanese and the recessive gene shows and not just in me, but some other cousins of mine. My eyes are not brown as they once were when I was younger, they’re like greenish blueish gray now–if that makes any sense.

    I was raised by two Polish immigrants in a Polish neighborhood with Polish American culture. We adapted American traditions. That being said, I still take off my shoes before I enter the house completely. I take my shoes to my room and keep them in my shoe storage. Once when I was severely exhausted, I took off my shoes outside my front door and then proceeded to enter into my house. xD But I feel totally wrong if I don’t take off my shoes in someone’s house, even if they asked me to keep them on.

    We have traveled back to Poland every 3 years, and I’ve been in Poland since I was conceived. At the age of 16 I started to go back alone and now I’m actually in the process of moving to Poland, I’m much happier there. Simplest reason I can give you. There’s other much more longer reasons, but I’m a dual citizen and I’m much happier there. Take it or leave it! I’ll still travel and visit, but for now I feel like I should be in Poland.

    I really also am interested in the part of my family that was Asian, the culture, the language (which I know Japanese, & have knowledge in Chinese & Korean). So I believe myself to be American born, Polish raised, and Asian inspired.

    I’ve always ran from Poland towards Asia. I refused to date Polish guys (because the ones I knew gave the rest a bad name, but because I was young and naive I thought they were all the same), and only dated Asian ones (because Anime and dramas make you think that they’re ideal). I don’t know Poland’s history, but I do love Poland’s culture. Now I’m not really bias after a bad relationship and I’m not as naive anymore.

    My Polish is at a high level, but it still needs working on. My oldest sister, she was born and raised in Poland for majority of her childhood. But she gave up that life for her American life, has a family here, and hasn’t gone back since. My Polish is actually a lot better than hers.

    I could really go into this some more, but then I’m afraid I’d have a book. And at first I didn’t want this to be so long. Oops.

    TL;DR:

    - We should go by “hybrids”
    - I’m Polish American with 1/10th Japanese, a recessive gene that actually shows in me and some of my other cousins.
    - Raised by Polish immigrants in a Polish neighborhood with Polish Americana tradition
    - Still take off my shoes
    - Travel to Poland a lot
    - Moving there because I’m much happier there
    - American born, Polish raised, and Asian inspired
    - Thought all Polish boys were the same
    - Dated Asian boys
    - Grew up and dropped the naivety
    - Oldest sister born and raised in Poland but prefers America

  3. ReformLife

    I am a Korean American Adoptee raised in a Chinese family in San Diego, California. I lived in Hongdae last Summer very close to the EyK Studios! Basically just a couple blocks south towards 상수역. I barely know any Korean, purely just survival Korean. I know you guys met Dan Matthews “aka Dan” last year, but I would love to see a video about Korean Adoptees and their struggles coming back to Korea. There are at least 100 Korean Adoptees in Korea at any one time if not more.

    I identify with a lot of what Jen has experienced, except I have to tell them 한국말 잘 못해요 (I don’t speak Korean) followed with 입양아에요 (I am an adopted child). They look at me super confused and I walk away like an awkward penguin. When I went to club Ellui, this girl started talking to me and I responded 한국말 잘 못해요 (I don’t speak Korean). She was telling me in Korean that I was lying (friend had to translate for me), and then I just walked away.

    Seriously though, are you guys gonna make a video about Korean Adoptees in Korea? There are 200,000 of us worldwide!

  4. krissy_buddie
    krissy_buddie

    To start, I am Puerto Rican and Guyanese. I culturally identify with my Spanish side of the family, and I also consider myself American. Growing up, I wasn’t taught to speak Spanish by my mother, and in some ways it hurt me. My grandmother speaks English, but is more comfortable speaking Spanish, and I felt like I made it hard for her to speak with me. I also had a lot of trouble when visiting Puerto Rico, because my family there all speak Spanish. It was hard for me to communicate with them, and they never really understood what I was saying. I should also mention that in Puerto Rico, many people do not speak English, and if you ask them questions in English, they usually ignore you.
    Now, it has all come back full circle, as I am a line cook at a Spanish restaurant, and I have difficulty speaking with my coworkers. Most of the people I work with speak Spanish, and though I do speak a little bit of Spanish, I never feel like I am really getting my point across. They are helping me learn to speak spanish, but I feel like I may have waited too long. I really am trying though, and I’ve heard lately that if I didn’t tell them, people believed I was fluent in Spanish.

  5. Diana Chen

    I am a Chinese American. I was born in Ohio of a very Caucasian town and when I was eight, I moved to Shanghai and stayed there until I graduated. I spent most of my education in an British International School and my holidays were always going back to the States. I was always proud of my American Citizenship, until one day, I started feeling too ‘Asian’ in the USA. This is when I realized how China changed me and my ideals.

    Now I feel like a foreigner in both countries. Though my language skills are top notched (in my school, my Chinese class was the equivalent to a local Chinese University, Chinese language and literature class), but my perspective of the world has been globalized. The saying “I say I am Global Citizen but that just means I don’t belong anywhere” really resonates within me.

    However, I learned to accept these two identities and become proud of it. I learn to grow roots in both lands and stay strong. However times can be tough. Both countries have strong prejudice and stereotypes of each other and every time I say “Actually ___ is not like that” “The media is wrong” etc, Americans say I am brainwashed by censorship and Chinese say I’ve been Americanized and I don’t get the culture. It’s especially hard when people are treating my roots as weeds…

  6. omfg, I’m like Simon. I barely even know my dialect T-T I’m Chinese and I can’t speak Cantonese or Mandarin but I can somewhat understand both. I speak Taishanese btw but I can’t speak it without a little bit of English. I wanna go back to China so I can improve it so I don’t have to feel embarrassed about it. I swear, my whole family picks on me for it =( (or at least all the adults who aren’t my cousins)

  7. Jinyoung_wifeyLOL

    In California you dont take off your shoes…unless they tell you which is really really really really rare…You even have to ask permission to take off your shoes…and it has to be a friend…Like I had to ask my best friend’s mom to take off my shoes and she was like……………………………………………………..fine. But when you do, your socks get dirty because everybody else is wearing shoes and the dirt from outside gets inside. Thats why I have to mop everyday and my socks still get dirty. but in your house you know you walk in with shoes and if you want take them off. or change into sandals or just socks. but me if I go to a friends house a neighbor’s house especially DEFINITELY DO NOT TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES!! YOU ARE NEW TO THEIR HOME AND IT IS RUDE BECAUSE ITS LIKE EW WHAT IF YOUR FEET STINK YOU DO NOT LIVE IN THIS HOUSE DO NOT BE SO ARROGANT AND COMFORTABLE!! AND GOOD SHOES NOT SANDALS…ITS LIKE WHAT ARE WE A BEACH HOUSE! but you know friends dont care. you even fart in front of them so its fine!!! take em off. 

  8. vawnki

    I’m Chinese Canadian (TORONTO!!). I speak fluent Chinese and last time I went to China, I got picked out as a foreigner by the taxi driver for putting on my seat belt.

  9. jigae.with.hotdogs

    I’m Caucasian. My family is entirely Caucasian. My boyfriend is Korean-American. We live together. When I grew up, my mother preferred shoes off because she wanted her floors to stay cleaner. My father didn’t care. My extended family all wear shoes inside.

    I take shoes off at the door, so does my boyfriend in our home and in others’ homes. Most of our friends are shoes off except for a couple, and it isn’t pressured to take your shoes off. For instance, if the owner of the house has their shoes off, and as a guest, you leave your shoes on, it isn’t rude, but it does give the impression you aren’t staying long. It’s like leaving your coat on inside.

  10. lady_kire
    lady_kire

    I don’t know if it’s just me, but I often feel that I have to carry the burden knowing that I (most likely) am the last grandchild in both sides of my family that can speak some Cantonese. My Canto isn’t good enough to discuss politics or read menus (at times), but I am able to hold some convos and can make some conversations. I have cousins that can’t even say 1 word in Canto and at times, it makes me worried that I could lose everything I worked hard to achieve. In my family and friends, we use the term “whitewash” to say that everything Asian in you is gone. My mom told me how little it affected my lifestyle, but it still scares me.

    I’m Chinese-Canadian and born in Canada. However, I don’t feel like a Canadian. I don’t care to associate myself as a Canadian. To me, it’s just a place that I live in. It’s apparent in my friend groups as well. Most of my Chinese friends say that because my mom is from Hong Kong, it’s more accurate to say that I am more Hongkongnese. I don’t know what to say about that, but I’ve been told that even though I am CBC, my Chinese roots are stronger than my Canadian ones.

  11. dbsksarangx3

    Definitely have the same experience. I’m Korean-American born and raised in the States and recently visited Korea after 11 long years since my last visit. I felt so underdressed and honestly unattractive bc basically everyone in Seoul who’s in their 20-30s are very nicely dressed, makeup and hair perfect, both women and men. While there I was in my jeans and t-shirt and ponytail like ehhhh……. When I was at a mall with my cousin one day, one saleswoman noticed me browsing, came over, and asked “ahh, you must be from overseas!” without me having said anything. Even though I am Korean, I definitely stood out as not the typical native Korean and yes, it was kind of frustrating and sad. In the states, I’m representative of Asians and Korean. In Korea, I’m too American.
    I speak Korean without a noticeable accent and understand 75% but have very limited vocabulary and my grammar gets mixed up often. However, I consider myself half-and-half in my identity bc I’ve grown up in a traditional Korean family with strict Korean parents.
    This is all really interesting, hearing about other Korean-American stories =] Jen is gorgeous. I relate to her growing up in a place with few Koreans, I grew up in the Cleveland, Ohio area. And YES I take shoes off in the house but all of my American, non-Asian friends, do not and it’s so weird. When we have inspectors or plumbers or whatever come to our house to fix stuff and they do not take their shoes off, it annoys my mother to no end haha

  12. Brooklyn

    Oh my gosh, I live in a suburb of Kansas City too! What she says is true though, most of the people around here are Caucasian. So about the whole shoes thing- as a Caucasian person who has lived in the States for my entire life, I hardly EVER where my shoes around the house, and most people I know don’t wear their shoes inside usually. It’s just a stereotype, but it’s not completely false. There are certain times that I DO wear my shoes inside: If I’m getting ready in the morning and I’m just waiting for my family, I might get my shoes on and do other things in the house so I’m ready to go. My mom used to have certain shoes that were her “indoor shoes” that she only wore inside (so she wouldn’t get the house dirty) because she really needed the support for her feet or else she would be in pain. If we have a BUNCH of guests over, then they usually don’t take their shoes off when they come in so they don’t leave a clutter by the door. But if a small amount of guests are visiting, they normally take their shoes off. If I come inside really fast, like if I forgot something, I definitely wouldn’t take off my shoes, because that just wastes time. So basically, I might wear my shoes inside for certain reasons, but if I’m just hanging out around the house, I would NEVER wear my shoes inside. I think most of my American friends would agree. You can’t believe everything you see on TV!

  13. imnotcrazyimextraordinary
    imnotcrazyimextraordinary

    I am so happy with this Tl;Dr!
    My father is a german who was born in Russia and grown up in a village full of germans. My mum is russian, me and my sisters were born in Russia too. But for the whole village we where “german” what totally distract me, because I didn’t know anything about the german culture or even the language, but we where kinda outsiders for the kids in our neighbourhood. When I was 9 years old we immigrate to Germany, where suprise, we suddedly where “russian”. Even when I first though that it didn’t bother me I feel more and more “homeless” because I didn’t fit in none of the cultures. Therefore I answer the question “Do you feel more russian or more german?” with “I feel like I human, thanks for the question” :)
    I think a lot of immigrants or their children, exspecially their children have that kind of fealing.

  14. goorooo

    Hay there Simon and Martina :)I absolutely love watching your Tl;drs and the F.A.P.F.A.Ps!
    On a more serious note though, I plan on coming to Korea in the near future, from Canada. However it is starting to sound super intimidating! what sorts of things are there to do/eat/watch ect. in Korea that would be comforting or a little bit more like north america to help when I am homesick?

    Thanks bunches~~

  15. silverukiss

    This is actually something I think about a lot. My grandfather is from the Philippines. My mother was born in the US, where she lived for only a few years before her family relocated back to the Philippines where she grew up before moving to the US again, which technically makes her American. So technically I’m only 1/4 Filipino. However, I grew up eating a lot of Filipino food, learning to cook it, hearing stories about my mother’s life and cultural practices in the Philippines. She even took us out there once to show us the town where she grew up. I know more about my Filipino heritage than any other half Filipino I’ve met. So culturally I consider myself biracial.

    The problem I run into is how unwilling people are to accept that, because of how I look. My siblings were born with the dark skin, dark coloring, and exotic looks. I was born looking like a pasty white American girl with green eyes. My grandmother called me their first “American” baby. While a lot of Caucasians consider me not fully Caucasian, the minorities refuse to accept me as well. I’ve been flat out told that I’m not allowed to identify as a minority because of the way I look. That it has nothing to do with my heritage, the only thing that matters is the color of my skin. I don’t know if they realize how much it hurts, to have people call you a “despicable white person” regardless of your heritage, and then they claim that they’re not being racist because no matter what they’re saying it’s impossible for a “true” minority to say anything that’s racist.

    I was also told by teachers while growing up that I was not allowed to claim to be a minority because my dad makes a decent amount of money. So I don’t know what people are trying to claim makes someone’s heritage theirs. I say it’s a load of bullsh** and people can get off their high horses they use to justify hurting other people in order to make themselves feel good. I think that you can claim whichever culture you identify with as your own, because it makes you happy and you love it and the people in it, and that’s all that matters.

  16. himebadweather
    himebadweather

    I’m curious about the reaction to mixed children in Korea. Are they just perceived as pretty things to look at and marvel over? To give you context, my mum is Vietnamese and my Dad is Australian, so when I go back I totally understand that pressure >///< Though tbh the thing that gets to me is everyone constantly staring at me whispering, she's mixed. In fact waiting staff, in my most recent trip, would all group together and stare and point at me (about 15 of them) =_=' Old men grab my arm and say "pretty, pretty mixed child" and then when I reply and kinda shrug them off they just laugh at me… It's okay if I'm out in the "foreigner" areas but most of the time I'm not because I'm with my family.

  17. Well my family is originally from Mexico but my parents immigrated to America and had me and my siblings. I guess I always identified myself as both Mexican and American though a lot of times now if someone asks me what I am I just reply that I’m Mexican even though I’ve become too Americanized to be considered a true Mexican. I have noticed that since growing up in America I’ve switched from Spanish being my dominant language to English, a lot of words I knew growing as a child I now struggle to remember what it is since I speak English outside of my home and even at home I mostly speak English and mainly talk Spanish to my parents. Also when I go back to Mexico and visit my family there have been times when its hard to speak to my cousins in Spanish cause I’ll start to forget certain words in Spanish and they think its funny because I’ve become too Americanized that I’m forgetting my own language.

    Though I’ve met people who actually don’t believe I’m Mexican and become all shocked when I tell them, they usually believe that I’m from India. It might be because I’m darker toned compared to my family(though my father is also dark like me) or I have an Indian appearance not really sure, but it doesn’t really bother me since after they finally listen to me speaking Spanish they don’t question it anymore :).

  18. BillieChristine

    I grew up in an area where most people are either German, Native American, Hispanic, or Latino descent. There are many things that we do around here that have their roots in German culture. We sing “Oh Christmas Tree” and “Silent Night” in German at Christmas. Plus, the school here teaches German at the high school level. Most of us can speak a few words before then, which is why the police don’t use German to call to their dogs here. hehe ^^
    I don’t consider myself German-American, even though that is my heritage. I have a hard time considering myself super American as well. I’ve been scolded for not being American enough because I don’t like classic rock, country music, or other ‘American things.’ Also because of the fact that I am interested in foreign cultures. I’m just kind of here.
    ~
    I always remove my shoes when going into other peoples houses. I would feel bad getting their floor dirty if I didn’t.

  19. eykJenny

    I’m a third generation German-American. So I don’t really have much in the way of cultural identity struggles. My mother chose not to pick up the language and so it was never passed down to me. What was passed down though was wonderful delicious German cuisine via my grandmother. So even though I don’t identify as German-American, I can’t say I had a 100% “American” upbringing. I celebrated Christmas differently than most of my friends (Christmas Eve presents instead of Christmas Day) and I eat “strange” things like vinegar soaked fish/vegetables.

    What I did want to comment on the most though is the question of shoes in the house. We wear shoes in the house if you’re not planning to stay long (an hour or less generally). That’s why a common phrase here is “Take off your shoes – stay a while!” This sounds terrible, but if I’m visiting someone who I know I’ll want to make a quick getaway from, I’ll even leave my shoes on for a few hours just so I can get out the door as fast as possible when the time comes. What usually happens if someone suggests you take them off is you either agree happily or you say something like “Oh, I actually can’t stay long… [insert excuse]” Almost everyone I know doesn’t care if you have shoes on in the house except if the carpet is new or if you’re obviously about to track mud into the house. I have come across the occasional friend who will have us take our shoes off at the entrance, but that was a rare occurrence in my life. So yes! America is a pro-shoe country. That’s not a drama thing. That’s a real life living thing. Hope this helps demystify American shoe culture. :)

  20. Kalm_Traveler

    This has always been an interesting topic to me because I am a mix, and people have been trying to categorically pre-judge me forever. My heritage is pretty much everything in Europe, and 2 Native American tribes. The genetic dice roll made me come out with relatively fair skin, dark curly hair, brown eyes, and my dad’s werewolf curse (ok not really that bad, but I have become a relatively hairy dude in adulthood).
    I have sprinkled red and blonde hairs all over my head, but my beard grows in half flaming red, half black.

    Growing up in the Salt Lake City, Utah, USA area (full of white European-descended Mormon / LDS people primarily), most of them think I’m Mexican. ‘real’ Hispanic people say I’m too white to be one of them. Lots of European friends have thought I was possibly Italian or had some Middle Eastern blood.

    All of these have led to some pretty amusing double-takes when I don’t have whatever assumed accent they were expecting, and when they learn that my ‘other language’ skills are comprised of beginner German, 1 semester of Japanese, and beginner-intermediate Korean.

    I have not yet made my first Korean trip, but having been to Japan once I can say that as a gaijin there, everyone was EXTREMELY polite and friendly everywhere I went (around Tokyo, and in the countryside in Iwate prefecture). More than anything, they seemed very grateful and impressed that I made the effort to learn about their culture, and to learn some of the language to get around while visiting.

    So far, the local Korean community here in Utah (as well as most of the older folks in LA’s Koreatown) have been at least as warm and inviting if not moreso, so I am curious how things will fare once i’m actually in their homeland next year.

  21. Leelerson

    I’m a chubby Asian-American who is ancestrally one thing, but b/c of my family’s upbringing I identify with another Asian group… So yeah, I am forever a foreigner in every country LOL

  22. HunHanInNeverland
    HunHanInNeverland

    I’m an ABC in Pennylvania, and I think my experience is very similar to what Jen described. Where i live, there’s a pretty large caucasian population, and most of my friends are american. However, my parents both grew up in china and are chinese citizens, and my house is very different from my friends’. Differences I’ve noticed not only include taking off shoes in the house, but also quirks like having a stash of plastic bags, using the dishwasher only as dish storage, and saving all kinds of containers for future use. I’m fluent in speaking Chinese, but when I go to visit relatives in china, I don’t really know how to act because the culture is very different from how it is in america, and I’m not very familiar with them. If I’m ever asked my nationality, I would say chinese-american because I am a chinese person who is an american citizen.

  23. It’s a very interesting TL;DR to begin with. It made me understand more about people struggle over this cultural identity. I, myself, never have this kind of problem because I’m a native Indonesian and live in Indonesia in my whole life. The most cultural identity crisis ever happened to me is because my mixed ethnicity. Since Indonesia has so many ethnicity, you can say that it can be divided into small areas with certain ethnic living exclusively in them and talk with their own local language. Even though I’m Javanese (I’m identified myself as Javanese) but maybe because some Chinese root I had on my family, I born with more Chinese feature rather than Javanese. The thing is, because I’m a bit pale people tend to ask if I’m Chinese. LOL. I don’t really understand though, because as I grew older I become more Javanese than Chinese. XD
    But the question pops up every single time tho, I’m not really disturbed about it just, you know, amused with these judgmental people. Although the most ridiculous question is that if I’m from Arabic descent. I don’t know why people recognized me as Chinese and Arabic, because this two races have a very very very different feature from one to another. -_-

  24. AnitaCP
    AnitaCP

    This was a great TL;DR! It was very interesting to learn about Jen’s experience AND I can’t wait until next week – The Korean Englishman is awesome!

    Simon mentioned Dan in the blog post, and like Dan, I am a Korean Adoptee. My experience as an adoptee is definitely summed up in Simon’s words – “We’ll always be considered outsiders, no matter how long we live here.” I was adopted as an infant and have spent (nearly) my entire life in America. Even though I speak English fluently, I am always singled out as a foreigner. My daily life consisted of ignorance and even racism towards me because I am Korean. Meh. Fortunately, I am 99.9% of the time able to realise that these people are being ridiculous haters and won’t let them get me down!!

    I won’t deny that my cultural identity has be shaped by the haters who like to point out my “differentness” all the time, but my cultural identity has been affected more by my lovely mom who showed me that I didn’t have to choose America or Korea because I could have both. Plus, she always made a huge effort to show me how awesome Korea is, which I looooved/love. Whilst in America, I identify as being a Korean not American actually, although I do have a lot of Kentucky pride!

    Now that I live in England, I’m considered an American by the British people! Whenever they hear my accent they ask, “Are you Canadian or American?” and when I say, “American” there are no more questions. No one laughs and says, “No, really! Where are you from?!” It’s quite an experience and a privilege to finally be able to just say, “I’m American.” So…for me, I’ll always be Korean but in the UK, I’m going to rock that I’m American because I can!

  25. ATMA.PTY

    About the SHOES’ issue:
    I’m Portuguese and in Portugal most people walk into their houses with their shoes on. Usually you take them off as soon as possible and change into slippers, but it’s pretty normal to walk around with the shoes still on, if need be. Guests are never asked to take their shoes off (that would be a little rude and odd) and in presence of guests (especially if it is a special day, like a party or holiday) everybody wears shoes (you are all dressed up, what you wear on your feet should compliment the outfit). And now you ask: “But doesn’t this mean the floor will be always dirty?” Well… one cannot live without a vaccuum cleaner :p

  26. Pily

    Hello, I really love this question about cultural identity, because I been wanting to talk about this for a while. I was actually born in Mexico, but when I turned 11 years old my family decided to move to the USA so that my little sister and I could have a better education and be together as a family (since my dad already lived in the USA). Now I been here for about 9 years, so I feel that I can call here the USA my home as well. It is sad to admit, but I think I know more English than Spanish now, of course I am fluent but, its getting harder these days. In my house we only speak Spanish and my mom always cooks Mexican food, so its mostly a Mexican household. In the past I would always identify myself as Mexican, not an American, because I would have this ideal that if I was born in Mexico and my heritage is Mexican then I needed to stick to that and live up that image. However, now that I am more mature and have lived here for a long time now I could not help but to have this cultural identity issue within myself. This has become clear to me every time I go visit my family in Mexico, and I start stuttering when I speak Spanish, or when I am completely oblivious to the fashion, government, popular culture, and little details that just make me feel like am not a true Mexican anymore. Even some of my family members have started to noticing these things, and point them out to me which makes me sad. However its funny how even though I been here in the United States for a long time, I will always be seen as an immigrant Mexican and in Mexico they see me as an American now, if its like this then what am I? Do I have to prove I am a real Mexican or do I have to just work hard to be seen as a true American?, its really frustrating. After a long reflection I know that in the inside I love my Mexican heritage and I feel proud to be a Mexican, but I also know that the USA has become my home and it has influenced me a lot so I feel like I am an American also (Mexican-American or American-Mexican). I also feel that labels like this should not matter, after all we all are our own persons and we can embrace ourselves however we want for the better. I know that at least for me, I will never forget where I came form because that will help move on with my life and come across new experiences that will shape me as a person. Well that is all I have to say:)

    • wetbeans

      There is an easy way to find out if someone is mexican or not.
      Imagine you are having lunch and there is a kilo of tortillas in front of you.
      Which tortilla do you grab?

  27. wingedash96
    wingedash96

    DID YOU GUISE SRSLY HEAR MY DESPERATE CRIES OR WHAT.
    I needed something to write about and here you are posting a video EXACTLY about my present situation.
    (backs up)
    I’m a Korean American in Korea right now and I resonate so much with this video it’s kind of creepy. Thank you Simon and Martina for posting this.
    I’m not going to ramble on here because I already did in my blog post so here if y’alls are interested~
    http://wingedash96.wordpress.com
    But srsly eatyourkimchi THANK YOU for being totally awesome once again. :)

  28. TooKyute
    TooKyute

    Yeah, in America most people don’t take their shoes off as soon as the come in the door. We don’t really walk around around the house in shoes (because it’s not very comfortable) but you just go to your closet or bedroom and take them off there to put them away. But I do remember as a kid some families who would have their shoes all by the door and I didn’t see that as odd either. I still have a friend of ten years who takes her shoes off by the door and has put them by the same book case every time haha! It just varies I think.

  29. tam_travels

    The question of identity is a really good one and one that I think many African-Americans struggle with (I don’t know for sure, it’s just my opinion). I do a lot of traveling and living outside of the United States and many times when I say I’m American that’s enough for people. When I happen to be traveling or living within a country that has limited interaction and knowledge about foreigners that conversation changes drastically. The moment I am spotted I am automatically assumed to be African. When I say that I am American my words are met with disbelief, rejection by the listeners, or acceptance, but then follow up questions like, “Ok, but where were you from before then?”.

    One of the things that’s so unique about America is that, it is in fact a nation of immigrants. No one can claim to have hundreds of years of history in America, expect Native Americans. For the rest of us we know that our roots extend outside the US borders, yet for many it seems like the ties and titles are less prominent after the second and third generation (the difference between being Korean-American or an American with Korean heritage). For African-Americans, however, our roots and history will always be relatively obvious. We know our history and where we come from without knowing the specifics. And for that my identity is both ingrained in American and African-American history. If I were to trace my ancestors I’d find my lineage in multiple different countries on three different continents. I’m a descendant of multiple races and ethnicities and although I am an embodiment of all of them I am an American before anything else.

  30. iwantbaozi

    I’m Chinese born in LA, California ^^
    I totally feel with Jenn on the language thing and the ‘not being with one with your culture thing’.
    I speak fluent Cantonese & Mandarin and anytime I try to chat with another person (someone they know that i’m not a native born ._.?) in that language they automatically try to speak English with me. Its not like I dont appreciate people trying to make things easier for me (i assume?) BUT IT FEELS LIKE I’M BEING KINDA UNDERESTIMATED BECAUSE IM AMERICA BORN D; .
    I never really had confrontation (and hopefully I never do) from anyone about being Chinese in Cali. I do feel people stare at me like ‘hey look its an asian, how exotic (im not ugly, im exotic :D)’ or people wonder ‘where is she from’ or ‘what kind of asian is she’(this happpens sadly a lot).

    In school, I usually helped translate for the students that flown from China and I felt pressure around native Chinese people because thats when i got ‘judged’ for being Chinese-American the most. One time I remember the most was this new girl who was Caucasian/Chinese who had just flown in, despite being Caucasian she only spoke Chinese. When I first talked to her (in Chinese)we had a conversation for a few minutes basic things like explaining to her things like rules and such, she asked me where I was from and I told her I was born in Cali and she automatically said ‘A.B.C (American born Chinese)’ and then observed at me like I was the most interesting specimen in the world and questioned my lifestyle like what i ate and i spoke. I usually feel a ‘your not a real-super-legit-authentic chinese’ mentality towards me even though I lived a pretty much an asian life and speak the language the same as them.
    lot more i could say, but thats that ^o^

  31. kaekaed

    Where I was raised in the rural South, you don’t take your shoes off in someone else’s house. The exception would be if you’re so close to that family that you are almost family and no longer a guest or you were invited to do so. “Take you shoes off and stay a while” is a phrase that basically means to make yourself at home.
    I think if we had met someone that had a “no shoes” rule we would have thought them house-proud or a clean-freak.
    However, I also grew up running around with no shoes on in the summer – until I stepped on the annual bee – and the shoes came back on. So your mileage may vary.
    As an adult, I have at least one American friend who takes off her shoes in the house, but she wouldn’t ask a guest to do so. (she would consider it a bit rude.) However, as the guest, I saw them taking off their shoes, so I took mine off. (It would be inconsiderate not to so.)
    I’ll take off my shoes when I get to my room (or thereabouts), but I’ll put on shoes when I’m cleaning or to go into the basement. shoes means I’m working & not relaxing.

    • Same here – grew up in Texas. Shoes off inside = comfortable and relaxed. Holiday dinners, visiting other people’s homes, or working outside meant wearing shoes. Of course, you take your muddy boots off before tracking crud across the carpets, but other than that, not a big deal to wear them through the house and take them off in your room.

  32. I wavered on whether it made any sense for me to comment here since I really do not have a huge mixture of experiences with my culture reuses another, but I did emigrate to the US and had some experiences there which were kind of similar. You see being a black West Indian in the States is really an interesting experience. In some ways we can blend in with African Americans, after all ‘English’ is also our first language and it is possible for some of us to hide our accents pretty convincingly ( a phenomenon that is laughed at when people return him with a full blown Yankee accent after living in the states for a few years). However I never chose to blend in. I guess because I went to an HBCU( Historically Black College or University) and was surrounded by other minorities from all over the world, we tended to be proud of our non American identity and sometimes existed in our West Indian bubble.

    On the other hand,when around my non West Indian friends, I became sort of a token. I do not speak Ebonics because it wasn’t in my culture to do so, and I really only used my native dialect when I was around other people from my island ( and even as a child I rarely used dialect and everyone thought I was born in the UK because of it) . I think that phenomenon is called code switching and I think we all do it to some extent. Due to that fact I tended to be accepted rather easily into non black/ non West Indian environments.

    But what made a huge difference was my interest in Asian cultures. When I was growing up it was rare for adults to be interested in Asian cultures. Those of us who are interested tend to be given odd looks. But things are changing now because many young people are growing interested. They recently started hosting a pop culture convention here ( http://animekonexpo.com ) which usually focuses on anime culture with a side of cosplay. But of course I have to be the odd one out and am now interested in Korean culture whereas everyone else is into Japanese stuff. I must always be the odd one out.

    Also in the Barbados please to be taking your shoes off. Wearing shoes in someone else’s house is seen as rude. There is usually a line of slippers and shoes at the door which is a good indicator. Sometimes you may dress and put your shoes on indoors before going out because you want to see what your entire outfit looks like before you leave, but walking into someone’s house with shoes is not really done.

  33. Candy_Too

    I am actually Chinese, but was born and raised in Brunei, a Muslim and Malay country around South East Asia. Some of my ancestors are Japanese, some of them are Chinese, but I’m more to the ‘Chinese’ side. Both my parents are Chinese, but my dad is half-Japanese. It isn’t hard living in a Muslim country BEFORE, but now it’s getting more difficult because the government is setting up new rules within the country, which would also affect the non-Muslims. Not being stereotypical or anything but lots of people in my country are pretty upset with the new rules being set up.

    Since there are a lot of Chinese people living in Brunei, there is at least a Chinese school in each town. The rest are all public, private and international schools. I am enlisted in a Chinese school, but we obviously need to learn the Malay language, English language and Mandarin language itself (since it’s a Chinese school). I have more Chinese friends than I have Malay friends because in my school, there are about 78% Chinese and the rest are Malay students. If you go to a government or public school, you are entitled to wear ‘tudung’(a cloth wrapped around your head, Malay traditional costume) and ‘baju kurung’(long sleeve & skirt, Malay traditional clothing) as your school uniform even if you’re not Muslim.

  34. Ana

    Hi Simon and Martina! I’ve been a long-time follower but this is my first time commenting (mostly because of my laziness);; My story is pretty similar to Jen’s and I hope that you read my comment ^0^

    I’m a Korean-American and for the majority of my life I’ve been living in the same southern state on the East Coast. I lived in the same predominantly white town and went to the same school from when I was 6 until I graduated high school and as a result, I really struggled with my identity during my years in school. My parents didn’t teach me Korean and very rarely spoke to me in Korean, but I grew up in a Korean household in every other aspect; taking my shoes off, eating Korean food every day, seemingly having much more pressure to do well in everything from my parents compared to my Caucasian friends, etc. I also grew up visiting Korea roughly every 2 years to visit family living in Seoul.

    I don’t speak Korean much at all as my Korean knowledge is probably equivalent to that of a 3-yr old Korean child and not only has it made me feel even more ostracized by Koreans when I visit Korea, I also feel that I don’t fit in with the other gyopos who can at least hold a conversation in Korean. Before I became interested in Korean pop culture (dramas, movies, music), I would say that I identified as just being American, but ever since I visited Caribbean Bay several years ago and fell in love with 2PM’s abs–I don’t know if you remember that they promoted Caribbean Bay alongside Girls’ Generation with the Cabi Song-I now see myself as being Korean-American. There are definitely different levels on the Korean-American spectrum and I suppose I’m a part of the group that has native-born Korean parents, visits Korea, likes kdramas, but doesn’t speak Korean and needs subtitles.

    About Koreans in Korea vs. Korean-Americans, I agree that it is super easy to tell the difference. It’s all about the appearance more than mannerisms: skin color, makeup, and clothing. I would say skin color and clothing are probably the 2 factors that are a dead giveaway. I’m super tan from being baked in the Southern sun for over a decade making me a good 5 shades darker than anyone on the street in Korea. There’s almost no question that people know I’m from the US when I visit. The way Korean-Americans are dressed is also pretty different.. for example: jean shorts, I really don’t think they’re nearly as widely worn as they are in the US, and if they are, they have a different cut.

    For a while I was interested in teaching English in Korea but it would be difficult for me to be accepted by parents/schools, much more so than a Caucasian American–I remember you guys mentioning something like this in one of your previous videos about teaching English in Korea. I’m not sure if I can do justice in explaining why gyopos like myself are given a harder time by Koreans as compared to other foreigners but I think it has something to do with the national pride that is so prevalent in Korean society and many of the individuals there. I think many of them feel that even if we have lived in the US for our whole lives, we should still be 100% Korean; they have this expectation that we should know the Korean language and culture without being affected by American culture.

    But in the end I have just accepted myself as being this weird hybrid of American and Korean and I plan on spending a summer in Korea taking Korean language courses at a university so that I can talk to my relatives! I can already tell that Korea is changing in the way they see foreigners in general and I’m sure the emotions surrounding us gyopos will eventually change as well, I’m just hoping it won’t take too long! :)

    Cheers,
    Ana

  35. EpicBioHazard
    EpicBioHazard

    Aw man! The “what do you identify as” question is like the worst for me! D:
    I’m mixed, like big time mixed. So I identify with a lot of different cultures, yet feel like I don’t really belong in any one, if that makes any sense. (Should prolly elaborate on what exactly I’m mixed with… that might be a good start. ^_^; Parents from Trinidad, but father is Spanish, his family is from Venezuela. Great grandfather is Scottish, which is random, but true. And I was born in Baltimore, Maryland. Sooo many things… but I digress.)
    It’s an irritating question I get a lot. People see my last name and assume I know Spanish (surprise! I don’t!)and I get accused of neglecting to learn it or not being Spanish enough because I didn’t learn or wasn’t taught. I even get crap sometimes from my own family (apparently I should know more about Trinidadian history/Venezuelan history and traditions.) So I feel you on that note Simon!
    I feel comfortable saying I am from certain places though. I identify with where I grew up. It’s all I know. So when people ask where I’m from (they normally mean where my family is from cuz they can tell I’m not from here based off of how I talk and interact with people), I say Miami. Or South Florida since I lived in a few cities in Florida. I don’t know if anyone else has that same feeling I do. Of more identifying with a city and not really a country. I cannot think of a better way to word it. *Kanye Shrug*
    Tl;Dr: I feel a disconnect from family and where they’re from, but more connection to where I’ve grown up and the people from there. U_U

  36. Crystal_Crown
    Crystal_Crown

    I always found it gross for ppl to wear their shoes in their houses, ESPECIALLY THEIR BEDROOMS AND ON THEIR BEDS!! D: there’s so much crap on shoes. :( like what if you had muddy shoes? do you change them before going into the house??? As a HongKongese-American (born there, raised in L.A.) I have some experiences to share while I was in Hong Kong. Let’s just say the language barrier was hard. :0 I know how to speak cantonese, it’s just that I’m not extremely fluent, I’m intermediate at most. I have difficulty translating english from canto and vice versa but I can still hold decent conversation. However, I don’t know how to read chinese. I know how to read some words but not all. So when I went to Hong Kong in the summer of 2011 it was really hard for me to order food. LOL. Like at fast food restaurants, I’d understand the menu since they have english translation underneath but I wouldn’t know how to say that item in canto. I was in a struggle of ordering it in english and causing weird stares since I do have a very Asian face and Hong Kong style way of dressing (they wouldn’t know I was a foreigner) or ordering it in numbers… which would equally be weird. Like one time, I was ordering a Vanilla ice cream cone at Victoria Peak. I told the guy I wanted a “vanilla icecream” in canto… but then i forgot how to say “cone” in canto… so I finished it in english… and he repeated my order in canto and afterwards… I heard a few snickers between him and his friends… :( Like.. idk if it was about me… but it made me feel embarrassed. And there was this other time I was at this place in Hong Kong where they sell kpop mugs/pencils/keychains and pics… I was getting into kpop during this time… and after watching You’re Beautiful I wanted some Lee Hongki pics. But I couldn’t find it and the owner guy asked me who i was looking for… but I didn’t know how to say lee hongki in canto… so I said “Lee HongKi” in english.. and he just looked at me and smirked and said “you mean 李洪基 (lee hongki)?” in canto. I know I shouldn’t have felt ashamed, but I did at that point and slightly embarrassed and mad. AND OFC I didn’t buy from that store, I just said yeah, thank you, looked at the pics for a while and left the store. D:< I'm never gonna buy from that store. Sometimes I feel like wearing a sign that said "I am American" so Hong Kong people would understand why I don't know how to say something or not understand ____. Or maybe I should dress more American… but then I'd get weird stares too.

  37. Lee Underground Manson
    Lee Underground Manson

    MARTINA! do you have wings for eyelashes?!?!

  38. Lemming

    My experience is not exactly like the gyopo experience, but nevertheless I can identify with a lot of the things that people have been saying here. Both my parents are Finnish and I was born in Finland, where I am also currently living, so to most people I am simply Finnish. However, my cultural identity is a bit more mixed up than that, considering that my family moved to Singapore when I was 10, and we lived there for the next 5.5 years before moving back to Finland. I went to an international school there, so my experience wasn’t exactly entirely Singaporean, though I obviously still lived, shopped and ate in the country (oh how I miss you, food in Singapore). Most of my friends were from India, though I made friends from all around the world, including Korea, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Indonesia etc. There was something of a Finnish community there, but I wasn’t very much a part of it, and the Finnish kids didn’t really especially hang out together. Since it was an international school, we were all TCK in one way or another, and I didn’t really have to think much about my cultural identity, apart from being an international school kid, like all the others. I spoke Finnish with my family while I lived there, but I quickly also became fluent in English, which I used everywhere else. Eventually me and my sister started mixing the two when speaking with each other, and by the final year, English was starting to win out.

    Then we moved back and suddenly I was faced with having to think about what all this meant for me in terms of my cultural identity. As a Christmas present my mother gave me a book on TCK (third culture kids), which helped me a lot with identifying the things I was feeling about our move back. However, I also felt like maybe I wasn’t TCK enough. After all, compared to kids who had moved around all their lives, how special was my experience? Nevertheless, I also didn’t really feel entirely Finnish. It was definitely a part of me, but I also resented those who told me “don’t worry, in a few years you’ll be just like everyone else here, just as Finnish”. I didn’t want that! I felt like that would be invalidating my experiences in Singapore, and moreover, I didn’t feel like everyone else. I was bilingual, I’d moved away when I was a kid, my written Finnish was full of grammatical mistakes, and I didn’t feel any deep patriotism for my country now that I was back. Sometimes I felt like I was from everywhere and nowhere, unable to ever return to the place I’d inhabited in Singapore. Even if I ever move back there, it won’t be the same as it was.

    What did help was going to an IB school in Finland. I didn’t have to suddenly change the language of my schooling, and I was even able to continue in the same program I’d started in Singapore. The students were a mix of other ex-expats, mixed nationality kids, second gen immigrants and “normal” Finns. Still, sometimes I felt like especially outside school, people didn’t really understand. I looked Finnish, spoke Finnish, and my parents were Finnish, so any claim to not feeling entirely Finnish was stuck up snobbery. Speaking too much English or talking about my experiences was showing off. I sometimes felt guilty, wondering if I really was just a stuck-up show-off, while at the same time occasionally feeling resentful and wanting to assert myself as different. It doesn’t help that Finland has a culture of being modest and avoiding saying anything which might make others jealous. Showing off is very much looked down upon. A friend once told me she felt guilty about posting fb statuses about her holiday trips because she feared it would seem like she was showing off. When I made comments about ”Finnish people” I was laughed at and told ”what, like you aren’t Finnish”. I was too foreign to be allowed to complain about Finland and too Finnish to talk about it like an outsider.

    After graduating from HS, I considered going to university overseas, but ended up staying in Finland (but studying English, and thus keeping myself in a more English-language environment). My sister did move overseas, and that has its benefits too. Studying in a university in a different country from where you came obviously makes you international.

    My relationship with language is also complicated. My spoken Finnish doesn’t really make people suspicious, but I do tend to drop in English words sometimes and I avoid having to write essays or papers in Finnish at all costs. I’m fluent in English and consider myself bilingual and in many ways it is my best language. Yet I am insecure about it in ways that I’m sure so called “native speakers” aren’t (I hate the term, because I never know whether to classify myself as one of not, since technically I am not, but practically am at the same level). My accent has been most commonly characterized as american (I have never even visited the US, but I have had teachers from there), but I doubt I sound exactly like I am from any specific place in the US. Mispronouncing words makes me feel insecure, wondering if it’s my Finnish influence coming in, and I hate it when I am told “Oh, you speak such good English” by Brits or Americans, because it shows that they think of me as a second-language speaker. If both my languages are flawed, what do I have? On the other hand, maybe my English is fine, but I along with everyone else am just more critical because it is not my mother tongue, paying special attention to mistakes that would otherwise be ignored. Maybe having both languages be a bit incomplete is the price to pay for bilingualism.

    TL;DR: Finnish parents + ex-expat + bilingual = hell on your cultural identity

  39. Polfish

    I am French-Polish and I thought it would be interesting to share my situation! My parents are both Polish and they emigrated to France when I was 1 and when my brother attended Kindergarten in Poland. Therefore I’ve never went to school in Poland : I learnt Polish only speaking with my parents. In fact I lived in a place where there were a lot of foreigners. My parents made some Polish friends but they were learning French hard. 16 years later, my father speaks French more fluently than some French people I know. As for my Polish, well… My parents never taught us grammar, my brother and I do terrible grammar mistakes, especially when it comes to declinations. (Seriously, it seems to follow any rules)We don’t have a particular French accent, but my brother and I aren’t able to roll “r” properly. Usually when I speak to my family in Poland, they like to stop me and say something like “Say cow!” (krowa) “Say bicycle!” (rower). I feel like they don’t care about what I’m saying and just pick out my funny pronunciation.

    When it comes to shoes : we go into the house with shoes on, we go to living room where we put them off and put slippers on. When we have guests coming we let them keep their shoes on. But, when our Polish friends come, they tend to put them off and my parents start grounding them “Noo~! Keep your shoes on!”.

  40. Hyper_Key
    Hyper_Key

    You guys have covered a lot of topics over the course of these videos and they’ve all been really interesting! One thing I would really like to hear your opinion on is the topic or racial relations in Korea. In many parts of Asia, there is only a very small percentage of foreigners, meaning the population is almost 100% Asian. In comparison to somewhere like Canada, it’s a pretty big difference culturally; whereas we are more of a melting pot, they are more of a singular culture. I know that when I went to Japan, I only saw one other black person the entire 10-day trip (I’m African-Canadian). Outwardly I was not really treated any different other than the usual foreigner staring. However, I did hear some stories about how black people are viewed there. As well, I have seen many shows (from both Korea and Japan) wherein black people are treated with a slightly racist feel, if I could call it that? For example, on an episode of “Happy Together”, they had this dude named Otswiri from Ghana who they kept saying looked like Will Smith. I know as well you have mentioned Koreans calling black people Obama in a kinda “all black people look the same vibe”. I know that, because of the lack of different cultures such as black, Hispanic, and other demographics, some Asian ideas about these cultures seem slightly racist. However, it is more of an innocent ignorance – they simply did not know anything about black people, for example – than a voluntary one on their part.

    So really, the TL;DR of all this would be: how do Koreans treat people of different skin colours or foreigners who are not strictly white? Do they treat them in a manner that could be misconstrued as racist or do they not really care?

  41. TechNerd
    TechNerd

    Martina – You asked about leaving your shoes on when entering someone’s home. As someone born and raised in the US and having lived primarily in the NYC metro area (Central NJ now) – I can tell you NO ONE I know, either family or friends, would take their shoes off before entering a home.

    Frankly, it would be seen as a sign off bad manners and disrespect to suddenly walk around someone’s home in either stocking feet or barefoot. It would be the equivalent of stripping down to your skivvies because you feel it’s “more comfortable”. It’s seen as something you might do in the comfort of your own home, but highly improper and presumptuous to do in someone else’s home.

    • priyalatifah

      That’s really interesting because I was born in the U.S. but because of the influence of Indian culture on some of my daily habits I tend to take my shoes off when entering anyone’s home as I was taught to. While people have said to me, “Oh, you don’t have to take your shoes off it’s ok,” No one has ever seen it as improper or rude because it’s not necessarily something I do for comfort, but is something I was taught to do so as to keep the house clean. I’ve never experienced anyone with a particularly negative view towards taking your shoes off. :)

      • kaekaed

        Southern US reporting here. It’s the same thing for us. I totally agree, taking shoes off in someone else’s house without being asked would be improper. However, if the family is shoes off, it would be seen as almost equally improper to say “take your shoes before entering my house.” I’ve only (to my recollection) met 1 family who wasn’t from another culture who takes their shoes off. The assumption is “shoes on,” unless the homeowner shows us by some action they prefer shoes off.

  42. summermushroom

    First time posting here! I’ve been a long-time fan of eyk and I found this topic really interesting and relatable. I am an ABC and having grown up in a rural area with 99% of the population Caucasian, I grew up struggling with my identity. I had a difficult time picking up Cantonese/Mandarin because my mom thought I might confuse myself growing up bilingual. How very wrong we were. Today, I live in the Bay Area and I find myself fitting in a lot easier with my Asian friends, but I still get that “different” feeling because my Chinese is pretty limited compared to someone who grew up learning two languages. When I go to China and Hong Kong to visit relatives, my conversations with them are pretty limited. I’m not sure if it’s because of my horrible accent while speaking Cantonese or just the lack of effort on both of our parts but it does kind of suck to be the “American” with a Chinese face. I feel relieved reading a lot of these comments on this page as many others have gone through the same struggles I have—I used to think I was definitely the only one foolish enough to not learn another language!
    In the end, I think I identify myself as Asian American, even if my Asian roots are not as strong. One day they will be!

  43. nilue

    Hey first time poster, long time lurker here. It is so great being able to read everyone’s stories on here. I thought I should make my contribution as I am probably the only Uzbek-American on here (please correct me if I am wrong!). WARNING long post.

    I was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan one year prior to the fall of the Soviet Union and for the most part of my youth I experienced a lot of lets say displacement before finally setting down roots in the Northeast. I never really had a strong foundation in Uzbek culture and was brought up by a very liberal set of parents. Being the first wave of post-Soviet Union Uzbeks to immigrate to the U.S. I can definitely attest to the cultural recluse experience (like Jen). For more than a decade now, I’ve had little contact with my “people” so I’ve come to fully embrace myself as an American. Unlike the large Korean American population, I don’t think we Uzbek-Americans have much of an established stereotype to subscribe to–perhaps a good thing.

    My issues with cultural identity maybe should have been bigger since I look very racially ambiguous on top of being the only Uzbek person everywhere I go, but I consider myself lucky in that I got through it pretty okay. I am naturally an introvert and so I didn’t run into too many socially demanding situations. Plus, I lived in a very diverse area until the start of my teens so that helped a lot. But lo and behold when my parents moved us into a very suburban and very white neighborhood I began to become more conscious of my own “strangeness”. I found the Asian community at that point and felt I had more common grounds with them versus Caucasians. I get mistaken most often as a white/Asian mix or a Pacific Islander. I also can’t find myself able to connect with my own ethnic group. First thing being that I don’t look very much like my ethnicity. Second being that I do not believe in religion and other Uzbek cultural practices. So developing as a young person, I thought of myself as Asian-American than anything else. Most of my friends now are either Asian, multiracial, Caucasian, or other minority.

    tl;dr I don’t feel Uzbek or even Uzbek-American, I just feel like an Asian-American (even though I don’t look like one nor am I technically considered one).

  44. fenixcherry

    As a person who is born and raised in Sweden but have parents from Algeria and Egypt I felt like this was a subject I’ve encountered pretty much all my life, especially since I’ve grown up in the suburbs of Sweden too.
    Looking back I can see both major similarities and differences in how I tackle the identity perception of myself. I kind of got to hear all my life this on going debate of how I would either never be “a real Swede” or that I was as much of a Swede as anyone else.
    Now the me as a small kid just chose to abandon the whole concept of “having a nationality”. Whenever the subject came up I’d say “I’m not from any country and I might as well be from every country, I’m an earthling” or something of the like, needless to say that statement was never taken seriously.
    Not sure if one can tell but I was quite the individualistic child, I might not have been the one who took most place in a classroom or in a discussion but I knew who I was, what I wanted and what I was striving for.
    However that doesn’t mean I didn’t want to have a place to belong. Whenever I visited my family on my mothers side I’d be way too westernized, not necessary in a bad way but they’d still treat me as an outsider. Even though I understand arabic almost at the same level a native would. I take pride in even understanding several different dialects but It takes a long time until I open up and try to speak it (mostly because of disgraceful memories of people laughing at me and my sister for mixing up the dialects when speaking) so when family members said a word or two in arabic (not giving me a chance to respond) they’d automatically switch to french (which I barely speak, I’m lucky if I can introduce myself). Even so they expect me to go through with my life as if I’d grown up there, and I know it won’t end up that way.
    Luckily for me my parent know and accept that I will live a very multi-cultural life where I will take in and share as much as I can. Next step is to make them understand that me liking asian culture isn’t a blind obsession! ;P

    Point is I’ve learnt to see my multi-national-identity as a more positive thing rather than negative. It help putting on a smiley face and holding your head up high because no one can tell you who or what you are!

    Anyway this was my first comment ever made here although I miss the thumbs up option, it was kiinda the lazy way of commenting for me! X3

  45. aznjeep

    Regarding shoes in the house… I grew up in a traditional Chinese household, although I’m “mixed” and was born in the States. Yes, we take our shoes off (but I have to add something about this later). When we visited other Chinese/Asian households, it’s automatically assumed that we take our shoes off. Even today, when I visit my “non-Asian” friends houses, I always ask “shoes on or off”? Having said all this, I have become more “Americanized” in that I will wear shoes in the house to the bedroom where I will take my shoes off. They are not on all the time (I hope my parents aren’t reading this). But going back to my parents… since they have changed out carpet for all tile and wood flooring, they are not as quick to take their shoes off in their house anymore. When my siblings and I go visit them, they insist we don’t need to take our shoes off, but we remember the scolding we got as kids, and take them off anyways (even at our age!!).

  46. DaYoung Yun
    DaYoung Yun

    I can relate so much to you Simon. You are not the only one experiencing this. I was born and raised in and around LA, CA but I identify as Korean because culturally the people of the U.S. sees me as Asian or Korean never American. In Korea they don’t see me as their own but sees me as a Gyopo or American. It’s really strange and when I was younger I didn’t know which label suited me. But I wasn’t alone in this confusion because not just my other Korean friends felt this way but my other friends who are from different cultures feel the same way. It’s not just cultural identity. It’s nationality/ethnicity/what state you grew up in/what city you grew up in/what neighborhood you grew up in/how connected you are to your parent’s home country/generational differences/sexual preference/sexual identity/gender identity/ and so many more.

    #2 : Ironically growing up understanding US history with racism and discrimination the same people that want social justice for different races in the US do more harm than help. Not all people but there is a very extreme sect of social justice keyboard warriors that feel the need to put politically correct labels on every group of people. When in reality those labels are antediluvian. The world is changing and people don’t need other people to dictate what they are. I’m more go with the flow. Where you live doesn’t indicate your cultural identity anymore. It’s a lot more complicated and confusing but it’s exciting. The world’s more colorful. But not in a campy it’s a small world way. It’s hard to explain but I think it’s because there’s no language for it.

    • DaYoung Yun
      DaYoung Yun

      yet. In the end label yourself. I was born and raised in LA by Korean parents that grew up in Seoul. I grew up around a Korean community but also with other ethnic communities as well.

  47. Viking-Ninja
    Viking-Ninja

    I’m half Japanese and half American (technically Swedish/Norwegian/Brittish) so I have quite a few different cultures going on in my daily life. I could talk about my personal experiences, but I’d rather say something more universally relatable. In my opinion, for those who identify with many cultures such as myself, it’s important to acknowledge that maybe we can never completely satisfy others who identify with one culture or the other, but as long as you yourself know what you value and like, why should you let other people’s judgement affect your happiness? If learning a language is something you value, then learn it, if not then don’t feel pressured to do it. I know how to speak Japanese fairly well, but I can barely read for example. It’s going to be a life long learning process, but I am satisfied with that. If other people are not then oh well. I understand the pressure to know more about your heritage, but eventually you just have to come to terms with your idea of who you want to be or who you are as a guide to your cultural identity.

    Also, I prefer to think of my multi-heritage-ness as an opportunity to custom make my culture. I pick what I like from what I encounter and that becomes my preferences, my values, my philosophy, and my identity. I think this is also true for those who come from only one (or more I suppose) heritage, but take interest in other cultures. After all, globalization is connecting everyone like it never has before, and whether you like it or not, cultures will be exposed to each other and different philosophies shared. So I’d say my culture is a custom made one, a mix of the heritage from my family and my personal experiences.

    but if I NEED to put a label on my cultural identity I would just say. It’s MY culture: a medley of Japanese, Scandinavian, American, Brittish, and whatever else I want.

  48. LynDuck

    I’m glad that you put this up because I was having passing thoughts about racial and nationality identification and this definitely opened up some things to ponder and reading some of the other comments are very interesting and insightful as well.
    I live in the USA and I am Nigerian born. I have two younger siblings that were born here in the states though. With that general thinking some may assume that I’d be more “Nigerian” than them or at least the same amount being all raise by the same parents, however that is pretty far from the case. My brother who is the middle child would be considered the most Nigerian of the three of us if you go by what he likes. I’ve been told by some of my Asian friends that I was more Asian than them because of my interest in Jpop, Kpop and liking and cooking Asian dishes and I always don’t know what to say, cause I’m not Asian at all 0% Asian times anything mean’s I’m still 0% Asian. But anyway, like in your blog post I don’t think there are levels of a race. Like I’m not a level 2 Nigerian while my brother is level 5 or something.
    I think the biggest thing that race/nationality define is your history and background and maybe what things you’ll go through or how you may be treated by some people due to that history. So with mixed children you have the histories of whatever your parents are and I feel like that could be hard or weird cause those histories may conflict and then manifest themselves in the modern day in different ways in some subtle and not so subtle ways (people getting mad at Black people for dating White people). I’m Nigerian but in American I’m more simply Black or African American so that history is what can affect my or other people’s viewpoints in certain situations. I feel like that is part of the reason Korean American’s may have a harder time in Korean than foreigners is because Korean Americans are assumed to be aware of their Korean history and thus aware of how to act in Korea.
    I have lost my train of thought. But anyway I definitely feel like with the world becoming more global and people being exposed to different cultures and being able to move to different places that nationality(s) you are is only part of who you are and that there are also the experiences you have that make up who you are as a person.

    • LynDuck

      Oh and I live in the States as I said before and when it comes to shoes in the house it’s kinda a mixed thing. We don’t take of our shoes at the door but if we’re staying inside the house and not just running in to grab something you have to take off your shoes and keep them in your room. However when my parents have guests over we don’t have them take of their shoes because we don’t got anywhere to put them (they don’t have a room in our house) but when my friends come over they take of their shoes and just leave them by the door.
      So yea, as a family we can where shoes into the house but not around the house, it’s either socks or slippers (i prefer slippers, needa get new ones) for around the house wear.

  49. priyalatifah

    My family is from India but I was born in the United States. When I visit India I also experience some problems because there’s no flashing sign that says “I’m not from here!” and unlike Korea there’s not really a way for people to know by looking at me that I’m not a native. Because of that, strangers assume that I am a native and expect me to understand how certain things work that I don’t. I am fluent in Telugu, the language that my family speaks but since they don’t know what to expect of me when I visit, they are very quick to assume that I didn’t understand what they said and try to quickly find someone that can tell me in English before I can get a word in. I actually seem to have had the opposite problem that many gyopos may face because instead of wondering why I don’t understand certain cultural things my family members are very quick to assume that I don’t know anything about the culture and are very quickly trying to educate me or frantically trying to find a member of the family that can tell me what they said in English rather than trying to connect with me as a person. So I’ve kind of experienced two opposite experiences in India in that strangers assume that I’m native or my family members assume that I know nothing. So, because I’m kind of in hectic situations frantically trying to prove to a family member that I know what they’re saying or in the busy streets of an Indian city I personally tend to feel quite a bit of anxiety when I visit. What I’ve experienced with cultural identity in the States is that I’ve grown up in a very Indian house hold, but have obviously grown up in American culture outside of my home, as most Indian-American kids do. This makes it so usually when I meet an Indian-American we tend to have a pretty solid understanding of each others’ home lives and how parents work and what we can and can’t say to our parents about our lives.

  50. toffifee

    On the one hand I actually questioned my national identity a few times (because my baka is croatian even so she’s just my granny and not a parent or something)but on the other hand I ask myself why do I even need a national identity?I mean isn’t it a bit weird to say :”I am proud of beeing born in a different place “, is it? These whole acting different because of your ethnic background-thing is actually a bit weird.But this might be the human mind. Humans are “social cratutes”(if you know what i mean),why else do we want to be a part of different groups?I think this is actually the intention of nature which didn’t wanted these so called humans to die in pre-historic times.On the third hand who needs national identity when you have pizza?

  51. marvelgoose

    Keep the new, non-pink hair. Thank you for making it happen, Jen. The EYK Male Demographic has spoken.

  52. Isou

    I’m a half french, half filipino girl, and I’ve been living since I was 4 in France. Though, I do visit every two years the Philippines, I act, as well as am treated as a foreigner most of the time. I don’t speak Tagalog, only english, so it’s kind of obvious that I’m not a “pure” filipino. It’s kind of embarrassing that when someone wants to speak to me, they immediately speak in tagalog or illocano, and I’m there, trying to tell them to speak english… As for appearances, I’m more french than filipino, so I’m quite fair skinned, e.g I stand out. But it doesn’t bother me that much, since I don’t consider the Philippines as my home country, it’s more of my holiday place, where I can see my family from my mother’s side. So I let my mom deal with all the culture thingies, and have fun while I’m there.
    As for languages, I currently speak french fluently, and can understand english perfectly, but since I don’t speak it that much, it’s kind of awkward to speak in it, but it was my first language until I was 6, then I switched to french. But let me tell something, it’s quite amusing to speak in french while being surrounded by filipinos, who don’t understand what I’m saying; I feel like an alien ;)

    PS: In France, we mostly leave our shoes on in our houses, if we are going out, or visiting somebody’s else house. But it happens, that sometimes, they tells us to remove our shoes, because of the carpet or the wood floor, etc..

  53. Claudia Carvalho
    Claudia Carvalho

    I’m 100% Portuguese so I never had any conflicts with my cultural identity. However a lot of my family members immigrated to France during the 1960′s. And whenever they came to visit there was always a mix of French and Portuguese being spoken at our family reunions during the summer time, that always amazed me. At the time I was young and I didn’t understand or tried to question if my cousins born in France were Portuguese or French or both or whatever. I just assumed them to be my family, whether the nationality or culture they were immersed in. As I grew up and as they grew up, my cousins that were born in France started to distance themselves more and more from Portugal and the Portuguese culture. They can barely speak the language or not at all. I never asked, but I do think they consider themselves French. At first it bothered me a little but a few years back, I was having a conversation with a friend and the subject of multiculturalism came up. I knew he had a non-portuguese name so I asked him what side of his family was Portuguese. He said: none. nobody in my family is Portuguese. I was surprised because he spoke fluent Portuguese and as far as I knew he always lived here. He then explained that he was born in Belgium and that his parents moved to Portugal because his father was offered a position in an University here. He came here when he was around 3 years old and only goes to Belgium to visit, even though he has Belgian nationality. Since he speaks perfect Portuguese and French, and lived here all his life, I asked him if he felt more Belgian or more Portuguese. And he said: “Neither. I am a citizen of the world. I feel at home in both countries, in both cultures, and I would feel just as well anywhere else. I am me, that’s who I am.”
    I thought I was open to other cultures, but after this conversation I became less inclined to label people or try to categorize someone by the way they look, the languages they speak or where they were born.
    A world citizen! I wish to be one ^_^

  54. itts_erer

    I’m Japanese and Filipino, and my house takes off our shoes in any house. When I go to other friend’s houses, they tell me not to take off my shoes (even my parents tell me not to. Why? Have no idea. Might ask them tonight.), but I do it anyway. I mean, I feel like it’s cleaner. Sure, my socks may get dirty (I think that’s the reason why my parents don’t want me to take them off. Especially my dad. haha), but I’ll be comfortable! Japanese are the same as Korean people–we ALWAYS take off our shoes. But in the Philippines, it’s a third world country, so the floor is the ground basically. So they don’t take off their shoes. However, that’s for the province area and I don’t know what it’s like in the city. But some of my Filipino side family takes it off, and some don’t.

    As for Jen’s question, I don’t look Japanese at ALL…ok, maybe a little, but when people see me, they think I’m full Filipino. But I took Japanese school, so sometimes I talk to people in restaurants in Japanese, and they’re really surprised. As for Filipino, I barely know any, so at family gatherings, my mom (Japanese) and I are just in the corner since all my relatives know Tagalog or Ilokano. Same as when I went to the Philippines, but they are speaking more English now. As for fitting in, I felt really comfortable in the Philippines, of course. But the real experiment is when I go to Japan next year. We’ll see how that goes.

    Oh! and EYK! was that crayon pop’s uh-ee i heard in the background? or am i just going crazy? haha

  55. I’m Slovene and I’m not mixed – so my view of things is from the other side: a view of a pureblood native Slovene. :D
    In our country there are not a lot of foreigners from other parts of the world but there are a lot of immigrants from former Yugoslavia which are now Slovenes. So looking from my perspective I expect that an individual who lives here a longer period of time and has a Slovene citizenship speaks the language and respects our culture. Sure the respect goes both ways (we don’t want them to forget or deny their roots), but if you are living in a country and even more if you already have that countries citizenship you can’t act like you live in bubble – you try to blend in (to learn the language, the culture, etc.). Nobody is going to disrespect you if you are at least trying. Of course not all immigrants are like that and this example, in my opinion, can be generalized to any nationality.
    My roommate’s father is from Croatia but she identifies herself as a Slovene, doesn’t speak Croatian and ironically I do. :) When we discussed this topic she told me she’s Slovene because she lives here. Although she learned about her father’s culture she grew up here and that’s that. :) The parents of my ex-boyfriend are Serbian and they moved here when he was 5 and he identifies himself as Slovene. He speaks Serbian and visits his relatives often but he grew up here and most of his friends are Slovene. So I don’t know. I guess you are Slovene if you think you are Slovene even if you’re not even half Slovene (even if you’re parents are both foreigners). You parents’ nationality doesn’t necessarily define yours. I don’t think their less Slovene just because my parents are both Slovene. My granddads granddad was French – exactly which member/which generation in our family became Slovene and weren’t mixed anymore? :D
    As for Asian immigrants I believe that over here live just a few families who own Chinese restaurants. We’re a really small country so they probably came here by mistake – maybe they were thinking they’re going to Slovakia. :D It really bothers me that they distanced themselves from us. They only hang out with other Chinese people. They recently started sending their kids to our schools and I was really happy when I saw a Chinese girl speaking Slovene and playing with other Slovene kids in school – so hopefully they will open up and start to feel more comfortable around us in the next years. It’s really funny but immigrants from other countries (South America, Africa) are not so exclusive – they don’t hang out just with people from their country.
    As for Slovenes who immigrated and came back to Slovenia – we don’t “punish” them for not knowing the culture or the language. We view them as what they are – foreigners with our roots. Maybe they know Slovenian – if they don’t we’ll teach them. Maybe they know the culture – if they don’t we’ll show them. We’re happy just seeing them come back and taking even a slight interest in discovering Slovenia.
    In my opinion, you can’t be less Slovene and more American or Croatian… If you have an American citizenship you are American. I don’t really get the concept of being African-American or Mexican-America. You’re American.
    I have a friend who is a belly dancer and now lives in Egypt, speaks Arabic, loves the food, the music, etc. Basically she found herself in their culture. Is she not Slovene even though she doesn’t live in Slovenia and doesn’t want the “Slovenian lifestyle”?

  56. I’m russian and HaVe been liVing in Malta sinCe I was 3 years old. 3 years ago I went baCk to Visit. I didn’t HaVe tHe problem of people realising tHat I wasn’t a natiVe but ratHer I was tHe one wHo felt awkward and weird. I am so used to people CommuniCating witH me in EnglisH tHat I was Completely unaware tHat people were talking to me. THis one time I was in tHe subway and someone was saying sometHing. He Had been trying to ask me to moVe out of tHe way a few times before I realised tHat He was aCtually talking to me. I felt so embarrassed and awkward.Normally wHen I am near Russians in Malta, tHey are unaware tHat I am also Russian and would automatHeally speak in EnglisH. So it was quite weird to HaVe tHem speak to me in Russian.Plus tHe little I remember from wHen I used to liVe in Russian feels like it’s from a Completely different liVe time. I apologise for tHe Capital letters wHere tHey don’t belong. My keyboard is stubborn. T_T

  57. I’m a boring English person who is living in England and has English parents. The most exciting thing about me is that I live in the middle of England and the majority of my family live in the north. That’s it. Thank god for everyone else sharing interesting stories to read!

    I didn’t know about Jen until this post and she seems pretty cool. The look she’s done on Martina is awesome. Seriously. Twit twoo, Martina!

  58. I’m fully Korean but both of my parents were from North Korea before Korean war begins.One of my grand-grand parents were assumed Chinese. My family members include myself all have experiences that assumed as Chinese from Chinese people. I’m tall, skinny, can’t even speak Northern Korean dialectics at all. I start cooking since there is no way to get the food my grand mother gave me anymore. Probably other Koreans have their own similar situation but trying to be subtle the individuality as much as possible as social manner.
    You may able to be the first grand master of your clan in Korea, Simon, Martina. Technically it is possible, though it could be harder than Chinese or Japanese case of Korean clan. However, I won’t recommend you to be Korean since your child could suffer by the questions about the Korean social responsibility on you, such as mandatory honorifics, ceremonies and responsibility on your group/family members. lol.

  59. mimaja

    Hello Simon and Martina! Sometimes I wonder myself why there are so many “angry social justice warriors”. I realize that an individual’s experience will never be the same as anyone else, and therefore one person cannot represent everyone else (e.g. you guise do not represent all expats, Koreans, nor Canadians), but at one point everyone has to take on some kind of cultural identity! So many people get made fun of for acting outside what is expected of them culturally. For example, if a black person “acts white”, their gyopo name is “oreo”, or if a non-Japanese person “acts Japanese” they are a weeaboo. I’m sure there are many other names for people who act outside of what is expected from them culturally, but the point is does it really matter what which culture you identify with? I am a mixture of many European races (but mostly Irish) and my grandfather is African American, but I only appear to be a white American. In United States (where I am from), people who aren’t white often get an advantage in being accepted to a university, because there is a quota to fill (I’m not sure if this is the same with Canadian universities). When I applied for my university I checked off that I was both white and black, but I felt really odd about doing it. While genetically, I am partially black, physically I am white, so it was a culturally confusing thing to answer. It seems like ever culture is opposed to its people losing touch with their initial cultural identity in some way, and I’m not sure why, however I think you guise should be glad to be Canadian Koreans or Korean Canadians or what evercultural identity you consider yourselves to be!

  60. 0430jiwon

    I didn’t have a problem with being a half Korean until about the age of 12, when I started getting taking an interest into Korean culture. I’ve been born and raised in England, but with the majority of my family [both Korean and English] living in South America I’ve felt even more “confused”. In terms of hobbies and fashion, I’ve always identified more with the Korean side of me – living in a very white area, none of my friends share the same interests as me. But in terms of upbringing, views and attitudes I consider myself to be very English. Some people feel jealous that I’m mixed but I just wish there were more mixed race people in my area. Honestly it’s just pretty lonely when you can’t full identify with a group. To my English friends I’m the asian, but to the few asians I know, I’m the English friend.

    • IMSPECIAL

      I know that feeling currently I live in country where only very few people are similar to me culturally. Man if you just had one good friend who is mixed I promise you won’t be so confused. Read my comment below yours

  61. IMSPECIAL

    Oiiiii
    first time postin
    first off i read a lot of comments here and I was amused how similar my experience is to people in the comments
    Im full Korean ethnically and I moved over 20 times (yea my life is cray) so I’m like an “international american korean”
    I lived in cali for most of my elementary, korea for elementary and middle school, and I currently live in another country (I wont name it for privacy)
    currently I don’t have any identity issues and I’m of those super rare gyopo Koreans fully understand and experience most Korean and American culture and im very grateful for it
    Important detail: I lived in a somewat gyopo community in cali, attended international schools in Korea, and currently attend an international school in another country.
    From now on Ill talk aboot stuffs in random order :D
    1. First off the words “Korean American or Korean Canadian or Korean European” are soooooo overrated cuz there a tons of Koreans who live in other countries other than merica canada and europe…. just say international Korean or gyopo
    2. I used to try and find a label for myself but tats complete bullsh** … cuz there are many different types of Korean American, Korean students who attend international schools not in america are can be very different from Korean Americans.. also there arnt enough “labels” to “label” a Korean.. tats y i just made up my own word.. I’m an international Korean
    3. also the issues of being ostracized due to bein “too american” or “too american” just ignore tat lol, just be u.. also many americans misunderstand wat da point of bein america is.. its not about being “white” ..it about being the boiling pot of every culture in the word.. so if someone says ur too american.. tat means they dont wat bein american is LOL
    4. dont take cultural issues too seriously lol, i used to do tat, and tat was a complete waste of time lol… just remember tat if ur gyopo u should expect having a unnecessarily confusing lyfe and yea i had lots of awkward experiences cuz i moved over 20 times, also remember many people in the present AND past had experienced da same awkward experiences
    5. gyopo usually applies to 1-3 generations
    6. i met tons of gyopos and international koreans (note: im bein somewat cocky from here) but from my view, none of their experiences were quite in depth in culture as mine cuz who moves over 20 fuakin times? (there r also more reason why im more culturally in depth) so when i read some of these comments all of them were not TAT amusing and im familar with many of the experiences in the comments
    7. i can talk soooooooooo much more relating to this topic of gyopos tat may be very intriguing for some of u confused gyopos.. reply to me if u hav any questions

    • IMSPECIAL

      Edit:
      woops I used the words “Korean Americans” too much cuz i was subconsciously biased lol

      correction here:
      3. also the issues of being ostracized due to bein “too american” or “too korean” just ignore tat lol,

  62. I’m so glad you guys discussed this topic! Recently I’ve been having lots of thoughts on my cultural identity as well. I’m a Korean American but unfortunately, I’m part of the generation that couldn’t have dual citizenship and because until recently I was living in the States, I do not have Korean citizenship. Now I’m back in Korea preparing for a life here, but since I have no visa to stay here, every 3 months, I’ve got to take a plane trip somewhere outside of Korea. So I definitely feel foreign.
    Luckily my parents helped me keep up my Korean so I don’t feel too uncomfortable here, but from simple things like going to the bathroom, to going on interviews, I’m constantly culture shocked. The most shocking of all was my own family discouraging me from speaking English. My Korean’s decent but I’m more accustomed to speaking English and my whole family speaks English, so I communicate with them in English. Both my mom and brother have complained to me. My brother thinks it comes across as “showing-off” and my mother doesn’t like the attention from other ajummas- she considers it negative attention. Conformity is very important here and I guess that comes from Korea being largely made up of one ethnicity for a very long time.
    So yeah, it’s very confusing- I’m in Korea, my parents are Korean, I speak both Korean and English fluently but apparently don’t look Korean. So everything Martina and Jen talked about rings true to me. And omg, the Dondaemoon haggling- I can never do it. From all the ajummas calling you “unni”, to the crazily crammed stores, one visit was enough for me. Btw, how can you tell gyopos and Koreans apart, Martina? I’ve been told that numerous times, but I don’t get it!

  63. reak333

    Hello, both of my parents are form Serbia and we live in America. We do have some cultural differences. For starters we take off our shoes in the house and wear slippers. Also table manners are very important. My mom cooks a lot of traditional Serbian meal my friends usually don’t like to try her cooking because its not something they are used to eating. Serbian population in Texas is not very large so its very rare that there is another Serbian at my school. When we go to Serbia to visit, most people think that I don’t speak Serbian because I live in America, which in my case is not true. Most people are very surprised at how fluent my Serbian is.

  64. Gracie グレイス

    Really interesting identity concept. I suppose you can identity yourself however you want as no one can prove you otherwise -deep thinking sounds- this is making me wonder the universe…

  65. Nicoll (EYK Dictionary)

    Hopefully this doesn’t turn into a full-blown TL;DR on my own personal experiences, but I sometimes think of myself as being closer to Singaporean than to being a Filipino (as I had never grown up there). My family mainly spoke English as a ‘first language’ with bits of Tagalog and Ilokano mixed in there and growing up in Singapore kind of skewed my view in identifying myself as Singaporean (the accent, the love of food, the disciplined education, growing up with Malays, Chinese, and Indian kids that also identified as Singaporeans). Having moved to Australia, it didn’t take long for that culture shock to kick in – being mistaken as Chinese or not being the a part of the majority and all that. Coupled with the face that there weren’t a lot of Filipinos around at the time more or less caused me to lose a little bit of my cultural identity. Fast forward 10 years or so, I still feel more inclined to identifying with Singaporeans a lot more than Filipinos purely and simply because I had that exposure. I myself could probably survive living in the Philippines but I don’t think my siblings and no doubt some of my Filipino friends would be able to. Life over there is completely different to here in so many different aspects but it would be the language that is likely to be the barrier that they will face.

    Some Filipinos in the Philippines also have a skewed perception of their family living overseas, particularly in Western countries like Australia or the US. They have this idea that because you’re working for Dollars and not Pesos you’d have a pretty comfortable life. What they don’t realise is that we don’t have the luxury of maids that clean up after us, nor can we afford to pay for such services because of how much we have to pay.

    So yeah. I have on occasion been mistaken as being Korean (I guess by default they speak Korean or genuinely think I am Korean), but I don’t really mind. :)

  66. yeliabuh

    First off, I’d just like to say how nice it is to see so many stories like mine in the comments…and in fact, stories of all kinds! It’s great that this blog can be a platform where people can share experiences that are so diverse (in more than one sense).

    I identify as Chinese-American, but for me that’s just a starting point. I mean, if you just think about the term itself, you start to realize just how huge it is. China and America (and many, many other countries) are so big and diverse, even though some Americans and Chinese people try to claim otherwise. Even within the “Chinese-American” label, there are so many stories.

    It took me a long time to realize that my identity could self-determined. Growing up Asian in a largely non-Asian community, I was always conspicuously different. Like, strangers would ask me if I was Chinese before they even asked what my name was. No matter how hard I tried to be American, I was never going to blend in completely. Because of those childhood experiences, I was stuck with the idea that my identity was determined by others.

    In college I decided I wanted to learn about the Chinese part of my Chinese-American label. And so I ended up studying abroad in China last semester. I’m now finishing up my 6th month here, and my identity is more confused than ever. The thing is, I can kind of blend in here (up until people start pulling out high-level vocab) but I’ll still always be a little different because I grew up in America. Because of this, the question of whether I was more Chinese or American really bothered me for a while. Then a friend reminded me that I didn’t have to box myself in with these labels, which I found really helpful. It was like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

    So I think what I’m trying to say, Simon and Martina, is that I understand that mixed-up area between cultures. I don’t really have any solutions to offer, but I will say that for me, it always helps to remember that labels like Korean-Canadian, Canadian-Korean, Korean-American, or Chinese-American are always limited at best. I tell people that I’m Chinese-American (and sometimes American, just to see their looks of surprise) but I try not to let that determine who I am. All I know is that I’m really interested in Chinese culture, and I’d like to come back after finishing school.

  67. ntaloons
    ntaloons

    I always hope to find this question being discussed because even as a mostly-adult now, it’s still an unanswered one for me: what are you? I know now there isn’t an easy answer and I’m glad we’re all more complex than that–but peers, coworkers, sometimes people I’ve just met still ask me “what are you,” so it’s difficult to not feel divided sometimes.

    I’m half Korean on my mom’s side, but we grew up in a pretty rural area of the States so I was one of only a handful of Asian students in elementary, junior high, and high school. In my circle of friends, I was “the” Asian one: when someone made a joke about ninjas or math or godzilla, they’d look at me for confirmation or validation or I dunno maybe I had something in my teeth. But we lived sort of close to some large Korean communities, so for a couple of years I was in a youth symphony that was predominantly Korean–there, I was one of only a handful of half-Koreans, and felt decidedly unKorean, especially at lunch when everyone busted out their bilingual skills and I kinda just played gameboy. So for a long time I felt really awkward and embarrassed all the time about just sort of…existing. On the one hand, I was given attention for being this sort of exotic novelty (I was pretty shy otherwise); on the other, I kind of felt like a sham when I realized I didn’t want to identify with those dumb jokes, but that I didn’t really know enough about my mom’s culture to be much more. I didn’t really reach the “WOW I CAN BE AN ENTIRE PERSON COMPOSED OF MANY PARTS??” realization until late high school, when I went to community college and came into contact with a lot of different people.
    When I visited my mom’s family in Korea for the first time a couple years ago it was a lot like Simon’s experience in Poland–a lot of sweating, a lot of feeling embarrassed around smells and tastes and sounds that, up to that point, were strongly and primarily associated with home stuff, family stuff. I’m going back in August, this time for work, and also in the hopes of making Koreanness a part of my adult, individual identity too.

    So I dunno. My identity is, at any given point, the communities, behaviors, habits, topics, environments, etc. I commune with and am involved in. It still rubs me the wrong way when people abruptly ask what I am (as if figuring out why I look the way I look must happen before the conversation can progress??), but I take it in stride now because I’m more confident about having parts of different depth and breadth. A large part of that comes from being able to see and hear from all these other perspectives, similar and different–I didn’t really know how to find something like this back in dial-up days. So thanks to everyone who has talked about their own experiences here it is all super cool to hear about :v

  68. So at first I would love to say something to Simon. Even if his Polish isn’t correct in many ways, like he doesn’t know much words or his gramma is bad, I still feel like he is Polish person :) I was in Polish Meet up and I was one of the stuff there and I felt pretty close with Simon, cuz I felt he’s one of us… hope it doesn’t sound wrong, I just don’t really know how to explain it. So I hope that if Simon comes again to Poland, he will be more comfortable :)
    About the topic, I have totally agree. I was born in Poland, I speak Polish everyday but I speak also English and German, cuz I learnt it in my school, and my school was a double language school. I learnt a lot about german culture and I got into it soo much. Also I’m into korean culture, so I feel cuz of it like I’m “lees Polish” cuz people sometimes here don’t understand my way of thinking cuz it’s not typical Polish way of thinking. So I can not imagine how weird feeling is for person, who was born and raised in another country, and then they come back to their country. This topic is a nice one but also a hard one to talk about, cuz there is a lot of things to say, but sometimes I have no idea how to explain my own toughts about it.

  69. dekirudake
    dekirudake

    I can’t really relate to Jen’s experience – I’ve spent most of my adult life in Japan, but I’m white American, and no one is ever, ever going to suspect me of being from around here. (I agree that being an “obvious” foreigner does give you a certain amount of privilege in Asia; I’ve always thought that Japanese people (or anyone ethnically East Asian, really; people here are terrible at guessing ethnicity) raised outside Japan have it hardest here, because you don’t get any of the special passes that non-Asian foreigners often do.) But I feel what Simon said about not feeling Polish a lot. My dad’s family is Polish-American, but they came over four generations back and worked very hard on “integrating” – my great-grandmother always said there was nothing worth remembering in the Poland they left, so her family didn’t make an effort to pass their culture on, and none of us alive today know more than a few words of Polish. So I obviously don’t feel like I can call myself “Polish”… and, conversely, a whole lot of my family’s culture comes from the South, and that side of my family has been the States since before they were the States, so trying to figure out which part of Europe they came from originally is a bit of a lost cause. But I think there’s a lot of pressure to be “something”-American; you’re not allowed to identify as just American unless you’re Native, and simultaneously, there are a lot of people, both inside and outside the States, who think that there’s nothing more to “American” culture than Hollywood and McDonald’s. So I spent a lot of time growing up feeling like I didn’t really have a culture; it really took moving to another country to reinforce that I do, and that I can embrace that.

    BTW, on the shoes issue – I grew up in a house where you take your shoes off at the door, every time, no exceptions, and that was the standard at all my friends’ houses, too. But apparently the stereotype comes from somewhere! I’m kind of curious whether ethnic background and/or geographic location plays into it at all; I’m from the Northeast, and if you wore your shoes inside you’d be tracking in snow or mud six or seven months of the year, minimum, so the idea of it makes me cringe. Maybe it’s less horrifying in other parts of the country?

  70. reeraboo
    reeraboo

    I was born in Seoul, but I immigrated to the States when I was three. I’ve lived in America most of my life, but my parents did their best to raise me as a Korean. I spoke to my parents in Korean, went to Korean school during the weekend, went to cram school, etc. So, I don’t consider myself a full-fledged Korean or American; I’m both and more.

    Cultural identity was something I struggled to understand growing up. I used to get bullied by the Korean-Americans for not speaking in Konglish and not listening to K-pop (oh, the irony). At the same time, I was bullied by the Caucasians for looking ethnically different, eating Korean food, not knowing American pop-culture, and essentially not being “American” enough. Whenever I visited Korea, I would be criticized for being too opinionated and not following Korean fashion and beauty trends. I got a lot of weird stares when I had long, straight blue hair while everyone else at the time was sporting a wavy bob. And I got even more criticism when they found out that I didn’t care about looking different.

  71. There’s a friend I’ve known for close to 12 years now who was born and spent her early childhood in Korea until she became good at golf. Since the year round climate in Korea isn’t conducive to developing as a top level golfer and with relatively few golf courses for a country of its size her parents first sent her to live with an aunt in Hawai’i. When the time and expense of commuting to junior tournaments on the US mainland got a bit much she was set up with a middle aged couple in the Phoenix area who served as her guardians while she went to school, competed in various amateur golf tournaments and basically lived like her American classmates, with the occasional visit from one or both of her parents to remind her of her Korean heritage. She graduated from high school, went to Arizona State University to play on their golf team for two years, won the 1998 US Women’s Amateur title before turning professional and eventually joining the LPGA Tour, where she won a total of six titles including one major before recurring back problems forced her to retire in 2012. She then married her Korean boyfriend of ten years (a manager of a construction firm, I believe) and now lives as a contented housewife back in Seoul where she was born while trying to readjust to life in her homeland after living for so long overseas, most of it in Arizona when she wasn’t traveling somewhere to play golf.

    Simon and Martina, I’ve mentioned her in a posting to you guise before but now that you know a little bit more of her background I believe that she is someone you should locate and have a chat with in light of what you’ve discussed in this blog post. I am referring, of course, to Grace Park (the former pro golfer from Korea, remember, NOT the Korean-Canadian actress).

  72. KirsaK

    While I can’t comment on the “gyopo” feelings like others can, as I was born in America and currently live in the U.S. and my parents are 100% American, I do have some thoughts on cultural identity. My first thought is: My mom’s side of the family is Native American (crow tribe), and while my mom is only 1/16th, she was born on a reservation and was surrounded by that for awhile. I was never raised with any of that culture, and really wish that I had some sort of culture to be apart of.
    Second thought: 2 years ago I studied abroad for a year in Germany, and after coming back to the United States all I’ve wanted to do is move back to Germany and spend the rest of my life there. I loved living there, and when I was there I felt like a German (part of which may be the fact that everyone I met thought I was German until they heard my really heavy accent). Obviously I can’t call myself German, since I’m not a citizen and my parents are like 5% German, but if I could I would be German, that’s how much I loved it there. So I think on that note, cultural identity is an interesting thing, because sometimes you identify more with the culture you were note raised with, than the one you were raised with (and a bunch of other things, but I think this comment is going on long enough)

    • toffifee

      Sorry for bothering you with my reply(if you are even reading it) but as a German myself I don’t really get it.If you feel German and you want to be German than you can be German.Nobody would mind,my best friend “is” Turkish but she is considered as German because she wants to be .You can call yourself whatever you want. The most important thing is that you are happy with your decision.(sorry for my weird English and this reply (I hope I understood your point and don’t wrote something completly unrelated and senseless or something that you already mentioned in your comment)).

  73. I am 100% genetic Chinese but I’ve lived my whole life in America and never visited the “motherland” before. I consider myself an ABC (American born Chinese) which kind of puts my Chinese heritage first but it’s mainly because ABC is a the term for my situation that everyone uses over here. I can relate to a lot of what Jen is saying but it gets a little more complicated where I am. First off, I grew up in a city (specifically a certain part of the city) that is highly Asian. My high school was 60% Asian and although not all of that is Chinese (the second largest group would be Viets) you can feel the Chinese influence. Because of the large number of Asians, categorization gets more specific. There are the ABCs but you might be considered “white-washed” if you’ve adopted a lot of habits or mannerisms considered white. On the other end is “fob” and “fobby.” (In some places fob (fresh of the boat) is considered an insult but I have yet to meet anyone here that considers it that way so I hope I’m not insulting anyone.) Fob is usually limited to immigrants while “fobby” is used to describe behaviors of fobs and is often applied to an ABC who behaves the same way. Now onto my specific situation. Like I said, I’m an ABC but I don’t actually speak any Chinese. (Both my parents, though immigrants, have well developed English and that is the only language spoken to me at home.) My dad is Cantonese and my mom grew up in Cambodia so she speaks Khmer, Cantonese, Mandarin, and the local dialect of her family. Supposedly, this gives me no excuse for not knowing any native tongue and a lot of people judge me for it. (Language is REALLY important to Chinese. It’s what unifies them and gives them that national pride. Which is kind of ironic considering there’s like a bajillion dialects in China.) I’ve once had an ex-friend literally say to my face that she can’t stand the fact that I don’t know my native tongue. The immediate characterization is that I”m white-washed. The problem with that is while I do have American tendencies, I act very Chinese. All in all, I just never really fit and I felt a lot of shame for it when I was younger. My story would be a lot sadder if it weren’t for my mom. She’s raised me to be proud of the fact that I know the customs of my ancestors but feel at home in America. She’s always advocated that speaking Chinese doesn’t make you Chinese and it’s because of her that I’m completely okay being whatever the heck that I am. I still would love to learn and I know I’ll never speak like a native but that’s okay. I wanna end this with a thanks to the EYK crew. I started watching because I fell in love with kpop but I’ve stayed because you guys offer opinions I can relate to. Sometimes, you’re thinking like a North American and can’t understand the obsession with painful remedies. Sometimes, you’re thinking like a Korean (or general Asian) and adding delicious cheese to instant ramen. So thanks for being some odd combo of East-West and reminding me that I’m not the only one! (P.S. The shoe situation in our house is… complicated. It’s a general taboo to not take your shoes off but it’s not the omfgicantbelieveyoujustdidthattheworldisgonnaburnnow horrible that it is for most Asian cultures. We definitely leave them on if we’re just running in to grab something. But I still have been scolded for wearing sandals upstairs before…. I think it goes that downstairs is okay sometimes but upstairs is a definite no. And yes, almost all Americans wear their shoes inside the house and I was actually really surprised Canadians don’t do the same.)

  74. HokiPoki1213
    HokiPoki1213

    This topic is more related to my father than myself, but it’s quite interesting when thinking about cultural and ethnic identity.
    My father was born in Australia, to a German immigrant father and an Aboriginal mother. Back in those days, the White Australia Policy was in effect (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Australia_Policy). Not long after, the Policy was abolished, and my father and his sister grew up very much immersed in the encouraged ‘Australian’ way of life, and barely participated in their father’s German way of living.
    My father would tell me that he knew enough German as a child to listen in on conversations between his father and his grandmother, but could never really speak it. He identified more with his Aboriginal heritage, and for many years worked with elders and communities to help improve the Indigenous way of life.
    He is registered as an Aboriginal with the Australian government, but made it a point to make it my choice whether I identified or not with that heritage. I chose to just be an Australian with no Aboriginal identity, as I do not physically look Aboriginal (thanks to the British on my mother’s side), and it was hard to relate to the Aboriginal community (as they are quite set in only listening to those from their own ‘mob’ or community).
    One frustrating thing about having a father that is essentially part black was when I was a child, he would be approached and questioned on whether he was actually my biological father by clueless individuals. Despite Australia having the whole ‘multiculturalism’ ideology as their culture, it is frustrating when the original Australians, Aboriginal Australians, are still considered different in comparison to those from Caucasian backgrounds.

  75. Viannie Sarik
    Viannie Sarik

    I’m Cambodian American, born in LA, but lived in Phoenix most of my life. While my parents were raising us they tried to teach us Khmer, but once we started school they wanted us to focus on learning English so I eventually forgot most of the language I learn while my sister has been trying to relearn it. I’m kind of sad that I didn’t retain any of the language, but the only Cambodian people I knew was my family so I didn’t think I needed it. My dad’s family learned English to converse with people, but speak primarily in Khmer while my parents have very good English skills and hardly any accent compared to my friends’ immigrated parents except for some grammar mistakes.

    We lived a very Asian lifestyle, but over time we became more Americanized. While we didn’t leave our shoes outside the house (we just left them at the base of the stairs to put on), my mom didn’t like us wearing our shoes inside. I used to take my shoes off at my friends’ house because I didn’t feel comfortable with it. Eventually I would just keep my shoes on after going to my friends’ house so often. Soon it became a “we just don’t wear it on the carpet” deal. And when I’m in a hurry and I need to get something from upstairs I would just sprint up taking as few steps as possible to not get the carpet dirty since we replaced the carpet on the stairs with wood.

    We’ve become a lot more Americanized over the years and you can see it. A lot of times my parents get mad at us because we want to do things our other friends can do but they don’t want us to because “we’re not like them”. So you can say we live an Asian lifestyle while having a lot of American influence on us.

    • Viannie Sarik
      Viannie Sarik

      And even though my dad’s family knows I can’t speak Khmer they keep talking to me in it as if they think I’m making an attempt at learning at all even though they know how to speak in English. During family get-togethers everyone is speaking Khmer and I don’t care for what they’re saying at all so I just mess around on my phone. Eventually I hear them talking about me and I know they’re mocking me. It’s a terrible feeling being outcasted by my own family and I’ve just ended up resenting them even more.

  76. Junokue
    Junokue

    I’m from the USA and I leave my shoes only sometimes. If its snowy or I just stepped in a a puddle of mud/water I obviously take off my shoes before stepping on any carpet. Although, if its a sunny spring day and I haven’t stepped in anything sometimes I just leave my shoes on (it keeps your toes warm anyways!).
    Also, I wear them when studying too due to a psychological effect it has on the brain. Typically when I have shoes on I am in school, running errands, etc which requites me to focus. So if I study with my shoes on it actually helps me keep on task and focus.

  77. HirOnyx

    i think singaporeans who were born here in singapore like myself dont have that kind of “gyopo” problems.

    to help you guise understand, singapore is a country with people of different races and the majority of the races here are: chinese, malay and indian. we do have other races too but this is the top 3 races of people here right now.

    i am ethnically chinese but i never considered myself singaporean-chinese or chinese-singaporean. i see people from china just like any other foreigner and i would never consider myself “visiting motherland” if i ever step foot in china.

    we were a small fishing village until 1819 where a british (stamford raffles) came here and kinda established this island as singapore and under the british control or something. that was the start of people migrating here from india and china to find work and all that. most of the singaporeans i know are at least 2nd generation singaporeans (grandparents were immigrants) and from what i spoke to my dad about my grandparents, i’m at least 3rd generation.

    i think the “gyopo” thing only happens to people whose parents were immigrants…

  78. Culture identity is just a pain in the butt and is another way to put labels on people I’ve faced many problems because of it.
    I never had trouble identifying myself when it came to culture. I identify myself as Mexican through and through but I have had faced problems because of the way I look. Many people tend to identify people’s culture through their physical features and because of that I have been constantly mistaken to be Caucasian, or denied my own culture by others and even been bullied because of how I look. I grew up in Mexican family in the united states within a Hispanic community and due to my light skin people automatically tend to write me off as a Caucasian which made it hard for me at school. I faced constant teasing in middle school because people thought I was Caucasian, and later in high school had to constantly put up with people commenting on how they didn’t believe I was Mexican because of how white I was even though I spoke perfect Spanish which most of them could not even understand Spanish. it’s just one big mess but I don’t let that get to me instead I work with it and explain to people how rude and hurtful it is to be on the receiving end

  79. happyjoy2
    happyjoy2

    I am a Filipino that was born in the Philippines, but my family moved to America 6 months after I was born. So most of my life I was raised in America. But my parents wanted to raise my sister and I as Filipinos and to know about the Filipino culture. My parents wanted me to speak English in America since we lived there and gave us the freedom of choosing to learn Filipino if we wanted to. They didn’t force me to learn the language, but somehow I felt it was necessary to learn since I was Filipino. I guess being raised in a Filipino home gave me the influence in choosing to learn the language. When I visit the Philippines, there is this stigma that those that lived outside of the Philippines (especially in America) are highly valued and rich since they lived abroad. But it kinda bothers me because I am just the same as them and don’t see myself as anymore special than they are. The interesting and good thing about Filipinos though is that no matter if I have lived in another country, they welcome me with open arms and don’t judge me in a negative way. Also, it doesn’t matter if someone is full Filipino or part Filipino, that person is still recognized as Filipino and treated like any other Filipino. In Tagalog, there is not a word like Gyopo, but there is a word for Filipinos who have lived outside of the Philippines and come back to visit or live in the Philippines. Those people are called “balikbayan.” “Balik” means to come back or return and “bayan” means country (but for this term, it refers to the Philippines). So it basically, means people who have returned to the mother land (the Philippines) and the term has a welcoming connotation.

  80. Stephie
    Stephie

    (I forgot to add this in my previous comment, sorry!) Even my mom’s not fully Vietnamese. Her father was African-American. The thing is, he died in the war when my mom was just a baby. She was raised completely Vietnamese with no knowledge whatsoever of her black heritage. Can she still call herself black? Can I call myself black? Or Asian? Should I call myself white, because my father is totally white and I’ve grown up in a predominately white part of America?

  81. Stephie
    Stephie

    I’m Vietnamese on my mom’s side only, but I don’t know the language at all. This is where I differ from what Jen talked about in the video, though: my mother purposely didn’t teach me. She doesn’t want me to get involved with Vietnamese culture because, well, she ran away for a reason! She has no national pride! I felt awful when I was in little Saigon last week and couldn’t talk to anyone, but my mother said it was their fault for not learning English while living in America.

  82. chi_soshi_angel

    I can’t really speak on a cultural identity. I am American born in America never been anywhere else. The closest I have to that is that I am not “black enough” because I don’t subscribe to the so called black culture norms. Still, I did find this super interesting to watch. I think it’s rather sad that people try to slam a cultural label on other people and then try to squeeze said people into the box that is supposed to fit that culture. People are all different and even if they live in the same area can experience a different culture.

    Anyway – the shoes in the house thing was funny to me. Yes, it is quite normal for Americans to wear shoes inside the house. However, there are people that do remove their shoes when they enter mainly for keeping the house clean. For example, my mom and I remove our shoes when we come in because 1) we have a very light carpet and don’t want it to get dirt from outside and 2) we have two cats that ee don’t want to get sick from whatever bacteria is trekked in on our shoes. It’s become such a habit for me that I feel really uncomfortable walking into someone’s house wearing shoes and generally end up taking them off no matter what everyone else does.

  83. 7inspirits
    7inspirits

    I can relate to the gyopo experience. I am Mexican-American and we have many terms that correspond with “gyopo”. We (Mexican-Americans) use terms like Chicano/a, Hispanic, or Latino/a. However, when I visited Mexico I cannot associate with those terms because to those that are from Mexico and live in Mexico..As a Mexican-American you are most likely only known as “Norteño/a”. Why? B/c we were born “up north” or “in the north”..basically b/c we are from America.

    I grew up speaking spanish and like most people become more comfortable with speaking english. Its because I prefer to speak english that my spanish has developed an American-accent. While I visited family in Mexico, they were able to point it out right away and when I would speak in english, they really disliked it.

    While in Mexico, of course I dress differently than everyone that is from Mexico. So every time I go, I do stand out. When I was younger, I felt ashamed that I stood out so much. The way I talked and dressed and styled my hair was very different..and I thought it was so bad. But now, I have learned to embrace my American side and not be ashamed just because I grew up differently. I feel blessed that I was able to keep my Mexican side by knowing the language, traditions, holidays, etc. My American side is something others will need to get used to because its a part of who I am.

    • egglatorian
      egglatorian

      I definitely know this feel! I was born and raised here in the States but my father is from Mexico. It was, at the time, more important for him to learn to speak/read English so the rule in the house was that only English was spoken so I never learned Spanish.

      Now I understand a lot more but I’m still really bad at it and it shows.

      People can be pretty rude about it and I’ve had to learn to just shrug it off. I’m American, born and raised and I speak the language of the country I live in.

      I’m okay with that. I do wish, at times, my Spanish was much more fluent but at the moment I don’t have much time to try to learn it.

  84. Kyungwon1020

    Ah a subject I am faced with everyday…. I am Chinese-american, born and raised to a family of cantonese farmers that immigrated to the USA in the 80′s. It was a strange life to lead. At home, everything was in cantonese or the local dialect my family otherwise grew up with, there was chinese school to go to, if time was available… At school it was nothing but english or spanish… No one (i have 4 siblings) speaks totally fluent english or chinese anymore… becides me, the human dictionary and translator. It feels as if I am the crossroads at which point the family diverted from fully Chinese, t o more and more American. With each passing decade, and generation that gets born into the family, it seems as if there is more “united states variant of American” than there is “chinese/cantonese” in us. WHen family visited from HK or Guangdong, they are always surprised that I am able to understand them, let alone make logical conversation, in Cantonese. When they speak in the local/regional dialect, while I can understand, replies are harder as it wasn’t something i had time to learn. It is ironically harder while at work. I work in customer service in Northern California, and the region I am situated in has a large latino base. My English name is Carmen. Almost every customer that walks in automatically assume that i speak Spanish fluently on the basis of just the first name, since Carmen is a Latin name…
    I fairly recently took it upon myself to take a couple of Chinese classes to re immerse myself into the language and culture of China… However, the only classes available outside of a church are Mandarin, of the Taiwanese variant… While it was an awesome experience, and one that I will continue to pursue, my quest to learn more of my roots has taken me down a route that isn’t exactly what I had envisioned. Add to the fact that i also occasionally try to learn Korean doesn’t help.
    The more cultures i am exposed to, even those that are components of my root culture, the more confused I seem to feel when it comes to my own cultural identity…
    I now can speak Cantonese, Mandarin, American English, English with a convincing British Accent, I can speak enough Korean to get confused by ahjummas for being Korean (those ladies have really strong arms btw… their compliments tend to involve hard pats into my arm that I am not quite sure if they left bruises or not…. @_@) and out of work induced necessities, enough spanglish to get points across to clients…
    At the end of the day I am just plain confused… to the point that some times I would get asked something in one language and accidently reply in any of the others…
    I haven’t had the chance to visit the motherland since I was a child, but if the opportunity arises, wi would definitely go and enjoy the experience!

  85. kimm-pham

    I am a Vietnamese born Australian. My parents had immigrated to Australia during the Vietnam War and I grew up in a town called Cabramatta. Which is dominantly populated with individuals of Vietnamese heritage and other Asians minorities. Culturally I feel very connected with the Vietnamese culture but removed from it at the same time especially when it comes to things like fashion and music. It is difficult especially when I am travelling over seas and people do not recognise me as such and try speaking to me in English even though I had spoken to them in Vietnamese perfectly fine. I have even had this happen to me in Australia where I was at a Vietnamese restaurant I ordered in Vietnamese and the waiter had responded with English.

  86. fellowshipofthefeels

    In Australia people don’t really take their shoes off inside much. That’s not to say they never do, it’s really a personal preference thing I suppose and it also depends on age. At my grandparent’s house I always take my shoes off, but at my house or a friend’s house I usually leave them on because no one really cares.Sometimes with friends now there’s even a “You can take your shoes off if you like.” Because they might feel like they shouldn’t take their shoes off and make themselves too comfortable in your home.

  87. toocoolforcapes

    Shoes could go either way in the house that I grew up in. I usually took mine off soon after getting home just because it was more comfortable, but they didn’t come off at the door. I live in Hawaii currently, and my rental agreement actually requires that I take my shoes off at the door.

    In college, I lived in an international dorm with lots of Koreans and Japanese. I remember one Korean student who was encouraged to date a Japanese student, because at least she was staying within the right geographical area.

  88. PaperCutsHurtMan

    I think that the more you are exposed to other countries the more of your ‘Cultural Identity’ is lost because they all start to blend together to form your own Individual Identity.
    I was born in the US but moved to Brasil when I was three and lived there for a little over 5 years. Even though my siblings and I were sometimes treated differently because we didn’t look Brasilian, I considered myself to be Brasilian even though I hadn’t been born there. I spoke Portuguese fluently, ate Brasilian food, went to a Brasilian school and wore the same clothes that everyone wore. When we moved back I experienced a general feeling of not being ‘American’ enough, even though I looked American I didn’t act like one which caused me to be seen as awkward and weird. Even after being back in the US for over 15 years I still find that while I don’t see myself as Brasilian any more I still can’t confidently claim to be American. For a long time I felt like an outsider when I moved back to America but when I’m asked if I would like to go back and visit Brasil I always say no because I would be going back as a visitor and not as someone who identifies themselves as Brasilian. Plus my Portuguese is now awful.
    I can understand someone struggling to answer the question of identity, but I don’t think it depends on where you live/have lived or where you were born. I think it more has to do with what has influenced someone over there lifetime, whether it is where you lived, family, friends or even what someone reads or watches (I’ve realized recently that I now slightly bow when I greet people thanks to watching way to much anime). Hopefully that makes a bit of sense.
    I’ve also noticed that in the US whenever someone asks what someones nationality or culture is most of time people will say something like “Oh, I’m 50% German, 25% Irish, 24.5% English and .5% Russian” and never just say that they’re American.

  89. Lillian

    Ok wow that would like totally freak me out if that were to happen to me, I’m Irish German but the family has been here in the states so long that the Language is like gone and the generation that did speak it is no longer here:( there is a family that I know that could understand this though they are from Japan(born and raised came to the stats to work) they have been here for awhile and the mother my friend is pregnant like with her 9th child and they switch there religion and the family is not happy about it and all this other stuff! I think the children would have a harder time when they do go visit back to Japan but I don’t know? they are a great family and I might have just confused myself but that’s ok I do that a lot!

  90. zalam_fe

    Hi S&M
    This is my first time commenting here. So, here I goes
    I can totally relate to this. I’m a Muslim and happens to be part Malay, part Jews, part Arab, part Chinese, part Japanese and right now I’m living in Malaysia. Even thought I was born and raised in Malaysia, I totally felt different and out of place. Whenever I told someone about this, they will tell me that I don’t belong here. Maybe, just like Korra’s new season, the world are changing and I don’t think that race can be defined by the old ways anymore

  91. partlycloudy

    In my case I’ve been raised bilengual, french and english. My dad comes from the States, my mom from Quebec, Canada. After divorcing, my mom came back to Quebec when I was five and I’ve grown up here ever since although we go visit our dad every summer and talk to him every week. More so, like lots of North Americans (or ppl from the whole continent really), I have fairly recent ancestors that have emigrated. That includes mainly french, polish, irish & italian. But that’s not what I want to talk about.

    I feel like identifying yourself to one big thing, the more so when it’s vague and can have many different implications, isn’t good, isn’t right. I might get hated here, but that includes to your country. And I know there are very nationalist people, that are proud of their country and might even feel some kind of superiority because of it but hear me out.

    I’ve actually researched on this in the context of a class (it was a main subject) and following the books we had to read, we had an individual’s thoughts regarding the whole “broken identity” situations. The thought he brought up that struck me the most was how you define your identity. You are unique, everyone knows that. Everyone is. In that case, how could you simply be, for example, “French”. How many other people are also French. In that case, you need to add something else, narrow it down right? So you are “French” and you “like raspberries”. Alright but many other people are that… Hmmm so now “French”, “likes raspberries” and “favorite/favourite color: green”. That still includes many people. Alright let’s add “loves biking”. And then “is allergic to penuts” and “hates opera” &….

    Your identity can’t be described by a word. Or a thing. It’s a combination of things. Which is why someone’s cultural identity can’t be soley used to define who someone is. That doesn’t make sense. And the geographic place we were born and raised shouldn’t make a difference how people are considered and treated. As far as I know, we’re all from planet earth right? You’d be born on a spaceship and it still wouldn’t matter. You are not where you came from, you are not where you live. That’s way too limited of an outlook. Neither are others. You are beautiful you, others are beautiful them. Get to know people. And don’t capture them in a generalized label box that puts them in a intimidating place that makes you want to keep your distances. Remember they’re just people.

    I wonder if the people who keep distances because of misconceptions & generalizations realize how much greatness they’re missing out on (probably not).

    I don’t know. I’m lucky, I grew up in a very ethnically diverse place. We’re a mix of immigrants, natives, second generation immigrants, exchange students. And we don’t care. I mean, everyone is a potential friend. And that’s awesome. I’m not saying there aren’t groups of people that don’t stick together by origins or foreign language, but none of them really have that as a sole group. I guess what I’m tryimg to say is that I live in a place where open-mindness is a top priority and that makes the whole difference. It’s something people should value more and it should be transmitted through education.

    Something else I’d like to add. There is this philosopher (John Rawls) that developed the idea of a “veil/cloak of ignorance” (if I translate the French term, I’m not sure what they call it in english). The idea behind the veil of ignorance is that it’s a fictional situation in which you totally forget everything about who you are and what groups you belong to when making a decision or taking position. So for instance in the context of gouvernment money being or not being distributed in a way that helps the people with lower income. In front of such a situation, a person that wears the veil of ignorance can’t be in disfavor of having the poor getting more money despite what it would mean for the richer people. Because he doesn’t know to what groups he belongs to. He could be rich. But he could also be poor. So would he risk it? No. Same for discrimination. Should I want people to discriminate homosexuals, *insert skin color*, nerds, foreigners, handicapped people etc.? Under the veil of ignorance, the answer is always no. Because you don’t know who you are and therefore you need to consider the possibility of you being part of the discriminated group. In the case mentioned, people should ask themselves if they wanted people that come from a different country/ have a different culture/mentality /that speak a different language be treated as outcasts or perceived as different. The answer would be no once again. Just get to know people and base how you treat them after that. You might have things in common (interests, sense of humor) and become friends, or you might just not connect and drift away (and that’s okay) but just give everyone a chance.

    Also I’d like to point out that the whole concept of “us” versus “you/them” is never beneficial. Trapping people in groups, identifying them to something and not going beyond preconceptions is ignorant. When you look at it, the people in the “us” group are probably very different and some probably don’t even like each other amongst themselves. Humans naturally classify things and people to keep the world coherent and I’m not saying that you can never ever at some point generalize certain things in certain context. But always think stuff through, never cease to question these groups you’ve made in your mind because what is imagined and reality are never 100% in sync and people from a same group are actually very different between themselves and there’s always more to learn than there is to assume. Plus if you really want to work with groups, how about this: no matter where on earth we come from, no matter our skin color, no matter our age, we’re all humans. We all get angry, love, smile, cry, get tired. There aren’t any outsiders there. I feel like I’m branching out to the wrong people considering people commenting here have a little golden something called “open-mindness” and are probably not the people making others feel like outcasts, but hey. Just wanted to put eternally scattered thoughts out there.

    And this is definitely all over the place and drifts away from the main subject but I guess it’s my way of putting myself out there. I guess I’m just frustrated with close-minded people and I decided to rave here. Sorry if I offended anyone. Feel free to add thoughts or argue. I don’t usually post comments but hey. Why not?

  92. ladyUnicorn
    ladyUnicorn

    I am Korean born but since I emancipated from my family, I have pretty much been white washed just being surrounded by Caucasians (lived in Tennessee for a bit)mostly. As I grew older, I started to realize it is hard to lose who you are but easy to lose the way you are. My significant other takes origins serious because he is part native american and because we have been long term partners, he wanted to appreciate my birth place and culture but I had become just an american. I wanted to be part of the Korean culture but I found that to be challenging because I forgot my ways of being Korean. I started working with Koreans out in the West Coast area and boy, was I different from them. These were people that had moved here a year or two ago and they pointed out everything they noticed about me that was not like them including the fact that I was with someone of different nationality. Mind you, they couldn’t hire anyone but Koreans because the owner could not communicate other wise. All in all, I learned that I am not just part of one culture but others as well under the circumstances. There is nothing wrong with being a Gyopo IMO and I will pursue further knowledge of the culture from where I was born and hopefully get a chance to experience it full on when my soon to be hub and I visit Korea for honeymoon.

  93. aya8214

    My family immigrated from Taiwan to Vancouver, Canada, when I was four-years-old. I grew up speaking Mandarin at home and English at school, and I still do that to this day. However, it’s actually very difficult for me to stick to speaking in one language for a whole conversation – I tend to speak in Chinglish (a mixture of Chinese and English). As such, all of my friends must at least understand, if not speak, both languages. I guess this really limits my social circle, but since my parents did not really assimilate into Canadian (Caucasian) culture, it’s more difficult to be friends with people who have different cultural values. That’s not to say that I am completely unaffected by my social environment. This is more evident when I visit my relatives in Taiwan.

    Although I have been living in Canada now for 16 years, Taiwanese natives don’t automatically peg my as a foreigner. I’m fluent in the language to some extent: I can carry on conversations, read newspapers, etc. with no accent, but please don’t ask me to hold any professional debates! My vocabulary just doesn’t cover jargon in specific fields haha. I don’t run into any problems like people switching to English when they see me (although that may be just the lack of English skills in the city I’m from), or vendors jacking up their prices because I’m a tourist. That’s the good part. The more negative aspects are with my extended family who have many different standards from my family. In North America, I would be considered normal weight for my height (according to my BMI. I’m not fit, but I’m not overweight either), but I would be obese to my relatives. They also love to compare grades or jobs between people of the same generation. I just don’t find these two habits very common in Canada. Sometimes, I feel left out from my cousins as well because a) I didn’t really spend a lot of time with them growing up (my family visited Taiwan about every 5 years) and b) I somehow get the feeling they resent me for growing up outside of Taiwan and (mistakenly) think that I think I’m better than them. On the flip side, since I grew up outside of Taiwan and never received any Taiwanese education, my relatives don’t give me any slack for not knowing much of the history. It’s not a topic that comes up often between my relatives themselves anyways.

    TL;DR: All in all, I would say I’m quite “fob” (fresh off the boat) as a Taiwanese-Canadian, being maybe 80% Taiwanese and 20% Canadian (just for the poutine – you’ll understand when you try it! LOL). I don’t get treated differently when I go back to Taiwan, but I don’t feel like I fit in 100% there either. I think Taiwan is more slack compared to Korea when it comes to gyopos. Bottom line: I wouldn’t trade my experience for being 100% anything. I think understanding and experiencing different cultures really expand one’s conceptual knowledge of the world. :)

    PS: shoes OFF for sure!! Even when I have to grab something from my room which is literally two steps away from the door!

  94. Izabela

    I think these days it’s really easy to loose the cultural identity since the world is not so big anymore…
    I am Polish and I do, indeed, live in Poland BUT I moved to England for a while. I was living in a place with a huge Polish community. Those people go to Polish church every Sunday, they speak Polish in their homes, they work with other Polishmen and do stuff every other Polish person does. I think they won’t loose their identity so soon. On the other hand, when someone is entirely surrounded by people of a different nationality and they don’t really speak in their mother tongue often, it’s very hard. My sister was living in England for two years, now in Beijing for a year… She’s been hanging out with people from so many different places and origins. Do you think she can speak Polish perfectly? She can’t. While making a sentence in Polish, when there’s a “hard word”, first the English equivalent pops up, then Chinese and then Polish, at the very end. It’s not so common yet, but still – it happens. It all depends on our surroundings, the community we live in, the people we meet and associate with…
    I want to move out from Poland soon and settle down someplace else in the world, so does my sister (since she does have her Japanese boyfriend, fufufu…). If I have kids one day (omg), I want them to know Polish culture a little, I want them to talk to my parents in Polish a bit, say “dzień dobry”… Will I expect them to fully embrace “what it really means to be Polish”? No – but I want them to have a piece of Poland in their hearts.
    To me, if you feel even a little bit Polish, if you have a tiny bit of sentiment to this country (or to any other country in that matter) – that is wonderful. It is so much better than denying your own roots.

  95. Wongton

    I feel this so much.

    I’m born and raised Australian – I’ve lived in Sydney my whole life, I went through the schooling system and the Marbo v Queensland case is etched in my mind, yet I’m constantly asked “So where are you from?” and “What are you?”.
    My default answer is Chinese, but then I get “oh that cool, where abouts in China?” sometimes I like to keep the conversation short and say Hong Kong since I speak Cantonese, but I have absolutely no blood ties with HK.
    My parents are from different countries within Asia, yet if you ask them these questions, they’ll also insist they’re Chinese. How am I supposed to answer these questions when my direct links to Asia are so muddled?

  96. LongTimeViewerFirstTimePoster

    Hi EYK + Jen,
    Long time viewer/subscriber, first time poster.
    Brief description before we start: I am a second generation, born in America, full Korean male that is somewhat fluent in Korean. My friend is a second generation, born in America, full Chinese male, learned Korean, but is still a noob when it comes to the language, ANYWAYS.

    I can definitely relate to the portion where you guys (girls) talk about “speaking too much English”.
    I was in Korea a couple years ago for a break after going to missions in the Philippines. During my stay in Korea, I rode the subway with one of my friends from America to go back to the location we were staying at. (Don’t exactly remember where). But my friend and I were just laughing and speaking English at a normal volume like we do in America, and out of no where a Korean guy in his late twenties just yells at us, “BE QUIET!” I talked back to him saying, “OR WHAT.” Yes, I understand that it is disrespectful to talk back to my elders (or those older than me, especially in Korea) but I didn’t think we were doing anything wrong to deserve such rude behavior.

    Thinking back, I have two hypothesis (hypothesi?) in which why that Korean guy was so angry at us:
    1) He was angry/jealous at the fact that my friend and I were speaking English so fluently and so loudly as if we were bragging, which we were not doing or intending to do.
    -OR-
    2) The subway is a place where everyone is supposed to be quiet, in which then, he got angry because we were being too loud.
    In any case, I thought it was rude of him to yell at us when my friend and I were just minding our own business, and doing no harm to anyone else.
    Thanks for reading.

    • Ok, first off: thank you for commenting on our site! Secondly – what did the guy say after you said “OR WHAT?!” I’m dying to know :D

      • LongTimeViewerFirstTimePoster

        He didn’t really say anything afterwards because, if I remember correctly, he seemed shocked that someone younger than him had talked back to him. All he could do was glare at me and my friend. Our stop was before his and he was near the doors so we had no choice but to pass him. While passing him, I made eye contact and glared back at him and he simply didn’t do or say anything. My friend on the other hand, who was behind me, apologized quickly before he got off. After that, never saw him again. :)
        Again, thank you for reading. :)

        • LongTimeViewerFirstTimePoster

          Never saw the Korean guy again… Not… I never saw my friend again. Hope that clarifies things!

  97. I’m Chinese Australian and I grew up in a predominately white neighborhood. I have some friends that grew up in areas with mainly Asians and they were telling me how much I spoke differently to them, even though I lived in the same country with them, apparently I was ‘white washed’ There was a time when I went to China when I was 11 and while I was eating out one of my relatives kept on making remarks about how all I eat in Australia was KFC and Mcdonalds and he kept asking me if I could use chopsticks, all in a very obnoxious way and even though I was nine at the time i felt like punching him in the face. Then one time last year I was talking to my cousin and half way through my sentence she said “Wow you really do speak like a foreigner”

  98. Cyber_3
    Cyber_3

    What an interesting discussion! My personal take on it is: the more we mix, the more culture becomes about geography than genetics. A lot of cultural distinctions came about because of local history, weather, plants, and food, so these things change the slowest and affect everyone in their vicinity, regardless of where they came from, so this is where I think things are going. More than “cultural purity”, I think that preserving important history and traditions is important. I once remarked to a prominent Native Canadian (I have some of that blood myself) that, while I totally respected his drive for Native rights, things might go faster for him is they just claimed back the Canadian title and enlisted everyone who considered themselves Canadian to the “Native” side to fight for everyone’s rights, whatever they may be. I’d rather be united than divided. I was born in Canada but I’m essentially a mutt. My forefathers go back hundreds, to 13 generations in some cases and 2 in others and there’s tons of racial blend in there though I look pretty whitebread. My Grandfather once remarked that I should only date “my own kind” and I replied that I refused to date my sisters who were the only ones “of my own kind” that I knew of and that I refused to limit myself either. He didn’t take it well, but he got over it ;). My parents were different from each other in many ways so in order to avoid conflict, I grew up with no cultural traditions at all, no religion, and little in the way of family traditions. I felt a little bit adrift as a kid – like I didn’t belong anywhere. I missed having something greater than sharing a house to connect me to others. So, I decided that I would make my friends into my family and the only criteria was that they had to be friendly – heh. It’s worked out great so far. Where one group will shun you, another 3 will welcome you, so don’t be discouraged and just keep being yourself.

    History is important but we should all understand (and remember) world history and how we got here, rather than just one country’s small part of the story, so what else is left? Personally, I think that Simon and Martina have essentially created their own great Nasty Nation, wherever they go – making their own history and traditions – so I don’t think that whether they are Korean or Canadian should really be much of a concern any more. Heck Google is making its own floating island country yet operating worldwide, why should the rest of us be tied to a bunch of lines on a map?

    Cyber_3 – the camera was very nice, as was the shot but the editing was a little choppy and there could have been more action. Too interesting to really care much though ;)

  99. kryzteenah
    kryzteenah

    I’m a New Zealander living in Australia, and while there are no major cultural differences, I’m well and truly sick of being asked to say things like “six, Pepsi” etc. just because my accent is slightly different.
    Interestingly however, many people who are unaware of where I’m from think I sound British.

    I think of myself as a New Zealand-Australian. I don’t see myself staying in either country my whole life (wanna move to Korea (: ) so I suppose that will change.

  100. dreaming_in_color
    dreaming_in_color

    This was a very interesting TLDR. I personally am half Caucasian and half Mexican. I never knew the Mexican side of my family. I don’t identify with either one. I’m just an American. Actually, I don’t really identify as an American either. I’m just a human who lives in America. I have NO “racial” identity at all and tend to not notice it in others.
    I also don’t look like either one. I’ve had people ask me if I were Native American, Hawaiian and even if I were Korean.
    I SO don’t notice it in fact, that I overhead someone say something about Beyonce being black and it stopped me in my tracks and I had to think for a moment. Then in my head I was like, “oh yeah, I guess she is black”. I just didn’t notice.
    Its one thing to be proud of the history of your ancestors, but I think holding onto a racial identity in this day and age can only perpetrate discord. Its just one more thing that people can potentially get offended over. Another way to exclude people. Its like Sneeches on Beaches.

    “When the star bellied Sneeches had frankfurter roasts,
    or picnics or parties or marshmallow toasts,
    they never invited the plain bellied Sneeches.
    They left them out cold in the dark on the beaches”.

    Or something like that. XD Its been a long time since I’ve read it.

    BTW – I laughed when you said Jen maid you up to look like Bom because when I saw a picture of you before I thought to myself, “Martina looks like Park Bom with that make-up.” :D

    • Starienite624

      I agree; I don’t think that you really need to have a racial or national identity. To me, it seems to be a way to separate people into categories and to enable fights and arguments over which box a person NEEDS to be in. Can we not just be in the “person” box? What makes racial labels so important? *Sigh*

  101. Aichan97

    I’m Japanese but moved to the States when I was 5. Although I grew up with the culture such as eating the food, watching Japanese tv shows, and the music from the shows that I watched, I realized that I didn’t know much about the culture. I remember when I was 10, I went to Japan for the first time in 3 years and thought I knew everything from the things that I grew up with. I was completely wrong. I knew nothing. I didn’t know anything about the fashion, music, and just so many other stuff. This made me feel upset and I ended up hating Japanese culture.

    Also when I was in the 2nd grade, I hated it when my parents spoke Japanese in public because I thought it was so embarrassing and nobody else spoke the language. Plus I was made fun of by some guys because of my lunch which led me to not want to bring Japanese food to school. I also grew up in areas where there aren’t that many asians so I ended up being more comfortable being around white people and feel like left out whenever I am with other Asians.

    Whenever I would talk to someone that is Japanese, it would be someone that is much older than I am such as my mom’s friends. Because of this, I have barely never talked to anyone around my age who is Japanese aside from my cousin so I don’t know how to talk to them. I have asked my mom but she didn’t really answer my question. Although I never had any pressures from my relatives to know the language and culture, they just expect me to know it even though I don’t. There are times when I don’t know what to do and don’t really do anything about it. Also they thought I knew no English despite living in the States for a majority of my life.

    I feel like I did not explain my story very well and it is kind of lame compared to the other ones. But I do feel happy about myself now and about who I am/what I am. I am very proud of my culture and it is now part of my daily life. My Japanese has improved dramatically because of it and the shows that I watch and the music that I listen to makes me feel more motivated.

  102. Colleen

    I live in Québec where the identity is a major problem just inside the population. Most of it is from immigration and even the “true” Québecois have immigrated from Europe. I for myself have been since my childhood aware of the problem of not being from your country of living’s origin whether it’s because you parent are from different origins or that you were not born in the country itself. There will always be people who will claim that you are not a true “insert name of the country here”. The thing is you abide by the social rules, you know the culture and you love it.They don’t have the right to tell you that. Furthermore in the society we live in this concept of taking your identity on your personal background seems clearly outdated. Your identity is shaped by it but it’s not reduced to it. Having more than one cultural baggage only makes you more of an interesting person sooo it shouldn’t even be a problem that you are not completly considered as belonging to a certain country in particular since the physical barrier that used to define your culture are falling down thanks to media and internet.
    I was born in French but raised in Québec. In québec, I am not considered québécois or even Canadian but in france, I am consider as a canadian. It used to bother me alot when I was 14 and I’ve come to the conclusion that it didn’t matter. My cultural baggage is as much european than american.

  103. Chelsea
    Chelsea

    I was born and lived in Vietnam till i was 12 before moving to US in ’04 so i’d say i speak almost perfect Vietnamese. The first time i went back to visit was ’06, only 2 years, and i kid you not, everywhere i go people asked if i was Viet kieu, which is a term for Vietnamese from oversea. The second time i went back was in ’11 and nobody even speak to me in Vietnamese anymore. I went to the market, they tried to sell me stuff in English. I went to the mall, the cashiers ringed me up in English. There was one incident where i went to a small mom and pop restaurant and my bill came out to a lot more than what it is on the menu. So i asked them in Vietnamese and apparently they thought i was a foreigner, Korean or Japanese they said. So i just said no, i’m 100% Vietnamese, pretty much trying to convince i’m a local. The owner laughed really hard and said who was i even kidding, i’m for sure a Viet kieu. also that even if they jacked up the price it wouldn’t matter to me anyways since i’m from oversea, what’s a couple more dollars, stop being stingy. So pretty much everywhere i went, i was treated as either a foreigner (i guess i must look Korean or Japanese to them) if not then a Viet kieu. I finally ask my best friend who still live in Vietnam if she doesn’t know me, how would she spot me out from the local. She said even though the girls in Vietnam are trendy and up to date with the fashion, there’re still minor things which screams non-local in the way i dress and how i do my make up/hair. I guess the opposite is also true, after 10 years of living in LA I can now easily spot out Vietnamese or even just Asian in general that just move to LA or visiting. Not just in their fashion or make up/hair but also their manners and the way they carry themselves.

    Carrying both culture is quite difficult for me especially since i was raised in Vietnam. My cousins whom were born in the US get cut a lot more slack than i do. Even with simple task such as greeting. My cousins can just wave hello to the older relatives but for me i have to go and politely greet individual relatives in Vietnamese. If I even greet in English, i’d get scold. Even with marriage, when my US-born cousins date non-Vietnamese, they don’t get as much grievance. However when my Vietnam-born cousins and I bring around non-Vietnamese, it was much less welcomed. Around my family i’m too too Americanized and around my friend i’m too Asian. It’s really tough to juggle both sides and make everyone happy.

  104. Well, here is a funny story:

    The country I was born in, and grew up in up to my mid-teens, no longer exists. Its culture no longer exists either. There is no nation, country or group that could be said to have inherited that culture.

    But that’s not even the funny part yet. The funny part is that the last 3 generations of my family have moved a lot and married outside of their ethnicity, so I am a very crazy ethnic mix, and as I was growing up my immediate family spoke 5 languages to each other. For example, my father would speak one language to his mother and another language to his brother. (Try to explain that to an average person who’s asking about your background in an effort to make small talk!)

    As I was growing up, I couldn’t really associate myself with any group, but because I had a little bit of their culture in me – and then some – most groups in my immediate surroundings were ready to at least tolerate me, if not really accept. And I am not even talking about ethnicities, since my family was different culturally too: they had travelled more than most people around us, many of their close friends lived far away, they had experiences unknown to most people in our immediate circle. As the result, the education I received at home was different to what was taught at school, not even better or worse, just different – I just had a different mindset and cultural framework.

    And then the country started falling apart, accompanied by “ethnic cleansing”, which eventually developed into a civil war. That was a very bad time and place to be an ethnic mix. Luckily, my parents found protection from the US embassy and our family fled to the US.

    When we landed in NYC I felt like I could finally breathe – for the first time in 3 years. Unfortunately, one language nobody in my family knew at the time was English. Still, even not speaking the language, for the first time in my life I found a place where I felt I belonged, because cultural diversity in NYC is just a part of everyday life – accepted and even expected.

    In NYC, my usual attitude of not caring what skin/eye/hair color people had, or what language they spoke, or where they were born, or what ethnic background they came from, was no longer setting me apart from everyone else around me – in fact, it almost felt like the mainstream one, because neither did people around me – in school, in college, at work. Sure, we were all curious about other (and each other’s) cultures, countries, histories and beliefs, but we judged each other and others based on actions alone. And that is a cultural environment I could finally and fully be part of.

    Of course, not everyone in NYC shares this attitude. But I think the ubiquitous diversity prepares people’s minds for this mental leap. Some choose to jump and others resist and retreat further into racism and nationalism. Perhaps the same environment makes these racist and nationalistic tendencies more violent when present, because the reality of a diverse society constantly confronts and challenges such attitudes.

    NYC is the place where your taxi driver could be a UK-educated Astrophysics PhD from Pakistan, or a medical doctor from Uganda who speaks fluent Russian and conversational Mandarin. Where your dentist is a German born and raised in Chile, and your local deli owner is an ethnic Korean born and raised in Uzbekistan, with a degree in urban engineering.

    These days when people ask me where I am from, I say New York. And if they ask what my accent is, I say it is from Brooklyn, which is true – many people here have accents similar to mine. This is the only place with which I can identify myself, and the culture of vibrant diversity is the only one where I have any hope to fit in. Therefore, New Yorker is the only cultural identity I have.

    I think you have pointed out the exact cause of the modern cultural confusion:
    “Back in the day, your language and your geographical location and your nationality and your heritage were very often all the same.” – and now it is no longer the case. Your country of origin, your language, your ethnicity, your current address and even your social class are no longer clear indicators of cultural affiliation. I think the only remaining relevant cultural indicator is the mentality and philosophy of life – a set of values and beliefs, which drive one’s decisions and behavior. But these factors are not easily labelled or categorized. We can no longer describe ourselves through easily recognizable and universally accepted terms. I hope that it’s a good thing and that through this process more minds will open and fewer stereotypes will prevail.

    • On a somewhat different topic: Thank you guys for these TL;DRs and for the interesting and often controversial topics you bring up and discuss. I’ve been watching your channel and reading your posts for a while now and this is my favorite series, closely followed by FAPFAPs.

      This TL;DR and especially Simon’s post was inspirational and powerful enough to force me out of my hiding and leave my first comment here, but it’s most definitely not the first time of me loving your videos and discussions. I really appreciate the level-headed approach you take to discussing sensitive topics, your positive outlook on life, and your sharing of the experiences and successes of your life and marriage with the world. I understand that drama and conflict are the main selling points of entertainment, but I often feel that honest happiness never gets the stage limelight it deserves – to remind us what it’s supposed to be like, what we should aim for. I think you are doing a great job of reminding us all what happiness, playfulness and constructive attitudes look, sound and feel like. Thank you! :)

  105. YooHoo

    I think most people feel confused being a country’s gyopo. I know i am D :
    There weren’t a lot of people in the past generations that had to experience the things we do, and keeping up with 2 or more cultures is tough.
    It’s awkward for now but i think over time we’ll figure it out : D

  106. Chikorita2Chante
    Chikorita2Chante

    Just want to say that in Norway (Which is in Scandinavia AND Europe), we take our shoes off. Good day ~

  107. Tasha

    Well, I can totally relate. I’m american but I’ve lived 10 years in Colombia. I’ve consider myself Colombian now. Here in Colombia if you’ve spent more then six years here, then you are considered Colombian. I must say it was very hard for me to fit in here. Colombia is known to be a very cultural country, with their dances, their saying, etc. So I know what it feels like to not fit in at first. I’m bilingual but I have a small american accent. Here in Colombia an american is called Greengo. Although I pretty much blend in here, my accent still gives me off and if I say one word in English I’m considered the most awesome person jejej. Here in Colombia you leave your shoes on to enter the house.(except if you have a rug). I think it is harder for a forneer to adopt a Korean culture because of the fiscal differences. But I think you guy shouldn’t worry about it. I say that if you’ve been there more than six years you are a korean, maybe not citizen by birth, but a korean non the less. Especially if you are paying taxes to the country, you are doing what every other citizen is doing and that counts. Stay happy guys and tell your korean friend that if they move to Colombia they will be idolized because of the kpop blast that is happening over here.

  108. MyFirstNameIsImpossibleToPronounce
    MyFirstNameIsImpossibleToPronounce

    While I don’t have any experience with Korea, as I’ve never visited the country, or really known anyone who is korean (besides my mother) I must say that I find this to be interesting.

    I live in Denmark, I was born a dane, and my father is as pure danish as they get. My mother is Korean, adopted when she was 4, so she neiher speaks the language nor really cares much for going back. So no one really questions her nationality. Me however, is quite another story. Now I don’t know if my mother struggled when she first started school, but I’ve had to stomach quite enough rude commentary on my looks.

    I personally don’t think I look very different, even though my closest friends say they envy my eyes and hair, I still just think it’s who I am – and there is no changing that. But when I started school, from grade 0-6 there were no problems. Sure, I had the whole stigma of being smart because I’m part asian, but other than that, everyone saw me as a dane.

    Then I switched schools, and moved from the country side to the capital. And boy did I hate it. On my first day people came up to me and asked me, in english “Do you speak danish?” looking at me like I was some thing on display at a museum. They asked if I was japanese, chinese, and tried making me speak the languages – which I couldn’t at the time (now I speak at least some conversasional japanese)

    and for the first time I got the “You don’t belong here, you are different go back to asia” comment thrown at me. And it made me sad. I wasn’t a real dane, but I couldn’t go to korea, since I’m not a proper korean either. So lately I’ve chosen to stand inbetween. I am a dane at heart, and I am proud of that. But I still get sad whenever people tell me to GTFO, because where would I go?

    I’ve started learning more about korean culture, because I almost felt pressured to by the people I ended up hanging around, listening to kpop and such because I felt like that was expected of me. My mother thinks it’s weird, my dad is indifferent and everyone who has told me to GTFO and go back to asia thinks it’s weird as well. So I almost don’t know what I’m supposed to do anymore.

    Anyways, I guess my point it, while I’ve been living in the same country my whole life, I still don’t feel like I belong. So I understand this issue, but from a different experience I suppose

  109. yalsha3

    Identity is actually something I’ve always thought a lot about, particularly the last couple of years while I was in graduate school. My parents immigrated to the U.S. from the Middle East when they were young adults, so our household had a combined culture. Whenever I have visited an Arab country, I am questioned as to why I don’t speak Arabic well enough or why I didn’t hold onto the culture. In the States, because I wear a headscarf, I am never accepted as an American. “Where are you from? No, where are you really from?” is something I get all the time. And let’s not forget “Your English is so good.” Couple that with some of the Islamophobic rhetoric that people will sometimes spew, and I am left even more confused and lost. It’s an on-going process for me, and I’m trying to accept the fact that it’s going to continue, probably for the rest of my life.

  110. Conzo

    I think it’s great that Simon And Martina decided to take a break from reviewing kpop video’s to ask a very important question. This is why I love Simon and Martina so much! They think outside the box and offer a safe community where we as “nasty’s” can share experiences and thoughts without getting bashed by “internet justice warriors”.

    The world is changing. And so is the definition of identity. To me identity doesn’t and shouldn’t exist in the strict outlines of “You live in Poland so you are polish”. To me identity should be your reputation.

    “I don’t care if you’re black, white, straight, bisexual, gay, lesbian, short, tall, fat, skinny, rich, or poor. If you’re nice to me I’ll be nice to you.” -Eminem

    I am adopted. I come from a small socialist country of Bulgaria where tall buildings are scarce. Bulgaria is not very modern. It is very traditional and proud. I know little of my country and my culture. Even while living 4 years in Bulgaria I ironically know nothing about it. And that’s because I was completely isolated. In the Bulgarian orphanage I slept for 10 hours a day and woke up only to eat breakfast and dinner. This lasted for 2 years. I didn’t have an education and I never went outside. Bulgaria’s orphanages are very dangerous and poor.

    I am considered Bulgarian because I was a documented citizen there. The word “Identity” shouldn’t mean your race.

  111. Nia

    I don’t have personal experience on that, I’m 100% Spanish, but my mother sort of does in small scale. She was born in Mallorca, in the balearic islands, to a father form there and a mother form Ibiza, and she moved to Ibiza when she was 13. Even though the islands are really close, there is a noticeable difference in accent and culture and at the beginning she had a hard time addapting because back there was some resentment against the people from Mallorca. If you ask her now, she feels sge is totally form Ibiza.

    A school friend of hers has a similar background, but she is always back and forth between the two islands. The funny part is that the people form Mallorca tells her she speaks is in ibicenco (the dialect of catalan used in Ibiza) and in Ibiza they tell her she speaks majorcan (the dialect of catalan used in Mallorca), so one could say she is from both and neither island at the same time.

  112. unicornsgalaxy
    unicornsgalaxy

    RE: Wearing Shoes in the house in America.

    I never wear my shoes in the house. I might leave them on if I’m running in to grab something I forgot or go to the bathroom, or had them upstairs and got dressed and put them on & am wearing them out the door, but just normal day to day, as soon as I walk through the door I kick them off.

    Actually, I think the majority of my friends are like that too. We don’t wear shoes in the house. If you do keep them on, no big deal but for the most part you take them off. Isn’t it uncomfortable to have them on when you’re home relaxing?

  113. Marisol

    Interesting video~ I’m mixed Mexican and White American but I’ve never had identity struggles or problems. I see myself as a US citizen, because that’s exactly what I am. The US is a melting pot of cultures, and so I fit right in. It also doesn’t help that I live in Texas, which is basically half Hispanic anyways. lol
    So about the shoes, I’m visiting my boyfriend in Korea, and the first day I met his mom she hugged me and pulled me inside the house, but then there was an audible gasp because I left my shoes on. and I had just taken one step inside! haha now I know better.

  114. I grew up in a Korean household in a white-Jewish neighborhood (in suburban LA), though outside of school I was mostly immersed solely in Korean culture and language. My entire family speaks mostly Korean at home, but they can understand English too. My mother came from Korea when she was in elementary school and graduated from UCLA and USC, but she still speaks mostly Korean (and her English has a slight accent because she speaks mostly Korean outside of work lol). My dad came from Korea when he was in college, so he has a very heavy accent when speaking English but he can communicate adequately and he definitely understands a lot. So I’m not really a second generation, but not a 1.5 generation Korean-American either. My family watches Korean dramas at home, I listen to mostly Korean music, and a lot of my values are Korean. But when I’m outside of my little Korean bubble I shift gears.

    As a lot of other people have stated,at first I was too “Korean” for white-washed Americans or Asians, and at times I’m too “American” for other Koreans. So what I do now is I’m completely American when I’m with my American friends, and I’m completely Korean when I’m with Korean people (like family, family friends, strangers), and I’m Korean-American when I’m with other Korean-Americans. I can sort of change my cultural awareness and mannerisms depending on which group of people I hang out with, and they’re all a part of who I am. I want to say I lean more towards Korean because I grew up in a Korean household, but it’s very ambiguous. I haven’t been to Korea, but when I go to the LA Koreatown and interact with Koreans who might as well be living in Korea, I can blend in as a fellow Korean very well.

    It’s strange because as a Korean-American I have some very contradicting values. Like I impose on myself a rule to “only marry a Korean girl” because that’s something I grew up with (and I don’t mind following because I feel it helps preserve my cultural heritage), even if it’s an arranged marriage sort of deal (선), but with my kids I don’t plan on being so strict and would be fine with whomever they choose as their partner. I’m pursuing the career path laid out for me as determined by my parents, and have no intention of doing that to my kids. It’s because I identify so strongly with my Korean background but have that tinge of western influence that resulted in this, I suppose.

    One thing I noticed though are that Korean-Americans definitely look or appear different from native Koreans. Something about the make-up, clothes, style, whatever, is a little off. I might even go so far as to say facial shape and bone structure is different for Korean-Americans, but I don’t know. I had a similar conversation when I went to the LA Nasty meet-up with a Korean immigrant, how we “just know” when someone is “Korean” or when someone is Korean-American. I definitely felt Korean-American to her, and to myself.

  115. coffeeribbon

    I know that what I want to say is an OT, but I think that nowadays it’s hard to talk about cultural identity… Of Course, we can feel as a Polish man, Canadians, or every other citizen of country we ware born/ware growing up/are living now. But we all live on one Planet so it’s doesn’t really matter… We have a nasty world full of Kimchi, pierogi, and K-pop with pretty boys! ;D

    I can’t identify with people who ware born in one country, and ware growing up in other – it’s a difficult experience, there is no doubt about it. But i’m not feeling a fully Pole. Half family from my mother side is from Hungary, Russia, and they were Tatars, and from my father’s side i’m Pole, German Jew. There is no way, i could call myself Pole. My surname doesn’t sound polish, so as a child I have been called many kinds of names.
    But it’s not bad :) Thanks to that mixed genealogy I can explore other cultures that are in my blood. :D

    And guys! It’s amazing, that you two have such a courage :D I mean… You were able to live in different country. Asian culture is one of the most complicated, so it’s difficult to survive there for a SIX YEARS! Bear Grylls approves ;D

    And Simon, I’ve to tell you something. You don’t have to worry about your knowledge of history of poland and mother language. Everytime I go out and i hear people speaking… ugh, it’s terrible! They are living here but they can’t speak properly, haha :D
    You have no idea how big is my smile when you drops some polish words in your videos! :D Just don’t worry. Smile. And be who you are. :D

  116. I identify as American. My mom is filipino and my dad is caucasian (with European parents). We lived a military life, so it was all, I guess, very American with some occasional Filipino food. My mom loved America, so while she would do some things that were very Asian/Filipino, she raised us as American as she could. We didn’t see much culture unless we interacted with family. My brother and I never felt the need to visit the Philippines either.

    Now that I live in Los Angeles, I actually have a lot of Korean friends who spent the majority of their life in Korea, until the last 5-10 years. So it is interesting to see them sort of try to figure out whether or not they will go back. One of my friends was thinking about going back, but her parents want her to stay here because the opportunities for her will be a lot better. Another came here, went back for the army and came back because he loves America. (Side note: he told me a lot of his friends would go back for the army, but wouldn’t come back. Not because they didn’t want to, but because it was just easier to stay in Korea.)

    Anyways, the comments here are totally amazing. I have to catch up with them.

  117. Evelyn

    I was born in Canada to an English-speaking father and a Francophone mother. I was raised 100% bilingual and attended Francophone school my entire life. What is extremely frustrating to me is that French-Canadians consider me Anglophone because of my last name, while English-speaking Canadians consider me Francophone. I’ve never been able to fit into either group.

    What’s especially frustrating is when I travel to Quebec (I live in Manitoba). Quebecers try to speak to me in English when they hear my non-Quebecois accent because they think I sound like an Anglophone. They often “congratulate” me on my French skills in extremely patronizing ways and giggle when I use French-Canadian expressions that they think only Quebecers use.

    My experience is certainly different from what many others in the comments experienced moving from one country to another, but I can understand the feeling of not fitting in to one culture or another. It’s so frustrating having to explain my cultural identity all the time, no matter what language the other person speaks.

    • Cyber_3
      Cyber_3

      Heh! I was born the opposite in Northern Ontario to a French-Canadian Dad (who barely spoke french) and mostly Scottish Mom. The french I learned in French Immersion was much closer to Parisien french than Quebec french. When I worked for a year in Montreal and even there I got the condescension at first too. I think that some Quebecers don’t care about the quality of your french, so much as the fact that they are superior in all things. As great as some things are in Quebec, there was a lot of anti-English propaganda back in the 1970s-1980s and I’m not sure it’s quite worn off yet. Gotta give it at least a month to wash away the accent and wear down the hackles, keep trying ;). A French roomate can help too. I also think that Manitoba is a bit of a mystery to everyone else in Canada because, despite being in the center, people tend to pass through more than visit.

      Funniest slang I heard in Quebec: instead of saying “Christ!” (as a swear word), a woman I knew would say “Chrysler!” as a sort of “tabernac vs. tabarouette” or “shit vs. shoot”, could never look on those cars favourably afterwards – LOL!

  118. PinkCheeks96

    I’m Mexican-American and in my family there has always been a pressure to do well in school and go to college to get a good job:even if my family didn’t know exactly how to guide me because they didn’t have the opportunities to go to college. In terms of speaking Spanish, it was an unspoken rule that I had to speak it at home or at family events. My parents have always found it shameful when the children of Mexican decent aren’t encouraged to speak their native language because they see it as them loosing or not caring about their heritage. I know that whenever we go to Mexico people automatically think that we are rich just because we come from “El Norte” (The North). People always assume that the streets are paved with money and that we don’t have to work hard in order to live well. I find it ironic that most of the time those people don’t realize they can be living better off than we are. I know that whenever we go to Mexico and my family introduces us to their friends and acquaintances that don’t have family in the US they assume that I don’t know anything about my heritage or my language. That always frustrates me because they are judging us without talking to us first. I can remember one time that I started talking in Spanish someone even told me “Oh, you speak Spanish?!” For the same misunderstandings about language is that it gets me mad that my sister that is born in Mexico but was raised in the US speaks in English when she could say the same exact thing in Spanish. So yeah, that’s my story. Oh and about sticking out like a sore thumb just because of how you speak the language or how you dress, it is completely true for me as well.

  119. Bassethound

    I have to say, I am a white american and have been my entire life and ever since I can remember we have never worn shoes inside the house and I have certainly never left my shoes on going into a friends house. Also a korean friend of mine, who moved to the US approximately 3 years ago, says that she wears shoes at all times sometimes even in the shower (at home not at a public pool or something).

    I also tend to think it is pretty easy to recognize a native Korean from a Korean American here, even though I have never been to Korea.

  120. Nadia

    Hi!! I live in Bolivia ( south America Country) My mom is Bolivian and my dad is Korean, i Had been raised under two cultures, but i feel More Bolivian Than Korean as I had born and Growth here, But other Bolivians think I`m a foreigner, and Koreans just don`t know where I`m from, My face has totally Korean Characteristics but in Tan Version and I also Have Latin Body, and I speak Spanish… so i`m quite estrange for Koreans.. So i don`t feel neither Bolivian Nor Korean.. But since i watch your videos I know more about my fathers country and culture thanks! .

  121. aimiiez
    aimiiez

    I grew up in an area where most of my friends are 2nd generation Chinese (their parents are immigrants), except that I’m actually a generation later. My grandparents are the ones who are immigrants, so my parents were both born in America. As such, I grew up with nearly no knowledge of Chinese culture or language, so I was often jokingly called a “banana” by my dad (yellow on the outside, white on the inside).

    Learning Chinese, it was always expected that I speak the language at home, so no matter how hard I worked in class to master the language, I never got the recognition I felt I deserved. I had a Caucasian friend who often scored about the same as me on tests, and we both started with the same level of clueless-ness in Chinese. However, she often would get awards that I didn’t, simply because people assumed that I was just taking the easy way out [by participating in programs in a language I presumably already knew]. In class, teachers would even neglect to help me practice so that they could help the Caucasian students. Unfortunately, I’ve found that as time went on, my motivation to learn Chinese has consequently gone down quite a bit.

    My experience at home has even been quite different from the traditional Chinese-American. Most of my 2nd generation friends are raised with the same ideals their parents had growing up– work and study all the time, and if you’re not the best, you’re not worth it. However, my parents grew up going to U.S. schools, so I generally had more freedom with my studies and more lenient punishments for getting average grades. Thankfully, they are also more open to letting me decide where I want my career path to go, since they have undergone the typical chinese-american experience of being forced to study science.

  122. starcloud
    starcloud

    i suppose my feelings are more similar to simon’s. My mother is half Puerto Rican and half German, and spent a lot of her early childhood in Germany before she moved to Puerto Rico, then to the continental US. My father comes from a long line of Scots, he’s even registered with the family clan. Being adopted and growing up in the midwest usa i never really felt like i belonged to any of those cultures. I studied spanish and german in high school and college but i don’t speak either very well and i know very little about the cultures. My mother’s pretty americanized and my dad’s family immigrated almost 5 generations ago, and we don’t have much contact with our relatives from overseas. I’m about as american as they come but to be honest i kind of hate it. I don’t really feel like i belong to any one group and i feel really detached from my extended family, from my country and my culture, and honestly i find that pretty depressing. i know it’s not good to think of myself as the “plain vanilla white girl” but i’m really not sure how else to define myself because i don’t have any strong ties to my family’s history.

  123. Gosia

    OMG Simon in Polish… ish? :D So am I! This is too cool. Shame I doscovered you guys long after the meet in Poland. And don’t worry buddy – Polish can be proud, judgemental assholes sometimes, but we love our people lol :D And the history but… well, to be honest I don’t know that much either, so don’t feel bad. Polish history is long and complicated and it only gets interesting in XXth century ;) Anyway, hope yo see you guys in Poland very soon! And Simon – don’t ever be ashamed to speak Polish while here, we don’t really admit that, but we can’t speak proper Polish either, cause it’s so messed up :D

  124. [GGG] C1 Queen

    I was born in Korea, moved to Canada 17 years ago and never visited Korea ever since. If I ever go back (which I plan to soon), I’m going to be 촌년 because of the way I dress nor I know how to take the subway. Remind you, TTC (Toronto Subway) is the easiest of the world probably.

    Until high school, I was almost 2nd gen – speaking English at home while my parents spoke in Korean, listening to Punk/Rock music. And then, University hit me hard. My life changed. I met Korean International students in my program and became really close. Got to learn “soju” culture, and got into K-pop, K-dramas and shows. Then, I volunteered at KSAC (Korean Students Association of Canada) which is more of 1.5 gen, like myself, community. It was then, I finally found where I belong. People in my age, immigrated here with their parents, know both English and Korean, into both cultures, etc. It is difficult to fit in one way or another because we know little of both sides. Yes, it’s great to be multi-cultural and bilingual and all. But, we often feel empty and lonely because of no belonging.

    When I visit Downtown Toronto, where a lot of Koreans hang out. By looking at their clothes, I can see that they’re International students because of the way they dress – probably the type of clothes they own because they bring it from Korea.

    I think Korean girls here try to follow up the Korean make-up style rather than North American. This is when we realize that Americanized make-up do not look good on our faces. Maybe it’s the skin tone, or the size of the eyes or nose, shape of the face. I usually ask my friends who visits Korea to bring me make-up so I use Tony Moly’s CC cream. I don’t personally like putting a lot of make-up on so that’s pretty much it. Sometimes, I put on Etude’s face mask on.

    Our house is the most Koreanized house that I know of. We live in a condo (apartment) and we make 된장, 간장, 고추장, 메주 and always have 3 kinds of kimchi at home. We shop at Korean grocery store and cook Korean food, eat Korean food and snacks. Even when I meet my Korean friends outside, we go to Korean restaurants. A lot of miss “home” in our heart. I know I do.

  125. Pensive Popcorn
    Pensive Popcorn

    I’m Pakistani-Canadian. I was born in Pakistan but moved to Toronto when I was 5. Despite having spent almost my entire life in Canada, sometimes I don’t feel truly Canadian. People often ask what my cultural or ethnic background is. It’s never enough to say that I’m Canadian. Because I’m a visible minority, that somehow classes me as a foreigner. Once someone said I was Canadian but not a real Canadian. I grew up here, I’m a citizen, I speak both official languages, I’ve lived in both eastern and western Canada. How much more Canadian do you want me to be?

    I had to go all the way to Pakistan to be recognized as a Canadian. To my extended family we’re known as the Canadian relatives. People judgingly questioned why I didn’t know enough Urdu, why didn’t I know Pakistani history, why didn’t I understand Punjabi. Basically, why aren’t you like a normal Pakistani. It’s like they forget that I’ve grown up in a completely different environment. Your family can influence only so much of your identity. Your environment plays a huge role in shaping your identity. Stragely enough, I experience that same critisism in Canada. Pakistanis in Canada (mostly the older generation, but sometimes people my own age) will say you’re acting too Canadian or that I’m white-washed.

    I’ll be going to Turkey next year for an exchange program and do a mini-Euro trip afterwards. And I’ve been wondering what the heck I’m going to say when people inevitably ask what are you or where are you from. If I say I’m Canadian or from Canada that’s not the whole story. And if I say I’m Pakistani, well that’s not the whole story either. I’ll be in the UK for a bit which has a huge Pakistani community. Over there, I think if I say I’m from Canadan people will just leave it at that. I’m assuming to them a brown person saying they’re Canadian is no different than a brown person saying they’re British. I’m just really curious how Turkish people will respond when I say I’m Canadian. Will they just leave it at that or will they ask where are you really from? I guess I’ll find out when I go there.

    • Maashugna
      Maashugna

      I’m also Pakistani, but I was born and raised in America. I always got super offended when people called me Pakistani or Indian, because I always told myself I was American. I do love visiting Pakistan, and my family goes there every 2-3 years. I went a few months ago, and realized I’m a lot more Pakistani than American. But it’s still really hard to categorize myself as one completely. Similarly, I get called American in Pakistan, and Pakistani in America(and Korean by my family :)

      Also, I travel a lot, and when I tell people I’m American, no one questions me (and I look very Pakistani). But I guess your experience could be different.

    • yalsha3

      As an Arab-American, I can totally relate to your experience.

      I actually went to Turkey for a visit a couple months ago and people used to ask me where I was from. I would always say I was from the U.S. Most of the time they would pause and look at me for a second before moving on, and there were also a few who would ask the “No, really…” question. Why don’t people understand immigration!!?? lol

      • Pensive Popcorn
        Pensive Popcorn

        Yeah, I think sometimes people in other countries forget that North America is made up of immigrants from all over the world. But I don’t really blame them because the Americans they see in films and television are usually white Americans or African Americans. Other groups have far less representation in media.

  126. [GGG] C1 Queen

    A-yo! to all Konadians (Korean Canadians) out there!

  127. maireadinish
    maireadinish

    So I’m a legit caucasian American and I and everyone in my family has always taken our shoes off in the house. We’re not as strict about it as in Korea; I will leave my shoes on to run into the house really quickly, but generally they come off. However, adult visitors generally leave their shoes on. That’s not the case for every house, but it is pretty common.

    I’ve been in a lot of different countries for work, and I’m always easily pegged as an American. I try not to wear the American tourist uniform (white athletic shoes, baggy blue jeans, untucked t-shirt, baseball cap, large bag/backpack), but it’s still pretty obvious to most people that I don’t blend in. Occasionally people think I’m an Australian (likely because Aussies travel more than Americans – I can’t think of another reason), but most guess American pretty early in the game.

  128. Saturday Night Wrist
    Saturday Night Wrist

    There must be something to that “foreigner radar”. Back during the summer of seventh grade, I was in Seoul visiting my relatives. I walked into the local convenience store to buy something and when I walked up to the cashier, she immediately asked excitedly in Korean “Are you from America?” Startled, I shook my head yes and mumbled in extremely broken Korean while pointing in some general direction when she she asked where I was staying in Seoul. I’m not sure if it was my large build, my clothes or my mannerisms, but there was something about me that set off her migook saram alarm.

    As someone who’s struggled with identity issues my entire life, I can definitely relate to what Jen’s talking about. Being born in Seoul, moving to NYC at the age of two and growing up in the ‘burbs in a large Korean-American community, I felt like I was constantly being besieged on all sides. The American kids always pointed out that I was different for being Korean, while the Korean kids flat-out rejected me for being too American. My parents kept trying to make me more “Korean” by enrolling me in Korean language classes and having me interact with the Korean community; I kept trying to make them more “American” by trying to teach them the do’s and don’ts of everyday American society. Once I reached adolescence I just said “fuck it” and rejected both whitebread America and my Korean heritage to become a full-blown gangsta-rap-listening baggy-pants-wearing wannabe. I felt like I could identify with the angry anti-establishment plight of black youth; to me, whites and Koreans WERE the establishment. Of course, this misguided adoption/idolization of gangsta rap culture led me down a predictably bad path which ultimately completely changed the course of my life. And to think, it was all because of something as seemingly innocuous as cultural identity.

    While I consider myself American, it’ll always be with a caveat. “Korean-American”, “American of Korean descent”, etc. And it’s because both sides, both mainstream America and the ethnic Korean community in America, continue to stress this distinction between “real” and “fake” Americans in public and private life, whether it’s a newspaper article automatically pointing out an Asian-American’s ethnicity when writing about them or my mother exclusively referring to white people as “Americans”. Speaking of which, as you guys talked about on the “gyopo” issue, I’ve also personally found that Koreans are much harsher on their own people than to non-Koreans. People always want to point out the racism and prejudice of majority populations who put pressure on minority groups to assimilate, but nowadays, it’s usually the conservative members of one’s own community who are the harshest judges. This is why, like Simon, my relationship with my ancestry is very complicated. While I’ve come to embrace my heritage in recent years, I’m still pretty much ashamed of my inadequacy in the language and lack of knowledge of social norms and customs. It’s difficult to even bring myself to go to a Korean restaurant because I don’t want to be questioned in Korean and then have to explain how I don’t speak the language fluently even though I’m of Korean descent. If I’m going to some other ethnic restaurant, I’m totally fine. There I would feel as if I’m entitled to mispronouncing the menu items or being ignorant of the traditional fare and dining etiquette. But to do that at a Korean restaurant would be regarded as a failure of some sort in my eyes and ostensibly in others’ eyes as well.

    I’ve always found it interesting how you guys talk about being considered perpetual outsiders in Korea. On the surface, it appears to be a pessimistic assessment. Like many other first/second-generation immigrants, the notion of being rejected from the in-group is a deeply personal and painful one. But due to your unique circumstances, it seems like you guys are at peace with it. Because you two already came of age before moving to Korea, and found unconditional love and acceptance with each other, you guys probably didn’t feel such a need to find acceptance within Korean society; as you’ve stated multiple times before, you’re perfectly fine in your Simon & Martina bubble. The fact that you’re both free-spirited counterculturists/dirty hipsters with perhaps a dash of subconscious White Privilege probably helps sugarcoat any angst you would otherwise feel. I am drawn to one anecdote, however, which may paint a more complex picture, one you consistently bring up as your favorite memory in Korea: the one where you guys were cheering for Korea at a bar during the 2010 World Cup and people bought you free chicken and beer because they felt solidarity with you. And you treasured that memory because it was the first time you truly felt you were a part of Korean society. So maybe you guys do genuinely want to be accepted, just in a measured realistic way that doesn’t interfere with your personal autonomy. Have your cake and eat it too, if you will. Regardless, you guys have succeeded in carving out a Nasty Niche for yourselves in Korea by creating a wholly new and wonderful community to be a part of, so perhaps my point is moot.

  129. Yolanda
    Yolanda

    I’m Mexican-American even though I am about to turn 24 this year. A lot of older generations Mexicans find it weird and a few find it shameful that I cannot speak Spanish properly. It’s partially my fault, but growing up in almost all white county in NC there was no way I could have not learned English and forget my Spanish. My parents encouraged me to speak to them in English while I was at home so they too could pick up the English language and culture. Now that there are more younger generations of Mexican-American children, the older generations think of it being okay for the younger kids not to speak Spanish because of how society is now a days. I just accept the fact my Spanish is no good and that’s how it is. I love the Korean culture by the way, it reminds me of my heritage, but more classier (lol). The music and fashion is a plus! :)

  130. DeAnna

    I can totally understand your confusion of self-identity. I am Native American and Filipina. My mother is full-blooded Native American and my father is half Native (a different tribe than my mothers) and half Asian. Growing up, cultural identity was never an issue. Because I grew up next to Chinatown, my first language was Mandarin, which I later learned, there is some Chinese mixed into my Filipina heritage. I am second generation born in the US. My Lolo (Grandfather) immigrated to the US from the Philippines and lost contact with ALL his family there. Now, I don’t have any family I can find so I don’t have any extended Filipino family (that I know of). I identify as Asian-American though, because that is how I was raised (despite the fact I am 75% Native American). We moved to my Mother’s home (on an Indian Reservation) when I was 4, for a few years. I had to learn both Navajo (Native American Language) and English from a young age in school and so my family decided to speak only in English to me. I stood out so much in a Native American school. I never had American food or Native food, and was made fun of for bringing Asian food in my lunch box. I learned I don’t identify with any culture. I’m too Asian for my Native side of the family, I’m too American for my Asian half, and I’m too “ethnic” for American society. I understand some Navajo, but I don’t speak it very well because my accent is too “Americanized.” I understand some Tagalog and can speak it with the correct accent and pronunciations, but I don’t know very much (yet – I’m re-learning). I understand Mandarin the most (even though I’m probably a very, very, tiny percent Chinese) and speak it pretty well enough to pass. In fact most Chinese people will tend to speak to me first in Chinese before English. Weird? When I’m out and about, I’ve been mistaken for EVERY race imaginable! I don’t think I’ll ever come to terms with finding a self-identity, but I tend to think of myself as a person of the world. Traveling overseas, I definitely stood out! I’m too tan and too American for most Asians, but, I’m labeled Asian when I travel to European countries. I think this topic will become more and more of a topic in years to come, being that most kids in the current generation are quite mixed, ethnically. In my generation, it wasn’t as common, especially being mixed Native American and Asian, but now, I’m finding more “Nasian” mixes, just like me. I think I worry most about losing the knowledge I have of my Native American half, being that it’s a very under-represented race. I mean, people that usually claim it, are typically 1/164th blood quantity. Being that I’m enrolled with 3/4 blood quantity makes me feel obligated to carry on the traditions and teachings (that I have little knowledge of, because I was not taught). I think there’s that sort of obligation any way, with any culture, but being mixed, and being American makes it harder to balance your identity. Nonetheless, great topic! It was sort of therapeutic to read everyone else’s experience and to know it’s not just me who deals with this on a daily basis. :)

  131. amenvodka

    My experience of having a national idendity is really lame compared to the ones I have read here…
    It might be because of all that social justice BS going on on tumblr about “well shit I didn’t know you are five diffrent flavors of vanilla at once” but oh well, here I go:
    I was born in Germany in the northern part of Bavaria, where I still reside. My paternal grandfather was a Czech with slight German ancestry and fled to Germany after World War 2 because he was afraid of being persecuted and associated with the Nazis in his home country. Similar to Simon’s case, his mother tongue was Czech, however he dropped it in favor of German and even refused to teach my father Czech because he was ashamed of his heritage (Talk about the media brainwashing people into thinking that everyone from Eastern Europe is an alcoholic burglar).
    My grandfather’s sister however still speaks Czech occasionally and she still has strong accent when talking German. My paternal grandmother’s family originates from France. Stereotypically they were all winemakers, my great-aunt owns a huge winery in Rhineland-Palatinate.
    My maternal great grandfather came from Tyrol (which is now split in half by the Austrian and Italian border). He had 2 brothers, one of the stayed in Austria and the other one emmigrated to the US. We completely lost touch with our Austrian relatives and the last time our family had contacted with our American relatives was when ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ was a hit single. All I know about them is that they live in Milwaukee and Chicago.
    I don’t really feel ‘German’. Matter of fact, I don’t there are a lot of Germans who feel ‘German’ or have a national pride similar to the USA’s or France’s. Anyone being proud of his nationality here is still associated with Nazism. There was literally a German actress posting a selfie with a German flag with the caption “I love Germany” she got thousands of death threats, was scolded publicly and eventually had to shut down her facebook page because all of the hate she was getting. I also didn’t have great responses from people when I said I was German while I was on vacation. I still remember some guy mumbling “cochon allemand” after talking to him. I have also met some tourists from America that were super duper racist and prejudiced towards Germany. They were literally asking me if we hid our “Nazi stuff” in the non touristy regions. So naturally, I kind of tend to identify more with my ancestors nations, like Austria (which is a stunningly beautiful country with lovely food oh my god.)
    But I think this mentality from German people and towards German people is in the process of changing right now. A huge contribution to that is soccer, which is like a self-esteem boost for the whole population. I also think the steadiness of German politics and our female head of government increased Germany’s reputation among other countries a lot.

  132. AquaSmall
    AquaSmall

    I’m Chinese – American and I can say that even though the US is considered one of the most culturally diverse places in the world, a lot of the Midwest still is pretty isolated and conservative. As a babe I lived in the suburbs and then I moved to a relatively rural city when I was 9. I grew up identifying myself as a Chinese – American but when I started getting into my awkward years it was really difficult to deal with both.
    It wasn’t until I was in 7th grade that I realized that most people in my town really saw me different than everybody else (and when I say everybody else I mean basically caucasians, lol). When kids my age in the US see me, they don’t think “American” they think, “Oh, she must get good grades and be planning to be a doctor.” and it’s the most frustrating feeling in the world. A lot of teenagers still buy into so many of the stereotypes they hear about Asians and it really effects the ways Asian – Americans grow up here. I have a lot of Asian – American friends and we discuss this all the time. When you go back to your “country of origin” you become “the foreigner”, but in the US you’re still viewed as “the Asian”. So what do you identify as? We struggle with this question everyday and it makes us resort to becoming “the Asian”. My brother once told me that, “The reason I’m the clown is because everybody in this town only sees me as the Asian.” It made me really sad because I really love ma bro and it breaks my heart to think his making me laugh is just an act. And sometimes it makes me feel like I have to play up “the Asian” act just to get people to accept me. It sucks. :(
    Just a couple weeks ago I was in China visiting relatives for the first time in like 8 years. The experience was just so refreshing, especially after such a long time. But I felt so guilty during a lot of the trip because despite the fact that I grew up in a pretty culturally Chinese household, my Mandarin was pretty basic. I asked my parents so many times if my accent was alright and every time they’d say it was fine but I still couldn’t shake my insecurity. A lot of my family members never really teased us about being “Americans” and I really appreciated it but I still felt out of place as is expected, haha. Another weird thing was that everyone was calling me pretty, and they usually do when I go to China (not meaning to brag). I guess I fit the beauty standards or something. But in the US guys don’t so much as give me a sideways glance. It really brought up my confidence for the days I was there but as soon as I got back to the US I thought, “What if they were just being polite?” It was nice being pretty for a few weeks I guess. :/ Which is another thing about where I live that I hate. A lot of the guys in my town only date like really, so called “white Asian girls”. Like Asian girls that don’t seem like they still adhere to a lot of Asian culture, like using chopsticks or speaking in the “native tongue”. Not that I’m complaining cause guys my age are dumbasses, lol. But stereotyping and discriminating is not cool guys. :(
    I’d say I think I’ve pretty much accepted who I am by now and I know how to play my “Asianness” up to get a few laughs and be socially acceptable but it is really frustrating how society works. I think these days the world is just getting more connected and becoming global by cause of technology and the internet, so these kinds of mixed identity and race things are only becoming more common. I don’t think identity should be defined by race or country of origin. You are as you define yourself to be. And thanks to the internet and wonderful people like Simon and Martina, people who suffer with these kinds identity crises can come to feel more at ease with who they are and let out their frustrations as well. I really appreciate this TL;DR because it gave me a chance to discuss something that really matters to me while at the same time letting me comment for the first time on the Eat Your Kimchi website. Thanks S&M for choosing this much debated topic!

  133. Sascha Wong
    Sascha Wong

    I’ve always wondered about the shoes too! It bothers me so much when I’m watching American shows and they don’t take their shoes off. It’s the norm here in Canada.

  134. I’m biracial Vietnamese-Lebanese and was born in Canada to first generation immigrants. Spoke French, Viet and English (in that order) until I lost the Vietnamese (my father had stopped me since he felt my mother would say things without him understanding – I’m still sad about that). They never really taught me anything about their cultures as they would offend each other in doing so. We moved southward every other year as my father wanted to go to the US and my mum wanted to stay near her family in Montreal. I never kept any childhood friends and ended up in foster care at age 12. During this time I lived with 6 different Caucasian families until I left the system at 17. A stroke of bad luck had me homeless for a couple months until I finally found an apartment I could afford. My neighbour was Haitian Creole and we had drinks and breakfast together with 5 Chinese migrant workers almost every day for the time I lived there. I graduated high school that year and left to work in Northern BC before going to Ukraine to teach French.

    Later I finally returned to Montreal to go to university (cheap tuition yay!) and that brings us to the present day, where I cannot really identify as anything. Though I seem more Viet than Lebanese or Caucasian, I don’t feel that I can own any of that heritage, and when I say ‘Canadian’ I keep getting that look and the words “no but really, where are you from?”.

  135. Lula

    So I’m just answering the shoe question. I live in America and when it comes to shoes on or off, usually people take them off unless the host says something. That’s it, bye bye!

  136. rairei_x

    Both of my parents are from Croatia but I was born and raised in the US. I’ve visited my family there almost every summer since I’ve been one and I speak conversational Croatian. However, whenever I’m there I know I stand out and everyone makes it a point to tell me that I’m not technically Croatian. I’m know as “the American” amongst the locals. The funny part is, like you guys said, if I act too much like an American and speak too much English, I almost get scolded by whoever is around for not embracing my Croatian heritage. So essentially, when I try to blend in they point out I’m different and when I act different, I’m told to blend in. The fine line is so difficult to understand haha What also sucks is that here in the states, I’m also called a foreigner. Weird, right? I was born and raised here but apparently because I’m bilingual, have spent a lot of time in Croatia as a child, and because I’m not the “average American” (as in Italian, German, Irish, etc..that’s what I was told to be the average American by someone when I asked what an “average American” is -_- ), I’m a “foreigner”. It’s almost as if wherever I go, I am denied my nationality/heritage and can’t blend in. So stupid and it sucks cause I know so many other people who are labeled as foreigners in their own country.

  137. MyHiccupsAreInvincible
    MyHiccupsAreInvincible

    I live in the USA (the Blue area :)) I detest wearing shoes in the house or when my family does. You only where shoes in the house when you are going somewhere SOON! Because shoes are loud and dirty. My family members will complain about each others loud dirty shoes too. (especially when its 5AM). If we have guests (that don’t come over all the time) we probably will where shoes in the house though. My grandmother always wheres shoes she probably the only one who can get away with it. It seems like most people do where shoes in their houses but that might just be because I’m a guest (or there floor is dirty). Since I wear high heels so often I tend to get away with taking them off though. Also recently I had to walk bare-foot through wal-mart cause my heel broke off.
    I’m pretty much very Caucasian American I guess. Although I do have an UN-pronounceable last name. So usually I tell people I am part Austrian (but have never been there and don’t speak a word of German). People who actually can pronounce my name tend to think I’m German. I remember once in elementary school a Teacher asking if I knew how to pronounce the German words in a book, at the time I don’t think I even realized I had an “odd” last name. So I just shyly said no.

  138. erinefraser

    I love Jen, I swear I am so much prettier now since I started watching her videos…I also buy a lot more makeup.

    I have nothing to add to the identity conversation, but, as a Canadian, we take our shoes off in our houses and I think it is very weird that other cultures don’t.

  139. I think we should forget about being “too much” or “not enough” of certain nationality. As someone pointed once, I prefer considering my self a – Citizen of the World -. It is so big and wonderful so why impose to yourself even more boundaries. Just enjoy the differences!

  140. Limuliu
    Limuliu

    I can soooo relate to this! Both of my parents are chinese, but I was born in Costa Rica and I still live here. Every 3 years or so I go to China with my parents to visit my relatives, and it becomes so evident that I’m very different from my family even though I’m “100% chinese”. I don’t really feel a pressure to be more chinese, but that might be because my knowledge in chinese history and etiquette makes up for my broken cantonese. Personally I identify as a costa rican because I have no intention of moving to China, and because I do feel more like a costa rican: I identify Costa Rica as my home. That being said, a lot of my mannerisms are chinese, so I don’t think people would say I’m a costa rican. Also, identifying as al costa rican doesn’t mean I don’t love the chinese part of myself, it actually makes me want to have it all? Like, being the perfect combination of a chinese-costa rican, I don’t think that loving one means severing all ties with the other one. I think that identity is completely individual, so “identifying as *insert*” only serves the purpose of guiding people to understand someone better… I don’t know if that makes sense.
    Sometimes the differences make it really hard because sometimes you HAVE to fit in, for example the problem with clothes. I believe Martina and Simon have talked about how hard it is to find clothes their size because they are so huge compared to koreans. I do suffer from that too, here in CR clothes are made for taller people so clothes don’t fit me like they should (I’m 1.53m), and if I attempt to buy clothes in China they don’t have my size (sucks to have nice curves). To finish, I would like to think that people will eventually realise that globalisation is not something external to people, that lines keeping outsiders apart make no sense when you want to share your culture.

  141. Serina Silver

    I was born in the US but went to live my first 4 years in Mexico. Then we came back to the US and I grew up there. After living in the US for 14 years I sometimes start to wonder exactly where I belong. In my house we talk Spanish and English and we eat both American and Mexican food. I always see my parents who are always have this certain pride in their country(Mexico)but for some strange reason I can never really understand or relate to it and it’s not because I have pride in America. I talk perfect English and Spanish,and I did get the feeling that my parents wanted me to be more “Mexican”. Like Simon I also got in trouble for not knowing Mexico’s History. There are Mexicans were I live and I have seen people my age who seem really Mexican but I was never able to feel like part of their group you could say, but it never really bugged me till I went to Mexico for the first time in 12 years. When I arrived my whole family (Which I had no idea I had) always kept me far away or not a part of them. They didn’t do it on purpose its just they just thought I would know what certain things were like because I lived in the States. Everybody in the small town I went to visit knew right away that I was not from there. However it was not because I didn’t speak the Spanish correctly it was because I didn’t have this certain accent they had.It was funny because they tried to tell me my Spanish was weird bu they couldn’t because my Spanish was technically correct and without their accent that they have. Another thing that made me stand out was not being able to eat spicy food. As you might know Mexico is known for their spicy foods. Which was a complete nightmare for me because if we had to eat out they would almost always order spicy food. I felt really out of place! So that really made me wonder where exactly do I belong? I am not accepted in my parents country and I am not exactly 100 percent American.My question is where exactly do I belong? It’s really confusing. I don’t really have pride in any country but I don’t worry about it too much as long as I am happy where I am at. Plus I know I’m not the only one who is confused because I have many friends that are in the same situation as me. A good thing is you get the best of both worlds.

  142. I was born in indonesia and raised in taiwan but however unlike most cases, i grew up with my cousins in taiwan while my family and my brother continued to live on in indonesia. And because the reason of studying in taiwan was to pick up chinese and be bilingual , i grew up speaking chinese and never had the chance to learn any of my national language since my family and relatives all speak dialects and chinese.

    i often feel really confused when people mentioned why I’m so not indonesian and why don’t i have my national/cultural “pride” in me. it wasn’t my choice or my fault.. i just wasn’t exposed to it at all. Even when i travel around indonesia i was never recognised as a indonesian even if i say i am, they would just assume I’m lying.. urgh frustrations.

    but the worst part of it is even my brother makes a fuss out of it that i do not have any national pride and how i could not speak the national language. Noone thought me the national language, i had never studied in indonesia before and my family or friends do not even speak to me with it but everyone seems to expect me to “master” it. sometimes it really becomes a pressure because it just seems like my fault that i had forgotten my “roots”

    people just expect too much from others sometimes. its true that it is sad to not have any roots since I’m still an indonesian but if having roots is the reason why I’m stressed about then i’d rather have no roots, culture , heritage at all.. after all we are all just humans of planet earth. we live on the same land , we breathe the same air but why must we see the differences and not the similarities ??

    thank you so much for discussing this topic eyk because for the first time I’m able to actually talk about it and hear that so many people are actually facing such issues! glad I’m not alone :)

  143. musicmiss18

    I’m from Connecticut, and I have to say that unless I’m running in to get something or I’m leaving really soon, I always have my shoes off in the house. I prefer walking around barefoot, so that could be part of it, but honestly it just seems really uncomfortable to leave them on all the time, and almost no one in my family does it. My sister’s boyfriend does, though, and she’s always nagging at him to take them off, lol.

  144. Daedrey

    In speaking of shoes, it all depends on the individual house, though it is typically seen as ok to keep your shoes on in the house.

    At my house it is perfectly fine to have your shoes on in the house. I know my parents’ thinking is that for guests, they should keep their shoes on. My house is really old, we have wood floors, my 3-year-old nephew is over all the time, and we have a cat. So dirt, dust, and fur are forever present, no matter how much you clean. Keeping shoes on keeps your feet clean. I’m not saying my house is super dirty, because my parents can kind of be neat freaks. There isn’t any big dirt, it is mostly to keep the dust and fur off of our guests. I, personally, take my shoes off as soon as I get in the house and I know I’m not going out again because I don’t really like wearing shoes (unless we have guests over). In fact, I’m perfectly ok with going outside and walking around barefoot. It is more comfortable for me and I don’t care about my feet getting dirty. Though my dad makes a big deal out of it if we just got home and I’m asked to run out to the car to get something, but I already have my shoes off. He doesn’t like me going barefoot outdoors because he doesn’t want me hurting my feet.

    If I go to a friends house, I always ask if it is ok for me to take my shoes off. But I don’t do that right away and right at the door. It is usually if we’ve been there for a while. It can be seen as rude to just take your shoes off and walk around someone’s house. It is like, making yourself too much at home I guess? Plus, a lot of people are grossed out by feet.

    Some people don’t like you wearing shoes because they don’t want the dirt from outside on their carpets or whatever. If that is the case then they’ll ask you to take your shoes off at the door. I always make sure if I see shoes piled by a door or if I see white carpets, to ask if it is ok for me to keep my shoes on or if they would prefer I take them off.

  145. Kayuna

    My whole family and relatives are 100% Chinese. I was born in Hong Kong but my family immigrated to Canada when I was one. My parents didnt want me to forget my culture so they forced upon my siblings and I to speak Chinese when at home (which is why my first language is actually Chinese, English, AND French at the same time… what a childhood that was Lol)

    I think the whole Cultural Identity is more about cultural “Pride” than anything. The country you were born or whose blood run in your veins doesn’t define who you are as a person. It’s the same as being racist to be honest.

    I’ve lived in Canada my whole life so of course I know little about China’s culture. But does that make me less Chinese ? No. It just makes me less knowledgeable about a specific subject. Why do people get mad at someone for not knowing “enough” about their own culture but are happy when foreigners do ? Pride, nothing more.

    I am proud to be Chinese and also proud to be Canadian. I dont choose one over the other. Both are important and both are part of my life and a part of who I am as a person.

  146. pokingpineapples

    What I identify as really depends, and I find myself qualifying no matter what I do say. I’m Chinese-American to most non-Asians (it’s just easier to identify geographically); I’m also Chinese-American to Mainland Chinese. However to Canto/Taiwanese people I’m Canto/Taiwanese-American-by-virtue-of-one-parent-this-one-parent-that-but-sorry-I-can’t-speak-our-mother-tongue-only-Mandarin. I’ve been fortunate enough to grow up in an area where there was a large Asian presence, and I’ve rarely been singled out for being “not-white” or “not-Asian”. In terms of the Motherland, I’ve only been to Taiwan for a month. My aunt who lives there was confident that no one would rip me off right away for being a foreigner and no one did (Yay…?) My grandma on the other hand told me that I shouldn’t be allowed to speak outside of the house.

    Oddly enough, when I did a study abroad program at Ewha for a semester, I was often mistaken for a Korean unless I spoke in English from the get-go. I’ve never felt I looked remotely Korean but there you have it. This led to some interesting incidents… Some Chinese tourists asked me about something in a shop window and they were very surprised when I answered back in clear and fluent Chinese (I wasn’t dressed up, just normal jeans and t-shirt). One of them praised me for it and remarked to her friend that it was fortunate they found a Korean who spoke Chinese. On the other hand, taxi-ahjusshis and restaurant servers would work themselves up into a tizzy when my vocabulary, pronunciation or inflection was off. They scolded me about how I was ignoring my heritage and being a bad Korean (ironically translated by my way-gook-in or gyopo chinjus), and then rapidly deflate when I claimed Chinese heritage. H-awkward~!

  147. bigbangfosho
    bigbangfosho

    Such an interesting blogpost and such interesting comments. I’m an ABC, always identified as one. My parents compare us to bananas…yellow on the outside, white in the inside. Anyway, i’m going to china in a few days for vacation and I think there is such a difference between American born chinese and chinese who live in china. I think it’s the way they dress and the way they look too…not sure what it is, but to me, there is a clear difference between the two. My dad told me that i’d could be passed of as a China-Chinese person if i just kept my mouth shut ahhaha But i disagree because there is something very different that I just can’t write out in words.

    For me, luckily I grew up in a very diverse town with a lot of Asians so identity isn’t something I struggle with because we’re all basically in the same boat.

  148. Hey guys! So, a little backstory, my mom is Korean and my dad is Irish. I was born in Ireland and I moved to the U.S. when I was 7. My Korean grandmother, who doesn’t speak much English, and my Korean aunt live near us so In the U.S. I grew up with a lot of Korean culture along with American culture. The result was a very unsettling feeling of never belonging anywhere. I was too foreign to really be considered “American” by my peers even though I am an American Citizen, I was too Korean-American to be Irish any more even though I was born there, and I was way to Irish-American to ever be considered Korean no matter what the circumstances are. Being uprooted when I was so young and the inability to “fit in” to any specific group of people has left me with the strange feeling of not having a home country, or even an extended family. Imagine a tiny Asian girl going to an Irish family gathering where everyone is white. And when I go to Korea, like Martina and Jen were saying, I’m the American girl even if my face looks Korean. It can be a struggle but it’s also kind of liberating, my Korean family doesn’t expect me to be Korean and my Irish family doesn’t expect me to be Irish, I’m free to do what I want even if it that means I don’t have the comfort of a place or group of people I feel at home with.

  149. Background info: I’m first-gen Portuguese Canadian (my parents lived in Portugal until their early teens, when their families moved to Canada. They met in highschool). Growing up, they spoke Portuguese amongst themselves, but I never really learned to speak the language (took some classes, but the teachers were AWFUL). At home, we ate Portuguese food, we would visit our family every summer, and we were involved in the cultural clubs for Portuguese expats living our area. But everything else growing up was very Canadian. As a result, I feel like I’m in this strange bubble where I’m ‘too Canadian’ for my Portuguese friends from my childhood, and ‘very Portuguese’ for my non-Portuguese friends now.

    When I go and visit these days I can pass as a local until I open my mouth. (I’m in your country, and want to practice dammit!) It’s even stranger when I go and visit the US; where everyone thinks I’m Latina and would speak to me in Spanish, or remark how I “didn’t have an accent”. O_o

  150. leigh_darling

    On the shoe topic, my father’s side of the family takes their shoes off at the door or did when I was growing up. My grandmother was born and raised in Hawai’i and that’s how she did it growing up. I have always tried to enforce that but no one seems to get it.
    There is some slight awkwardness since my grandmother was the second generation born in Hawai’i despite being of German descent. She used to talk about going to school, learning Hawai’ian, learning to hula, competing in the Miss Hawai’i pageant and not winning because she wasn’t descended from royalty etc. In fact, she taught me my first “swear” it was “howlie”. I still use it, lol. The point of my ramble being that there’s some expectation the other way as well, that people who don’t “look” the nationality in question can’t really BE the nationality in question.

  151. Bre

    Jen grew up around Caucasians, right? So, what about the Koreans who grew up around Koreans in the US? What is their experience when going to Korea? Are they used to Korean fashion and other things so that it doesn’t come to a shock as much as it did for Jen?

  152. Elizabeth D

    Yeah, I definitely wear shoes in the house. I’m never barefoot. The thinking behind it is that Americans think floors are gross and dirty, even in the house. My mom actually yells at me when I don’t wear something yo cover my feet. I think it’s pretty nasty when people pick up the dust from the floor on their feet. People I know with pets definitely wear shoes in the house because animals do gross things that you don’t know about on the floor and then you’re stepping in their mess and hair and saliva. Nasty!

  153. Chantel

    I live in the States! Kansas to be exact. We do keep our shoes on in our houses! Although I wish we did take our shoes off, keeps the floors cleaner…

  154. Asela24
    Asela24

    I’m half Korean and half Chinese, but I lived as an American for my entire life. Unlike most of my gyopo friends, I never been to Korea from the day I was born to now. My mom is Korean, but she was born and raised in Japan. This, she grew up in Japanese culture. And no I never been Japan either… Sorry! I didn’t know about my Korean heritage until I entered high school. It was kind of awkward because I thought I was half Japanese until I finished middle school. My mom didn’t grew up in that culture and doesn’t speak, read, or write Korean. I wanted to learn more about my culture by reading books about Korea and tried to learn basic Korean from one of my gyopo friends. I’m still trying to learn about Korea any way I can. It was just a little awkward and isolating at first because I never grew up in that kind of situation.

  155. paola28

    Ok so lets start with a little background. I am Mexican-American which means both of my parents were born and raised in Mexico and I was born and raised in Los Angeles,CA. My home was very Mexican and both my brother and i were raised with Mexican values and norms but we lived in America. When i was in kinder and first grade my classes were in Spanish and English. I learned Spanish first and to this day always use it at home. I have a lot of family in America and Mexico but we mostly use Spanish to communicate. It is only with my cousins and in school that i use English. In first grade they decided i was ready for an all English classroom and i did pretty well. So technically I’m an English teacher in Korea but i guess it’s not my first language?? lol I usually just say i learned both at the same time which is kinda true. My English education is definitely better than my Spanish, though.

    When I was growing up and would go back to Mexico i would always be treated like a “rich American.” My parents town is very poor but because i was born in America i was “rich.” That was not always true. When i was 5 my family was homeless and we lived in a van for 2 months. When i spoke English with my brother, people in Mexico would stop and stare at us and then say look at the Americans or we would get called “pochos.” Pocho/pocha is the gyopo equivalent for a Mexican descent person born/raised outside of Mexico. In America, especially when i left LA, i was treated like a Mexican never fully American. America and their current status on Latinos and immigration is not good. Even though i was born in America there have been many times when I have been treated like an immigrant. At first it was so confusing for me. I was raised very Mexican and if you asked me what i was, up until middle school, i would say Mexican, never American.

    As I grew up i realized I wasn’t completely American or Mexican. I grew up with many American values too and that sometimes clashed. Like when i decided to move across the nation for my University. That was seen as a very bad thing to my really Mexican family. According to them i was abandoning my family and being selfish.

    Also there was a question you asked Jen that reminded me of something. When i was in high school my grandma and aunt from Mexico moved in with us in America. Keep in mind my grandma is from a very old generation where a women didn’t study and prepared to be a housewife. By that time i was so focused on studying that i wasn’t doing house work and staying late in school. When my grandma saw this she went a little crazy and told off my parents. She said they were raising me “badly.” She told my parents and me “how can she be a good wife to her future husband if she doesn’t know how to cook or clean.” My parents kindly told her that education would be my key to a better life and that it was more important. I am thankful for my parents support because up until me no one in the family had gone to a university. My grandma since then has changed and seen what education has offered me.

    Sorry if this is long guys! lol

    • Chantel

      I totally feel where you are coming from! Although if asked I would say I’m more American than Mexican. I grew up in a Mexican household in the U.S. My parents were always working and so I slowly lost some Spanish knowledge. I learned to read and write Spanish by watching novelas. Whenever we would go visit family in Mexico I didn’t feel at home. It was obvious that I wasn’t true Mexican, especially my Spanish. I’m sure I also got that oh they’re rich look from my cousins. The thing is that wasn’t true. I’m more comfortable with English than I am with Spanish. Growing up with 2 different cultures makes you feel like you don’t completely belong to either side. Although it may have been difficult at times, I am still grateful to have grown up bilingual.

    • Serina Silver

      Trust me I went through something like that and it is true people in Mexico also believed that I was rich just because I lived in America most of my life.I normally talk to my brother in Spanish also and we both got a bunch of stares especially when we went to the market place.

  156. A_719

    Martina, you were in Croatia?!Wow!Where?

  157. 10 yrs ago when I visited Seoul, an american gyopo told me how he got scolded for not being korean enough. After that, every time I met someone, I would quickly explain, I’m not Korean. I’m from Canada – Chinese Canadian. I don’t speak Korean well. I’ve never been ‘judged”. Even if my korean now is elementary school level, people are polite & welcoming even now when I visit. It’s the fact that I attempt to utter the language. I always get mistaken as Korean or Japanese by Korean people. I must not look Chinese at all?? My gyopo gfriend worked in an english speaking environment in Seoul. During one visit, i didn’t hear her utter a single word of korean. But she translated an entire movie for me while we were watching it in the theatre. Sometimes i think it’s a choice of how you want to assimilate.

  158. Intricate
    Intricate

    It’s so recognizable!

    I’m a half-dutch half-indonesian guy born and raised in the Netherlands, but we used to go back to Indonesia quite often for lengthy periods of time so I understand the culture very well and I speak Indonesian fluently. My accent, in fact, is such that Indonesians think I’ve lived in Jakarta for a long time.

    However, since I was primarily raised in Europe, my mannerisms and the way I wear my clothes is completely different from what people over there are used to, so I stand out a huge amount. I also feel the added pressure of looking like an Indonesian and people assuming I know every little cultural detail (etiquette etc.), but luckily I have my family most of the time who can tell me what to do, or why people responded the way they did.

    What is also interesting is how my actual behavior is different in Asia compared to when I’m in Europe. To the point where my accent changes. For example, my accent when I speak English while I’m in Indonesia is that of an Indonesian speaking English, whereas I have a Dutch accent when I’m in Holland, and interestingly an American accent when I’m in English speaking countries. But more generally I automatically bow when thanking people in Asia (or Asian settings, such as at an Indonesian family’s home) and I sit differently and all that kind of stuff.

  159. I feel like the idea of a cultural identity, as moving throughout the world becomes more common, has – and will continue to – become more and more diluted. My parents immigrated from the Philippines to the U.S., and neither I nor my two siblings fluently speak their language(s) or fully understand the customs of their culture. I identify as Filipino, but weakly – most of my ties are in little things, like the food, random words, and taking off my shoes when I go in my house. In a similar way that a lot of white Americans only identify with their ethnic origins by lineage, not retention of culture, I think future generations of Asians raised outside of Asia (who usually always identify by their parents/grandparents/etc.’s country of origin) will as well. In places of great diversity like the U.S. and Canada, it’s almost inevitable. On the other hand, places that are much more homogeneous like South Korea, being a foreign-born/raised makes it difficult to fit in, no matter how in touch with the culture you are. Balancing and/or immersing yourself in your “original” culture and the one of any place you might find yourself in can be difficult. At the very least, you guys are awesome in that you immersed yourselves in another culture, and have taken the time to respectably understand it; honestly, I feel like the only reason you guys can’t call yourselves Korean-Canadians is because of its homogeneity, you know? In the same way you two are Canadians from culturally European families, if you guys had a kid who was born and raised in Korea, I think it would be fair to identify that child as Korean, too. Thanks for sharing this awesome thought-provoking video! :D

  160. abokado
    abokado

    Ohh, I can totally relate. I was born in Russia, but moved to Germany when I was 3. I speak Russian a bit, but definitely not fluently. I have a German pass, speak German perfectly, but EVERY German tells me that I’m a foreigner. I visited family in Russia a few times – and you know what, I was just some German for them. My parents even forbid me and my brother from talking in Russian in public, because everybody would immediately know that we are not actually Russian. Even my father, who was born in Kazakhstan and lived in Russia for many years, had a hard time “concealing” the fact that he was living in Germany now, because some Russian vendor picked up on his weird accent that he developed while only speaking to Russian-Germans for so many years. (Concealing that we’re German was necessary because the city we visited is known as one of the most xenophobic cities in Russia and there’s the danger of getting ripped off and things like that.)
    I don’t really feel like I’m German. I grew up here, talk the language, but I still feel like an outsider. My cultural background is just really vastly different to “normal” Germans, but at the same time, I’m not Russian either. Either way, I’m the “foreigner” in both countries.
    It doesn’t really bother me, though. I’ve since moved in with a “real” German and there are a lot of moments where our cultural expectations and experiences clash and there has to be some explaining to do, but I think it’s more interesting that way. I definitely wouldn’t want to trade my experiences. I like that I have my Russian background, though I wouldn’t want to live in Russia and don’t plan to visit it anytime soon.

  161. newbornstar
    newbornstar

    I really enjoy these types of blog posts, that get you thinking. I have always enjoyed the topic of identity it was a big topic we discussed in one of my classes this semester and though the subject of identity can be very complex, somebody in the comment section below said it best, that at the end of the day you are human. This blog post also made me think about Malcolm X’s words “We declare our right on this earth…to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day…” and one quote from MLK’s I Have A Dream Speech, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Society is just so focused on “identity” of the outside such as race and nationality that they miss the most important part the “content” of peoples character, their ideals, personality, and beliefs the things on the inside.I believe what is on the inside really makes up ones identity, but the world unfortunately doesn’t think like that they are just so consumed with outward appearances.

  162. entling

    Okay, here goes:
    I myself am an extremely rare species of half-Koreans who actually grew up in Seoul with a Korean nationality. I never lived outside of Korea until I turned 21, but, because I take after my dad, who is German (but gave up his German citizenship so he could be Korean and live there forever), I have always been treated as a foreigner in my own home country. I remember wishing, as a child, that I had my dad’s lovely grey-green eyes instead of my mom’s dark ones, because then I could fit in in Germany, at least. I felt like I was this weird mixture of incompatible elements who didn’t belong anywhere, and it didn’t help that I stood out wherever I went (and not just because I’m 5’11″. Imagine how many stares I get in the subway.).

    Anyway, up until a few years ago, I had this sort of love-hate relationship with Korea and Koreans in general because, while I was never openly bullied for my appearance (probably because I attended a German elementary school and then an international secondary school), at some point in my childhood I realized that I would never be accepted in this society with its amazing food and unique sense of humor and would forever have to explain my ‘origin story’ (ha) to every single new person I meet. I’ve been studying abroad for 4 years now, and even in Europe I get confused looks whenever I introduce myself as being Korean.
    And yet, I grew up in Korea, and have lived in Korea longer than many of my ‘pure Korean’ friends who had lived in the States for many years- this is why I get a bit miffed whenever ‘gyopos’ are accepted as being Korean (albeit ‘Americanized Koreans’) just because they look Korean (sans makeup) while I don’t. Aren’t I technically ‘more Korean’? I’m jealous. They have a Koreanness about them that I can never have (not that it bothers me as much now as it did years ago), and what irks me the most is if and when they dismiss their Korean heritage as being either shameful or completely irrelevant- how can that be, if your parents are Korean?? EVERY cultural experience, as indirect as it might be, – your current nationality, your home country, countries you’ve lived in- they all shape who you are now, so why deny or dismiss any of it? And it’s high time for Korea to realize that one’s physical appearance no longer correlates to his or her nationality.

    Ahem. I could write a book about the melancholy of a half-Korean growing up in Korea, but my main point is this- while I still shake my head at all the inadvertent (as well as deliberate) racism, the part of me that hated Korea and couldn’t wait to get the heck outta there is now GONE.

    And most of that is thanks to your videos, Simon in Martina! You’ve taught me how to love my country, shortcomings and all. Ever since I started watching your videos back in late 2010 or so, you’ve taught me things I never knew about Korea. You have tried more Korean food than I have (which must be rectified as soon as I move back to Korea in a few months), and you’re not afraid to poke fun at any and all the weirdness that happens over there, AND you manage to do it without being condescending. So yes, Jen was right, you two have definitely acquired some Koreanness and IT’S TOO LATE TO TURN BACK YOU’RE ONE OF US NOW BAHAHA

    Thank you so much, you two. You have cured me of my life-long cultural identity crisis. I think you deserve some sort of medal for that. Thank you for ‘showing me the way’! What does it matter ‘how Korean’ anyone is? There are two groups of people- those who love Korea, and those who don’t love it yet. AMIRIGHT? ;)

    • paola28

      Wow yours is a great story. I understand your feelings about korean americans dismissing their korean heritage. That would be like me dismissing my Mexican heritage because i was born and raised in America. I am proud of who i am and were i come from. I love my tanned skin even though I am not super tanned like my mexican cousins. I live in Korea and now i just get to be labeled a foreigner. lol Even then Koreans think i’m from the Philippines or another South east asian country. I don’t actually mind, i think it’s hard for them to accept i’m american but mexican too.

      • entling

        You’re right, the whole ‘nationality does not equal ethnicity’ concept is still pretty foreign to Korea. And yes, foreigners of a certain skin tone look pretty much indistinguishable to people who have lived in a country full of mostly ‘pure-Koreans’ all of their lives. Because I grew up in that society and hadn’t been exposed to very many foreigners at all (besides Germans), even I would probably have NO idea where you were from just by looking at you. I suppose that Koreans have seen a lot more Filipinos than Mexicans, which sort of explains their assumptions. Haha, I almost feel like I have to apologize for their ignorance! I hope your experience in Korea hasn’t just been filled with that kind of prejudice!

    • Nic My Korean Husband

      Thank you for sharing your story. This is really interesting to me because I’m Australian and my husband is Korean. We do often wonder what the experience will be for our children and what difficulties they will have. We aim to be bi-cultural and have lived together in Australia and right now are living in Korea. Like you said, I really hope Korea starts to realise that one’s cultural identity isn’t all about looks. It is completely unfair that just because someone looks more Korean than you, that they are seen as more Korean even if you’re the one who grew up in Korea and they didn’t.

      Do you think growing up with others in your position would have helped you feel more accepted? Did you know many other people with one parent who was not Korean? I’m wondering because we are friends with a bunch of other couples who are all Korean man and Australian woman couples. When we all have kids, they are likely to know each other and grow up together. I’m hoping that even if our kids have difficulty in either culture that at least they’ll know many others like them. In the past 5 years or so we’ve seen quite a big jump in couples like us and I’m hoping that the more common this becomes the more accepting people will be.

      • entling

        Hi Nic! I just visited your blog the other day and thought it was lovely! I’m really happy to see more and more bi-cultural couples in Korea these days.

        See, I make it sound all angsty, but it really wasn’t THAT bad- especially since I never attended a Korean school and was therefore never really singled out in my immediate social circle. My childhood friend and neighbor was half-Korean, too, but you can imagine that half-Koreans (who lived in Korea) were quite rare back in the late 90s. I actually didn’t identify with my Korean side at all until I was 14 or so (when I first became friends with Korean Americans) because I had lived in that little bubble of Germans and half-Germans until then and only ever spoke Korean with my mother. As a child, I was a bit grumpy about but mostly fine with being treated like a foreigner since I didn’t really WANT to be Korean at that point, and couldn’t wait to grow up so I could move to Germany (ironically, NOW I can’t wait to move back to Korea!).

        But I’m really thankful that my parents somehow managed to expose me to both my German and my Korean side, even though my appreciation for my Korean side didn’t really blossom until I became an adult. My advice to all multi-cultural families out there would be exactly that- allow your children as much access to their cultures as you can. I keep seeing families- even when they don’t have mixed backgrounds- who ignore one of their cultures in favor of another, and that’s just sad. But I’m sure that won’t be a problem with you two!

        Really, the only ‘bad’ thing about being a mixed Korean is the constant staring (which I’ve gotten so used to now that it just makes me laugh). It’s really not nice being stared at as an awkward teenager and having people talk about your appearance to each other within hearing range, convinced that you couldn’t POSSIBLY understand Korean. Not nice at all. And I’ve noticed that Korean people stare at me even now, but it’s really not as bad as back in the 90s. What with Korean-speaking foreigners appearing more and more on Korean TV these days, the commenting-about-me-in-Korean has also died down. It’s a slow change, but a change nevertheless, which gives me hope for a much more openly multi-cultural future in Korea.

        Long story short: with loving parents and supportive friends, this sort of cultural dilemma is really not that big of a deal. Please make lots of babies and release them into Korean society to make that change in cultural perception happen!

  163. ceres66

    I was born in Ukraine, my mother is Jewish and my father is Russian. We migrated to Israel when I was 6 years old. My 2 first languages were Ukrainian and Russian, but since most of the people that came to Israel from Ukraine and Russia spoke in Russian here, I replaced my Ukrainian with Hebrew. It is hard for me to say that I am Ukrainian anymore because I don’t know almost anything about the culture, I do not remember the language and I actually know more about Russia than Ukraine. I grew up with Russian friends and I went to a school that was about 95% Russians so I speak the language pretty well. I actually mix Russian, Hebrew and English in my daily speech. Almost every Israeli I meet or know see me as Russian, and all my Russian friends see me as Russian too, but the parents and the older Russian generation here see me as incomplete Russian I guess. Because I never studied Russian and did not read much in Russian my vocabulary is very small. Also I did not read many classics of Russian writers and poets and I did not watch many Russian movies and it is something that my parents make me feel very guilty about. In the end though, what I learned is I don’t really belong to Russian culture or Israeli culture, because I am something in the middle. But it doesn’t bother me as much because I make my own traditions, mindsets and experiences.

  164. Assylaa

    This is really interesting, I’ve never really thought about this in depth before. My parents immigrated from China to Canada, whee I was born and where I grew up. I speak Chinese pretty fluently as a result of going to years and years of Chinese school (which my parents forced me to do). We visit china every few years as well, and every time we go back, it’s for at least a month. As we spend more time in china, both my and my sister’s Chinese improves very quickly and by the end, pretty much no one can tell that we’re from a foreign land even though my mom says I have a very slight accent (actually, I just enunciate like everything which make it seem forced rather than laid back). But me and my sister have very good Chinese compared to other Chinese people who were born and raised in places outside of china. Chinese (IMO) is one of the hardest languages to learn and pronounce because of the accents. Honestly, listening to some of my Caucasian friends trying to speak with the correct pronunciation is hilarious because they really can’t hear the difference between them. Anyways, a lot of Chinese Canadian friends of mine didn’t even bother to try and learn Chinese because it’s so hard. Because of this, most Chinese people that I talk to are very impressed with my Chinese, simply because their standards for foreigners are so low. Of course there is some language shaming, people still expect you to know the very basics and to have at lest a slight grasp on pronunciation.

    On general, I think Chinese people really like ‘gopyos’. I’ve had people give me things for free for a lot if random reasons (was you’re so talk here have some free stuff, wow you’re trilingual here have some free stuff, wow you’re so pretty here I’ll give you this for free) but I’m pretty sure those are just covers for the real reason, the fact that I grew up in Canada. The kids there look at me like I’m an alien princess or something and we all astounded by the level of my English. They really find it impressive.

    The way we present ourselves changes, as well. I’ve noticed that pretty much all Chinese People who live on urban areas are super pushy, for instance when walking on the streets, they will literally shove people out of the way. Because these places we so densely populated, they have to do so, or else they won’t be able to get where they need to go without wasting hours just trying to squeeze through the crowd nicely. When we first arrive, we’re politely saying excuse me and sorry and thank you while slipping in between people. By the end, while we aren’t shoving anymore, we don’t really speak, we just go. No one in china apologizes when they bump into you or shove their way past you.

    In china, street vendors pretty much always raise the price a lot because they expect people to want to bargain the prices down and this way, they’ll still get profit and the customer will feel satisfied, having gotten such a big discount. Once vendors learn that you’re from a different country, they’ll try to rip you off. They’ll usually assume that you’re rich just because you don’t live in china, and will triple, maybe even quadruple the already raised price of products.

    I’m not sure if this is what it’s like for everyone, but this is my experience as a gyopo.

  165. I’m a socio-cultural anthropology major and took a class recently on Ethnicity and Identity. These sorts of questions came up SO often, so you’re not the only ones thinking about it and academia has been pondering the question for a while now. Essentially to sum up the class, there is no theory of ethnicity, only different ways in which we identify in different situations. Ethnicity is an extremely fluid category, and sometimes a problematic term specifically for the reasons that you’ve brought up.I could write a whole essay about it (and have written several haha) but I don’t want to clog the comment section!

  166. Kawehi

    I would say that a lot of the continental U.S. wears the shoes at home. But if you travel to Hawaii, many, if not most, people take their shoes off at home. I grew up in Hawaii and that is just normal. Even now that I live in California, my husband and I take our shoes even if he didn’t grow up that way. Even we go over to his parents’ house he leaves his shoes at the door. I like to think that I married an Asian man in a Caucasian body.

  167. Bubbles529

    ahhh i def know how you feel I was born and raised in NY my mother is South America my father was puerto rican. When I went to south america to visit I would always get do you speak spanish granted I understand and yes i speak but not 100% fluent. Its the spanglish that comes out but yet when I tell them that yes I can they say wow that’s a surprise.I also get the well your part bolivian how do you not know about the culture etc… while yes my mother had lived in the states for about 50 years and has adapted to american culture you sorta put aside what you grew up learning and have to learn to adapt to something new. you made the example of food,how you dress and the language barrier.
    Now as being puerto rican and living in NY as the what they call the NYerican I am the total opposite of that sterotype and when I went to PR to visit it was like wait what your part PR I don’t see it. Cultural identity is ever changing due to the fact that people are constantly changing meaning its not strange to see people move to different countries and you live there and have to learn to co exist w the culture.

  168. Baek Hee

    So Martina when you where talking about pointing Korean American’s and Korean Canadians i know what you mean by you can see the difference. There is the odd time you cant till. Like my one friend she is like half gyopo. (Ban gyopo) She is looks total korean from korean. She speaks it perfectly. The only difference is she would rather speak english when she can. However if a korean person comes around she will speak 99% korean and only use a korean word here or there. Where as her sister was born in Canada and everything. She is not gyopo at all. She prefers korean, follows all the korean trends and will only speak english if she has to so to like me or her sister only if her sister speaks english first. But like i have it down to this crazy art form lol where i can till no word of a lie about what age you came to Canada; because the look isn’t just in the clothes all the time its in there facial features and the way they act.

    For me i am Ukrainian and German. My cousins all of them who are on my mothers side act Ukrainian and my dads all act German. Then there is me. My life is so Korean. I go to korean church, i speak korean, my friends are almost all korean, ill cook korean food and etc. lots of korean people ask me are you part korean. I get mistaken for half korean. My family only the elders like aunts and uncles think i am weird. Because i love both my cultures and i love korean, along with other asian culture. The biggest thing i get is my korean friends not understanding why like Japanese or Chinese culture. Like some of my korean friends think its weird i like japan and china. Its because of the whole history thing. But like Jen said its a pride thing. Funny thing is i know a half Japanese half korean guy and he doesn’t like Koreans at all but he try’s to be friend them. It makes no scene u less he is trying to like them.

    So for me i get more flack for being more korean then Ukrainian or German. But all the aunties are trying to find me a korean man lol. So the dating thing is i think only a big thing if your traditional. I have seen most Korean’s there family would not mind at all as long as you understand korean culture and practice it. Cause there ok with Canadian or American but not a lot.

  169. koala_101

    Guys i feel ya. I’m Nigerian, i was born there and moved to the States when i was 8. When i was 10, i was sent back for high school because my parents thought i would get out of touch with my culture. I was only in the states for two years before i went back but whoa! apparently i had changed so much…

    Fast forward 12 or so years later, after i had finished high school, moved back to the states, finished college and now I’m in med school, I’m looked down on as not being Nigerian enough both by Nigerians here and back home. I speak the language of my people, i eat Nigerian food, but apparently thats not enough. Reasons that are brought up are because i don’t wanna get married to a Nigerian man ONLY or that i dont want to go back to live in Nigeria, or that most of my friends aren’t Nigerian and the ones that are aren’t Nigerian enough, or that i dont listen to Nigerian music….i mean the list goes on and on. People always find one reason or another as to why I’m not Nigerian enough… I have actually talked to my mom about it cause at one point i started thinking that my mom was disappointed in me because of all these things. She assured me that she was not!

    But i have come to accept who I am… and in talking to other people who came from strong cultures its nice to know I’m not the only one going thru these things!

    • SandraJinki

      I feel you as a Nigerian. I have some Nigerian friends and when we talk about guys and i tell them i am not interested in dating a Nigerian , they gasp, tsk, and shake their head. but i stopped caring a long time ago (to be honest i don’t think i ever cared.) and when we (my sisters and i) go to a Nigerian gathering it’s so awkward, like when my moms friends want to talk to us they all use English (accompanied with that look) or even worst force us to reply in our language. even when i was in Nigeria i only spoke English so i guess we always stood out as the groups of sister that don’t know how to speak their mother tongue.

      did they really send you back to Nigeria alone ?? if my parents thought of doing that i would tie myself to a pole lol

      • koala_101

        HAHAHAHA gurl i feel ya! I just dont care anymore either…if its not this, its another thing! Gotta shake off those haters!

        No i was sent back to stay with family. My school was a boarding school so i was there most of the time!

    • Sorry, I got a bit excited at your comment: my groomsmen at our wedding was Nigerian. Joe. Same as you: he left the Nigeria when he was pretty young. Damn I miss eating at his place :D

  170. NinaFromSweden

    Yay… I’ve finally gotten it down to continue posting replies on this site. I am just lazy.

    But this topic is perfect for me. Like Dan, I too was adopted and now live in Sweden. I’ve gotten this kind of question a million times, mainly because as born Korean I look very different from the stereotypical tall, blond and blue eyed people of Sweden. I am short, black haired and have almost black eyes (they’re brown really, but it’s hard to tell). I also get confused a lot for an newer immigrant unless I open my mouth (and speak fluent Swedish).

    But as for identity, as you say, it depends on the culture that you hold closest. I may have been born Korean, but I share sooooooo few traits of the Korean lifestyle. This was something I realised only after my first (and so far only) revisit to Korea. I looked the same as to everyone, but I couldn’t understand cultural references, language or customs. I was literally a foreigner in a Korean body, and that revelation was something I think that I needed. If someone would ask me today I’d say I am born Korean, but my inner self is 90 % Swedish. I do share a lot of things that I have adopted from Korea, that are close to my preferences, but I could never become Korean again. I still hold Korea very close, after all it’s the culture I was born from, but I can’t think of myself leaving my life and what I know to change completely. I guess what I am trying to say is that I try to be open-minded, and yet I know what I like.

    One more thing I can say however is that being born somewhere else helped open my interest for the world. It helped me be interested of other cultures than the one I live in, and I love that because it’s helped me to discover a lot of cultures that are amazing. We often tend to think from what we’ve been raised with (something I noticed when I was studying in China, and had a number of American friends who kept asking me what my Major was. For the record, I still don’t know. I’ve only gone to Universities as Colleges in Sweden are pretty much none-existant and most would go to a University (and many never finish a Major there, since Bachelors give you credits and they are first). And to get back to my point, it can sometimes be very different from what we’re used to. Hence, why I love talking to people like you all.

  171. I’m a Yonsei (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yonsei_(fourth-generation_Nikkei)) so the child of at least one parent who was born Japanese in America (for me specifically, Peru. Mother’s parents and their parents were all full Japanese and immigrated, grew up and stayed in Peru) and my family moved to Australia where I was born and raised. The idea and pressure of a specific cultural identity makes me super uncomfortable, my mum always called herself Peruvian even though she was completely Japanese but she only spoke Spanish (and then eventually English of course) and never learnt Japanese (she was the youngest and never had much desire to move to Japan or learn to speak Japanese like other members of her family). My dad is full Peruvian so here’s a Yonsei who is half Peruvian growing up in Australia haha, I learnt to speak English and Spanish and my household is a blend of both Peruvian and Japanese culture (speak spanish, eat Japanese and Peruvian food). I think there’s a big emphasis in Australia for multiculturalism, especially where I grew up and I dont think I’d call myself Australian, from other foreigners’/familys’ perceptions I am Australian but it’s such a diluted term from my own perspective. And travelling to Peru and Japan to visit family, it isn’t really of a culture shock, sure they know Im a foreigner definitely but Iv’e never had that pressure to be ‘Australian/Peruvian/Japanese’. And I think its funny thinking back on my family, we’ve got sooooo much family on both sides. All my dad’s familt is easy, they all speak Spanish done. But I go to Japan (and Peru) to see my Mum’s family and its crazy, they all either be speaking Spanish or English to me and if that doesn’t work they’ll be throwing out rapid fire Japanese and Portuguese and you see these huge family gatherings of just all these languages being thrown around and these a very Japanese or Peruvian looking people just switching languages all over the place like its the most normal thing. I most likely lost the point somewhere really early on, its 2am hah. But I think, embrace everything you are or you want to embrace, do whatever, screw weird people and their uptight patriotism. My family and life are awesome and so crazy and I wish I could talk more or be more succinct but words are really hard gosh darn, I wish we could just have like autobiographies/histories on our families done bam in front of us easy.

  172. CruisingTheSpectrum

    This is such an interesting topic, and one I can relate to. I was born in India, and lived there for 11 years. I’ve been living in Florida for almost 9 years now. It’s home but I remember when I got my citizenship, I struggled with the same question. Am I American? Indian? Indian-American? I did not have an answer though because when I’m here, I’m “the Indian” who has Indian food, wears Indian clothes, speaks the language etc. But when I visit India, it’s the total opposite. People seem surprised I remember the language, or that I can handle the spiciness of the food. English, in India, has the same distinction it has in South Korea, where it is impressive if someone knows it fluently. In my case, since I speak it everyday, English-speaking is a habit. But when I go to India, I have to tone it down because people think I am showing off. I completely stand out, even though, at least to me, I look the same. It’s a weird experience, one I do not really like. So even though I love my family back in India,, I really avoid visiting. I know! Bad.

    P.S – Martina, you look AMAZING!!

    • kaekaed

      have you ever experienced this in India? My Indian-American friend says when she visits her family and she is trying to get a deal or get tickets for a tourist attraction (Taj Mahal etc), she lets her family do all the talking. she doesn’t say a word. Because as soon as they hear the trace of American accent, they’ll charge her more.

  173. waterlilly

    My mother is from Asia and my father is european so I grew up with both cultures and we constantly moved between Asia and Europe. I don’t feel entirely home in either of my parents countries.

  174. SHINeeUKShawol
    SHINeeUKShawol

    in my house we have to take off our shoes too and in EVERY SINGLE other Bengali house i’ve been to in England! it’s normal!
    when i’ve been back to Bangladesh, everyone can tell we’re from another country (mainly cos we wear ‘western’ clothes)and then you kinda get tested out on how you do in speaking the language when you visit relatives, which is kinda annoying!

    an interesting question i’ve had asked to me about last year was, since i’m from another country but born in England, what language do i think in? i easily said English! though i can speak Bengali, i only speak the language with my parent and my grandma! (and any other much older relatives)

  175. I’m American and usually we don’t take our shoes off. But for some reason when I visited my grandma’s house when she was still alive, she always had us take our shoes off before we went onto the carpet. She wouldn’t throw a fit if we didn’t, but if we didn’t she would constantly be telling us that it is okay to take our shoes off (basically hinting that she wants them off, haha). And when I visited some of my friends when I was younger, if I was going to stay there for a while I’d also take off my shoes. But it wasn’t a requirement, it was just because it was more comfortable.

  176. Monika Zubkiewicz
    Monika Zubkiewicz

    My parents immigrated from Poland so I grew up in the states. I remember growing up and being sent to Polish school and it was absolute torture. Our parents struggled to keep the language going in the house, but going back to the motherland every other year allowed my brother and I to practice the language.

    However, we were always the “Americans.” It literally doesn’t matter how Polish we acted, the older we got, the more evident it was. We lived completely different lives from our family. We didn’t grow up on the farm like our cousins so of course I couldn’t stand the smell in the pig sty. Our friends in Poland asked us a million questions, ones we thought were pretty stupid like, “What are black people like?”

    I put forth an effort in high school to clean up my Polish, so I learned the parts or reading I got confused with and was finally able to read and write. Likewise, I’d watch Disney movies and cartoons in Polish to further expand my vocabulary. Now, I consider myself fluent, but I still know I’m being held to this standard to sound perfect.

    Once I slip up, people will correct me. It doesn’t matter if the WHOLE day I’ve been talking perfectly, I will be corrected. I think that’s the worst. Also being asked, “Do you understand?” while someone is saying something. When I don’t understand, I ask, but I don’t like people assuming just because I’m an American that my Polish is that much lesser.

  177. OOOOOOooooooOooooooOhh, I forgot to comment on the shoe thing! I live in the United States and I have to say, I always keep my shoes on in houses and our guests do the same. Unless the people have nice carpet or expensive floors or something and tell you not do wear your shoes, which is seen as kinda jerk-y but it’s generally understood gracefully. It’s viewed as taking off your shoes being dirty for your socks or feet. It’s like a male guest taking off his shirt or something; it just doesn’t feel right to remove your attire. It also seems far too casual of a thing to do if you don’t know the people well. It’s like how women talk about taking off their bras when they come home from a long day – that wouldn’t be the best or most proper thing to do at someone’s house xD

    Basically unless it’s a friends house and I’m staying for awhile, or unless the people do not wish for people to wear shoes in their house, the idea of taking off my shoes is uncomfortable and too informal. I don’t know many who tell people to take off their shoes, either. I agree with the 90% estimate Jen gave. My family – intermediate and otherwise – would find it strange if someone took off their shoes and might even take offense as the guest behaving too casually and carelessly.

  178. CamilleFauque

    I think everyone feels the need to fit in and one of the biggest ones is national/cultural identity. My parents are from one country, I was born in another, and I live in yet another. So I’ve had my share of cultural identity crises. Whenever people ask me where are you from. I always pause and depending on who is asking, what country I am in ,or even my mood- my answer will differ. I think Leslie Fiedler said it best: “When I’m in America, I have no doubt I’m a Jew, but I have strong doubts about whether I’m really an American. And when I go to Israel, I know I’m an American, but I have strong doubts about whether I’m a Jew.”

  179. amanogawatea
    amanogawatea

    As an American, it really depends on the home I’m in! Like in my house, I always take my shoes off. (Or my mom gets angry.) If I’m going to my friends house for more than half an hour or so and it’s clean, I’ll take my shoes off. But if I’m just stopping by somewhere, or my friend’s house’s floor is dirty, I’ll keep them on! Another thing that a few Americans have are house shoes. My dad will change from his “outside” shoes to his “indoor” shoes, which are a pair of really old tennis shoes. I think this is more of an older generation thing though. I notice that older Americans leave their shoes on indoors more than younger Americans.

    I read an article in high school that’s related to this topic (“Blaxicans” and Other Reinvented Americans by Richard Rodriguez), and I think it’s really interesting. Racial identification is pretty black and white, but I find cultural identification to be a really gray subject!!! In a book I read called Sarah’s Key, a woman moved to France in her early 20s, and had lived there for 25+ years. She had lived in France more than she had lived in America, yet she was still identified and labeled as an American. Racially she was not French, but she lived in France and was immersed in their culture. What is she then? (American-French?? lol)

    I think that a lot of people assume that racial and cultural identification go hand in hand (ex. You are Chinese, so your culture must be centered around a Chinese culture), in the past, I myself have assumed that because someone was one race, their culture had to be the one most centered around that race. I know in the United States, we tend to put one’s “original” culture/race before their “current” culture/race. Like, African-American, Polish-American, ect. I usually follow off of that? So a Korean person living in Canada would be a Korean-Canadian, and you two would be Canadian-Korean. …But even then, I don’t know if that’s the correct way to identify someone.

    It’s fascinating that our world has become so diverse, I love it a lot, but I feel like as we become more and more diverse, we run into big questions about how to identify. And because we don’t really have historical insight on how to answer this question since it’s a new issue, it’s difficult to answer.

  180. Luna9126

    I never identify myself as an American especially when I’m overseas. I’m Puerto Rican. Lol Puerto ricans are Americans. I’m in South Korea right now and I have people ask me where I was from I told them Puerto Rico that’s an island close to the Bahamas . Its not a lack of pride that I do this but the US have a bad rep overseas and I’m more proud being a Puerto Rican. As for the shoes in the house in the US. Yup everyone wears the shoes in the house. The floors are Cold!. In Puerto Rico no shoes in the house you walk mainly barefoot. I love it lol.

  181. merlin87tx

    This is actually a topic that has been brought up around me quite a bit. I was born in Korea but raised outside the country for most of my life. Now I’ve been living in Korea for 6 years now, going on 7. Technically, I am a Gyopo. Though when people ask me what country I identify with most, I have a hard time answering. In Korea, even though my Korean has gotten much better and I have a pretty solid understanding of the culture, I am still considered ‘the American.”

    While in America, I have had almost everyone I meet ask about my heritage because “I don’t look white.” It was extremely confusing to me in my youth. That’s pretty much me in a nutshell, half Scot and half Korean. I’m the kid that had a foot in two different cultures but never really was ushered into one or the other.

    I would agree with you that after some time, culture may almost be irrelevant due to people moving to other countries and implementing their own ideals into the mainstream culture. In essence, yes, there will really be no “one pure country” anymore. Yes, I’m sure many will fight it. Say that “these immigrants are trying to erase what our country is,” but it’s an inevitability. I mean, look at culture history. There’s multiple examples there.

    I will say that I hope Korea will be a bit more open towards foreigners though. Sure, there are MANY that are very accepting and curious of outside cultures but there are just as many that have ill-conceived notions of the outside world. Will a foreigner ever really be Korean, whether or not they’ve lived there for years on end or completely comprehend the culture? Probably not. Not at this point, anyway. I’m afraid to say, and am slightly hesitant to, that Korea is one of the many countries that hold their country pride over acceptance of others and their cultures.

  182. the Maroon Marvel
    the Maroon Marvel

    we don’t walk in our house with shoes on, but that’s cuz my mom [rightfully] doesn’t trust most of us to not get everything filthy nasty if we did :P shoes are only okay in like the kitchen and back room because there are doors in those rooms to the outside, and kitchen chairs provide a shoe application station that is often lacking in the usual ‘take your shoes off at the door’ policy of everywhere in japan when i have lace-ups on =w=;

  183. Trishshi

    You know what you are? You’re Human! No matter what color/race/religion you are the one thing that no one can take away from you is the fact that you’re Human. Why put yourself in a certain category? Why feel bad or awkward because your not Polish enough or Korean enough of whatever. Just be yourself and let the others deal with it. Screw them if you’re not enough of something to please them. Establishing your own identity and being proud of it is all that matters because in the end that can can make you truly happy. At least it works for me ;)

  184. Sammw

    Fascinating article. I totally see where you are coming from that even though you are Polish you have adapted (If that’s right) to Korean/Canadian ways so therefore you are more Korean then you are Polish. Yeah cultural identity is changing, Ugh i can’t explain what i mean but i understand.

  185. xuan6793
    xuan6793

    I definitely know where the both of you are coming from,I was born in Guangdong,China, but grew up in Peru , I live here for more than 18 years already and speak spanish more fluently than chinese. The thing is, I went back to China when I was 18 years,more than 15 years from when I left, and there was a ton of pressure or even shaming for not speaking chinese, in the chinese airline that we travelled in, the chinese stewardess almost yelled at me for not knowing, saying things like HOW CAN YOU BE CHINESE AND NOT KNOW CHINESE?, even when I tried to communicate with her in english, which I learnt in a cram school. In my family, they also didn´t let me speak chinese because it wasn´t uderstandable, BUT even then, they inforced the asian pride, of marrying another chinese guy at all cost.
    On the other side, here in Peru, there is not much asian population , so it is very common to point out that you are the exception, or rather ´not so included´, having all those kinds of asian stereotypes put on to you.
    And still , my customs are very chinese, I still feel very chinese, but I also feel peruvian. IT IS ALL SO CONFUING BUT INDEED INTERESTING.
    PD:THE MAKE UP LOOK LOOKS AMAZIIIING!! GOOD JOB JEN &MARTINA! LOVE YOU BOTH!

  186. kpopbrandy

    I am never sure how to identify. I don’t want to identify as American because that typically means you are Native American or you are a mix and you don’t identify as any of the other things you are or you don’t know what you are. XD I guess when people ask I identify as German/Irish since those are what I mainly am. But I do also identify as Native American because I am that too. If you ever see my mom’s dad he really looks native american. but my mom’s mom look super Irish and the German is all from my dad’s side of the family who all look really German to me, broad shoulders and such. I guess I really am all of those things. So that’s how I identify. But I also really do love Korean Culture, Language and Food XD and music so I identify as a Irish/German/Native American/ Korea Lover! Yea! <3

  187. calebburke4
    calebburke4

    I love you guys! :D

    Your videos make me want to do an exchange program in Korea (Sookmyung Culinary Academy actually).

    I have a question though, I know you did the TL;DR on homosexuality in Korea but what about those who are transgender in Korea. As a transgender and possible exchange student (should my paperwork and everything go through and I get accepted) I’m curious to know what kind of obstacles I may or may not come across. It would be so awesome to have this discussed :D

  188. I was born in the Philippines but grew up in the States. I haven’t been to the PI since I was a baby, about 20 years. Went there for vacation recently and dressed to fit in. I hung out with my cousin and her friends. They talk mostly in English so I join the conversion, her friends quickly discerned that I was a foreigner. They said I had a slang in my English that was easily picked up. I was surprised because I thought English is English, is there a different way Americans speak English?

  189. irritablevowel
    irritablevowel

    My parents were both born in Puerto Rico, but I was born in the states and I don’t speak Spanish. I get judged for not speaking Spanish ALL.OF.THE.TIME. It’s really quite annoying. Also, sometimes Puerto Ricans from the island will get snippy if you weren’t born on the island and call yourself Puerto Rican. To everyone else I say I’m Puerto Rican, but I’m to other Puerto Ricans I say,”My parents were born in Puerto Rico.” because there is no handy term like “gyopo” to use instead. I’d say most don’t really care about the semantics of it, but some do, so I err on the side of caution rather than get a big speech.

  190. Simon, I don’t think you guise should worry about what to be called! You’re simply Canadians, with Polish/Croatian heritage, who have lived in Korea for a good chunk of your adult lives, and therefore are expats! You don’t have to fit into one word – you maybe can with a sentence but xD I personally don’t think there’s one word to refer to such multiculturedness (it’s a word now, dang it) and that there doesn’t have to be.

    It was so nice seeing Jen on here! This is my first time seeing her! She’s seems so nice and sweet! I really enjoyed this video and seeing Martina and Jen speak with each other. By the way, I love her little dog a lot! :)

  191. Akira-Miyashi
    Akira-Miyashi

    Jen did a wonderful job with the makeup! Wow~
    And about the shoes in house, I guess it’s my bad to think that all westerners wear their shoes in the house. I didn’t know that Canadians take their shoes off too. LOL. I blame the media.

  192. Javii_Mii

    About the leaving shoes on: I never did that the first 19 years of my life, couldn’t stand it at all. But since I live at my own place I only put them off when I go to bed or to shower o.O …. then again a lot as changed … Like: My laziness reached a whole new level with University o: I don’t even bother to wear a pajama at night anymore.

  193. Nic My Korean Husband

    Jen is so nice!

    One of my biggest pet peeves in Korean dramas is when there is a Korean American character and they act completely Korean! They will have apparently grown up in the states and then they arrive in Korea and besides from one weird sentence or misunderstanding to show they are “Korean American” they then effortlessly fit into Korean culture! Whhhhatttt. Even just being outside of Korea for a few years can be difficult for people and there are mistakes they make when they come back. One of the times we came to Korea and got a hotel and Hugh was checking the room and walked straight in with his shoes on and was quickly told to take them off. He apologised and said he has been in Australia (yes many Australians wear shoes inside, just how things are but I think also due to our climate we do a lot more outdoor living and have outdoor living space and are going inside and outside a lot more).

    One of Hugh’s pet peeves is some types of Korean Americans, or other types of Koreans… basically those who were born in other countries/grew up in other countries, speaking on behalf of all Koreans. You see this type of thing on certain websites…. you might have mentioned one in your blog post… He doesn’t like someone who didn’t grow up in Korea tell a wider audience that “this is how all Koreans are” or “Koreans think like this”. He doesn’t think he speaks for all Koreans either, but as a Korean who grew up in Korea, his opinion may not be the same as someone who grew up in another country. Another big factor is that someone who grew up as a minority in a country may have a different outlook to someone who grew up as part of the majority. Most Koreans grow up as part of the majority. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but lets just say that Hugh doesn’t appreciate… lets just say… some Korean Americans online… speaking on behalf of him, especially when it’s criticising anyone who has an interest in Korean culture.

    That said, Jen seems amazing and it was so nice to see her acknowledge that there are differences between Korean Americans and Korean Koreans and the struggles Korean Americans face while in Korea. I’d love to see more realistic representations of that in dramas.

  194. Stormcloud28

    I really enjoyed this video!^^
    I myself am German. I was born here and lived in Germany until I was 9 and then my family moved to Canada. And now five and a half years later(that was in December, I was 14 at the time. I’m 15 now) we moved back to Germany. Honestly, all this moving sucks haha.
    Anyways, what I’m trying to get at is that I feel quite different from all the Germans here, despite the fact I’m German. It’s like I’m a foreigner of some sort. I know German though not quite as well as I’d like to know it, especially with all the slang. Some people would say something or pronounce a word a certain way and I have no idea what it means.
    In Canada I felt proud of the fact I was German and now that I live in Germany again I feel proud of the fact that I lived in Canada. It’s like I feel like a Canadian despite the fact I never was Canadian, just an immigrant. It’s like I don’t quite know if I consider myself German or Canadian, though technically I’m German xD it’s hard to explain, I just hope this wasn’t too confusing haha^^’

  195. RoseFang

    So this is going to sound insane; but my experience with being “outside my mother land” is actually not that I have left my country. I grew up in Colorado which is a liberal state in the western US and about a year and a half ago I moved to Alabama, which is in the deep south. Holy cow, you guys, let me tell you, I spent my first three months of work asking people to repeat themselves four or five times ands sometimes they had to write things down for me to understand. Ebonics and fast talking southern are 100% a completely different languages from what I grew up with, and I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked where I’m from. In Alabama, if you aren’t from Alabama you are an outsider. I might as well be from a different planet. I went into culture shock and it took me forever to make friends.

    • Ha! You know, whenever we think about the United States, we don’t really think of it as one country, but – like – 50. There are so many different cultures and – thanks to us watching the Daily Show – different values that each state has. It’s hard to understand how it’s just one country, really.

      • RoseFang

        OH my gosh! It’s so true. I’ve been to seven states, and lived in three-they’re all completely unique and people judge each other based on where they’re from. Each state has its own dialect and slang. The cultures are VASTLY different. The fashion and make up and style. For example, I have a giant lion tattoo on my chest, which in colorado and california was absolutely fine, people were always saying they loved it. Out here in alabama, I have literally had people walk up to me and say, “Why would such a pretty girl want to ruin her body like that.”

      • the Maroon Marvel
        the Maroon Marvel

        i’m going to steal this explanation if you don’t mind. whenever i get asked questions about america, especially with the context of “it’s like this in my country; what about your’s?” i end up starting with uhhh america is stupidly huge so i can only answer for a small part of it…. which never really conveys the problem to people who haven’t been or live in very homogenous? idk countries where customs and whatnot are identical-ish throughout the country…. i mean damn we have different legal marriage ages depending on what state you’re in!
        at this point i think we’ve only remained a single nation through stubborn pride :P

        • RoseFang

          Absolutely! linguistically and culturally the United States of America makes no sense. When we get down to the very core of it, each state has state pride the way many countries have national pride. We identify a lot more regionally than we do as a country. When someone asks where I’m from my first reaction is Colorado not the United States. My mother was an international flight attendant for much of her young adult life and she always compared our moving from state to state the way people go from country to country on vacation in europe.

      • Daedrey

        It really is crazy how different we all are across the country. While we have our American pride, we also have pride in our regions and individual states and cities.

        For example, I’m from the city of Cincinnati in the southwest of Ohio, right around where it meets Indiana and Kentucky via the Ohio River. So I live in the midwest and there is definitely a pride attached to that. We have our opinions on the east coast and the south, etc. There are also commonalities between the midwest states that I’ve heard from people who aren’t. Like, people from the midwest are polite. I know from a couple trips to New York City that, at least in the urban area, people aren’t quite as friendly. That midwest personality is so ingrained in me that all I could think was that a huge chunk of people from NYC are just plain rude.

        Then we have state pride. Even where I live, where it is only 10 minutes from my actual house to cross into another state, we tend to think the other state sucks. The Ohioans have things to say about the people who live in Indiana or Kentucky (though Kentucky seems to be picked on the most), and vice versa. Especially when driving. I will admit that, on occasion, I’ve yelled at stupid drivers to go back to Indiana or where ever. Heck, just yesterday I was stuck behind a car from New York and dude could not drive at all.

        There is the city pride. We have our opinions about the other cities in Ohio, even though we all band together supporting Ohio. My city Cincinnati and Cleveland don’t tend to get along. We both have professional baseball and football teams, so we’re automatically rivals. The things I’ve seen online, it is crazy the amount of dislike we have in each other.

        And in my city itself, there is the east side/west side pride. My city is pretty much divided in half by highways and the people in this city have such stereotypes about those who live on each side. I’m guilty of this, I’m a total west sider, the attitude has been ingrained in me since birth.

        There are so many little intricate things that divide us, and yet at the same time unite us. It is a really weird and complicated mess. That is why, when I’ve had people ask me about how things are done (or even just said, the way we speak across regions/states/etc is another tricky mess) in the US, I have to specify that my answer is about where I live, in my city. So in a way, it is very true to say that each state is a country in and of itself.

    • Brittnay Bond
      Brittnay Bond

      Depending on where you are in Alabama sometimes you still have to ask people to repeat themselves. I’ve lived in south Alabama all my life, and sometimes it happens. Alabamians don’t really enunciate well xP

    • TheArrowPen

      This comment also made me think of the “Polish history” remark Simon made in the blog post, about how he was chastised for not knowing enough Polish history. I’m from Michigan, and from an area where knowing your town’s history is completely unimportant. The fact that there’s even a book written about the town I grew up in is weird to me. Now I know a bunch of east coast people and they are CONSTANTLY relating everything to how things are done where they’re from, or to events that happened in their towns, either during their own lifetimes or during the town’s history. One day I was waiting to turn left at a red light and my passenger from MA commented that I’d have pulled up further if I were an MA driver. I was….bemused. Maybe it’s because the US started on the east coast so there’s just a lot more history to be had out there, but I found it really interesting because none of that is all that important where I’m from.

      In other news, I am a shoes-off house. My family’s house is sort of half and half. We mostly take our shoes off when we come in, but it’s not a huge deal if, say, I put on a pair of dress shoes in my bedroom and walk out of the house wearing them.

  196. I am Korean-American living in California. I was two when I moved to the United States. I have been back a couple of times to visit family. And I always immediately stood out in terms of fashion and just hundreds of little ways. I can speak the language, but my honorifics are all messed up. When I was younger, I used to use it as an out card to speak less English. Or I’d always be apologizing, oh, I’m sorry, but I don’t know the proper way to speak English.

    It would also upset me because they are so outspoken in Korea about being even a tiny little bit overweight. They’re always trying to “fix” it. It’s tough.

    I do appreciate being Korean and Korean food more now than when I was growing up. We used to eat Korean food every day, and I always wanted to eat “America” style or be like other kids growing up. I moved to Tennessee when I was 2, so it was not at all diverse. Then we moved to California which is way more diverse.

    The other thing is that I don’t look Korean. No one thinks I look Korean. They’re always like are you Chinese? Are you whatever? Anything but Korean. So I feel like I have a double whammy that even if I spoke perfect Korean, I do not look Korean although both my mom and dad are Korean.

    • Bikyuh

      I’m in the same boat, Kyung. I t

    • Bikyuh

      I’m in the same boat, Kyung. I think that it’s easier for some Koreans to think you are Chinese instead of an overweight Korean (ie. not stick thin). The topic of Korean identity is something I think many Korean-Americans think about. I’m glad you guys talked about it here.

  197. Chrissy

    My parents are from Guangzhou, China and growing up, I spoke Cantonese at home, but similar is Simon, I dropped it for English. We actually have a word for us American born Chinese, juk sing (竹升) and there’s the stereotypes that we can’t speak the mother language at all, don’t like to eat Chinese food, only like Western things, etc. It is hard to say what my cultural identity is. As a juk sing, we’re all very different, some may entirely embrace the Western culture, while others want to embrace both.

    By the way, love the makeup look, Martina~

  198. Hello! I’m an Persian-American. My parents had immigrated from Iran. I grew up in LA in a big Persian family. I speak Farsi well, but I have an accent and my reading/writing skills are terrible. I understand the culture and I love learning about Persian history. There are, however, some things that irk me about Persian culture. As a girl, I’m supposed to dress “modestly”, speak quietly before my elders, and serve tea about every five minutes. My family has modernized, and they don’t really expect much of that anymore. Occasionally, I’ll get a great-uncle ask me what’s wrong with me, why can’t I act like a good Persian girl, etc. I’ll say that I’m American. But this isn’t just an Iranian-American problem. I have friends in Iran who complain about that too, so I guess it’s more of a traditional vs modern problem.

    Occasionally people will bug me about not reading Farsi well, but I always respond that I don’t need to read well. I rarely visit Iran, and never by myself. Besides, I speak and write in three other languages, so that usually shuts them up.

    It’s easy being an Iranian-American though, especially in LA. There’s so many of us! Iran’s political situation isn’t one that many of us wish to return to, anyway.

  199. Allison Charmaine

    I haven’t watched the video yet (I like to read your blog posts first because they’re so rich with details) but I agree with your writing here Simon…what is cultural identity? I’m half Indian and half Black but I live in Jamaica. I can’t identify with my Indian family here because they like to remind me that they’re “more Indian” than me because I’m part black. I can’t identify with any family I may have in India because I don’t know them because my family has been in Jamaica for generations. I have cousins that are British, Canadian and American…they identify as Jamaican and black because of their parents, but also as British/Canadian or American because they’re citizens of those countries. They have biracial children who are half black and half white…who identify as Jamaican and a citizen of whatever country they’re living in.
    What is cultural identity? In the future, I think these borders we’ve established won’t matter any more…well…I hope they won’t matter.
    I know you and Martina get a lot of flack from people online because you haven’t learned Korean to the high level they expect of you, but I think that’s ridiculous. I have friends who are expats in other countries and can’t speak a word of the language but like you eat the food daily, pay taxes, participate in English speaking community and contribute to the country in different ways.
    Are you guys Korean? Mmm, I don’t think so, but are you guys committed to creating a life in Korea, oh definitely. I love how unique your experience is because you’re creating a niche…expats who are contributing to the economy while sharing your perspective with foreigners who are interested in learning about Korea.

    • I’m glad you like the blog posts! I like to write (actually more than I like to talk on camera). I actually wanted to be an author for a while, until I realized that every literary genius was miserable. I chose happiness over immortality, though I still do enjoy writing a bit from time to time :D

  200. OrionSouthernStar
    OrionSouthernStar

    Growing up in America, I remember that wearing shoes inside the house was quite common. After traveling Asia, visiting Korea and living in Japan for 13 years, I can’t imagine leaving my shoes while entering someone’s home. Seems so wrong and dirty for some reason.

  201. Isolda13

    I hate leaving my shoes on! My fiance does it all the time and I really don’t like it! If you want something on your feet then wear slippers. Or let them be freeee, freeee as the wind~

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