December 3, 2015
So, I’d like to start by addressing the complexity of the title, which I’m sure some people are going to be up in arms about (I’m looking at you, Tumblr). Basically, let me start by saying that I don’t know how to phrase this topic. Let me explain some of the ideas behind it, and then maybe you can help me understand how to conceptualize it:
Basically, as we’ve suggested in this video, we’ve been living in Korea for over 7 years now, and it’s impacted us in many ways. It’d be ridiculous for it NOT to have changed us. Anywhere you live changes the kind of person you are. My parents moved to Canada from Poland and became more Canadian, and we moved to Korea from Canada and became more Korean. But, obviously, we haven’t become more Korean in ethnicity. That’s impossible. If you’re not born with it, you’ll never have it. I get that. But Korean is more than just an ethnicity, as anyone living in Korea will tell you. We have friends of Korean ethnicity that have lived overseas for the entirety of their lives, and when they go back to Korea they’re sometimes told that they’re “not Korean enough.” Well, what does “enough” mean? Korean isn’t a binary of you either are or are not. There’s a gradient in there. And that’s what we’re trying to get at here. Though we will never identify as “Korean” in ethnicity, it’d be stubborn to ignore how that gradient has colored our lives and our habits, so that’s what we’re trying to talk about here. Is that fair? I hope so.
And now, moving on to other ways in which this gradient is now part of us:
Or should I say, parking. We’ve driven the Eatyourkimchi Mobile for over 10000km in Korea now, and holy hot shit I will never get used to how bad driving in Korea is here. The lack of signalling, the running of reds and jamming of intersections, the changing of lanes without checking blindspots, the making of left hand turns from the rightmost lane, the parking WHEREVER THE FUCK THEY WANT TO PARK without consideration of anyone else: no, I have not adopted any of those habits, and I’m infuriated by them on a daily basis when I drive. What I have adopted, though, is Korea’s superior parking skills. Where Korea lacks in driving it makes up for in parking. Whoa. I can now reverse park my car into freaking ANYTHING. Seriously: the parking spots here are so tight that I oftentimes literally cannot open my door to get out afterwards. If I’m with Martina, I let her out first and then park. But I’ve never scratched another car ever. I’m that damned good. I can’t drive into a parking spot to save my life, but I can reverse park like a demi-god.
Holy crap is this ever a silly one and I apologize if it’s a bit too simple, but I’m ultra conscientious when I accept business cards from someone. Take it with two hands, bow like I always bow at freaking everything, read the card thoroughly, flip it over, read that sign as well. There’s nothing smooth or subtle about how I accept business cards. That’s how I was told that I should accept business cards here, and everyone I know does it and I get nervous whenever I get new cards. Interestingly, though: I don’t have any business cards of my own. I don’t really believe in having them. I’d like to work with people that know who we are. If you have to give someone a business card, then they don’t know who you are, and then you have to explain who you are, and then there can be misunderstanding. If you already know who we are, though, then there’s a much better chance that we could work together easily. See what I mean?
This isn’t something we’re proud of, but it’s something that – as small business owners – kind of came out of necessity. And it’s something that really struck us a couple of weeks ago when we were in Tokyo. We were speaking with a YouTuber named Jason from Hong Kong. As we were drinking together, we saw that he was getting significantly drunker than us. In fact, we were barely buzzed. And he told us that there’s a saying in Hong Kong, supposedly: never drink with someone from either China, Taiwan, or Korea, because you’ll get messed up. And I thought, really? Yet as I saw him slowly tipping over the edge, and I could still probably juggle chainsaws just fine if I wanted to, I realized that the years we’ve spent in Korea have really bolstered our alcohol tolerance. We don’t get drunk anymore. Is that a Korean thing, or is that just a responsible drinking thing? I don’t know, but I definitely can say that pre-Korea Simon was a lightweight. This Simon now, alcohol has no power over.
We’re not the most beautiful people out there, so smiling won’t cut it for a good pictures with us. We need to pose, and hot-damn do we ever have that down pat. We’ll do the V’s beside our faces, we’ll poke our cheeks, we’ll cover our cheeks, we’ll do hearts, we’ll do it all. Thank you Korea for not only teaching us how to do this to hide our unimpressive looks, but also for making it so second-nature in us that we don’t even think about it anymore.
DON’T BE A BARBARIAN! TAKE YOUR SHOES OFF WHEN YOU’RE IN THE HOUSE COME ON NOW!! Ok no you’re not a barbarian if you wear shoes indoors, but we feel really gross now wearing shoes inside. Even when we visited friends who told us to keep our shoes on we took them off. It felt weird. And we shout at the TV when we see people wearing shoes indoors, especially in bed. IN BED?! HOW ARE YOU DOING THAT ARE YOU CRAZY?! Ok I need to breathe. Ahhhh. And, yes, I know this isn’t distinctly a Korean thing, but it never bothered me that much when I lived in Canada. Now, even if I’m running into the house for something important, like to grab my wallet or take an explosive poop, I’ll still take off my shoes. I wasn’t that strict before.
Ok, that’s it for our list. If you’ve grown up in one place and moved somewhere else, how has that new place affected you? I’d love to hear it! I think with international travel being so much easier now than it is before, our sense of cultural identity is becoming so much more fluid than it ever was, and even though the bigotry and racism of xenophobes might get in the way sometimes, this generation is dissolving borders at a really fast rate. Well, I think so at least.