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The Gyopo Experience ft Jen!

July 10, 2014


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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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The Gyopo Experience ft Jen!


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  1. Ka

    I’m from Hong Kong and I’m not a mixed child/foreigner so I’m Chinese but I go to an international school so its slightly different to the Gyopo experience but also really similar. English is my first language but my mother tongue is Cantonese. In our school we have a choice of languages to choose and I chose French (most of the Chinese people in my school chose Mandarin) so I don’t really know how to read or write Chinese anymore.
    In Hong Kong they call international school kids/kids that study abroad (this is referring to Chinese/Hong Kong kids) ABC’s, Bananas (yellow on the outside, white on the inside- HK is quite uh racist XD) but this doesn’t necessarily make you one if you study in international schools because there are some very very local people here XD. Apparently I don’t qualify for an ABC as I speak Cantonese fluently (Canto has 9 tones so its ridiculously hard to get tones right unless you actually speak) so I like to call people like myself “the illiterate Chinese”.
    Its really easy to differentiate the “ABCs” (the non local school kids) and the “locals”.
    Usually ABCs don’t speak Canto unless they have to. They can usually understand basic conversational Canto but they would prefer not speaking as they know their Canto is “off” (in terms of tones- its quite endearing you see to locals… they like to make jokes out of bad Canto in general OTL).
    ABCs tend to have amazing English unlike locals. The international school kids have the international school accent which pretty much refers to a mix of American/Australian/British English- some say “tomato” like a Brit but say “and” like an American LOL. Locals can understand basic conversational English but when they speak you automatically can tell- its the Chinese accent LOL.
    ABCs tend to hang out with mixed groups of people. I mean this gender wise and ethnicity wise. Locals generally are seen in groups of only Chinese girls/guys. ABCs usually hang out with different people from all around the world.
    Locals date more. Date as in instead of the groups of people, its really common to see couples from different schools. Common as in EVERYWHERE.
    ABCs are more of the American style dressing. We’re more open to shorts and tank tops, etc. Its not only dressing style, its more of everything from the attitude to our reactions (legit. even laughing is different…) and I think even the way we stand. Its really similar to Jen’s situation. They’ll look at you and ask you if you study abroad.
    Locals don’t usually like ABCs as they think “oh they have such an easy school life” “they’re just rich”, etc. ABCs don’t usually like locals because they think “they’re so weird” because they aren’t very in touch with HK culture (another reason why I don’t fit the ABC category)
    Theres a lot of differences that can’t really be described as its just a feeling (like how in school you learn to analyze people in one look) and this post will be too ridiculously long if I go on LOL. yep ^^

    6 years ago
  2. American here, I take my shoes off when I enter both my parents’ house and my own apartment. Usually the only time we’ll leave our shoes on is if we’re going to go back outside immediately. Whenever I go to a friend’s house, I always take my shoes off if I see them taking theirs off or ask if they want me to. I think because the US is such a cultural mish-mosh, there’s no hard and fast rule about shoes in the house. some families take them off, some leave them on.

    5 years ago
  3. 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!

    6 years ago
    • DD

      I’m Korean. So, I probably be not free-biased related to this topic. However, I just red your mention here and feel so sorry about what you experienced . I can assume things missing on the sentence in transition, but It might be only an assumption. If it was “거짓말…!! ” or “거짓말이죠?” something like this, it is simply “unbelievable,” “oh my god,” or simply she was frustrated and reconfirming what she heard, since it wasn’t expected. (In many cases, Korean people usually not talk much about personal information in first meeting, especially things are very complicated.) Korean conversation is very verbal and direct translation never works.
      Hope my comment help you feel better and your better experience with Korea or Korean people in future.

      5 years ago
  4. 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.

    6 years ago
  5. 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.

    6 years ago
  6. 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.


    – 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

    6 years ago
  7. 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 years ago
  8. 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? ;)

    6 years ago
    • 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.

      6 years ago
      • 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!

        6 years ago
    • 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.

      6 years ago
      • 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!

        6 years ago
  9. Rei

    I’m Korean American, born and raised in Northern Virginia my entire life. My area is actually FULL of Koreans- my high school is, I think, almost 50% Korean now! Anyways, my family always ALWAYS takes their shoes off when entering another Korean/Asian home, but if entering an American’s home, we keep our shoes on because the floors are usually really filthy.

    So, my parents taught me to use only Korean at home (whenever I meet my mom’s friends, they’re always surprised at how well I can speak Korean despite having been born in the U.S.) and they followed Korean traditions quite well, so I’m pretty familiar with a lot of mannerisms and whatnot. But, our way of thinking is soooo different (the whole individualism vs. collectivism thing). I went to Korea about two years ago for three months and was shocked at how different. I definitely consider myself Korean- like, I hold a certain amount of pride in it- but when I was in Korea, I didn’t really feel like I belonged. It was almost as if while I was in Korea, I considered myself American. It’s really strange how that works. I can’t quite explain it. And I definitely know that I didn’t blend in because I have no interest in fashion trends…but, I like to consider myself as having an equal balance of both worlds. The food is also one of the best parts! My mom makes homemade Korean food all the time so it’s rather great!!

    6 years ago
  10. 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.

    6 years ago
    • Well, you could go to Hong Kong for university as part of a study abroad program. You could also move to Hong Kong to improve your cantonese and live there as an expat. As a more drastic measure, you could also give up your Canadian citizenship and become a Chinese citizen.

      5 years ago
  11. 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.

    6 years ago
  12. Ash

    I am American and at least in my family, we always take our shoes off when we enter our home. One exception being my father, who will take his shoes off, but sometimes wears shoes in the house. I don’t think anyone can truly say what the “rule” is for whether or not you wear shoes in an American home. Our country truly is a mosaic of cultures and so it will depend on the family that lives in the house. If I’m visiting a Hmong friend, my shoes are off before I even step through the door, but maybe at another friends house I would take them off inside or (though it feels rude to me) leave them on. I always check to see what they do or whether or not they are wearing shoes when I enter their home, that’s a pretty safe method.

    5 years ago
  13. 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!

    6 years ago
    • Lol! I feel you. And I love the Bom look too.

      6 years ago
    • Twit twoo? I’ve never heard that expression before, but since you’re from England I’ll assume it has meaning. Hell, I’ll believe anything British people say about the English language!

      6 years ago
  14. 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!

    6 years ago
  15. DD

    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.

    6 years ago
    • I’m imagining this Simon and Martina clan. All of their descendents would be known the funkiest people in Korea. They could have a clan symbol of a honey badger.

      6 years ago
      • DD

        I agree with you. Spudgy will be also a legendary blue dog!

        6 years ago
    • Ha! I’ve never thought of making a clan. A commune, though, with lots of artsy people…yes!

      6 years ago
  16. 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

    6 years ago
    • 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,

      6 years ago
      • Edit 2 :
        also there arnt enough “labels” to “label” a Korean
        also there arnt enough “labels” to “label” every Korean

        6 years ago
  17. 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.

    6 years ago
    • 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

      6 years ago
  18. 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. :)

    6 years ago
  19. 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.

    6 years ago
  20. 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…

    6 years ago
  21. 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.

    6 years ago
  22. 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

    6 years ago
  23. 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!

    6 years ago
  24. 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..

    6 years ago
  25. 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”?

    6 years ago
  26. 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.

    6 years ago
  27. 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?

    6 years ago
  28. 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.

    6 years ago
    • 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.

      6 years ago
  29. 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.

    6 years ago
  30. 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.

    6 years ago
    • 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.

      6 years ago
  31. 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 ^_^

    6 years ago
  32. 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

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

    6 years ago
    • Hahahaha. The male demographic is definitely growing here lately. We’ll see if Martina keeps with a more “normal” style :D

      6 years ago
    • Martina doesn’t exist for your viewing pleasure! She should style her hair however she likes.

      6 years ago
  34. 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).

    6 years ago
  35. 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.

    6 years ago
  36. 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.

    6 years ago
  37. 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…. @[email protected]) 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!

    6 years ago
  38. 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.

    6 years ago
    • 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.

      6 years ago
  39. 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.

    6 years ago
  40. 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.

    6 years ago