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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. 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).

    5 years ago
  2. 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

    5 years ago
    • And I really want an editing option too, auto-correct mistakes everywhere!! X’3

      5 years ago
  3. 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!!).

    5 years ago
  4. 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.

    5 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.

      5 years ago
  5. 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.

    5 years ago
  6. 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.

    5 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.

      5 years ago
  7. 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.

    5 years ago
  8. 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?

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

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

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

      5 years ago
  10. 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..

    5 years ago
  11. 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 ^_^

    5 years ago
  12. 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

    5 years ago
  13. 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”?

    5 years ago
  14. 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

    5 years ago
  15. 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!

    5 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!

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

      5 years ago
  16. 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.

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

      5 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.

      5 years ago
      • DD

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

        5 years ago
  17. 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!

    5 years ago
  18. 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.

    5 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

      5 years ago
  19. 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

    5 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,

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

        5 years ago
  20. 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!

    5 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.

    5 years ago
  22. 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…

    5 years ago
  23. 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. :)

    5 years ago
  24. 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.

    5 years ago
  25. 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

    5 years ago
  26. 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.

    5 years ago
    • Thank you! Everyone at the Polish fan meet made me feel very comfortable. So comfortable, in fact, that I felt guilty at how nice everyone was. Ha!

      5 years ago
  27. 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?

    5 years ago
  28. 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.

    5 years ago
  29. 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).

    5 years ago
  30. 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)

    5 years ago
    • 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)).

      5 years ago
  31. 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.)

    5 years ago
  32. 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.

    5 years ago
  33. 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.

    5 years ago
    • 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.

      5 years ago
  34. 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.

    5 years ago
  35. 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…

    5 years ago
  36. 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

    5 years ago
  37. 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.

    5 years ago
  38. (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?

    5 years ago
  39. 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.

    5 years ago
  40. 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.

    5 years ago