Banner design by Helena, portrait by Eva


Saturday, March 03, 2007

A Japanese in Korea/ Love.

Squid, served at bars in Korea and Japan.

There's something romantic about forbidden relationships. As a girl from a watered down Christian family, I've been drawn to more than one Jew. The culture clash is exciting, in a Romeo and Juliet sort of way.

Last night, I rode the subway to Inchon to meet my friend Min's Japanese girlfriend. She moved to Korea with the facade of teaching, but mainly to be with Min.

ESL teachers earn twice as much as Japanese instructors. She won't make much money here, unless she tutors illegally.

In a culture concerned with blood lines, I'm pollution according to the older generation, and a commodity in the eyes of the youth. Everyone has gone out of their way to welcome me, but on a polite, surface level.

My friends here are Koreans who have traveled abroad and have a general understanding of western culture.

J. was telling me about a Jewish Canadian who married a Korean man. She spent years here-- secured a great job in Seoul, fell head over heels with Korean culture and cuisine. But the couple had to relocate to America so they could be accepted.

Given the history, there's still tension between Korea and Japan. My students have even expressed hatred. Min hasn't told parents he has a girlfriend: Hiroko, let alone that she moved here, suitcases in tow.

I'd like to visit Japan, so I asked Hiroko how it differs from Korea. The countries are in such close proximity that they can't help but influence each other. Karaoke and high fashion have infiltrated Korea through its neighbouring country.

Hiroko told me to look around the bar. "This is what Japan's like," she insisted, "It's a bit cleaner, more expensive, but basically the same." She is trying her hand at learning Hangul and making a home for herself in a country that is not her own.


Josh said... this my family friend who emailed you? Please ask -- I'm interested.

your jew,


Eva Karrin McKinnon said...

What? Other than Marissa, I wasn't in touch with "Jewish family friends" in Korea.

You just told me about the woman moving to Boston with her husband: your Dad's best friend's daughter.

MUD said...

I recently posted to a young Japanese girls blog site when she asked about values. I said that I think Americans are more accepting than Asians about race. You hear about some violence in some situations but generally there is an open acceptance in our society that I do not see in Asian cultures. As far back as the 60's, in Vietnam children born of black fathers were shunned and not accepted. I love your blogs. MUD

Eva Karrin McKinnon said...

Hey Mud,

Thanks for your insight.

Also, I appreciate you saying "I love your blogs..." because when i post an article like this one, analyzing relationships in Korea, I rarely get much response & wonder if it bored people!

Anonymous said...

I found your Blog by searching about teaching in Korea. I've read a few posts but this is my first comment. I especially like this story ... very insightful ^^

Jake said...

Hi, this is a very nice blog. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

I normally don't comment on blogs but I took exception with this post and I'd like to share some of my opinions and observations.

In general I still think that Koreans are getting used to the idea of their homogeneous gene pool being infused with outsiders' genes. No race is pure, and Koreans are no exception (they just happen to be more homogeneous than the average nation, is all): they have surnames in common with some Chinese, and more than a few people must carry Japanese genes today after 36 years of rape, looting, and colonial administration up to 1945 (I want to state for the record, that despite being Korean I don't harbor bad feelings toward modern Japanese). It's only the latest generation that's gradually warming up to the idea of interracial/Pan-Asian marriages, and things will probably continue to go that way as the older Koreans die and the current generation of Koreans mature and produce children of their own. Korean farmers taking Vietnamese and Filipina wives, Korean men with Russian, French, American, Canadian, German wives - all these subtle changes will probably color Korean society in a way they haven't witnessed in past decades.

That said, I don't entirely disagree with another blogger's assertion that the West is more accepting of mixed-race couples. Yes - but only if the WIFE is Asian or Korean. It's pretty much common knowledge just how racist North American society is against Asian men (Canada being marginally better than the United States, which is the prime culprit of these double standards laced with White Male Patriarchy), and while open or violent hostility is rare there is still a stronger social pressure against Asian Male/White Female relationships, and Asian men do get a pretty bad rep in the media and in low-brow circles (penis jokes, ethnic jokes abound!).

So for the umpteenth time, let's not 'conveniently' side-step that issue. I find the strong undercurrent of anti-Asian Male prejudice in North America highly reprehensible, and the white-washing of that fact even more objectionable. It's repulsive, and contrary to any notion of personal freedom and democracy that both Americans and Canadians hold so close to their hearts. So excuse me for my strong language, and for once it would be nice to hear people acknowledge this instead of pretending that America and Canada are racial utopias where all races are accepted, regardless of gender.

Sorry to end this comment on a rather sour note, but I still want to reiterate just how lovely your blog is! =) Best of luck to you in Hong Kong and Europe.