So I’m at some internationally themed speed dating/party event, standing around, noshing on the inevitable chicken and beer and scoping out other people’s fashion when…
Random White Guy: Hey!! You’re a foreigner! That’s weird!!
Me: Um…you’re a foreigner too.
RWG: Yeah, but you’re not white!!
RWG: Don’t you just HATE it here?
Me: Uh…no? Why would I…?
RWG: Well, doesn’t the racism REALLY bother you?
Me: Uh…well…I haven’t experienced anything too blatant, I just…
RWG: OH COME ON!!! I have ONE black friend and SHE says that all the Koreans she knows treat her bad because she’s black.
Me: Well, I’ve definitely met some folks who don’t seem to like foreigners but…
RWG: So you mean nobody’s walked up and touched your hair, or told you you’re ugly, or asked you strange questions, or acted like they didn’t wanna be around you, or not wanted to hire you or anything like that?
Me: Yeah…but that all happened with white people in the USA too.
RWG: Well, I’m Canadian.
And THAT, friends, neighbors, and internet stalkers, says more about the state of foreigner race relations in Korea than anything I could make up ever could.
Today’s quote comes from Skunk Anansie’s “Intellectualise My Blackness”. I couldn’t find a video of the band performing it, but I did find this cool video featuring the song and pics of black woman who made their lives doing what it was they wanted to do despite racism.
P.S. I promise this’ll be the last race based post from me for a while, beautiful people. I think…
So for the four months I was in Denver, I rented a room from a 60-ish Vietnam vet who practiced Religious Science and sold organic steak for a living. He was a great person to get to know during my short stay in the US and we had quite a few late night chats in which my new friend dispensed advice without ever really seeming to.
One of the things he said was that a great way to see a new city is to go on dates. When he first moved to Denver as a young man, he invested in a very creative personal ad (this is pre-match.com) and got to know the city by going on a series of low pressure dates with, as he says, “the women of Denver”.
This sounded like a great idea, so shortly after moving to South Korea, I set up a few new online dating profiles on sites that seemed focused on, y’know, actually meeting people to do stuff. I steered clear–I thought–of the hook up sites and the “let’s text and or message each other ad nauseum until we don’t want to meet anyway because you are A BORING PERSON” sites.
I set up the profiles, let them marinate, and came back to check. What interesting, new and/or devastatingly handsome guys awaited me, ready to show me the sights and sounds of Seoul?
Dear GOD. Say it with me, boys and girls…creep city!
Now, ALL online dating has a slight creep factor–how could it not? But honestly…I’ve had an online dating profile in three different countries and nowhere has been as creepy as South Korea.
There are way too many race fetishists and neo-colonial greaseballs floating around this here 인터넷, y’all. Every single profile and ad I’ve seen so far has had an oddly specific racial desire included and a lot of them start with asinine things like “Hi, I’m _____. I can be your white (insert horrible noun here)!” or “If you ever want to try a chubby black girl, I’m here for you.”
Say it with me again, boys and girls…creep city! EEEEEK!
Koreans aren’t exempt from this, by the way. Despite what the apparent legions of Korean culture fans who seem to be constantly asking if it’s possible for Koreans to be attracted to non-Koreans on every single Korean culture website I go to(especially this one) would have you believe—Koreans love them some everybody. Or at least return the fetish favor. (I got a message from a Korean guy asking if I’d ever worn a weave and if not, would I wear one for him. Yeah. It’s like that.)
Jesus be a matchmaker. I can understand having racial preferences(I certainly have a few) as long as you’re not an exclusionary self-hating asshole about it. (As in; “I am a black woman and I prefer black men.” is okay. “I am a black woman, and I only date white/Chinese/Puerto Rican men because black men ain’t about my life!!” is stupid and you just look like a heffa. Cut it out. And really, do you think there are no black Puerto Ricans? Like what you like, but don’t be a douche about it.) I can’t understand creating a dating profile just for the purpose of dating XYZ group of people. I REALLY can’t understand folks who answer that kind of ad. Do you think weave boy got a response from me? NO. That message got deleted, which is the same direction I think that my online dating profiles are going to go.
I haven’t been on any dates here facilitated by the internet yet…but I have been on a few with folks I met in this strange thing called real life. (6 weeks in Korea vs 6 YEARS in England has been extraordinarily good for my mojo. I’m just saying…) They haven’t all been black. And I find that, even though you don’t get the extensive backstory of an online profile, I’m seeing just as much of the city that way as well…without having to side-eye anyone because I’m wondering if they found my profile by checking the “black” box when searching. And it’s nice not to know too much about a date–after all, it gives you something to talk about.
Love to hear your comments on the racial preference thing and online dating sites if you have a moment…please. Remind me that people are still actually reading this blog…pwease…
Today’s title vid is below…and because I know you might be wondering, my racial preference is…
…none of your business unless you are dating me.
Peace, beautiful people!
So one of the 500 reasons I had for coming to Korea was to fast-track my way into a little bit of financial security after the free Jesus for everyone! experiment. I don’t make a ginormous amount of money here–in fact, salary-wise, I’m still way behind the curve of where I wanted to be at this age–but the cost of living is inexpensive and there are a lot of perks associated with being a foreign word slinger for hire.
Now, please understand–I used to be BROKE. So broke I opened e-mail accounts just for the spam. So broke that I considered getting married for the rice. So broke I used to read recipes for dinner.
I used to be so broke, that a bum once gave ME a dollar for food.
I wish that last one was a joke, but it’s true. I gave it back to him. Chicago has some remarkably sensitive and kind homeless people.
Anyway, my point is that I have been SO poor for SO long that ANY money seems like a whole lot. Now that I’m actually making grown person money again, I vacillate between spending way too much of it on silly things(like way too many shoes) just because I can and being scared to death to spend any of it because I am just not used to being not-poor. I can’t get used to the idea that there is more money coming next month and it’s a consistent amount! I’ve been living on noodles and coffee all month because I knew I wanted to go out on two consecutive weekends and also because I haven’t received my bills for the month yet and wasn’t sure how much they’d be.
I just got those bills. Gas and electricity–about $53. Cable and internet–$38. Phone–$106. (Okay, THAT one’s ridiculous but I figured I could afford a splurge upfront. It goes down by $30 in two months when I’ve paid for my phone.)
Let me reiterate.
Gas and electric–which cost upwards of $70 EACH in the US and UK if you live like a Luddite and wear thermals everywhere…was a total of $53.
Cable and internet–which I could never really afford in the US or UK so I have no idea how much they cost, just that it was out of my budget–$38.
Phone–okay, my phone is a terrible deal. But considering how inexpensive everything else is…I think I can afford it.
I didn’t mention rent simply because I don’t pay it. My job does. Or transportation, because I only pay it on special occasions–I live pretty much within walking distance of everything in my town. Even so, the hour long journey into the heart of Seoul only costs aboout $1.75.
I feel like I hit the poverty-recovery jackpot here.
I have student loans and a credit card bill to pay in the US, of course. But I don’t think I’ll have any problems doing that, do you?
For today’s quote, I’m sure you know the song…
Peace, beautiful people!
So yeah…how do you like the new look? Thought it was time to lighten things up a bit and actually start blogging a bit more about the odd turn my life has taken recently.
Before I get started on that though, I want to add an update to my last post, on family and the things that I have learned and let go when it comes to the topic.
Shortly before leaving the US for Korea, I got some bad financial news. Went into deep depression, mourned, stayed in bed for two days and accidentally let the whole sorry episode slip to my grandmother when I went to go visit her.
What happened next shocked me. I had started a crowd funding campaign to get me out of the bad investment hole I had managed to dive headfirst into, and while my friends were incredibly helpful, my family members–including some folks I barely talk to these days–were responsible for over half of the donations.
I was stunned. Shocked. And am eternally grateful. As a result, I left Colorado feeling loved, safe and secure. That is a way I had forgotten how to feel. Thank you family. You know who you are.
I guess that’s a good lead in to the point of today’s blog entry, which is…Korea is different. My Korea experience so far has been very different both from my UK expat experience and from all of the blog and vlog and book accounts I’d read before coming, and I’m glad.
I’ve heard horror stories, weird stories, stories of discrimination etc…but I’ve had nothing but good experiences here when it comes to Koreans and Korean culture. The only issues I’ve had so far have been with other expats–primarily white Americans and Europeans but chile, that is a whole other topic for another post. Not gonna touch that now.
My point is, despite what you may have heard about Korea–political turmoil, cultural pecadilloes, etc…–my experience here so far has been one of feeling safe, secure, and remarkably unworried. Even though I’m working a full time job, don’t speak enough of the language to understand most of what anyone says to me yet, and don’t really know many people yet–I feel so relaxed I might as well be on a extended vacation.
Part of that is the usual culture-shock honeymoon stage wide-eyed thing, I know. But part of it…I don’t know.
For example, right now, it’s Friday night. I’m chillin’ at home. Ordered a pizza(in Korean! Amazing, right?). Went to the corner store and got a beer and some cookies too. I had all these grandiose plans to clean my house and work on some crochet patterns, but I’ve been talking to people all week so instead I’m sitting in front of the TV with my laptop and a terrible beer and a decent pizza typing nonsense and watching this;
No, really. What the hell is this, anyway? Is this a grown ass man in a hipster outfit doing crisp choreography? And do I actually think it’s CUTE? What has my life come to?
Comfort, that’s what. I don’t feel guilty for relaxing. I don’t have the constant pressure I felt in the US and UK to always be doing something, working on something, making something happen. I don’t feel like I need to be talking to someone, forcing a social connection, or helping somebody.
Maybe it’s selfish. But if this is what life in Korea is like so far…I think I’m going to love it here. It won’t last forever, but right now, I need the break. It is so nice to have options to do a lot of stuff–and not HAVE to do anything.
There are pressures and odd spots and major cultural differences, of course. I’m 15 minutes away from the DMZ(aka the North Korean border) and that’s certainly interesting, if not as drastic as most English-speaking media makes it seem. Hearing K-Pop music everywhere constantly has pretty much ended my temporary love affair with it. Americans are often racist morons, to my chagrin. Koreans seem to be polite to us allanyway, which is kind of them. And I am really embarrassed by my low level of ability in the language…I’m so used to talking my way into and out of things that without that ability, I feel like I seem stupid and inept. In fact, I AM kind of stupid and inept. Viva humility. Over the course of time, I’m sure I’ll blog about all of that but right now, I’m still riding out my first impression of Korea. That impression is…
…I like this place.
But seriously though. THIS just came on. What the hell is this? Where’s the dude with the Bane mask?
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PS; Today’s blog title comes from this song…