All posts filed under: Diaspora Life

In Diaspora, I write about what it is like to be a Third Culture Kid.

Meer Korea in het Nederlands bij NPO Radio 1 / Learn more about Korea in Dutch at NPO Radio 1

Meer over Korea in het Nederlands? Bij NPO Radio 1 kan je meer weten over Seoel, Nord-Koreaanse vluchtelingen, de ouderen (die in geen wozoco’s wonen), en het klassieke stereotype over Koreanen als “gek op studeren” (Vertaald door een vriend van mij: Haegun Chung) Want to know more about Korea in Dutch? At NPO Radio 1 you can learn more about Seoul, North Korean refugees, the elderly (who don’t live in care homes), and the classic stereotype about Koreans being “crazy into studying” (Translated by a friend of mine, Haegun Chung) Deel 1: Met geluid en beeld – Met een Nord-Koreaanse vluchteling https://www.nporadio1.nl/de-ochtend/onderwerpen/419165-serie-over-leven-in-de-stad-seoul-deel-1  Seoel ligt slecht een kilometer of 40 van de grens met Noord-Korea. Drie dagen geleden schoot dat land nog een raket af, wat weer door Zuid-Korea en Amerika werd beantwoord met militair machtsvertoon. De verhoudingen staan, kortom, op scherp. Hoe zouden bewoners van Seoel daarop reageren? En voor Noord-Koreanen is het een reden om te vluchten naar Zuid-Korea, maar dat wordt ze steeds moeilijker gemaakt.De 26-jarige Joeng-Ho is het gelukt en verslaggever Maarten …

My first racist ‘attack’ in Europe and what I learned from it

Image source: Daum Blog Caption: Choose the wrong option. (the artist is mocking the idea of racism by using a multiple-choice question format popular in Korean education) Last Friday, I was leaving a supermarket when a group of young, white, mostly male, Dutch people ran up to me, took a photo of me, then ran away laughing. I froze, ran into MediaMarkt, the electronics store next door, which I was headed to originally, and stayed there for a good fifteen minutes before I went outside, looked around and made sure they were gone, got on my bike and pedaled back home. I asked myself if what had happened had really just happened. Yes. I saw the flash. I heard them laugh. I was sure. Back home, I sat down and wrote an angry and descriptive post along the lines of: “To the white, male, Dutch youth who just took a picture of me in front of the supermarket on this street, go fuck yourselves, go get cancer, go crash into a train. Same to the people who have …

Question 1. Why do the Dutch charge for flooring when you take over their rented flat?

To be specific, what would they do if you told them you didn’t want to pay for the flooring? Would they tear it up and take it with them? Considering the Dutch reputation (and truth) for being stingy (they say practical), I consider this to be a real possibility. I mean, I can definitely see one of my Dutch cousins with a stack of parquet or laminate flooring in their store-room somewhere, waiting for the day they can either sell it off for a good price or wandering around Ikea looking for the same material so they can redo their living room. Do you know what I’m talking about? Maybe not. On Dutch housing adverts, they often list the flat rent (what the space itself costs), the utility charges (can vary – usually a combination of electricity, water, gas, heating, Internet), and a list of furniture to take over. Sounds pretty standard, right? Then come a couple of items I’ve only seen on Dutch adverts: “[Insert type of material] flooring to be taken over at 50€” “5€ extra to share Wifi …

Belgium after Paris attacks

To this day, soldiers patrol every town in Belgium. Shopping malls, railway stations and large public gatherings (such as Christmas markets) are guarded by the military and local police force. As per Korean government advice, I assume this will continue into the new year, at least until February. Even the small city of Liège has patrols at Guillemins station as well as the Mediacité, Place Saint-Lambert and Belle-Ile shopping complexes (where I do my groceries). Christmas festivities and any gatherings are particularly well surrounded. I was in Brussels on the night of the Paris attacks. Scheduled to take the Toefl exam at Selor on the morning of the 14th, I was rudely awakened at the hostel around midnight. A group of French-speaking Belgian students had stormed in, taken their mobiles out and started to listen to the news on full volume. Most of the other guests being non-French speakers or asleep, their hushed talks about “Paris”and “mon dieu, I cannot believe this” had me thinking there was probably some protest going on in the French capital. …

2014-2015 in retrospective: 2. The Good

The highlight of 2014-2015 was meeting my Alaskan friend Jamie and my (very) German (but really, Prussian) boyfriend. So now Alaska is in my future travel plans – who would have thought – an Alaskan in Lyon? I travelled with a friend from Korea to Nice, Amsterdam and Berlin for Halloween. I visited a Portugese penpal in Geneva and I had my first raclette. A Finnish penpal showed me around Berlin and we took a photo together at the Dom. A third penpal, an American PhD student at King’s College let me crash at her central London apartment and even paid for my breakfast the day I was leaving and my bank cards stopped working. Meeting Koreans was not what I’d originally planned, but a friend from high school was on exchange at Kiel, in the North of Germany. We went to Bonn and went crazy over Haribos. We also underestimated the height of the Cologne Cathedral and decided to climb up all the way to the top on a whim (“It doesn’t look so tall compared to …

2014-2015 in retrospective: 1. The Bad

[Image description: A news stand with various large posters on the side in the middle of a shopping district in Lyon, France]  I left Seoul on September 11, 2014 (even today, flights on 9/11 are cheapest within a 10-day radius). It was a 24-hour trip with a layover in Doha. There was 30kg of baggage in an American Tourister. It was a long way from Charles de Gaulle to Gare du Nord to Amsterdam Centraal. For the first time, I was jetlagged – not just on time. I was sick for two full days – chills, cramps, headaches, cold sweat. I think my Dutch relatives have ever had jetlag, but they just let me be. France was that much of a stress. It was a country whose language I spoke quite well but a completely foreign land where I knew nobody, whose social system didn’t seem coherent, and whose culture I wasn’t particularly interested in (Sorry France, I’m not interested in cuisine classique or nouvelle, wine or the Parisian catwalk). I only went to France because I …

Updates coming soon

Image: Of Monsters and Men at Ancienne Belgique I’ve been trying out Blogger for  a while now, but I think I’ll stick to WordPress. I like the themes and design flexibility, despite the fact that Blogger is free. Sorry if you’ve been waiting for new posts – they’re on their way! In the meanwhile, I’ve been to see the awesome Of Monsters and Men and Chvrches at Ancienne Belgique, Brussels. I’ve taken the Toefl iBT exam for the 10th time in my life, to a disappointing drop in score (119 to 116, on a scale of 120) –  perhaps due to most of the night being highly animated by Belgian students watching live broadcasts of the Paris attacks on November 13th at the hostel. Regarding my studies, I’ve had the chance to hear the highly influential scholar Sheila Jasanoff at a conference here, but otherwise deeply disappointed by the floor-wiping quality of education and lack of any coherent administrative system at the University of Liège. There’s a reason it doesn’t ever appear on the QS or the THE. Seriously, don’t come here, ever. …

Week 1 in the Netherlands – Welcome to Feeling Like a Midget!

At my cousin’s place in the countryside So far I have experienced the following things here in Noord-Holland: – Getting used to the sun setting around 9pm instead or at 7pm – “Korea” North or South?” (it was a very, very old man) – Met a hardcore fan/heavy smoker of ze greens/seen an escort advert on the subway – Been on a boat trip with my uncle demonstrating of how the sluis works – Successfully pronouncing sluis – Understanding tiny bits of Dutch that sound just like English and thinking “Aha! I understood! One Word! Of your conversation!” – Learning to use the words mooi, lekker, and gezellig timely – Having an internal debate between saying “Holland” and “The Netherlands” and eventually going “Meh, everybody in Noord-Holland says Holland, so meh”, Googling it, and then finding angry comments from Southerners – People accepting I can be the cousin of a completely Dutch person and not asking any further questions or having puzzled looks – Seen a “Smoke Your Weed Outside” sign – Had a conversation in English with 60+ Dutch citizens …

Week 1 in the Netherlands – Flying with Hello Kitty

A few days ago I traveled from Incheon to Taipei to Paris to Amsterdam to Wormeveer. It was a long trip involving 16 hours of flight time, 4 hours of train time, and about 6 hours of waiting in between. Anyway, the highlight of the journey was the Hello Kitty jet from Incheon to Taipei aboard Eva Air. I don’t have photos of them all, but the jet itself, the aprons of the flight attendants, the cutlery, the napkins, the playing cards, the pens, and everything was themed. I can imaging how popular they must be on their inter-Asian flights (my friend who is a huge fan was ecstatic and demanded I photograph everything I could!). Le Hello Kitty Jet! The signboards, registration screens and tickets were all themed as well (the man at the counter was slightly embarrassed when I asked ‘Am I taking the HK ket all the way to France?’) Yay! Kitty on screen! Kitty in Eva Air uniform! I didn’t take a picture, but the ‘sick bag’ was themed too Kitty …

My Swedish friends discuss the English word “bitch”

  “hen”: Swedish gender-neutral third person pronoun My friends Mow, Gee, Lanka, Eva and Bohr and I were having a little party at my house. The Swedes would call it a förfest (pre-party). Now, Gee is a Turkish graduate student from Lund, in Korea for one term to study the Saemaeul movement, as well as make some money working for Samsung (duh!). As we were in the company of Swedes, he teased them about the sing-along drinking games the merry tall folk play. Then it began. Swedish social drinkers Mow, Eva, and Bohr suggested we play this game, in which we would call the “it” person “bitch”. The trio began to hesitate in Swedish. The talk was hushed, but intense, and serious. Lanka, Gee, and I asked. What’s going on? Is the game too complicated to explain? No. It was that we had to call the person “bitch”. What did they mean? The word “bitch” apparently has a more gender-neutral equivalent in Swedish, while keeping the sassy tone. “What about man-bitch then?” “No, because that puts the …