All posts filed under: Looking Out

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 …

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. …

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 …

Why I Need To Get an “English-Native-Speaker” Looking Face

Here it is brothers and sisters, for all of us who are a little bit lost, the grey-zoners. For all of us who are drifting on the fringes of our native country and [insert country here], where our hearts really belong. This post is sort of dedicated to my friend Cecile. Every time I spark up a conversation in English with an English-native-speaking person, I get the following response: – Wow, you speak English really well. When and/or where did you learn it? By now I  know how to deal with the situation neutrally and usually provide the following, diplomatic response: – It’s a long story (If I don’t really want to talk to you anymore) – It’s a really long story, how much time have you got? (If you sound like you’re genuinely interested to know why) – I’m 1/4 Irish, 2/4 Korean, and 1/4 Alaskan (If I’m feeling particularly sarcastic) To be honest, what I really want to say is this: – [insert silent, mental sigh here] It’s because it’s possible for me …