All posts filed under: Personal

Parallel 38/Part III

Parallel 38/Part III Remember I told you I was split two ways: My grandmother’s father was a Freedom Fighter in colonised Korea When we were Korea Not Korea, South/North Not Korea, Republic of/Democratic People’s Republic of Not South Korea/North Korea Like we see on the census slips and dropdown boxes Just Korea He and his country fought back against the Japanese The people who told us We could not use our own names We could not utter our own language We could not wear our own clothes But we must dress like the white man Because that’s who they learned their tricks from A sadomasochistic cycle of submission and domination On 15th August, 1945 We were made a free country On 17th July, 1948 We declared our Constitution On 15th August, 1948 We became a Republic And when my country became a Republic my great-grandfather became a criminal Because he was A Communist One of Them Granny said, then they came and took all our land and our money Overnight I went from going to …

Parallel 38/Part II

  Parallel 38/Part II For three Christmases I had a German lover We spent Summers sitting on the balcony grilling Bratwurst Christmases eating deviled eggs and saying, Mahlzeit New Year’s Eve shooting firecrackers into the sky and screaming and kissing He told me Did you know It took twenty years For us West Germans and East Germans To marry amongst ourselves In the same numbers As we married foreigners We’ve been told our whole life, look at this country across the world Remnants of the Cold War, testaments to ideological warfare Your twin We know how it feels When people walk all over us with their dirty boots and say Thank us, beg us, revere us For pitting your people against your neighbours Because they’re wrong in the head And implant a seed of doubt for the coming three generations They tell us Look If the Germans can do it, you can You hardworking Koreans who rebuilt your country The only OECD foreign aid receiver turned donor, at the turn of the millennia But they …

Parallel 38/Part I

This is part one of three in a series I wrote while watching the Inter-Korea Summit broadcast on JTBC. Parallel 38/Part I It is only natural for me to be split Two ways It started when foreigners split the country of my mother and my father Two ways Took a yardstick and swung it across Arbitrary lines of their own science And called it Peace Order Necessary Told us we were free To run around in our little divided up cage Asked us to play nice and to obey In return we would get Democracy Freedom Reparations For what they did to us, raping our souls and pitting us against one another Threw money and milk and honey our way Put their feet up Told us This is freedom You have newspapers You have shipyards the size of mountains You have free elections and banks and delegations in The Hague Leaving out the part where they Split up mother and daughter, brother and sister, grandfather and grandson Dug up trenches along the heart of our …

“My Body My Choice” – My Story of Reproductive Privilege

Tomorrow I’m getting the second IUD (Intra-Uterine Device) of my life. Something going into my uterus is as personal as it gets, but as a researcher who should be starting a PhD on Sexual Health and the Internet in South Korea (one of the cases being the IUD) next year, it is, as we say: “The Personal Is Political”. With under 20mg of levonorgestrel, the Kyleena (and the Skyla/Jaydess) emits 1/10 the amount of hormones than do oral contraceptives. They’re cost-effective (130€ in NL and FR), and once they’re installed, they last five years – bringing their monthly cost to a mere 0.5€. For many women, they come with fewer side-effects than does the Pill. It is particularly effective for young and sexually active women because of its low failure rate and because of the convenience it offers. IUDs are offered fully free of cost to women under 21 years of age in NL and FR. *  *  * In France and in the Netherlands, I am free to choose a contraceptive method. I am …

2018 Oslo Freedom Forum

I was hired to work as an interpreter to the North Korean delegation at the Oslo Freedom Forum for the second time (the first time being 2016). This year also marked the 10th anniversary of the Oslo Freedom Forum. In a nutshell, OFF is a a forum and a community of people dedicated to protecting and improving fundamental human rights around the world. It’s fun: There’s always an art performance, and since a few years an ethical fashion show (whose models are human rights activists and speakers from past years), booths by tech companies who offer services which can be used to protect civil rights activists in repressive regimes, and lots of opportunities for people to connect. Human rights activists have a platform to voice their hopes, obstacles, and plans. Philanthropists come to learn more about projects activists are currently running, to ask in-depth questions about what they need, what they plan to do, and what their current challenges are. Entrepreneurs can pitch their technologies to activists and the general public. This year, I was …

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 …

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. …

London, Baby! feat. Childhood Friends

  [Image description: An iPod with the screen “Bermondsey Street” by Patrick Wolf is playing, against the backdrop of “Bermondsey Street” sign at a London Tube stop] See what I did there? Bermondsey Street at Bermondsey. A while ago, I couchsurfed for a week in London at an American friend’s flat (this post was scheduled for publishing, but somehow didn’t). It happened that a couple of my friends from university as well as childhood friends from India were in or around London (Brighton). So, I met them every night I was there. One friend, who switched form Political Science to Acting, took me to the Arcola Theatre for a Ghost From A Perfect Place (intense!). Another took me to a pub after work. And my host took me to an English breakfast (incl. the infamous ‘black pudding’ and too-crisp bacon) and to the Borough Market. To me the Netherlands and England are not unfamiliar places. Yes, unfamiliar in the sense I don’t know them because I haven’t lived there, but yes familiar because I am …

Week 2 in the Netherlands – Tall People Problems! (Not a First-Hand Account)

Hanging out with your everyday 180cm girl and 195cm guy, y’know. Today I met another girl who is 180cm tall – I really am in Holland! By now I’ve met so many tall Dutch men that 195cm is sounding like the average man, but tall women are still amazing to meet. She talked of the terrible growing pains she had, of wearing sneakers all the time for her boyfriend even though she loves high-heels, and about having to fit in strange ways to be able to sit on the metro. The first really tall person I’ve met was my cousin’s cousin who is 193cm, and who at that time was really into wearing New Rock Boots (which add 5cms). This was back when I was visiting Holland ten years ago, in 2004! When I met him he was also standing on the top of a couple of stairs, so the visual impact was considerable… Our conversation today opener today? “You’re still really tall!” “You’re still really short!” Closing sentence: “Maybe we see each other in ten years …