How to be a Korean from the South

korean-for-dummiesBy Kimberly

When I asked Ernie to be a contributor for 8Asians, I was sure that he was going to email me back saying, “Sorry, you are just not Asian enough.”  I was adopted by white people and shipped from South Korea to America when I was very young, so I really don’t know what it means to be “Asian.”  Our family photos always looked like some sort of poster for Christian Children’s Fund, with my round little dark face amid a sea of pale skin and blue eyes.  Also, I don’t live in California; I live in the DEEP South, otherwise known as the seventh level of Hell.

Where I live in Georgia, you don’t see very many Asian people.  There’s maybe two in each graduating class in the high schools — they’re called the Valedictorian and the editor of the school paper.  When my husband — a Round-Eye — and I owned a seafood restaurant for six years we had a young Chinese American cashier working for us.  I swear, when people walked in and saw the two of us together up front they would do a double take and check the sign again.  Their waitress would later tell me that the customer said they thought the new owners had turned the place into a Chinese Restaurant.  Down here if you’re Asian, you’re either a brilliant physicist, a dentist or straight-off-the-boat running a Chinese buffet.

Recently I have noticed an increase in young Asian children being adopted by white couples here.  I was watching Australia the other day and I was like, That’s us; we’re the lost generation growing up between two worlds.

And then I got distracted by Hugh Jackman’s sexy, oily chest in the campfire scene.

I don’t really have any current Asian events to report on from here — there’s not exactly an Asian Freaknik or anything —  but I hope to share my perspective on what it’s like to try to define your identity as an Asian American in a place where the N word is still thrown around more often than you’d think, and the general consensus is that evolution shouldn’t be taught in schools and gay marriage will bring about the apocalypse.  So you see my predicament; if there is such a thing as How to Be Korean for Dummies, please send me a copy now.

About Kimberly: I am a freelance writer, wife, and mother of two living in Augusta, Georgia.  I was adopted and raised by wolves so my idea of what it means to be Asian is ambiguous at best.  My quest to find my identity began over a bowl of rice in a Korean restaurant.  One bite of bulgogi and kimchi and I was like “My ancestors are calling me home!” (If there’s anything more spiritual than marinated short ribs I’ve yet to encounter it.)

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