Not a Korea Blog?

If this is what you are looking for, you need to look elsewhere. No, that's not me. (Photo stolen from http://joeverdrive.tumblr.com/)

Read the title? Let me explain.  I got an e-mail from a reader who found my blog via the Korean Bloglist.  He wrote the following:

I was searching on the Korean Bloglist and came upon yours in the category Koreans in Korea.  I’m very surprised, because it turns out you aren’t even Korean, and your blog isn’t about Korea at all.  It’s about TV and science fiction and your ramblings, with a few Korea related posts here and there.  If the Korea Bloglist were to ever find out about this you would be removed pretty fast…

Name Withheld, Canada

Well Mr. Withheld, let me address your concerns.  

1) I’m not even Korean

Here is a quote from the Korean Blog List on their blog submission page:

8. In the past, some Korean-Americans wanted to be listed as American, some as Korean. It made the listings a mess. It’s not helped by South Korea’s stance on dual-nationality. Since Koreans regard the Korean blood line as important, the rule on TKBL is that for listing consistency, you should choose “Korea (South)” for nationality if you have Korean heritage.

And another

What is the country of your NATIONALITY?
If you are half-Korean, an adopted Korean, an overseas born Korean, have Korean heritage, etc then select “Korea (South)”.

I followed the rules when I submitted my blog to the Korean Bloglist.  According to their classification criteria, I am Korean.  My father was born in Korea, therefore Korean blood flows through my veins.  This alone may not be sufficient criteria to classify me as Korean in some people’s books, but according to the Korean Bloglist, that’s where my blog belongs.  If you check out any of the other Koreans in Korea blogs, you will find that they also are mostly written by gyopos, multiracial Koreans, and adoptees, most of whom were raised outside of Korea for a significant portion of their lives.

Now, for why the Korean bloglist classifies this way, I don’t know, but I can speculate.  For one, we who they classify as Korean go into our “Korea Journey” from a slightly different starting point than those not of Korean descent.  In addition, the flavor of our blogs tends to be drastically different.

Now of course, what I said above looks like I am discounting Korea blogs written by those not of Korean descent as inferior… I am not.  But at the same time, the compilers of the Korean bloglist saw it fit to appreciate that this difference exists.

I personally chose to list myself in that category because I figured I’d rather be on a shorter list (1 among 19) instead on the larger ‘Foreigners in Korea’ list (where I would be 1 among 233).  On one list I represent more than 5%, on the other I would be less than .5%.  So, back when I was the Seoul Searcher and the numbers of visitors had something to do with my bottom line, the choice was obvious.

But in addition to just numbers, I think that I also agree that I am in a slightly different boat than most foreigners in Korea.  I came here speaking some of the language, had been here many times before, had friends and family here, and didn’t have much trouble getting settled in.  If you were to remove all posts about language acquisition, homesickness, loneliness, and the difficulty of establishing oneself in a foreign country, how much substance would be left to a lot of those Foreigners in Korea blogs?  Some of them would still have plenty of content.  Others would lose over 90% of their content.

Now, that doesn’t mean that there are no similarities between me and people of non-Korean descent in Korea, far from it, but our gripes and concerns (which mostly fuel this blog) are vastly different.  While I’ll never know what it is like to live in Korea on an E-2 visa, what visa runs and midnight runs are etc…  They will never know what it is like for someone like me who sees society idolize mixed celebrities on TV and declare Korea a multicultural society that embraces all types of Koreans as Koreans while still blatantly treating me as a foreigner.

Oh come on, some people of non-Korean descent have been living here for more than 10 years and are still treated as foreigners, they can relate to that.

No, they can’t.  With their experience comes the expectation that they begin ever new relationship with Koreans on the outside, even if they don’t deserve it.  It’s something many have just gotten used to.  In my case I should be somewhat on the inside, at least half as much as full blooded gyopos and certainly more than adoptees.  (Any adoptees that take issue with that, I’m sorry.  I’m on your side, believe me…  We can talk about it in a later post or over e-mail if you like.)

How is that at all different?  You both should just expect to be on the outside!

Heh, I see your point, but it is far easier for someone not of Korean descent to expect themselves to be on the outside, especially when they were in the majority in their own home country.  Now, I was kind of in the majority back home, so I can’t say that I “deserve” to be seen as Korean by Koreans with no questions asked.  I guess it’s a mixed bag.  The full blooded gyopos get instant insider status but they never get to play the foreigner card.  I get limited insider status and play the foreigner card when it suits me, so nanny nanny booboo!

2) This blog isn’t about Korea 

In some ways this is true.  I’m Eugene, I’m Huge, and I currently live in Korea, but not everything I post will be about teaching people something new about living and working (or not working, heh) in Korea.  Sometimes I just want to talk about a new TV series I watched.  Sometimes I want to talk about Major League Baseball.  This blog is kind of like my personal therapy, where I complain and gripe about whatever is bothering me, or just write what is on my mind.  And if I ever happen to leave Korea, what then?  Should I start a whole new blog or continue writing this one?  I prefer the latter, but it would be more difficult if the blog were called something stupid like “The Seoul Searcher” and I were writing it 5 years removed from Korea in Kalamazoo Michigan.

Anyway, just because EVERY post isn’t related directly to explaining something new and wonderful about Korea doesn’t mean that this isn’t a K-blog on the K-blogosphere.

3 Responses to “Not a Korea Blog?”

  1. What???????? This isn’t about Korea?
    Goodbye!….. ¬¬

    hahaha Again with that?, why is people so concerned about other people blogs/topics?
    I wouldn’t want anyone telling me something because my blog changed from being a Cooking blog to a Sort of Korean Info Blog to a Whatever I want to write about blog….
    Blogs are meant (in my opinion) to let people express whatever they feel like it whenever they like it.

    I really don’t mind if your blog is about Korea only or TV Shows,,,as long as I find it entertaining I’ll keep reading.
    🙂

  2. Gyopodaehaksaeng Says:

    The full blooded gyopos get instant insider status but they never get to play the foreigner card.

    I know that statement isn’t the main point of this post but I disagree with that statement. As a full blooded gyopo with limited Korean speaking ability(although I’m working on it) who has been in Korea for about a month now, there are definitely times when I’m seen as an outsider. Although I might be different from most full blooded gyopo because according to many people I “look Chinese.” (People in Korea have come up to me and asked “China?” or “Are you from China?” in English)

    Gyopo is a pretty complicated label, some people will ask me if I understand Korean before continuing the conversation, some people will immediately talk to me in Korean, and some people ask for more information on me such as where I live, why I’m in Korea and such.

    And I do get to play the foreigner card when I wish, I just have to say “No Korean” or “한국어 못해요.” Or if I’m not talking to them, speaking English to people I’m with does the trick. And I get to play the foreign card when it really counts, such as taking the free shuttle from 서울 to 부산.

    With all that being said, the easiest way for me to scream “foreigner” is to wear sports shorts and a cheap t-shirt. And the easiest way for me to fool native Koreans into thinking I’m a native Korean is to wear a polo shirt along with jeans and New Balance sneakers. Although I’m sure that trick works for just about any full asian looking person.

    TL;DR

    Being a full blooded gyopo doesn’t automatically mean acceptance into Korean society. Gyopo are a complicated topic in Korea, and every individual person in Korea has their own knowledge of/approach/expectations of gyopo in Korea. As gyopo vary greatly in terms of connection to their Korean ancestry, and knowledge of Korean language/culture.

    …ok that TL;DR ended up being longer than I wanted. In one sentence my point is:
    Full blooded gyopo have a complicated insider/outsider treatment too.

    • Yes, you are right. But if your Korean was up to speed, you have the possibility of hiding your foreigner status. In addition there are certain things that Koreans would expect you to know, that they wouldn’t expect a white person to know.

      And when you speak Korean, no matter how much better it is than the average white person, people think your Korean sucks. Then when a white person speaks broken Korean that sounds terrible, everyone thinks his Korean is awesome.

      That’s really all I was saying, but yes, I agree that gyopo insider outsider dynamic is very complicated.

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