A weak exercise in scapegoat tactics
I’ve been spending a good amount of my free time studying the intricacies of what’s technically my original tongue: the Korean language. I am doing this because I refused to learn properly my parents’ native speech when I was a younger lad. The reason for this refusal can be found- or at least a great deal of it can- within the following two questions:
“Are you Chinese or Japanese?”
“Oh, then what are you?”
These were the two main questions with which I was pelted repeatedly during my elementary school years, the inquisitors being of course my suburban Caucasian peers, as I was one of three yellows in my school: myself, my sister, and a Chinese girl named Peng-Peng (blessed are my sister and I for having been endowed with Anglican names along with our Korean ones).
As I grew rather sick of the constant questioning, I began to wonder exactly why it was that I was so easily distinguishable among my classmates, and it did not take me long to realize that my eyes are slanted, my parents did not speak good English, and my general physical visage is just different. (Now, mind you, I am in no way a product of oppression- more like annoyance and personal weakness).
When Mother and Father insisted that Sister and I learn properly our original tongue, this was my response:
“No, mommy! I wish I was white!”
Thus, I ignored my parents, refused to learn Korean any further and lived out the rest of my developmental years.
Let us now skip those years, into what’s almost the present day.
I spent this past summer engrossing myself in the guilt and release of a two-month stay in South Korea, living with my relatives, and studying the language. I had realized some time before that I was ashamed of my formerly being ashamed of my parents’ transfer of their skin/culture onto me, and I was to pay bitterly in a self-experimentation session in order to learn Korean as quickly as possible.
I returned to my long-suppressed childhood.
They say children learn languages best- and indeed a child I was again. The details of that grotesque experience in South Korea shall not be explicated here- all the reader needs to know at this point is that it involved an induced psychological regression to my 6-year-old self, which was then diluted with leftovers from my 21-year-old angers, fears and lusts.
I trotted along the neon-flashing streets of Seoul, thinking exclusively in my limited Korean, childlike and wonderfully naive, wondering why I was receiving sudden flashes of murdering the white, touristic Asiaphile to my right who couldn’t pronounce anything properly- the one who was intruding on my goals.
Yes, the very Caucasians who discouraged me from my parents are now, a decade and some later, the ones who mystify Asian letters, exoticize my female peers and make gross attempts at understanding the Eastern mind through university lectures and the Thai restaurant down the street. Suddenly, the same Caucasians who once asked me if I was truly capable of seeing out of my slants of eyes are now tattooing Chinese characters on their arms, drooling after yellow women and marveling at the mysterious aesthetics of the Eastern mind.
And so they rape me of my linguistic eloquence, strain my relationship with my parents and then take my women. Fantastic, my friends – utterly grand.
“I’m a Japanese major because- well, you know- I just really like Japanese culture!” say so many of them.
“Wow, you speak Korean? Is that, like, related to Chinese at all?” someone, apparently not worth naming, once asked me.
It also does not make matters better that Korea is still the ignored purgatory between almighty China and technologically ruthless Japan. And so, I’m still asked if I’m either Chinese or Japanese, only it’s now out of awe, instead of contempt.
I hate you.
Contact Campus Press Freelance Writer Felix Im at email@example.com.