Samuel S. Han


Samuel S. Han







Own Words

Oh boy... Where do I start...

I'm sure many of you have felt what I've felt in my life; you've dealt with the harsh treatment of fobs for not being Korean enough, you've dealt with the harsh treatment of your "American" friends for not being white, and you've dealt with your parents for not trying hard enough, even though you're trying your damn hardest.

Lastly, you might've grown to hate yourself. If you've been called Chinese or Japanese, made fun of for eating dog (even though you've never tried it), mocked with a slew of stereotypical accents (despite speaking perfect English), or just downright distanced and avoided for being different, this is for you:

Go to Korea.

I'm totally serious.

There is no cure better than the motherland. I'm not talking about going to the country to have a few laughs with family members or going to the country for some measly vacation; go and live there. Stay there for a few years and see what it's like.

Chicago was interesting for me. I only know one other person in my life that has experienced the same thing that I did and that was my mother.

When she migrated this way, she didn't know a lick of English. Despite this, she got a job, got fired several times, and she still trekked onward. Did I mention that she first arrived to the southside of Chicago during the peak of the Black Kings and the Disciples in the 80's and 90's?

She was called slanty eyed, Chinese whore, Chink, Jap, and whatever sludge they could throw at her. She's been robbed several times and her wallet was stolen more than once on the bus. Nobody did anything and she couldn't say anything about it. Can you believe the awful feeling behind that?

My treatment wasn't worse but it certainly wasn't better. Being called a "fuckin' chink" was an everyday thing at my school. I don't know why exactly, but it just happened. Nobody said anything. Nobody spoke up. Not even the Chinese kids said anything because they didn't want to stand up for me. And the teachers? They turned a blind eye because they didn't want to bring bad publicity to our school. Silly, isn't it?

They had a reputation to keep, you know.

Still, it's nothing compared to what my parents had gone though. Some of you younger folks, do you know what it was really like to live back in the day? Your parents used to tell you about walking for miles and miles in the snow, rain, sleet, or storm to go to school... They talk about getting beaten up by their seniors and teachers at school...

Do you really know what that's like?

After living in Korea for a few years, I got a taste of it. Nobody hit me or beat me up, of course. Nowadays, you can file a lawsuit for that. However, I got a taste of the hierarchical society it is today. The respect for your elders and seniors are crucial in that society.

It really makes you appreciate what we have here. Heck, it really made me appreciate the life I had here. It made me realize that the life that many of my family members had wasn't as glamorous as mine, despite being from modest upbringings. I didn't have the latest game console, but I had one! We didn't have color TV until my mother got remarried, but we had a TV! I didn't have my own room until high school, but we had living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens, and even bathrooms.

Have any of you tried to take a shit in one of those old outhouses in rural Korea? Try it! It's like a death trap!

Have you ever tried to work 12 hour shifts? No bonuses? No overtime?

It's still like that in many parts of Korea, and it's quite a normal thing. We have it pretty damn good here, don't we?

Oh, and let's not mention the mandatory 2 year army service that all you young men have to do. Boy, aren't we lucky?

My own mother raised me by herself, she risked everything only to be verbally abused and taken advantage of in a terrible neighborhood; and despite all this?

Well, let's just say that I didn't know what I had when I was young.

Class struggle is a funny thing... The rich may never know what it's like to be poor, but the poor sure as hell know what it's like to act rich...

If you're currently a self-hating Korean that is embarrassed that your parents cannot speak perfect English like you can, despite living here for over a decade... Go live in Korea. Seriously. Go by yourself and see what it's like to live there. Do the mandatory military service too if that'll help you open your eyes up.

Cuz everything that you have here? You better be pretty damn thankful for all of that.

Cuz everything, and I mean literally everything, about this life is better than your parents'...

I guarantee that.

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