Saturday, August 22, 2009

Reflections on a mistake

I find myself a few days away from the one year anniversary of my exodus from Korea and I'm baffled by my unimproved recollection of the trip. I've lived abroad before and experienced the cleansing properties of time on the blemishes in my memories of countries. One year after returning from Italy I had completely forgotten the heat, hostility and prurient young men, subconsciously focusing on the Uffizi, the duomo, meeting random Italian teens and hanging out well into the morning.. a laundry list of fond memories and irreplaceable experiences.
One year after leaving Korea, my memories of Korea are limited to experiences with other foreigners. My memories of actual Koreans are limited to the rude grocery employees down the street, the banality of work meetings, the incomprehensible logic of the Korean masses marching against American beef or whatever the latest faux political issue was; simultaneously hating America but depending on its army at any sign of danger, and other offenses I couldn't expurgate in my memory.
I remember arriving in Michigan, seeing my adopted Korean-American friends and being so relieved at the sight of a Korean that didn't, on some level, offend me.
I've concluded that although Korea is rife with ammunition for any person looking to dislike its nationalistic, racist, megalomaniacal, startlingly credulous existence, perhaps there's something more personal in my hatred of the country. Having been born in Korea and adopted at a young age, perhaps my hatred for Korea is in its representing the absence of everything I care for in my current life. Maybe every time I see Korea, I see myself except without my family, my money, my education, my friends, my travels and the experiences that collectively make me, me.


Or maybe I just don't like getting sneezed on. Pushed. Stared at. Feared.