Living as a minority has been a real eye opening experience. First thing that I wonder is, “Are minorities in the United States treated the same as I am here in Korea?” The answers are yes and no. That is because socially acceptable behavior varies from place to place. Now lets begin.
First, I will mention there are one or two people that dislike foreigners. This group of foreigners haters in my opinion is not as large as the other extreme that I will mention next. Sometimes people spit at me or thrown things at me. Even if I am polite and use honorific speech these individuals are never satisfied. It is possible that my white American face brings back painful memories of when the United States’ soldiers have killed people without any accountability. Anyone remember when the soldiers got drunk, drove a car, and killed two Korean women? Or how about the time the soldiers killed a man in that God forsaken place called Itaewon?
While the foreigner haters are unpleasant, I do feel empathy for them. This type of person bothers me less than the foreigner lovers! At first it was flattering to be approached by curious people on the street. They would ask me questions in English and Korean. I would politely explain. Usually they would take my email or Kakao information and the keep in touch with me. The problem is now it happens so often that is annoying and hateful. These brazen people approach me with comments such as, “I want foreigner friend,” or, “I like United States culture.” Immediately I realized that these people are attracted to me because of what I am, not who I am. Now I respond to their advances, “Why do you want to be friends with ME? How am I different than any other random white person that you run into.” I have yet to have gotten an adequate reply from these creeps.
In the United States, I would have never though of approaching any minority with such rude comments. In the United States, I would never imagine approaching a Korean, Latino, Jewish, fill in the blank person and saying to them, “I want a ____ friend.” For some reason here it is not considered socially unpleasant to label people and demand friendship on basis of an individual’s race.
I am so frustrated. I wish I had Asian facial characteristics therefore the strangers on the street would ignore me. I have a friend that is an American that is born from a Vietnamese family. She explained to me that she doesn’t experience this type of encounters. I just want to be treated like everyone else, as a result I could peacefully walk to the store, subway, class, etc. Now I always got to look over my back and think, “Is this person my real friend, or are a racist?”