The neatest thing about being me is having twice the identity.
I was born in Korea. I was raised in the United States. This duality has always been a point of interest -- my greatest challenge in deciding who I am and who I get to be given my circumstances. I've battled myself for many years starting in middle school and only just recently have I felt comfortable with who I have become.
I'm a proud Korean-American, or as the Koreans call it, a gyopo (with a hard g sound). I have double the fun, and struggle twice as much. I wield the power to connect two differing cultures while having to learn to balance them. It's a double-edged sword in both fronts, and the battle has only yet begun anew.
While the world is slowly integrating with one another and essentially globalizing, there is still a sense of having to understand both cultures individually. I'm sure many with mixed or multiple backgrounds can agree that you see the world through a somewhat different lens. It is not that we're better or worse than just Koreans or just Americans, or else, I'd be the cockiest son-of-a-gun claiming to know everything about both cultures. For a better part of my life, I learned to balance the good, the bad and the ugly of both sides. And now that I have returned to South Korea after growing up in the States for twenty years, I do know better what part of me wants to retain certain aspects of each culture.
Which is why I have always been fascinated by fellow Korean-Americans and their stories. Some shrug them off as nothing of a big deal while others can relate to my eternal struggles. Half of my Korean-American/Canadian/Australian friends get in touch with their motherland perks while the other half kindly decline to dig deeper than they need to. My own brother finds the Korean way amazingly foreign even though he has a native name to go by.
I used to hate taking on this burden, in accepting one over the other. However, in time, I learned to accept both, most likely thanks to maturity, a bit of life experience, and a whole lot of patience. Whether I'm in the States or in South Korea, I will always have the gyopo problem. I am American minded but I look Korean, and I seem to befuddle both Americans and Koreans alike. But that's the beauty of being who I have become. I can understand each side, and I can take most gripes in stride. I have become more aware of the world around me.
In any case, this is who I am. I like adding the Korean flavor to my writing, although my Americanism remains sturdy. This dual background gives me that extra motivation to voice out even more of my plight, my curse and my blessing, although it has been an enlightenment in recent times. I implore all of you to embrace your multicultural background and make that a strength. It's amazing how much more of the world you understand, even if at first, you feed jaded and disillusioned.
Only then you will find out more about yourself, and that has to be the greatest feeling knowing who you are.
Published by Anthony Kim