We’re in Korea right now, got here Saturday night. I come to Korea every few years, infrequently enough that it feels different every time I come. This time, I was immediately struck by how many more foreigners (and by foreigners I mean non-Asian looking people – I’ve seen lots of Chinese / Japanese tourists before) there are. Tons more in the airport. We took the express train to Seoul Station and our car was full of English speakers, a lot of them young. I have never experienced that before. It made me wonder who they are – gamers maybe? No clue.
Same in the areas we’ve been in – Insadong (where we’re staying) and Itaewon (where we went to church). So many more foreigners, including multiple groups of blacks, which again, I’ve never seen before. Craziest to me is we went to this restaurant after church and the wait staff were not Korean. Again, mind-blowing to me. I guess this change has happened gradually as Dave didn’t seem to think it was a big deal, but I’ve never seen this before. Korea is changing.
I don’t love Korea. I like it a lot, and always enjoy when I visit, but don’t love it. And because I have so few relatives here, I don’t feel a huge need to come that often. In contrast, Jieun *loves* Korea. And virtually all her family, both immediate and extended, is here – it’s only Jibin that’s in the U.S. So she would like to come every year if we could.
I think part of it is related to identity. I think with each passing year, I feel less and less Korean. I barely encounter Korean Korean people, and I wrote before how while I feel there’s a part of my core identity that’s Korean, that’s almost entirely wrapped up in my church upbringing. We haven’t gone to a Korean church in a long time, not even an Asian church for a while, so I feel increasingly less connected to that as well.
Jieun on the other hand, seems to feel more Korean every year. As she’s gotten older, she’s gravitated almost entirely toward Korean media. She almost only watches Korean TV. On planes, she watches Korean movies first, before watching U.S. movies. I find that baffling because to me, U.S. media is objectively of higher quality than Korean. That’s obviously opinion, not fact, but I still find it weird. But Jieun finds seeing faces like hers in the entertainment she watches appealing. I don’t know why it’s so important to her (and not to me), but if I had to guess, I think it’s related to our differences in identity.
Practically, it means we barely watch any TV shows together anymore; the sets of what we like is too disjoint. But it’s actually OK – makes it easier for us to binge our respective shows. Plus it lets me watch at 1.3x speed without feeling bad.
It’s weird how disjoint our tastes are though. Like, I love certain aspects of reality TV – namely how real people respond to artificial situations, and what that says about human nature. Jieun hates reality TV because for her, TV is escape. So there’s this show Heart Signal that I’m kind intrigued by, it’s like a Korean take on Terrace House but more dating-oriented. It’s the one Korean show I’m mildly interested in, and Jieun has zero interest.