I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about my demeanor that makes people think I’m not Korean. It’s happened too many times to be a coincidence. Most recently, we were in a Korean restaurant in Houston – me, Jieun, my sister and Peter, all of our kids, and my great-aunt. We were all speaking to each other in English. The waitress comes to take our order, speaking to each adult in Korean. But when she gets to me, she addresses me – and only me – in English. It was really weird. But again, not unprecedented. There’s something about me that makes Koreans instinctively not interact with me as a Korean, even when I’m surrounded by other Koreans.
I wish I knew what it was. It can’t be just the language thing, because the adults were all speaking to each other in English. Jieun thinks there’s a postural aspect to Korean culture, a subtle way you hold your body and conduct your mannerisms, that I don’t have and it’s this posture (or lack of it) that makes me look non-Korean. I think there’s something to that. Whatever it is, it happens all the time.