1 - Race
Am I Korean or am I American?
Rather, do I live as a Korean, live as an American? Can I live as both?
My entire life, people have called me a Korean or an American, never and, but usually, the Koreans call me American and the Americans call me Korean.
However, these assumptions come from the smallest things.
If I drink Starbucks in front of a Korean, they say I’m the “whitest” Asian they have ever seen.
Supposedly, drinking Starbucks or wearing “preppy” clothes like Vineyard Vines makes anyone White.
The melanin in my skin doesn’t matter, nor do my genetics, my parents, my ethnicity.
No, if I drink Starbucks I’m White.
On the other hand, how do White people stereotype me as Korean.
Whenever I meet a new White person, the MOST commonly asked question is, “Are you into K-Pop,” or, “Nice K-Pop hair!”
Although I do listen to Korean music at times, because my hair is yellow and I’m Asian, it doesn’t make me a K-Pop fanatic.
My food doesn’t make me a Korean either as I eat a variety of foods with Asian names, it’s hard for me to answer the question, “What did you eat?” without putting in a touch of Asian.
Whether it’s soy bean paste noodles (???), traditional Korean beef soup (???), kimchi (??), or even moon cakes (?), I do not eat only Asian foods.
I eat In-N-Out, Arby’s, Chipotle, Ben & Jerry’s, you name it, I have eaten it.
So please, do not ask whether I am North or South Korean, or gawk at me when I speak with my mother on the phone.
Do not ask me how to swear in Asian; it is the same thing as asking someone if they speak Mexican.
In cases such as these, ignorance is definitely not bliss.
Therefore, balancing the divide of Korean and American is hard, especially to find the truth in being a Korean-American.
2 - Pursuit
To groove to the beat of the music as if it sustains my life like my heartbeat.
To stride across the field in hopes of kicking the unreachable ball.
To amass the pens out of joy of making a collection of beautiful.
To devour my sister’s baking like a child eating Snickers for the first time.
To create a page in the Carillon Yearbook with digital design.
To debate with more than worthy competition, humble in victory but gracious in defeat.
To build a robot with Team 254, the masters of Robotics.
To chat with friends, listening and being listened to.
To program a code, returning questions to answer or a turtle who draws pictures.
To study for the college entrance exams, preparing for a gruesomely hard 2 years.
But no matter how hard it all is, everything else aids me in persevering through the difficult dilemmas.
Earphones, providing the music to set my mood for the day.
The ball, staying with me through the pains of mastering techniques in soccer.
Collection of writing instruments, wielded with my clumsy hands.
Bread, the magical product of my sister, and my life sustenance.
Design, a new hobby obtained in the 9th grade through the best of my friends.
Debate, an activity I have stayed with for a long time, but have failed to catch up in some time.
Robotics, the newest of my hobbies, a powerful tool in the Digital Age.
Friends, the source of my happiness.
Programming, a class turned into a game.
Studying, the inescapable law of passing school.
3 - Family and Friends
My Mom, Dad, Sister, Dog. My Family.
My two Grandmas, Grandpa, Great-Aunt, Great-Uncle. My Family.
My four cousins: a baby, younger brother, older brother, college sister. My Family.
My Aunt, two Uncles, In-Laws. My Family.
All of them live in Korea, my Family the only one in America.
My Dad’s Father, Sister. My Aunt, Grandfather, both passed on to a better place.
Regret fills me as I do not remember my Aunt’s face, having to remind myself by looking at a picture in my Grandma’s room in Korea.
However, the blessings I have now on Earth amply love me.
For me, more than enough. Far more than enough.
My Mom, Dad, Sister Dog. I meet them every day, and every day I learn a bit more about them.
The rest of my Family lives in Korea, so I see them once every five years, sometimes even more.
Every moment we meet engraves itself in my memory like the moment Arthur pulled Excalibur from a stone.
4 - Nature in Korea
We come out of the airplane, after a fourteen-hour long flight on Singapore Airlines.
We arrive at the baggage chain, where we pick up our bags that were shipped along with us.
Soon, we see our bags, and lift them onto the baggage cart which frankly, makes our life a whole lot easier.
Finally, we get our passports checked and walk into the airport.
We frantically search for our family, and in a few seconds, we see them.
Magically, when we meet, it feels like it has only been a day since we last held each other in our arm’s embrace.
We let go of each other and walk out of the airport with our items.
The air outside of the airport is damp, and the sky always cloudy (we usually go in the Winter).
The smell of a polluted yet fresh air my body inhales fills me, and every time, I do not know what to think about the air.
We board the taxi, or rather, the classic Korean Black Van that stays outside the airport all the time, with a sticker of the newest Korean cartoon character.
After an hour long ride on the taxi, we arrive at my grandma’s house, where we have a Thanksgiving level feast. Korean Style.
Eventually, our stomach feels as if it is going to burst, yet we laugh and talk with each other.
On the other hand, America provides a completely different definition to nature.
5 - American Nature
The most beautiful parts of America are within its National Parks.
Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Arches of Utah, Bryce Canyon, Kings Canyon, Zion Canyon, Sequoia, Redwood, Antelope Canyon.
All sites my family has visited over the last 12 years as a result of our love for these places.
We camp, hike, and backpack these places while enjoying the thrill of each and every one of the activities we follow through with.
However, there exists the other extreme of my life, where nature is nonexistent, the Technology aspect.
I sit at my desk with my Mac or Surface, writing up a speech, coding a program, or drawing on a digital sketchpad.
I surf the web on my phone, laying on a sofa while listening to videos with my headphones on.
I lay in bed just before I sleep, checking my phone one last time before preparing for school the next day.
Technology surrounds me, and the shelter of my home encloses me with it.
This is the Lullaby of Life, the Rhythm of Reality, the Song of Myself.