Do I Look Like a Communist to You?

It always takes a few minutes to explain my origins to someone I’ve just met. I’m usually bombarded with questions: Wait, so you’re not from the States? I thought you were from Cali… or Flushing or something. Are you Korean or Chinese? How on earth do you speak English so well? You don’t even have an accent! Believe it or not folks, you can actually learn proper Engrish in Asia (ORLY?). My background is confusing though, even for me. When people ask me where my hometown is, I’m usually thrown off by the question. It’s an easy enough question, isn’t it – where you’re from. Anyang? Seoul? Shanghai? It’s one of those.

I’ve been fortunate enough to travel around a lot – I’ve got more than a handful of countries visited under my belt. And I’ve never been asked this particular question before coming to the States (that’s 17 years of my life): Are you South Korean or North Korean? The first few times, I let it slide. I’m in America now. Most Americans don’t know shit about other countries. I calmly replied, South. However, the more and more I got that question, the more annoyed I got. If I was North Korean, what the hell would I be doing in New York City? Honestly, people. Do you not know anything about the heinous conditions in North Korea? Do I look like a refugee to you? I don’t actually voice these thoughts, obviously. They’re just running through my head before I answer the question. Sometimes I like to fuck with people (especially those who I’m 99% sure I’ll never see again) and say that I am indeed from North Korea. I escaped the grips of poverty and communism through the barren lands of northern China… on FOOT… and instead of heading to South Korea where I’d be granted asylum, I decided out of the blue to make my journey across the world to become one of the (roughly) one hundred North Korean defectors living in the United States. I’ve come to the most expensive city in the country, at that. Just chasing the American dream, you see. You understand, don’t you?

No. No, you don’t. Just… No. How the hell would I have done that? How would that even work? I had to file a ton of paperwork and attend a nerve wrecking interview just to obtain my student visa for FIT, and I speak perfect English (there are plenty of South Koreans who are deemed “not good enough” for entry into the States, I know this because I sat in the US embassy for over 3 hours waiting for my turn and watching people get rejected). It’s actually not that easy to enter the States illegally (despite what the media has you believe). Not all illegal aliens are able to jump the fence. In this case, the fence would be the Pacific Ocean. Moving from a fucked up socialist country to what is perceived to be a “normal” capitalist one should be enough culture shock for a North Korean refugee’s lifetime – I’m pretty sure moving to what is perceived to be one of the “most capitalist” and egomaniacal cities in the world would be a tad bit overwhelming for this hapless escapee.

Alright, that’s enough ranting. Just don’t ever ask me if I’m North Korean, okay?

Pretty please?

North Korean PropagandaNorth Korean Propaganda



I’m Hatin’ It

The food industry in the States makes me sick. The fact that I am technically supporting the evil corporations at the top of the “food chain” because I can’t afford organic shit makes me even sicker. I hate that I love fast food. But man, do I love it. I’m a borderline addict. I’m a poor college student. The cheapest and easiest food to get is the shittiest food for your health. I’m slowly but surely killing myself by eating all this crap. I don’t need a nutritionist (or a pretentious vegan) to tell me that.

A bagel with too much cream cheese for breakfast. Meaty, cheesy sandwich for lunch. Two dollar slices for dinner. Sometimes I feel like a complete fatass. Mind you, I’m barely over 100 lbs. But when I’m on the verge of a food coma and have difficulty breathing, I feel like a fatass. I’m useless in the kitchen, so cooking is out of the question. When I want to have some other type of cuisine, I usually need to pay extra… unless it’s some shitty Americanized Chinese food (which I hate). By the way, real Chinese food doesn’t taste like Panda Express. If you go to China expecting the egg foo young and lo mein you get here, you’re in for a big surprise. You probably wouldn’t like it, unless you’re willing to expand your horizons and try some chicken feet or pig ears (which are actually pretty delicious).

I don’t really miss the food in China. But goddamn it, I miss the food in Korea. I miss it so much. Korean food in the city is too fucking expensive, and Korean food is just horribly difficult to make (especially for me; I have an extraordinary ability to mess up the simplest of dishes). I love kimchi. Most Americans I know can’t even stand the smell of kimchi, but I’m Korean and I love my kimchi. I’m always pleasantly surprised whenever I meet a westerner who appreciates kimchi; it’s very rare. Korean food is so flavorful. It has so many varieties, so many spices. Asian food (in general) places great importance in variety and in using spices. A typical Korean meal would be a bowl of rice and several different dishes to go with it.

I’m tired of meat, cheese and bread. With extra cheese. And fries on the side. But what I’m most tired of is Americans’ ignorance when it comes to where their food comes from. The disgusting, inhumane animal farms. The handful of conglomerates that control the entire food industry. (Yes, I read Fast Food Nation and watched Food Inc. and Super Size Me; I’ve stopped going to McDonald’s but I still love a good burger) The consumers generally don’t even care where their food comes from. It’s there, and they buy it. At the fast food chain, at whatever restaurant, the grocery store. They don’t question it. I wish I never did.