Wednesday, June 30, 2010


So, I went and got my fortune read with my friends yesterday. He was pretty much dead-on about my personality, talents, family and other things so I was very interested in hearing what he had to say about my future.

He said next year is going to be a good year for me to meet someone and that my husband and I will be a "goosebump couple" which means we will get along so disgustingly well that we will make other people gag and shudder in goosebumps. (I liked this part. :))

I also heard some very very good news but I will not tell until it really does come true. (and no, it's not about a boy but equally exciting.) If it does come to pass, I am sure y'all hear all about it on here and Facebook come spring.

He also talked about the five elements of the material world: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water and the colors that specifically represent my elements (the color-element relations are different for every person.).

Blue and green are my lucky colors. Red attracts money and men. (He said if I wear more red, I will attract money and men and what girl doesn't want to attract money and men? Well said, brother!) But unfortunately to my horror, my absolute worst color is black. I wear black A. LOT. Most of my wardrobe is made of black. He said wearing black drains me of money. And all this time, I have been blithely lollygaggin' around in black draining my pockets. He said black is a funeral color. Yes, the funeral of my wealth, I say.

So today I did some long over-due spring cleaning. I dug out all my black winter stuff, stomped on them, burned them, buried the ashes and took a shower. Just kidding. But I did dig them out and put them away. Since I didn't bring much summer clothes when I moved to Korea, I don't have much to wear now. I guess that just means I have to go do some shopping. Oh, the burden of my life. I'll just have to hop on the subway and see what's out there.

And if you haven't guessed by now, I will be wearing a lot more red from now on. You will be able to spot me from a mile away every time. (What is that red dot? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's Hannah!)

And I will tell you when money and men start pouring in.

P.S. Some of you might wonder if I really believe this kind of stuff. The answer is: ummm, yeah.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Crime and Punishment

I finished reading Crime and Punishment. With a few subplot detours inserted here and there, the book mainly deals with the internal suffering of the novel's protagonist, Raskolnikov for having committed a murder.

Although, this book is about a man's denial of his own crime, his internal suffering, and the beginning of his soul's redemption, it is also Dostoyevsky's social commentary on Russia's philosophical Zeitgeist and nihilism of the 19th century.

Dostoyevsky's lament over this new philosophical thought is especially apparent when he has Raskolnikov and his prostitute friend Sonya read the rising of Lazarus in the New Testament. Dostoyevsky asserts the existence of God and that even the impossible (like the rising of Lazarus) becomes possible through Christ and that forgiveness is possible even for a murderer and a prostitute. Although Raskolnikov doesn't give into the idea yet, the scene of a murderer and a prostitute reading the New Testament together left an indelible impression in my mind of the infinite power of the atonement.

It was a good read. I liked the David McDuff translation although Norton has a critical edition out with George Gibian's translation.

Coming up next! The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Dear Mr. Perfect,

Once upon a time when I was nineteen, an older friend suggested that I should make a list of about 10 things I wanted in my future spouse. I thought it was a brilliant idea so I went and made a list of 120 things. I proudly showed it to my younger sister, Natalie. She looked at me blankly and told me I was out of my mind so I went and reduced the list to 60 requirements and 20 "preferences." I even handed them out to my Mia Maids (a group of young girls I was teaching at Church during Sunday School) as part of the lesson on choosing an eternal spouse. (Oh, how I cringe every time I think of this!!!!)

Now that I am thirty and still single, my list has shrunk significantly. My future husband doesn't have to aspire to write a book anymore. I no longer have a written list of things I want in a spouse, but I still do have a mental image of what he will be like. But at the same time, I have learned to expect to be surprised and have realized that when I fall in love, I break all the rules. (For example, I wanted someone who liked and listened to classical music almost exclusively but dated a guy who was in a gothic rock band.) So yes, life has sometimes caught me by surprise but I think it's inevitable to have certain preferences when it comes to finding the person I want to be with for the rest of my life and foreeeeeeeeeeeeever moooooooore.

The Kim clan has been continuously telling me not to be so picky, but I am not so sure if I am.(Well, maybe a little bit, but I assure you the height of my expectations are within the human reach.)

In all seriousness, all I want is a genuinely good human being with brains who shares the same faith as I do. (And understands the Korean culture or at least try to and likes Korean food. Oh, and there is the chemistry thing, too.)

As for looks, he doesn't have to look like this:

Or like this:

Or like this:

That is not to say I will reject him if he looked like that but really, who am I kidding? As long as he suits my fancy and is not drop-dead ugly (and it's very hard to be drop-dead ugly, folks) I am game. So, Mr. Perfect (for me), where the heck are you?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sex and Racism

Western representation of the female gender of the East has often been misrepresented as inferior and cloaked in the mystery of sexual eroticism. With the obsession of chinoiserie and japonisme in Europe in the late 17th and 19th century respectively, Asia, especially Asian women have become a hot commodity for artists and writers to perpetuate this man-made Asiatic fantasy. In America, the Euro-American perception of Asians, specifically the Chinese, was already tainted by the European concoction of Orientalism but they still cast their own Orientalist veil on their perception through which they saw the Chinese and interpreted their culture even before a large group of Chinese people immigrated to the American soil in mid-19th century. This primordial impression of the Chinese undoubtedly contributed to the shaping of American racist attitudes toward Asians and permeated the ethnocentric consciousness of Americans even before the first group of Chinese immigrants arrived.

This is how Asians got their first start in America.

But that was a long time ago. How does this really affect me now? In defense of America, I have to say that America has been very kind to me for the most part. Racist attitudes weren't very apparent to me as an Asian woman and if I detected them, they were very subtle, underhanded and infrequent. (Although my perceived-image associated with racial stereotypes as an Asian woman might be a totally different story.) Racism exists in America but I never felt heavily burdened by its presence.

Ironically, it is in Korea that I see a more pronounced, in-your-face ethnocentric American attitude toward Asian women that makes me want to puke. But I do realize that this idiocy is helped not only by the media's misconstrued portrayal of Asian women (think Lucy Liu, Ziyi Zhang, Sandra Oh, and other Asian actresses on TV--they are all made to exude the image of I-wanna-have-sex-with-you.) but also by the Asian corporations and Asian women themselves.

I recently saw an Asian airline ad in The New York Times with a beautiful Asian flight attendant with the banner "I just want to listen." These Asian corporations are commercializing these "idealized", subservient images of Asian women to target white men, thereby feeding and completing the supply and demand circle.

I think economical, and political strength of a nation reflects the personality of its citizens. I suspect that some Korean women, even with the dizzying speed of Korea's economic growth, feel that by being with an American, they have turned their socio-economic knob up a notch. These women perpetuate the myth that any Asian women will do anything to hook up with an American to get a second chance at life and reinforces the ridiculous idea that white American men are superior and more desirable. Yes, some American men (especially the military ones in Korea) are idiots and sometimes I want to sit them down and yell at them using $50 words to make them feel infinitely stupid and kick them in the balls but there are also Asian women who play the part of an innocent, stupid geisha just like Madame Butterfly. It resurrects the century-old Orientalist view of Asian women. It's a maddening thing.

And I am sure, when these American men go back to the States, they will harbor the same kind of racial superiority when they encounter Asian and Asian-American women. It is sickening that I, along with numerous intelligent, independent, strong women, am numbered among these stereotypical geishas if not consciously, subconsciously.(And I strongly believe that our racist attitudes are much more subconscious than conscious.)

The truth is that Asian fantasy has been created by western men and is perpetuated by both western and eastern cultures alike. And I am helpless in changing it and it frustrates me to no end.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A Funny Bit of Korean Life

I feel guilty for neglecting my blog and ignoring the needs and demands of my fans (yes, all 6 of my followers!). I am working on a very interesting piece, so just you wait. Meanwhile I have a funny story that I must relate.

My friend Erin just signed a contract for her high-end apartment she will be renting for a year. Her Korean real estate agent took her inside the apartment to explain which buttons to push for her high-tech joint and when she got to the bidet part (if you don't know what a bidet is, Google it.)this is how the conversation went. (Keep in mind that the real estate agent is a very prim and proper Korean lady.)

Agent: This button is for number 1 and this button is for number 2.

Erin: (Trying to decipher whether no. 1 and no.2 were what she thought they were...) What do you mean?

Agent: You know, number 1 is for peeing and number 2 is for your asshole.

Erin: Your asshole?

Agent: Yes, your asshole.

Erin: (Starts laughing her head off)

Agent: (Panicking) What? Isn't that how you say it? Isn't it asshole?

Erin: (Coming to herself) Yes, it is but you don't really say the word. It's a curse word.

Agent: (Astonished) Really? I had no idea! What do you call it then?

Erin: Well, we don't usually say the word to indicate the asshole. We just describe the general area where it is located. We say bottom.

Agent: Oh okay.

Gotta love the American who taught her that.


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