Being half Korean, half Caucasian is completely different from being just Korean or just white. Being biracial feels as if you’ve got one foot in each “world.” You aren’t just one, but part of two whole entities, as well as one you. It’s hard to explain what it’s like to be mixed, unless if you’re mixed yourself.
Today, I will talk about the five best things about being half Korean.
Growing up, I spoke Korean at home with my mom. One of my earliest memories is of her reminding, even gently warning, me to never stop speaking Korean. She knew that when you stop speaking or using a language, then you are more likely to forget it. She didn’t want that to happen to me. She wanted me to be able to speak Korean so that I can communicate with the relatives in Korea.
It was really cool being able to speak two languages at home. The best thing about speaking another language is that you can speak that language in public and no one knows what you just said. And Korean isn’t as widely spoken as Spanish or French, especially in the south. It’s definitely like your own special language.
I remember many mornings waking up to find my grandmother or my mother in the kitchen, sitting on the newspaper covered floor, and making kimchi. I loved to see them making kimchi. I was the unofficial “taste tester.”
I would often sit across from them and dip my finger into the spicy, red kimchi sauce. I would shiver in delight as the spice ran through my body. The expectation of soon seeing a huge, fresh new jar of kimchi made me giddy with excitement. Of course, I didn’t like to think that I would still have to wait at least one week to eat the kimchi. Because older kimchi tastes so much better than new, freshly made kimchi.
Besides kimchi, there are so many other Korean dishes that are so delicious. I love to eat a bowl of white rice with some banchan, or side dishes, such as seaweed, little anchovies, braised eggs, omelets, bean sprouts, and more. I love the stews and soups, such as kimchi jigae and bean sprout soup. I love to eat noodles with gochujang (hot pepper paste) and sliced cucumbers. I love to eat melon bars (ice cream made out of Korean melons). I love kimchi pancakes. There’s just so much. Maybe I’ll do a separate blog post on some of my favorite Korean foods.
When I was younger, my grandmother would bring us — my parents and I — hanboks from Korea. If you don’t know, hanboks are the national clothing of Korea. They are made of very fine, delicate, almost silky material. I always felt so special, wealthy, and like a princess whenever I wore my hanbok. I’ve never worn another even close to a hanbok before.
When you are half Korean, you do have a certain amount of privilege. I remember growing up and everyone in my mother’s side of the family praising my looks. They always remarked at how beautiful I was because I have certain western features that are considered to be very attractive in the eastern world. They often praised my double eyelids, long eyelashes, long, thin nose, and thick eyebrows. As a result, I grew up with an overinflated self esteem, believing myself to be beautiful, all because I was mixed.
I also feel like I have a certain amount of privilege being half Korean, half Caucasian. Asians are often thought of as the model minority. You very rarely see an Asian in the news for doing something terrible. Asians have the stereotype of being smart and rich. I have benefited from this throughout my life. Because of my race, many people look at me and assume that I must be very smart. I have never been scared to walk alone at night. I have never been scared of going into a store and being followed by the sales people.
So, in regards to that, I feel like I am doubly privileged. I am doubly privileged because of the way I look and how I am treated within this country.
5–The Freedom of Choice
One thing I loved about being biracial is that I get to choose more than one race on college and job applications. If I want, I can choose white. If I want, I can choose Asian. If I want, I can choose both or neither or even other (whatever that is).
I can choose whatever I want. When you are biracial, then you have the freedom and the luxury to choose what you want to be identified as. No one has the right to make that choice for you. I love that I can choose all of my races.
But most of all, being Hapa has given me the opportunity to experience both worlds. And for that, I am doubly thankful.
What is the best thing about your life?