Recently I saw a documentary entitled, “Somewhere Between” which told the stories of four Chinese girls who were adopted by white American families. I was so touched by their stories. I could relate to being somewhere between two cultures. Growing up I felt more German-Polish American than I felt Korean-American. I didn’t know the first thing about Korean culture, Korean food, or Korean people. The ironic thing was that I looked 100% Korean. And it seemed like every Korean person we met on the street knew it because they all assumed I spoke Korean. It was always a little awkward for me to explain why I didn’t speak Korean because I was always met with a look of disappointment or pain in their eyes. Looking back, I think these people were probably just sad to hear my story. However, in that moment I always felt ashamed that I didn’t know Korean. Like I had let these Korean people down somehow. There was definitely no reason for me to feel ashamed, and most of the time I knew that. The other hard scenario as a kid was responding to that disgruntled older Korean American adult about how “[I] should’ve really learned Korean growing up from my parents,” and “that it was a shame that kids don’t these days.” They usually stopped in their tracks as soon as I told them I was adopted by a white family.
Growing up, I’ve had a few Korean classmates in school, but I never really felt like I truly fit in with them. I didn’t know Korean. I didn’t know anything about being Korean. And I never got the memo about how being a Korean girl meant you were quiet, and soft-spoken, and when you laughed, you were supposed to cover your mouth with your hand as if that was more lady-like. Crazy enough at the same time, by the looks of me, no one could deny I was Korean. But I wasn’t really Korean. But I wasn’t really white. I was just somewhere in-between.
Check out the documentary that totally rocked my world at http://www.somewherebetweenmovie.com/