zaterdag 25 mei 2019


It took a while to make that decision, but when I finally made up my mind, I was ready to leave a place I loved so much. Today it's been already one year since I packed my bags and left Kimchiland aka Korea after seven turbulent but exciting years. Back then, before coming back, I was looking forward to settling down with the love of my life and facing the world together.

Unfortunately, in a cruel twist of fate, none of this became reality. After only one month that love of my life left without even blinking or looking back. I started to wonder why did I ever come back from Korea if I had a fulfilling life and fun friends there. How did it ever come to this? How did I not foresee this? What's wrong with me for having someone I love and trust to leave me in my weakest moment? I felt stupid for having loved unconditionally, so blinded. I felt lost and alienated from my own country, my own family and friends back home.

Then all the 'what ifs' and the hurt feelings kept me awake at night. It was clear that I had hit rock bottom, because everything familiar seemed suddenly gone: not only my life in Korea but also the feeling of security and stability in the shape of someone to love and to be loved in return. Overnight, it all felt like just an empty shell. For a couple of months I found myself in a real dark abyss, losing solid ground beneath my feet not knowing what to do next.

Luckily in those darkest hours my family and friends did not give up on me. Even though we hadn't seen each other a lot in the past years, they kept asking to meet up and offer a shoulder to cry on while welcoming me back into their lives. Sometimes they also told me to stop whining, get myself together and move on. It's safe to say that without them I would never have been able to overcome what I might call the hardest hurdle in my life (even worse than that damn thesis in Korean! ;)) And every day I'm still grateful for this tough love.

Finding a job helped me to keep myself busy and focus on other things than feeling lost and depressed. Although I do miss Korea and my now ex-boyfriend a lot, at the moment I'm quite happy with my life and newfound hobbies such as model drawing and glass blowing.

It surely sounds cliché, still, it's true that nobody is promised tomorrow. So when life throws you lemons you better make damn good lemonade!

Writing this in Ostend with a view on the seaside :)

Feet at the beach!
Ostend on a sunny day

Last month I ate at this Korean restaurant 'SEOUL', in Brussels. First time since coming back! I don't miss Korean food, but I do miss going out for dinner with friends every day! Korea will always be a part of me, and I like it! :)

maandag 28 mei 2018


The end of an era!

The moment has come, at last: I'm leaving Korea and returning back to my home country Belgium!

Words are not enough to describe how I feel about the past six years and nine months in Kimichiland... so let's skip this part.

The only thing I can say is that I'm grateful for having gotten this amazing opportunity to live, study and work in such an interesting city as Seoul. Life wasn't always easy in a country so different from Belgium or any other place I've been to. Nevertheless, it's safe to say that I have never regretted my choice to come here.

The thing(s) I will miss the most from Korea is of course my dear friends who've always supported me; its distinct four seasons; learning and speaking Korean; the well-developed and affordable pubic transportation system allowing me to discover Korea and especially Seoul without any problem; clean and free public bathrooms; floor heating(!); ultra fast home delivery; the buzzers when ordering food & drinks; never having to cook and being able to go out eating every day; the free drinking water dispensers that are available everywhere; the high level of convenience and so many more things I'm sad having to leave behind.

What I certainly won't ever miss is the suffocating air pollution that's been building up in the past few years; pushing ajumma's in the subway; our landlady showering in my bathroom without notification (THE most shocking experience in Korea!); ice cold winters that make your face freeze off and put the ondol on max; needlessly complicated online procedures on websites!

So for now... Goobye Korea, Goodbye Seoul! Thank you for everything! And until we meet again! :)

So long,


한국에 온지 벌써 거의 7년 되었는데 아직 믿을 수 잆겠지만 이제 한국에서 떠나는거야. 이번에 진짜 굿바이입니다! 좋은 친구들을 만날 수 있었고, 좋은 경험을 이렇게 많이 쌓을 수 있었으니까 평화롭게 갈 수 있을 것 같아...  근데 서울과 모든 친구들을 엄청 많이 보고 싶을거야ㅠㅠ. 그동안 진심으로 고마웠어! 우리 또 보자! 벨기에로 오면 꼭 연락해주세요~ 맛있는 거 그리고 맥주 많이 쏠께! 사랑해~ 라라

woensdag 6 juli 2016



It's been ages since I've posted here...

How are you? Great, I hope! Me?! I'm fine. Still in Korea and the rainy season has started here for real. Korean people call it Jangma (장마) meaning a long spell of rainy weather in summer. Rain is falling from the skies for over 12 hours now and some parts of the country are flooded. Hope everyone stays safe out there!

I'm working on my thesis... but it's not going that well. Surprise, surprise... Why, oh why did I ever chose Korean literature? ;) I'm so distracted by so many things. Meanwhile working multiple part time jobs in order to sustain myself! But we're holding on tight! At least I narrowed down my research scope more now. I'm analyzing a novel called "There A Petal Silently Falls" (저기 소리없이 한 점 꽃잎이 지고) by Choe Yun (최윤). This novel is about a girl's descent into madness, while on a subconscious journey to regain her lost identity and to set her free from the guilt she'd experienced after witnessing the brutal killing of her mother. It is a gripping and harrowing story set in the context of the Gwangju Uprising. However, packed with poetic descriptions and each chapter containing different internally focalized narrations it's rather confusing and damn hard to analyze. day... will be the best day of my life! *errr*

In the past months I've been back and forth to Belgium twice, and I must say I miss it every time after returning to Korea. However, Seoul still feels like home. It's gonna be a painful break-up if we'd ever have to separate. A tearjerker with a box of Kleenex!

Meanwhile on the other side of the globe, in Belgium in fact, I didn't know it would ever happen again, but... I've met someone who likes me for me and whom I like even more! 난 완전 빠졌어! 빠졌다고!!!... Looking forward to what the future has in store for us! So all singles out there looking for that special someone, don't give up, I'd say! After being a happy single for five years, I'd never thought this would happen. Not that I was waiting for Prince Charming or anything like that! ;)

I gotta go teach tomorrow in a primary school, about our beloved Belgium, so I'd better head to bed!

So long & lots of kimchilove!


<3 Lara aka 라라

Seokmo Island February 2016

서울한산초등학교, Hansan Primary School... I bought a flag in Belgium when I last visited. It's my first time having a flag... I feel so nationalistic while I'm not. Haha

양진초등학교 4년3반

donderdag 1 oktober 2015



4년 동안 한국에서 살아온 벨기에 학생 한명의 생활 업데이트

한국에서 산지 벌써 4년 됐구나라는 생각이 있어서 갑자기 블로그에 한 글을 더 올리고 싶었다! 

시간이 이렇게 빨리 지난 줄 진짜 몰랐다. 다시 생각해 보면 그 동안 나쁜 기억보다 좋은 기억과 경험들을 훨씬 더 많이 쌓았다. 처음에 한국으로 왔을 땐 한국어 한마디도 못했고 친구들이 한명도 없었는데 지금은 가족으로 여기는 친구들이 몇명 생겨서 고마운 마음으로 살고 있다. 

내 한국 생활의 첫해는 다른 정부장학생들과 같이 어학당 다녔을 때도 롤플레이 하면서 좋은 선생님 덕분에 한국어를 많이 배웠다. 지금 내 한국 실력이 아직도 많이 부족하기는 하지만 일상생활에 충분한 것 같고 그럭저럭 편하게 살아갈 수 있다.  어학당을  같이 다녔던 시간 또한 이미 귀국했던 어학당 친구들을 많이 그리워해서 앞으로 다시 마주칠 수 있길 바란다.

대학원에 입학했다가 진짜 악몽이나 지옥에 깊이 바찐 줄 알았다. 강의를 잘 알아듣기 위해 노력했더라도 교수님과 다른 학생들이 무슨 말씀인지 무엇에 대해 말씀하셨는지 모든 것을 다 이해못했기 때문에 갈수록 점점 더 절망해벼렸다. 포기해 야할 마음 뿐만 아니라 가족을 그리워했기 때문에 귀국하고 싶었다. 하지만 포기함을 허락하지 않은 좋은 친구들 덕분에 와신상담하며서 수료했을 때까지 계속 공부할 수 있었다.

지금은 수료한지 벌써 1년 넘게 되었으며 논문만 남았다. 논문을 빨리 마무리하려고 하는데 쉬운 일 아닌 것 같아서 조금 더 많이 걸릴 수도 있지만... 이미 끝까지 가기로 했으니까 끝까지 지켜봐야겠죠!

4년 동안 지원해 주신 가족과 친구들께 감사의 빚을 지고 있습니다! 진심으로 감사합니다! 그 동안 고마웠습니다! 사랑합니다! ^^ ♡

우와 이 글쓰기를 썼다보니까 내 능력이 진짜 많이 부족하네... 하고 싶은 말이 다 머릿속에 있거든... 왜 안나오지... 한국 문법 어렵다고... 싫다고 ㅜㅜ 언어를 배우려하는 사람들 힘내세요!... 저도 공감이요!ㅋㅋㅋ ^^


I've been living in Korea for over four years now! So, I was thinking to write on my blog once again after a long period of silence.

I can't even believe that four years have already passed by! Fortunately, I'm not (yet) brainwashed into believing that Kimchi is the best thing in the world! However, when it's not there I do feel there's something missing with the food! Haha! ;) Looking back, I would say that the good experiences and memories certainly outshine the bitter ones!

My first year in Korea was fun! I totally enjoyed going to language school, while doing silly role plays and studying Korean together with my fellow KGSP friends. Thanks to really wonderful teachers (이정화 선생님 deserves a special mention here!) we were able to spend an amazing year at SNU's Korean Language Institute. Although many students hated the Korean classes -especially those who didn't need Korean for their academic pursuits- after entering the real world aka SNU college, we can all agree that our time studying Korean together was really a period without many worries, allowing us to grow together while discovering all the good things about Korea! With my Korean abilities now I can get by in daily life situations but they are still very lacking. I really need to work on my Korean academic writing too! Got "only" my thesis left now. Slightly panicking right now! Haha. :D

After entering grad school, I thought I had ended up in a really bad nightmare I was desperately trying to wake up from, or even some kind of hell... I couldn't understand what the professors or the students were talking about during the classes. What I had learned in language school was helpful to overcome our challenges in every day life, but it was far from sufficient to enter college and not even close enough to barely survive Korean academics! On top of that, it was very hard to make friends in my department. Especially, since there weren't many other foreigners whom I could relate to. I felt like an island surrounded by Korean geniuses. Still, college life is nothing without good friends, so I tried to make Korean friends within the department but it didn't go as smooth as I wanted to. I'm thankful for not only my seniors and few good friends I was able to make in our department, but also my other friends who knew about the struggles of SNU life! They all took care of me and helped me to live through this Korean academic challenge (and also that horrible thesis exam, for which I studied six whole months!... Belgian students can't even imagine, right?!)!

Nowadays there are many foreigners coming to our department, so the atmosphere has changed for the better. The assistants in charge of our major's students affairs also have helped a great deal in making life easier for both Korean as well as foreign students! 

Right now I'm tutoring English as a part time job and I'm also teaching about Belgium in kindergarten and schools five times a month. In the beginning I felt really shy when having to speak Korean in front of other people, but after going to schools regularly I don't really care that much anymore, haha! Not sure if that is a good thing, though... ;)

And... Oh yes, also thank you, KakaoTalk, for existing! My life in Korea, and perhaps to a greater extend all our lives in Korea, would be totally miserable and boring without! :D

I'm also thankful to have met nice people along the way, especially when we went to Batam to do volunteer work. During those ten days we got so close and made friendship bonds we will be able to cherish for the rest of our lives! Although SNU can feel like a hell at times, it's still a great place to meet new people from all sorts of backgrounds!

To all those people, family and friends, who have supported me in any way possible during the past four years, I'd like to express an heartfelt thank you. THANK YOU SO MUCH! ♡

I still can't believe I was only 23 when first arriving here, and now I'm already 27 going on thirsty... I mean 30!

dinsdag 10 maart 2015


After the screening of the South Korean documentary “the Baby Box” (official webpage: click here), recently social-media posts about the controversial phenomenon have been resurfacing on the internet stirring up commotion and strong anti-activism. Apparently, there's a considerable amount of people (e.g. the #ThinkOutsideTheBabyBox movement) who are very much against the existence of the hatch where presumably(!) mothers can anonymously give away their unwanted baby. 

Note: due to the anonymous character, it is hard to know who exactly makes use of the baby box, but one can assume that most likely and therefore 'presumably' parents do (and likelier mothers).



"The Baby Box (Drop Box)":

"The Drop Box [Full Story] (Korean, Eng subs):

For those who have met my obsessive character already, I couldn't help but wanting to know all about it and ask everyone's opinion on this topic. So, I did a little research in order to understand this heart-wrenching phenomenon better.

After a few clicks on the world wide web, I found it quite interesting to see that in many countries the baby boxes are neither legal nor illegal, meaning that it's illegal but commonly not punished by the law, or it finds itself somewhere in a grey zone. What I was wondering was... if you consider baby boxes and adoption, how much do they differ in essence and why is adoption less controversial than the baby box? To me ethically, it doesn't differ that much. In both cases the parents (presumably) have rendered themselves incapable of taking care of their own child. What's questionable for me is promoting the baby box and adoption as the better option, because it simply isn't. Moreover, it is just one choice, usually the last one since parents will contemplate and only choose the best available option. In some countries there are more options and less stigmatizing, while in others there are less options and more stigma. I consider Belgium as the former and Korea as the latter. This could explain why in Korea there are a lot more children brought to the baby box than in Belgium.

For being an illegality, the one in Belgium has quite an official website: 

The organization is a non-profit and non-religious one called "Mothers for Mothers". The reason for them offering the baby box stated: "We want to offer desperate mothers the chance to anonymously give their baby a warm and safe home." Babies get a name and also official documents, they then go to a foster family after one month, then the family can adopt the baby after 6 months. The biological mother (presumably) can take a special envelope at the baby box and reclaim her baby within six months. They also have a emergency help line mothers can call to anonymously. So, even though the person who brings the baby to the baby box is by Belgian law an offender, there is some sort of legal framework for it, since the baby can get official documents.

Amid all the commotion, I agree with critics that a baby box is not the healthiest option. Still, in Belgium (and also in Korea) it seems better than leaving your baby alone in a desolate place, which is reported to have happened before, since those babies usually don't survive. The difference with adoption is that it happens completely anonymously, but still the baby is often reported in the news with its new name. So the mother knows the baby's new name (!), which to me is rather something doubtful and controversial.

I can also agree with the critics that support for desperate, single mothers and parents should be raised so they wouldn't have to resort to choices like abandoning their baby or bringing it to the baby box. However, in the end, I believe, when it comes to babies, it's still one's personal choice and responsibility, regardless of the motivations. And the choice of baby box or giving a baby up for adoption is never an easy one. I feel a lot of people have an opinion about the baby box as strong criticism is easy to vent, but what matters is still a life of a young and innocent human being that has the right to live. As long as there will be no direct solutions it’s still better to do what’s necessary to save a life that might have been already discarded regardless of economic and psychological support offered by governments. Alongside constructive and long term solutions, the baby box could be a humane and valuable solution, but only if it is integrated into a legal framework providing the best intentions for both parties involved. What is your opinion? 

If only now some genius would invent a box to abandon my concentration problems... or a Graduation Time Machine?! ;)

zondag 4 januari 2015


Today something wonderful happened!

In August this summer, I had put some of the broken branches of my Pachira Aquatica tree one of my living space's inhabitants since coming to Korea into a glass of water after they broke off while I was cleaning. Once in a while I checked whether the branches would start growing roots or not. I know it's possible to propagate plants and make them grow roots after they are put in water, such as mint and many other room plants. 

After many months without any visible result, I didn't check anymore but kept on refilling the glass of water, since the leaves were still very green. 

And today!!!! Today, I was wondering why those branches are still green and when I checked the water, I surprisingly saw these long roots sprouting out. I already know I'm a sucker for plants and nature in general and I also know it sounds silly, but I felt really HAPPY! Something has found the power to root down despite initially having no big chances of survival! It was as if that plant was me, after coming to Korea: empty handed without even knowing Hangeul, building everything from scratch, and slowly starting to put down roots and be able to survive in a harsh and competitive environment. 

People, similar to plants, have this great ability: to grow roots and build new life even with nothing but the basics! Cheers to all those learning how to survive in whatever circumstances encountered!

My qumquat tree, which I have been growing from seed right after coming to Korea, is still doing well. However, I have given up all hope on ever seeing fruit on my little, super slow growing tree. After receiving my love, I can't believe you only grew 20cm in the past 3 years and half!!! :O My coffee plant needs a lot of water and is steadily growing bigger but probably won't bear any beans either!

How wonderful life is, when you're...
able to keep plants alive!

Many plants have come and left... these are the die hards/sole survivors of a student's life and travelling!

My room is always sunny. Will miss this place a lot after moving in February! 

Although I decided not to really celebrate Christmas this year, I still got a gift from my Secret Santa! Thanks to a very special person! Miss you, Jiyoung! Hope our paths will cross again this year, girl! :)

zaterdag 3 januari 2015

ADIEU 2014, WELCOME 2015!

It's 2015, a new year and time for some intro- and retrospection!

2014 was the year of many first times! First time being held back at the Airport for passport problems (Gosh, wrong information on the embassy's website!!!); first time real solo travelling without any planning! Not a good idea but glad it all turned out well in the country of mango, white beaches and everlasting rice fields; and the first time having year '88 friends announcing they are expecting babies. Yep, it has officially begun!

In the meantime, I've finished my coursework. So, what's left now is 'only' that thesis, which seems to be a (very) long project. Again, some good friends have graduated and left Korea. Miss you both a lot, Lili and Luis! We will meet again fur sure, hopefully this year!

I was happy to be reunited with my family and friends in Belgium and Ireland this summer, after two years of no homecoming. A lot has changed in the city where I grew up and studied. Still, somehow it felt as if I had never left. My cat is already 14 years old but active as never before. It made me believe that cats do have multiple lives!

And I finally kept my promises and visited long time friends, who I failed to meet again in the past 8 years. Thank you so much Denise, My and Huong for proving that friendships can overcome time! 

Another great year spent in Seoul, with ups and downs, but always with the support of my lovely friends. Thank y'all! Let's make 2015 another great year in Kimchiland! 

Love, Lara

Last year's 2013 in retrospect! :)

Looking back at how 2013 was for me, I would say it was unforgettable in many good and bad ways! This year I was able to (re)meet amazing people while travelling to Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia. Many of these people have left a lasting impression within me and some have also become really wonderful friends. I like living in Seoul and I'm grateful towards the people who have always supported me. I've become very much accustomed to the Korean way of living (even the spicy KIMCHI!), in a way it makes me somehow a little nervous when thinking about having to leave in the end. However this doesn't mean I haven't missed home! It's a cliche, and therefore it bears some truth: the longer you stay away, the more you come to realize what is important and what is not. How you may turn it, having family and friends who support you unconditionally might be one of the most important things in life. And some of the friends I held very dear have either left South Korea, drifted away, or have left without a warning... Having family and friends to miss, isn't it a bittersweet feeling?! In the past year, my Korean has improved, however I feel frustrated since it's not good enough and it will never be... Forgetting (for a second) about the struggles of writing decent papers in Korean, I agree that the Korean language is amazing, not only because of its richness in sounds and expressiveness but also because of its level of difficulty! Hopefully 2013 has brought y'all plenty of amazing memories to cherish and I hope 2014 will be even better! Cheers! x Lara

vrijdag 26 december 2014


Source image:

For those who had planned on seeing "The Interview" but unfortunately couldn't... here a North Korean girl singing about her mommy and daddy blowing kisses. 

To me, this girl's facial expressions and body movements seem so unnatural and forced. What distinguishes children from adults is that they are spontaneous... I believe that, when young kids have lost their spontaneity way ahead of time due to external influences, it naturally makes observing people feel pitiful and uncomfortable. See for yourself. What do you think?!

The most striking thing is the seemingly consistent disapproval by South Korean viewers, reflected in the comment section of this Youtube video:

"불쌍하다"(So sad; pitiful); 
"웃기는한데 마음아프다 불쌍해"(It's funny but I feel hurt, so sad.); 
"표정이 뭐야"(What's with the facial expression?!); 
"안쓰럽다"(I feel sorry [for her]); 
"아인데 표정이 40년대"(She's a kid, but her face looks like that of a 40year old."
"저표정이 부자연스러워서 슬프다" (Expressions are not natural, it's sad.)

On the other hand, many non-South Korean people commented mainly favorable things such as "So cuuuute!"; "Wow, I like her voice and movement" or "Fantastisca".

EDIT: (After reading some more comments) Even though most non-South Korean people loved the performance, a considerable amount of people (regardless of nationality) have shown signs of disapproval. However, they often didn't feel "sad" or "pitiful" like many South Korean people do, rather, they commented: "Act like a toy, she should not have the face like that at her age, this is creepy."; "Ça fait peur, oh my god." or "Just why.... she's a little kid..." Seems the netizens' opinion is very divided on this topic, thinking it's either really "adorable" or really "creepy". I guess such strongly diverging opinions are normal, since moderate opinions have a lower tendency to be expressed. Haha! Although I rarely comment on posts, I do love the comment sections. Always so much drama! :D

I agree with most of the South Korean commentators that this performance feels odd. Many of them are also saying that "if she would have been raised in South Korea, she wouldn't be like this and she would've been able to grow up as a normal kid". Other people commented arguing that she "should come to '우리나라'(Our Country, i.e. South Korea), then she wouldn't have to act like this." Those are all clear statements showing the feeling of distance and disconnection between many South and North Korean people nowadays. This sense of disparity cannot go unnoticed when comparing the tone in which news is broadcast!

North Korean news (Korean Central Television) :

South Korean news (KBS News) 

vrijdag 21 november 2014


Source image:

Racism in South Korea

Recently, one of my friends had asked me about South Korea's current racism issues after having read this intensely debated article titled “They actually want a white teacher”. (Click here to read the article.) According to this article, a black skinned male teacher applying for a job as an English teacher was turned down, a decision motivated by his skin color.

Living in Seoul for a couple of years now, I haven't experienced racism directly in this way myself. However, I've heard about these issues and also that they are actual and even very common. Needless to say, discrimination is something persistent and existing everywhere, not only in South Korea. 

Understanding racism and its causes and consequences, calls for a deeper understanding of a society as a whole, not only socially but also historically. Criticizing South Korea without a deeper insight of its society, while making ignorant statements and comments, is therefore as ineffective as fighting ignorance with ignorance or racism with racism. 

Now, when one wonders “Why South Korea is openly being accused of being a racist country?”, instead of merely accusing, in order to find answers and solutions it might be more meaningful to look for plausible causes and explanations within that society. In my opinion, and from my own observations and conversations with Korean and non-Korean friends, there are a few reasons that might explain South Korea's racist issues and accusations.

The (lack of) Awareness about different ways of discriminating 

First of all, in South Korean society, awareness about and understanding of theoretic notions such as ‘racism’ or even ‘discrimination’ seem still weak. Therefore, ethnic discrimination is not seldom regarded as merely a justifiable expression stating that someone does not match the right profile, ‘specs’ or requirements. Hence, being discriminated because of your ethnicity becomes only one other way to differentiate and discriminate. Different types of discrimination are rarely distinguished. In other words, in South Korea, you can be discriminated in many ways and it will be openly justified by the person who does so. For example, if you are not a good student and lack the academic abilities, you will be discriminated and be denied certain options in life; if you out yourself as being gay or lesbian, you'll might as well be; if you are not good looking, you will not get the same chances like other people simply based on your outer appearance rather than your skills, and so on.

Situations where people are being left out because of their characteristics is nothing new and can be found in many other places elsewhere in the world. However, in a fiercely competitive society such as South Korea, the line between characteristics you can acquire and the ones you actually cannot or would not is very thin. To illustrate that this line is very thin, the example of extreme plastic surgery can be given. People, in a Machiavellian way, undergo small to major plastic surgeries to look better in order to attain certain goals. When extreme goals require extreme measures, the outer appearance is permanently altered to fit the requirements of society.

As we can see, one characteristic that one would usually regard as initially unattainable, has now changed status to being something attainable, albeit with extreme and exterior means. The reasons that spur discrimination, whether they are motivated by inherent characteristics or changeable abilities, they are regarded as lying within the person's characteristics and ability. The requirement of altering ones inherent characteristics should always be met with strong criticism and caution. In a society where people are discriminated for being ethnically different than the main population, gives people the idea that this inherent characteristic should be changed to meet to fit into society, which is of course something impossible and something one should never demand, directly nor indirectly. In short, to battle bigotry and racism, awareness about theoretic notions such as "racism" and ‘discrimination’ is a first step.

The Myth of Ethnic Homogeneity

The Korean ethnic-nationalistic sentiment is strong and up until today, despite recent migration statistics, many Koreans are convinced that the Korean society is still a homogeneous one. Korean people tend to believe strongly that Korea is a “pure blood” nation and strangely feel more connected with people sharing the same blood, such as overseas Koreans (교포kyopowho might not speak any Korean or who have never set foot on Korean soil before, rather than non-Korean people living in Korea since ages. Contrary to what is generally believed, this concept of “Ethnic Homogeneity” only exists since the beginning of the 20th century, more specifically since the Japanese colonial rule. Through the presence of the Japanese colonizers on the Korean peninsula and following colonial policies Korean people became aware of their ethnicity. The Japanese colonizers at that time used ethnicity as a means to convince the Korean people that they were “brothers” of the Japanese pure race, stemming from the same ancestors.

After the Korean War, American soldiers were stationed in South Korea. Many of them had relationships and affairs with Korean women, who then later gave birth to mixed-race babies. These babies often bared the stigma of being not “pure” and seen as a disgrace for the Korean people. Nowadays, similar to Japan, that idea of having a “homogeneous society” still lingers. If you would ask a Korean person what stance they take towards foreigners wanting to be naturalized and attain Korean citizenship, the answers might be shocking. For example, it is “OK for most of the people (read Western, white people) to become naturalized, as long as they show devotion (애정, aejeong) for the Korean nation.” However, other Asian people such as Chinese, Japanese or South East-Asian nationalities are much less welcomed.

Since Park Chung Hee, the government has used this concept of “Ethnic Homogeneity” in policies to create a unified feeling among its people. It can be said that strong nationalistic sentiments have been nurtured since the colonial period until the modern period. The nationalistic feeling of sharing the same blood has been encouraged and solidified in order to speed up the rapid modernization of South Korea in the last decades. However, strong nationalistic pride came along with (ethnic) prejudices. These prejudices, which can lead to openly discriminating, are justified with the excuse of “it is normal, because Korean people have not yet experienced or been in contact with many foreigners before.” Such statements are proof of the stubborn unawareness about racist behavior and are merely excuses to justify open discrimination.  It is true that South Korea has not yet experienced a big inflow of immigrants compared to Europe or the United States; however statistics show that modern South Korea is rapidly changing into a far less homogeneous country. Some Korean politicians have tried to amend laws regarding ethnic discrimination, but they are often met with strong disagreements.

When any country wishes to peacefully harbor a multicultural and ethnically diverse population, bigotry, nationalistic pride and prejudices will have to make place for mutual understanding, tolerance and acceptance. And a first step in this process is promoting ‘awareness’ about these issues.

Further reading:

Shin, Gi-Wook, "Korea's ethnic nationalism is a source of both pride and prejudice, according to Gi-Wook Shin." (Click here for link to article.)

And if you would like to read more simply type in Google Search: "Racism in Korea", you will find plenty of food for thought. However, keep in mind that every article needs to be read with caution and an attitude of skepticism. 

I would suggest to do the same for the one I wrote here. I have written this short critical essay mainly from my personal stance and observations, with the purpose to put forward current issues in the South Korean society. It has therefore by no means any intention to offend anyone. I would like to clarify that I'm NOT trying to generalize all Korean people as being racist, unaware nor ignorant. Since there are plenty of Korean people who show awareness and who are trying hard to prevent ethnic prejudices from becoming justified. The only thing I'm argueing is for more efforts to sensibilize people about this important issues. If you
 have any questions or comments you can send me an email:

Peace and also love!

So long,