Saturday, June 2, 2012


As I let spill out a little in my last post, I've been struggling  with having a "mixed" family in Korea lately and have been reacting more strongly to ignorance than usual. It becomes a whole different game when you have children here, and I've been slowly putting things into a different perspective now that Fina is approaching school age.

The comments and other things that are really bothering me now have been there since day one, but I feel like they were a low grade infection that I just kept ignoring until finally my immune system broke down and the infection took control. Of course, it says just as much about my weak practice that I'm letting things bother me, but at the same time, it wouldn't be any better of me to allow my children to grow up in a culture that will never accept them, even though they were born here.

Last week, they showed an interview on TV with three young men whose fathers were westerners and all of them had identical experiences of being totally outcasted by their peers. Things may be different one day but I can't expect a 5000 year old culture to change in a few years.

I have my own thoughts about Korean "pure blood" and their limited gene pool, but there's no need to get into that messy stuff. But I know they teach the importance of "pure Korean blood" in school and there's no need for my children to be taught that. The young men on TV talked about classes in school where they were taught that "mixed-families" were not normal and how uncomfortable that made them feel. We all know how brainwashed North Korea is and, frankly, there's enough of it going on here that I can't ignore. I could go on a ten page rant about the Korean education system but all I'll say is that despite the reputation for education, the education style is mostly just learning to memorize/repeat with no critical thought. And, BTW, Canada has a higher rate of university education than Korea does, something many people aren't aware of.

What's affecting me the most, though, is the lack of quality human interaction. Though there are some exceptions, even people I've know here for seven years now still don't treat me equally. I'm still "the foreigner" and somehow less than human in their thinking. Eunbong gets really upset when she hears people talking about Fina with phrasing appropriate for animals, not people. Respect is shown a lot through the language here, there are several levels of phrasing depending on how much respect you show and talking to someone as an animal is the lowest. Speaking in a disrespectful manner can be equated with swearing at someone.

When I think of the things that keep me here it's mostly the temples and the mountains and a decent paying job. The rest I've had enough of. What I can do about job aspect is get an online master's while I work here and open up better possibilities at home. As for the temples and mountains, do you think immigration would mind if I took a mountain and a temple or two, Zen masters included, back to Nova Scotia with me? The way monks are being bashed in the news lately, along with the foreigners, they just might encourage me to!


  1. Joe - welcome to one of the most potent examples of the First Noble Truth. How do you provide the best environment for your children when faced with the inevitability of prejudice? If that's not suffering, I don't know what is. Not the mere fact, which is beyond explanation. But the cloying consternation that occurs in the mind as you try to find relief.

    My opinion only - but your children will fare better in Canada. There is far, far more tolerance for differences in Western culture, even if such tolerance is mandated by law. Prejudice is universal, since our nervous systems operate on the basis of contrast. No one can help but notice differences. Some differences can be harmful, such as when you happen to notice an 800 pound member of the feline phylum rushing toward you at 30 miles per hour. But, you have to be instructed that a human being with a different color of skin or unfamiliar facial features is a threat.

    I live in Edison, New Jersey USA, a township of about 100,000 people. I would estimate that the population consists of about 20% Caucasian US citizens born on US soil. The other 80% is Asian Indian, Chinese, and Hispanic. You can go into any large retail outlet on any day of the week and chances are you will not hear a single word of English spoken.
    Thee is safety in numbers!

  2. I see no provision for editing, but I made a typo in the last sentence: "thee" should be "there". WR

  3. I didn't know that mixed blood people are treated differently in South Korea. That's suprising. The videos are surprising too.

    I always think that your family is a beautiful family because of the unique mix and your children are both very beautiful.

  4. Brother,

    I suffer with you--for you. Reality knows, Joe, I have my complaints, but I would be VERY upset if I'd done everything right, as you have, and I had to deal with what you've described.

    I didn't know they actually teach that trash; 'pure blood' in Korean schools. It's not only baseless stupidity, it's insult that borders on criminality, when one considers the scientific evidence (the crime being--as Christopher Hitchens said; 'lying to children is immoral; the historical evidence; if Korea hadn't been