riggy: (en route)
riggy ([personal profile] riggy) wrote2009-12-04 12:23 am
Entry tags:

personal and academic collisions

My mother has always been invested in keeping a certain distance between me and other people who are Korean because I am half Korean. Growing up in 1950s ROK, her experience was that half Korean, half American children were generally treated with contempt and I don't think those memories (and the extrapolations thereof) have left her. My mother also is an angry driver and swears in Korean while navigating highways, intersections, etc. -- it's always the same phrase. I've asked her what it means and she's always responded that it's the worst possible thing you could say in Korean and I've never known its meaning.

And there it is, after years of not knowing, in the opening pages of my research material for the Korean diaspora. (Cho, Grace M. 2008. Haunting the Korean diaspora: secrecy, shame, and the forgotten war. Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press.) To wit, "Yangsaekshi. GI's plaything. UN lady. Bar girl. Entertainment hostess." And the rest I can figure out from context; it's interesting and a little depressing that the premium is placed on legitimacy and not-mixing and that those are the pejoratives that have stuck in my mom's head for so long.