[HanCinema's Interview Corner] Ten Questions for the KOREAN EXPAT
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What caused you to leave Korea and how long have you been living outside of your home country?
My South African boyfriend and I have decided not to live in Korea for our future family because of the lack of opportunities for my boyfriend as well as possible racism towards our future children.
South Africa is considered the “Rainbow Nation”, this seems to be on the opposite scale to that of Korea. What are your thoughts on multiculturalism and has living in South Africa changed or altered your view in anyway?
To be honest, I had never paid much attention to multiculturalism while I was in Korea. Living in SA makes me appreciate multiculturalism more as long as people respect each other’s culture.
What have been some of biggest cultural challenges coming to South Africa? What have you had to change or adjust to the most?
Everything is moving slow and everything takes some time in SA. I need to force myself to relax and to loosen up.
Korea is the safest country, in terms of petty and violent crime, that I’ve ever lived in. Were you concerned about crime in South Africa?
Sure. I was concerned, I am concerned and I will be concerned.
Everyone in Korea whom I told I was from “Africa” looked at me in amazement and disbelief. How would you describe Korea’s attitude/perspective on Africa in general? And has living here change the way you view this country and its people?
Koreans weren’t interested in African countries before the FIFA World Cup. We pay more attention to the first world countries in general so we can be very ignorant when it comes to African countries like South Africa. SA has always been a beautiful country that I enjoyed when I traveled here before, but it has become an inconvenient county to live in now that I have moved here.
Most Koreans live in relatively small apartments, office tells, and villas. How has your living conditions and standards changed in South Africa compared to that of Korea?
I live in a fairly big house, 3 bedrooms and a garden. It is nice to have nobody living below or above you.
If you could incorporate one thing into your life in South Africa that you miss/appreciate back in Korea what would it be? Conversely, is there anything you’ve seen or experienced in South Africa that you wish you could share or take back to Korea?
Safety, especially being able to walk without worrying about crime.
I would love to take some of the patience and the relaxed attitude of South African people into Korean society.
How difficult has the language barrier been for you and how have you been connecting yourself to Korean culture back home?
I feel that the language barrier is nothing compared to the culture barrier. I am very lucky to be able to express myself well in English. I get Korean TV shows and movies from some Korean friends who download Korean stuff themselves.
What was the reaction from you family and friends when you finally decided to move to South Africa? Were they supportive or did they express concerns about your decision?
The family and close friends who knew my boyfriend well never expressed concern about my decision because they all agreed that he is the one for me so they supported us. However, lots of people almost treated me like a weirdo, someon who was giving up my career, and pretty much everything, to move to SA.
Korean cuisine has become increasingly popular around the world. What foods do you miss the most and what South Africa flavors have you hooked?
I miss Korean seafood and the side dishes (banchan)! I also enjoy a variety of delicious cheeses in SA.
Name: SE YEON LE (Raina)
Occupation in South Africa: Translator/Admin
Home Town in Korea: Seoul
Time spent in South Africa: 2 years and 8 months in Cape Town
Best thing about living in South Africa: Beautiful nature and clean air
Least favorite thing about living in South Africa: Crime and terrible public services
- C.J Wheeler (E-mail: , Twitter: @Chriscjw85)
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