He is unordinary simply because he is not the usual element that I am equipped to dating. You see, I am a Korean-American living in South Korea. To simply put, I am what people would call a “twinkie” (golden sweet yellow on the outside but completely tasty, creamy, full of depth white on the inside.) I like the freedom in the way Americans express themselves and also love my American cuisine. I love the way we can be proud of who we are no matter what we are and how we may change from day to day.
He is Korean-Korean. So essentially, he is a Korean born in Korea with Korean thoughts, an appetite for mostly Korean cuisine with the mannerisms of a Korean. The first time we met, it was the last day of last year. I was with friends looking for a place to drink and did not know my way around town. He was there, on the street, just staring straight at me. This is where my “American-ness” came out and I walked confidently across the tiny path that led me to towards him and asked him in my lack of Korean skills “Where are the places that young people around here go?” This is where we started. When I think about it now, the beginning was beautiful, wondrous, and full of so much curiosity. I was curious about everything. From where he was born to the little details of his daily routine and where he likes to dine.
He is Korean. I am Korean-American. Although, I was born and raised in Chicago, I always had a Korean side. My parents taught me Korean and enjoyed a big part of the culture; food. I thought I knew everything about Koreans but living in Korea and dating a Korean man has made me realize that I only knew the big stereotypical picture of what Korean people are actually like. I think it is true when people say you can really get to know a culture by dating someone within that culture. He has opened me to a whole new world of experiences and culture. I didn’t know there was a certain way to talk to people you don’t know, and what it really feels like to be taken care of. I didn’t know that just because I don’t feel good about something, here in Korea, it is not a good idea to always express exactly how you feel; especially if it’s bad. I didn’t know there was a word for figuring out how someone else feels and acting upon the situation called “noon-chi.” I remember a certain time when he was very tired from working all day but we decided to go drink with his friends anyway. But he had no sign of being tired at all so we went to the last bar. The next day, he told me he was very tired and that he felt that we should have said something to his friends and left early. I was very confused because if I wanted to leave, I would have just left. He told me that in Korea, sometimes, we need to figure out from other people’s words, what they did that day, and their mood to really know how to make the following move. In this case, it was about leaving early. He wanted to leave but didn’t have that push, and I should have said something. Honestly, this whole process was very tiresome to me, a woman raised to think that we should be able to speak our own mind when we wanted something or did not want anything. But he was right. “When in the Rome, do as the Romans do.”
There are a lot of struggles in not only our cultural barrier, but how the way we think and act upon certain situations as well. I asked him what he thought of gay culture, a topic in which a big part of Korean society has yet come to accept. He put it in very simple matters. He told me if two people love each other, it does not give anyone else the right to judge them but that it also doesn’t mean that everyone else in society really need to go out of their way to accept it if they can’t. What he said was a reflection of how I felt about our relationship. We are two different people from two different worlds. He is also 8 years older than me which puts our differences into what I would call a “double effect.” But he is right. If two people love each other, it should not matter where we are from, what other people think, and what’s right and wrong. With love, there isn’t really a choice of what is right and wrong; you just go. There’s always a reason why people meet one another, a reason why things work out the way they do, a reason why I came to Korea and met this person. Differences in a relationship can not only teach you about the other person, but also can be a growing step within yourself. I learned that love can overcome trials, differences, and especially that with love there isn’t just one way. You can love the unordinary and just become unordinary together. That’s what it’s all about anyway, isn’t it, being unordinary together.