Guestpost #12: Anonymous – Ten things I’ve learned from being a Korean woman

Anonymous (not their real name) is an exceptionally smart person studying exceptionally smart things, but wishes to remain anonymous for the purposes of this post.

  1. At the age of 26, it is time for you to get married. Your parents and grandparents will not stop setting you up with their family friends’ son in law school, dental school, medical school, because they are so certain arranged marriage will work out. It has for them.
  2. Law school, dental school, and medical school are the only acceptable forms of education. If you’re getting your Bachelor’s degree in Arts, you better say “I am going to Law school”. The only exception is if you end up becoming a very high-powered executive. Then the title is “could have gone to law school but decided to become a wealthy business woman instead”.
  3. Worth of an individual in the family is only defined by your achievements – your grades and, later on, how much money you earn. There is no worth beyond that.
  4. #2 and #3 can drive a lot of us to become harsh perfectionists. There is a reason we are good on paper – from perfect grades to piano to painting and to being the perfect girlfriend and daughter. Or you can realize at some point that you have inherent worth beyond your CV and your social role, of course without letting your family know.
  5. To respect your elders is etched into your mind since birth. You will always have to respect your elders. At some point you do sober up and see them also through a critical lens, but this you would keep to yourself and you end up keeping up appearances of unconditional respect to whatever they say.
  6. On the other hand, #5 is a very nice trait in terms of taking care of your parents once they are older. I do frown upon families who just leave their parents alone and visit them once a year. I hope I will never do this and I do not want my kids to do this to me.
  7. What Western culture would regard as hysterical is something very normal and expected in my culture. My boyfriend finds me hysterical, yet in Korea I am practically autistic.
  8. Never ever piss a Korean woman off. Someone once told me that the only way to stop her is to shoot her in the head. Better deck out in the basement corner for a few days. Really I do not wish the scorn of a Korean woman upon anyone.
  9. Not everyone can cut our hair. Our hair is quite thick, so most of the salons dread when a Korean woman waltzes in, as the scissors get rough right away. It’s better to visit a Korean hair salon where they have the necessary equipment imported from Korea. (In fact, there is a special type of perm –called a digital perm – developed originally just for Korean women because it was so difficult to perm their hair the “Western” way).
  10. This is an inside joke, but I have yet to meet a Korean woman who has never used the squiggly dash in a conversation on the internet ~ it’s a feminine version of an exclamation mark ~

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