When the plane got above Young-jong Island – a small island outside Seoul, where the Incheon international airport sits – ready to touch down in Korea, I opened the window and looked outside, not only with joys of childhood memories and familiar sceneries, but also with pride and showmanship. I had enough of being a foreigner in Canada and I’m on a homestretch, I thought.
One month later – and after two typhoons and many more subways rides – I was on my way back, to Ottawa. It was a good trip. All my work was done, my wife got to see her family, and my two children got to meet their grandparents and many others who spoiled them by never letting them down from their arms. Food was the highlight as much expected. But I also met great people, who breathe the famous Korean jeong, or neighbourly-love.
But I missed home – Ottawa. I missed 24/7 NFL network, a breakfast poutine at a diner, suburbian parking lots, and Barkwoods court – our home street – where I can sit on my patio the whole day, and not see a single person on any given day.
I miss Korea when I’m not there. And I miss Canada when I’m in Korea. I can’t explain why or how – most likely it’s just me, my desire for what I don’t have; or maybe it’s the nature of human beings, the greed; perhaps it may be how I was brought up, intentions aside, sandwiched between two cultures.
But I’m not writing this blog to explain this phenomena, or to therapy my psychological emptiness, or (absolutely not) to blame my problems on anything. In fact, I love being multicultural. I like to tell Korean people how I miss Canada and what I miss about it. Conversely, I enjoy just as much telling Canadians how I miss my home country and what a special place it is.
It is not so much that one place is “better” or “worse” than the other. Both Korea and Canada are my “homes”, each unique but equally warming. “Different” was going to be my choice of word, but I realized that it too is incorrect, as we (Koreans and Canadians) are connected beneath the skin colour in so many ways.
“Connection.” So this is my word, a theme if you may, of my blog.
Korea and Canada are different, but not for different reasons, but because of different perspectives and shared experiences. It is how each society approaches shared problems or questions that differs, as opposed to an underlying issue or the fundamental values that drive the will to solve problems. We are connected at this very core.
In the next few months – and hopefully after – I set out to give my perspective on what these connections are. At a deeper level, I want to tell you, and discover for myself just as much, how we are connected. A caveat to my readers: my perspectives are driven by commerce, the economy, or even more holistically, exchange of “things.”
At the end of it all, I wish we can all say the same thing – I miss Korea, but I miss Canada too, because we love them both.