Monday, June 20, 2011

How do you make yourself attractive to Korean men?

Dear Korean,

What can I do to make myself more attractive to Koreans? I am currently learning how to speak Korean and I plan on abandoning English for the most part and making Korean my primary language when I have a good enough grasp of it. I have blonde hair and grey eyes; would it be better to dye my hair black? I heard Koreans are very racist and prefer snow white skin, is this true? Obviously this would make tanning of any kind unforgivable. I have seen some celebrity groups such as BIGBANG say they like caucasian women as much as korean but I know they do not speak for Korea as a whole. I am completely IN LOVE with this country and I want to do all I can to make myself into a good korean citzen, I do not want to seem ugly... I simply want to assimilate into South Korean society.

Sasuke Uchiha


Ugh. The Korean answered this type of question in a previous post, which is still the No. 1 post in all of AAK! history in terms of readership, but crap like this just does not stop flooding the Korean's inbox. Boys, let no one say that Asian men cannot get girls -- this blog is being carried by the ladies who are desperate for them. I mean, thinking about dyeing the hair black? Really?

So this time, the Korean went out and got help. Here is a perspective from a white American woman about dating a Korean man in Korea. Special to AAK!, the Korean presents the special guest blogger, I'm No Picasso -- after the jump.

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at askakorean@gmail.com.




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Well, I'm not The Korean. I'm not even a Korean, which I'll get back to in a minute, but I do feel somewhat equipped to answer this question, which was passed on to me by TK, because I am a foreign woman living, working and dating among Koreans. A white foreign woman with reddish hair and green/blue eyes, depending on the weather, to be more specific.

To me, there are two very different, very separate questions being asked here, which are kind of misrepresenting themselves as one: how can I be attractive (not ugly) to Koreans (specifically, I guess, Korean men, like Big Bang) and how can I be a good Korean citizen who is assimilated within Korean society. The two are heavily unrelated, although they may cross paths occasionally (with the -- in my opinion -- right people).

The first thing we need to clear up is this: If you are not Korean, you will never be Korean. No amount of hair dye or language ability will ever change the fact that you are fundamentally, physically, culturally and ethnically not Korean. And as it should be. Any attempt to deny that only lends itself to a habit of misunderstanding and disrespecting not only Korean culture, but also your home culture and the things that make you who you are. Trying to make yourself Korean by changing your hair color and your language undermines all of the truly intrinsically beautiful things that make Korea what it is.

There is a big difference between assimilating into a society and being a product of that society. A difference that you may recognize cognitively, but will not fully realize in practice until you get here and start to learn about how different you really are, and how difficult it can be to adjust to a different culture, which can mean changing very basic, core understandings of how the "world" works, what is "right" and "wrong", and what any number of things mean.

It can be a discouraging notion to face down -- during my first year or two in Korea, as I started to realize that Korea is a place where I want to stay for a long time and, therefore, naturally, want to be an integral part of, the fact that "Koreans" would never consider me "Korean" no matter what I did was something I found to be incredibly discouraging. But, after I began to settle into my new identity as a minority and a foreigner, I started to realize that the idea isn't a completely wrong one. And it doesn't make me any less valuable to my Korean coworkers, friends, or boyfriend. It's just who I am -- I am an American. And no matter how hard I work to understand Korean culture, or speak Korean, or become Korean in my habits, big parts of me will always be American.

Does that mean that I should just give up? For a minute or two, on my worst days, I thought that maybe it did. But as I've continued to try my hardest to adjust and adapt, I've realized that it's the complete opposite. And here's where we'll get to the real answer to this question: I will never be Korean, but what will make me most "attractive" to the right Koreans, and what will make me a "good Korean citizen" is my Americanness, plus my respect and understanding for how Korea is different from me, and my attempts to adjust to Korea as much as I can. Nobody expects me to be perfect -- far from it. But it's about the places where I do my best not even to set aside my Americanness when it conflicts too strongly with Koreanness, but to approach those differences with an open mind and an understanding that different is not better or worse -- it's just different.

And here's another important part of what will make you attractive to Koreans: not ever assuming that you completely understand Korean culture, have "become" Korean, or that you know what being a "Korean" definitively means. That means not accepting and repeating things like, "Koreans are very racist." Ever. It means closing your mind like a steel trap to the easy ways out, and the one-sentence answers about who and what Koreans and Korea are. You'll learn more about how important that is when you get here and become a foreigner, and start to hear every day about who and what foreigners are. Even something as innocuous as someone telling you that, "Foreigners eat a lot of bread," will be enough to start drawing your lines between yourself and some Koreans. Because even the simplest, most non-offensive, "Foreigners are...." statements will take on a dire implication about how that person is going to be able to accept you, as someone who is different from them. And when you do the same thing, you will give Koreans the same sinking gut feeling. And they will draw their lines with you, in return.

Now, as a kind of summary to all of the rest, and in an attempt to answer the second part of the question....

I really know nothing of Big Bang's preferences in regards to women -- I would imagine they would be quite different, given that they are all individuals, and further still would be the divide between what Big Bang prefer in a woman and what the world's entire population of Korean men prefer in women. To cover all of the bases of all of the things all of the men I have dated in Korea prefer in women would take a little more than a novel, being that being Korean was pretty much all they had in common, but I can tell you what my boyfriend (who is Korean) likes about me (a woman).

He likes my red hair and my small face (Western). He likes my individualistic tendencies and my habit of running off at the mouth when I disagree with someone, regardless of where they fall in the hierarchy (... Western?). He dislikes my ultimate respect for and trust in the hierarchy (.....Korean?). He likes and dislikes my constant lectures about his lack of filial piety. He dislikes my annoyance with his lack of 눈치. He likes my 눈치. He likes my hideous mistakes when I'm speaking Korean. He likes the fact that I try my best to speak Korean.

As the list goes on, it gets more and more difficult to put a category in parentheses after the fact. That's because whether an aspect is considered "Western" or "Korean" has little bearing on whether or not he likes it. Or whether or not it is what I am or am not, compared to him. In some ways, I am more "Korean". In some ways, he is more "Western". Because we are both just ourselves.

And at the end of the day, what my boyfriend is attracted to is me. And if he were American, I imagine it would be much the same. He doesn't like me because I'm a foreigner, and he doesn't like me because I've "become Korean". He doesn't like me because I am different from him, or because I am the same as him. He just likes me. And all of the mixed up parts that make me what I am, similar to him in some ways (whether those ways be Korean or Western), and different from him in some ways (whether those ways be Korean or Western).

What he does like about me, which does relate to my foreignness and his Koreanness, is the fact that I've really invested myself in understanding Korea. He finds it a little silly that I continue to keep this blog, for example, for nearly three years now, and likes to tease me about it from time to time. But he always ends these little barbs with a serious face and a comment about how I've broken his stereotypes about foreigners. About how they want to remain separate from Koreans, or how their classic one year foray into becoming Korean cultural anthropologists usually ends in more misunderstandings than the other way around.

The most important thing you can do if you want to be accepted into Korean society is realize that you have a long, hard road ahead of you. And that you aren't going to get there overnight. And if you think that you can, then you are probably making more than a few huge mistakes. There are a lot of emotional ups and downs that come along with trying to fit in with a new culture, but you're never going to get anywhere if you give up and try to simplify things, in order to make it feel easier. To really do something the right way, you have to slow down and accept that you are in for a hell of a lot of work, and that you are going to make constant mistakes, and you may not (probably won't) ever be perfect.

The good news is, if it were as simple as buying a bottle of hair dye and avoiding the sun, it would hardly be the adventure into understanding yourself and others that it is. The reason why it's exciting and interesting and challenging and educational and very nearly almost even spiritual at times, is the same reason that it can be so difficult.

But maybe I've just misunderstood the entire premise of the question. If what you really meant was, how can I pick up the greatest number of Korean men in the easiest manner possible, then my one piece of advice would be this: ditch the black, entirely. I've always heard it said that gentlemen prefer blondes.

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Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at askakorean@gmail.com.

34 comments:

  1. Bravo, INP! I'm almost envious at your eloquence. Well said.

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  2. Beautiful post, INP!

    A side anecdote - about 6 months ago I dyed my hair dark brown (nearly black... not because I wanted to look Korean, but because I like that color and because I like to change my hair color periodically). When it was at its darkest, I had several occasions when a local came up behind me and began asking me "Where is..." and then nearly jumped out of his/her skin when I turned around and they saw that I wasn't Korean. Additionally, I have naturally pale skin. In conclusion, dark hair + white skin does not equal Korean :-)

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  3. I agree, excellent response INP. I'm sorry, but I'm a little disgusted by the question. There's one thing to try to assimilate and fit in and there's something else to give up on your own identity and become something that you're not. If a man only likes the fake you, it's not really going to be a lasting relationship, is it? You need to be true to yourself, your heritage. Find a good, healthy mix between finding a place in Korean society and maintaining who you are as a person. Not anyone can do it, but for those who can, the rewards are wonderful I in my opinion.

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  4. It would help if she said what kind of korean guy she's going after.... but I think either way all you have to do is to look to Girls Generation

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  5. nice post! and may i say, that you've answered her way nicer than i would have! when i read the question, i couldn't stop laughing and thinking "weeaboo!" (does that still work for koreanophiles? or only for the japan ones? anyhow...) but you actually answered her truthfully, with things that made sense and will probably be helpful to many reading this blog. well done!

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  6. Wow, both The Korean and INP are very gracious people. I honestly don't see how you can stand to indulge questions like that...ick.

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  7. And oh good God...just noticed the letter is signed "Sasuke Uchiha"...like the anime character?
    Y'all are better people than me...

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  8. Well said, INP. Put simply:

    Step 1: stop thinking about the person as a Korean man/woman, and start thinking about them as a human man/woman.

    Step 2: Muddle through. Nobody knows how this works, because the rules are different for every two humans.

    Step 3: Recognize that if there was a secret trick to it, it wouldn't be fun, anyway.

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  9. Thank you for this post. I am a Korean adoptee who just moved to Korea a week ago and this is exactly what I needed to hear for encouragement as I try to find that balance between being American and being open to a new culture : )

    To the person who posed this question -Sure, if you think adapting some Korean beauty habits looks good on you or is beneficial in some way, by all means, do it. For example, I've embraced the Korean acceptance of pale skin and no longer waste money or ruin my skin on tanning. I've accepted that old Korean people tend to be offended by showing shoulders by wearing tank tops and avoid wearing them in public when possible. But these are simple things that are good for my health and my sign of respect for the culture. But changing your appearance for the sake of "looking Korean" is completely ridiculous.

    Then again, plastic surgery is really popular here so if you're that eager.....

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  10. It's funny how people forget that at the end of the day we're all men and women. Sure we might have our preferences, but it is very possible for someone fall/be attracted to someone outside of their own ethnicity, I mean it happens ALL the time. An attractive woman is an attractive woman, an attractive man is an attractive man. Doesn't matter what ethnicity, religion or nationality you have.

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  11. Never in my life did I think I would come across a Korean weaboo. Truly, I have underestimated the power of K-pop idol groups. (Ugh, and the username is Sasuke Uchiha. I keep thinking she must be some anime-obssessed thirteen year old girl who also likes Kpop, ick)

    That being said, great posts, and well done for handling this with grace. I just hope that "Sasuke Uchiha" (oh goddammit that username) is a mature and intelligent enough person to read through all this and actually learn something, instead of being "lol TL;DR"

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  12. Y's: the correct term is "Koreaboo"

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  13. Great post, excellent comments, however I believe you are missing the point. What is the point? Think about it for a second: why would a blond, light-eyed European looking girl wants to assimilate (all of the sudden) into South Korean society and try to attract a Korean guy? No, really, think about it. Why did she fall in love with Korea? Not Peru, not Japan, not even Korea town in LA? I will tell you why: Korean dramas. The are the source (not all evil) of all this love and fascination with Korean culture. So what is it about Korean dramas that make girls and even some middle-age ajummas all over the world learn Korean language, eat white rice and weep after watching yet another hour of a fairy tale for adults? I will go beyond that. Inside all of us there is a drive, so ancient, that even reptiles have it. It is a drive for positive reinforcement. It makes us go on living, because something good is going to happen anyway. If we did not believe it, we would stop eating and living. Somehow I think Korean drama industry tapped into this powerful source of positive reinforcement. Korean guys (including my personal favorite (L)ee Min Ho from City Hunter are portrayed as strong yet gentle with women, sexual, yet sensitive and romantic, willing to please, to protect, to help etc. Who wouldn't want a guy like that? If those dramas were more true to life, we would have seen those Korean guys burp, fart, beating up their wives (when drunk), cheating and much more. Of course, not all of them are like that, but I had to balance off the positive image. Yes, the propaganda of an ideal Korean man is too powerful. I would put a disclaimer in the beginning of every drama: the men that are pictured in this drama DO NOT EXIST IN REAL LIFE, not in Korea, not in any other country. GIRLS BEWARE. However, if you personally know a guy (who cares where he is from) who acts and looks like in one of those Korean dramas, I will personally do everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) to be closer to him. I will learn his language, learn how to make kimchi, assimilate into society, dye my hair any color that he likes and do other crazy things. That's the power of biology.

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  14. Wow, well said ! ~ That left me speechless for a while ...(never been done before) haha ^^

    But to the point, I agree with your response. The fact is, Korea’s culture as a whole is becoming such a big topic across the seas these days. (Like here in England, who'd have thought it). I'll have to admit, I'm part of this new Korean craze, but in my opinion. I don't think that as a bad thing. Yes, I'll admit. A lot of people who are into this craze don't sit and reason with themselves for their new aspirations i.e. How they want to seem attractive to Korean men? And no, not your average Korean men. But those that are praised through the media. That's something people need to realise. Average people aren't like that. There not perfect, (that’s no fun), but then again. Neither are these celebs.
    Back to the point. This question just takes me straight back to the media. Foreign women seem to thrive on the want of today’s Korean men. Those that are seen as being ‘perfect and flawless’. When in actual fact, they are just as normal as you and I. If you want to seem attractive to Korean men (or just men in general). Then be yourself. I know it’s a phrase widely used…but it’s when you act as an individual that Koreans will notice you as a foreigner who is in tune with their culture. I'm sure that’s something they'd appreciate. What they won't appreciate though...is being stereotyped. (That's what I get through this question...in a sense) ~ And to round it off nicely, just as TK had stated in a previous post. Men are men before they are Korean ^^

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  15. Isn't that a troll question? It seems like the person who asked was trolling...

    However, at the core of that question and ones like it is someone searching for acceptance.

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  16. Even though I think that S.U. seems immature in her thinking, in the least if she does have a relationship with some Korean guy, she will probably eventually be faced with the task of taking out the romantic notions of being with a Korean guy, and realize he's a human. If suppose she goes on some quoxotic quest, trying to take your raw romantic ideals to the real world, you'll end up going through a lot of personal torture like Don Quixote. Especially until your find some way to reconcile those ideas with the world.

    INP seems to be the best response. Even if it is not used today, its there for another day. Sometimes there is nothing to do, but let the idea play itself out.

    I might ad a step 0 to RoboSeyo's advice, which is realize that there are Korean men/women. Even if perhaps it is an unfair stereotype, it is one meant to be worked on. If you piss off a Korean in the process of using it, you do have an interest in reassessing and learning from it. If you are stubborn and refuse to readdress it, enjoy the problems it will cause you.

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  17. Where's Netizen Kim (BlueJeeves) at a time like this!

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  18. Did anyone else find it odd that a supposed "blonde haired" white girl as the name "Sasuke Uchiha?"

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  19. "Sasuke Uchiha" is an anime character.

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  20. Okay, then my first advice to the gal who has given herself an anime name would be that Korean guys don't necessarily consider it hot that you have chosen a Japanese anime character handle. Depending on the guy, it might actually be a turn off.

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  21. Here is a link to the article about K-pop and its popularity around the world.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/13191346
    If this continues, the hunt for Korean men will grow with the speed of light or even faster, defying all logic and the law of physics. BHW, when City Hunter is over, get ready for another 5,000 letters from blond blue-eyed girls about "how to find, attract, marry Korean men", Lee Min Ho in particular. Aja, aja, fighting!

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  22. I found this question sickening, sad and desperate. smh I hope if you do go to Korea you discover the individual you are meant to be. Statements like this or desperate women begging for the magic suggestion to be attractive to anyone type. ugh Scary.

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  23. This is why I find pop culture and its effect on people (especially on women) so fascinating. This post should make White men / Asian women relationship defenders think before they spout their we are the world bullshit. I used to laugh at those people who always said that the media was doing things to make people think certain things. But after studying the Hallyu wave and seeing this explosion of foreign women who now wants us Kimchi boys made me see the light and it allowed me to see why there are so many AW/WM couples. When you add centuries of colonization, military occupation, and barrage of bullshit media content that desexualizes Asian men its no wonder that so many Asian women open their legs to White men. I hope that the Hallyu wave becomes such a powerful force worldwide that it breaks the stronghold that White people have had on the mass media (Hollywood crap) that we consume everyday. And I hope that it creates millions of white women who thinks like this girl so Asian men can smirk and say that AM/WM couples are not a problem at all while white boys quiver in anger. Go Hallyu Wave!

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  24. @shyn5877
    "Asian women open their legs to White men."
    Perhaps if you change your crass way of thinking you'd have better luck.

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  25. a-K-A believe it or not I don't have much problem with getting dates in Korea and I do just fine in the dating scene. The only thing that I am complaining about are the self hating Asian women who have been brainwashed by the western media. The girl who wrote this question is just the white version of sellout Asian women that we have been seeing for generations. I might have been crass but is anything I have said an exaggeration or fabrication?

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  26. I have a question... If someone could please answer, I would appreciate it. This may be a stupid question... But what's a "weabo"? I think that's how it was spelled...

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    1. weeaboo: someone obsessed with Japan, see wapanese

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  27. The mere fact that one can "never be Korean" is itself a testament to the high level of racism (sprinkled with self-hate) that exists in Korea (aka plastic surgery capital of the world). If anyone made such a remark to a foreigner trying to assimilate into American, British, or Canadian society, he or she'd surely be labeled as a racist.

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    1. this is the most ignorant statement I have ever seen. why do you expect Koreans to adapt western values and standards of assimilation when it comes to immigrants? The difference between those countries and korea is that both America and Canada were stolen from the natives by whites (mostly from Britain) and became immigrant nations through subjugation of others. Koreans have been living in their own land before recorded history.

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  28. But guys...for Taeyang..?! I'd do anything for him. Lol jk. But seriously, if you're really interested in having a healthy relationship just be yourself and you'll attract the right person, when you're pretending to be someone you're not you attract another person who's fake. :)

    Taaaeeeeyaaaannnggg *drools* :P

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  29. I have a lot of friends who are Korean. They find it amusing when people who are not korean try to be korean. I actually worked in a korean owned store and was learning the language and culture. I had respect for them and their culture and they accepted me as one of ‘them’ after they realize I was serious about learning, though they teased me for being the ‘american’ in the group but they continue to teach me. To be accepted by the korean community is all about respect, if you are doing to as a fad because you are into k-pop bands like big band, girls generation and crap, they will never respect or accept you.

    There is no way I would ever be truly korean and I am fine with that I love my own Puerto Rican culture and would never change who I am. That I love another culture and am learning about is another story. I would love to move to Korea one day but you sure as hell know if I have kids over there they will be speaking spanish and english period, because that is my culture and their’s as much as it is korean (if i married a korean that is for the sake of argument).

    Honey guys are guys in any culture, if the korean guy is going to like you, it should be because of who you are, not what you make yourself to be. In the end you would be living a lie and he is going to find you out because every mask eventually slips off and then the relationship is going to get messy.

    Don’t be someone you are not. Respect the culture, and learn about it and the language because relationships can end because of cultural misunderstandings and you can then communicate with his family, which is respectful as well. Take it from someone who had to learn two completely different cultures, spanish cause I am Puerto Rican and american because I was raised in the states, they are very different and some things are not acceptable in the spanish culture like they are in the american culture, and I had to explain things to a lot of boyfriends so they didn’t screw up with my parents. If the same thing if I wanted to date a Korean. I should learn the culture so I don’t disrespect my boyfriend or his family.

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  30. Ugh, I understand that, I have been dating a Korean guy named SeungHo. He likes a girl with white snow skin, long and slender figure. I am so not like that, he just wants that perfect girl but I know he wants a nice (which is not that very flattering). He said it's just exist in the drama. So why do you want to change yourself into a Korean inside out? I think you are perfectly fine with your eyes and hair color.

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  31. To become someone your not for someone is something I consider insane. Never change for anyone. I love Asians and am Texan. I live in Texas where there aren't many k-pop fan, so living here is hard. Even with all that if I had the chance to move to Korea. I would still be me, a small country girl who loves hamburgers, and Kimchi! After watching a program about a girl that had a physical disorder. I discovered that ones true love doesn't care for what you look like outside its the inside of oneself.
    Se tu y nadie mas... (:

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  32. I am Alex Coleman and I’m American. I am so full of Joy today because of something I thought can never happen has happen in my life and I must share it with the world majorly because, it might give you that is reading, hope and maybe solution to whatsoever that might be your concern.
    Around Late-August, something happened at my working place that gave way to my out of work and as if that wasn't enough, I was charged for assault on one of my superiors in office which I never did but a set-up thing to tarnish my personality and record because I am black and was doing better than the whites in the company. When this thing happened, my family was in jeopardy as I couldn't cater the needs of the family, my children that once ate anytime they love to couldn't eat up to twice a day and I couldn’t pay their college tuition fee. I and the kids have to depend on the little income of my wife and it was a shame to me for I was supposed to be the bread-winner of the family. And still in those difficulties, I will have to go to court and paying visits to my lawyer for the sake of freedom.
    In all this, I was confused, frustrated and anytime I embark on searching for a new job, my offer is always turn down and that made me sick. I did all I could do just to make the company call me back and drop the charges but no way. Something pop my head on a certain day to visit internet for help and while I was surfing, I came across a website in which someone by name, George Merrick gave a testimony on how he was cured of weak erection that made his wife to desert him and how he became reunited with his wife through a powerful spell and magic lord on hoodoospellcasts@outlook.com and I said to myself “Maybe, this spell and magic lord can help me out of my problem” and I contacted him for help, immediately, he gave me a reply and assured me that I shouldn’t worry that my situation was one that shouldn’t weigh me down. Then he told me that before he could help me, that I need to provide some traditional recipes to consult and seek the attention of the gods of his ancestors to my aid.
    And the recipes, he enlisted to me and directed me to a hunter in Kenya to providing the recipes. At first, I were scared and afraid it might be crook but I remembered a friend of mine who was Ghanaian and then I told him about it and he understood my ordeal and told me he could help me with the recipes, that they were common in his country and then I told the great Dr. Esiendo about it and he said to me, “fine, tell your friend to go near a river and call out my name seven times with the recipes at hand; and then the recipes shall appear at my temple. I told my friend what this god said and he promised to do it and surprisingly, at dusk, I received email from Dr. Esiendo that the recipes were at the temple and I quickly call my friend and he told me he had done that which I requested him to do and I was happy.
    Later that day, Dr. Esiendo emailed me and told me he had completed the spell and he gave me instructions on what to do and I did as he instructed and to cut my testimony short, exactly a week, a letter of reinstatement back to work was sent to me by the same company that fucked my ass and charges were dropped. And amazingly, I was promoted and those that blackmailed me were demoted.
    Today, I cater for my family’s needs; my children are back to college and we are all happy.
    If not for Dr. Esiendo at hoodoospellcasts@outlook.com, I am not sure if I will be testifying now. Indeed, he’s a problem solver and a restorer of lost glory.
    Please if you’re experiencing some couple of shits now, don’t fail to contact Hoodoo magic lord, DR. ESIENDO because I am well-sure that if he could help me then he can help you.
    FARE-WELL

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