Saturday, December 16, 2006

Reason Why Life as a Minority is Difficult, No. 5098

(Note: If you're curious about the sudden deluge of posts, it's because 1. nice people like you guys keep on sending questions, and 2. the Korean is in his finals period, and he doesn't want to study. Keep them coming!)

Dear Korean,

Why do Korean and other Asian business owners seem to guard their individual parking spots like Ninjas? There is usually a crummy sign that says "liquor store only".


Dear Korean,

Last year, my neighbor of 30 years sold his house to a Korean couple. They've come to the house maybe 10 times and had a contractor pour a new concrete slab in the basement. The contractor also tore half of the roof off and left it that way, even in the rain. Is it traditional for Koreans to buy a home that is OK to live in and not move in? Is that new basement where they brew the Kim-Chi? What are the words to the "Welcome to the Neighborhood" song in Korean and when is it a good time to sing them?

So Many Questions-Too Little Information
*Hollywood, CA*

Dear Anonymous-Liquor-Shop-Frequenting Coward and Many-Questions from Hollywood,

You might wonder why these two emails are put up together. It's because they have something in common. Guess what it is. I'll give you 10 seconds.

Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. Time's up.

Answer: They both see a curious behavior by person(s) of a certain race, and they are trying to figure out some race- or culture-based explanation.

There are many reasons why life as a minority in the U.S. (or anywhere else in the world for that matter) is difficult, and this is one of them. Whenever a minority individual displays an odd behavior, the first thing that jumps to a non-minority person's mind is "I wonder what it is about his culture that makes him do that," rather than thinking "well, that's just a weird guy."

Of course this difficulty is hardly life-threatening to minorities (given that lynching was very popular in the good old days), but it sure is highly annoying. It's annoying because it shows that you are still looking at the color of the skin first. It's annoying because one weird guy can bring down the reputation of an entire race/ethnicity. Worst of all, it's so fucking annoying that I have to care about what that weird guy does so that he doesn't bring down the reputation of my ethnicity.

Remember William Hung, the short, ugly Chinese dude who had 15 seconds of fame for singing and dancing horribly on American Idol? The Korean would not have to give a shit if he were any other race. But because he's an Asian, the Korean cannot help but watch him and see what other stupid shit he would pull, because the Korean KNOWS that there will be many idiots around the country who are thinking, "Gee, he's really stupid and ugly, but maybe it's an Asian thing."

Put another way, it's unfair and tiresome for one to be a representative of one's race all the time. And it's frustrating to see another one of your race failing at that representative function, which would not even be assigned to that moron if people learned to look beyond a person's race!

Drunken Coward, has it ever occurred to you that it would hurt the business if a customer came to the store and couldn't find a parking spot right away? Or that it would be really annoying for the owner/employees to find a parking spot far away from the store every day? Questions from Hollywood, the Korean has no idea why your Korean neighbors did what they did with the house. Maybe they were trying to renovate it, then ran into a financial trouble or something. What kind of culture would possibly condone leaving such a massive economic asset unexploited and in disrepair?

There are many things that people don't understand about other people, and cultural differences can explain some of them. That's what this site is for. But dear readers, whenever you observe an oddity by a minority, please use give it a little thought and see if you can find a non-cultural reason for it. If you are stumped, please ask the Korean, but at least take a guess.

More relevant questions will be coming later.

Got a question or comment for the Korean? Ask away at


  1. I totally agree with this. I get put into a giant "white people/ american" category no matter what I do.

    Last week I went to my korean boyfriend's aunt's house and she offered me coffee. I said no thanks, so she offered me juice. I said ok and she determined "ah, Americans love orange juice."

    I found that especially random since it was her orange juice in her house in Tokyo.


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