Blackness · Daily Life

Maneuvering through Seoul as a minority of the minorities

What’s cookin’ good lookin’?

First of all, I’d like to give myself a pat on the back for writing two blog posts within one week of each other *mini victory*. Hehe. Anyways, it’s time to get serious. This post was inspired by this short video. Please watch it before reading.

Navigating the world as a Black woman is no joke. I know that no matter where I go, be it my hometown of Columbus, Ohio, Nairobi, Kenya, or Seoul, South Korea, I will never truly feel at home. This is something that I’ve come to accept. That being said, as I am currently living in Seoul, I find it acceptable to criticize the exclusivity and prejudice that I experience here. Please know that, duh, I know this happens to all kinds of people all over the world, but the only viewpoint from which I can write is my own. These are my experiences and are not meant to be seen as a generalization for an entire  country. Please don’t come at me with,”Yeah well I experienced this is in the US, too! So don’t blame Koreans for everything!!111!” Look, I have also undergone a lot of really shitty stuff back home. You’re preaching to the choir and this blog is called “Different in Korea”. K, bye.

Now that that’s over with, it’s come to my attention that whenever expat women come together (be it an online forum or in person) to talk about oppression, it’s always a competition. Life as an expat is not an oppression olympics. It is what it is: the experiences of a dark-skinned woman will always be different than those of our lighter-skinned counterparts, no matter what country we’re in. I didn’t say our experiences are more difficult, just different. Whenever I try to say something about being Black in Korea, someone always has to come out and say “Yeah, well someone thought I was a prostitute because I’m blonde!” I get it, I know that happens to White, blonde girls here. But I wasn’t talking about that. Sometimes people just need to let you vent and not put in their two cents, you know? This is my blog and my venting space – may the vent sesh begin:

  • I’m unintelligent. This happens back home too, for probably the same reasons. Historically, Black people have been seen as an inferior race with inferior intelligence. But please, let’s just focus on the fact that you’re surprised a WOC can speak Korean. You know, whenever I’m with my foreign friends, I’m always the last person that people assume to know any Korean. First they’ll try talking to my Asian friends, then move on to my White friends, then my Latinx friends, and lastly they’re left with little ol’ me who ends up saving the day. Whatever.
  • I’m sexually promiscuous and easy to get in bed. Even though I have a butt and am very comfortable in my body, I am not up for grabs (pun intended). My body is my own and nobody has agency over it but me. I am constantly being grabbed and touched by strange men – who do you think you are?? And when I try to confront them they say, “I didn’t think you would be bothered by it.”
  • I’m exotic. People see this as a term of endearment; newsflash, it’s not. I am not a fruit found on a deserted island, I am a human being. I am just a woman. I know that I am a rare species in Korea but please don’t treat me as your shiny new toy. I am not something that’s meant to be played with; I breathe the same breath as you and feel just as deeply as you. On certain apps, I’ve had plenty of people say stuff like, “Oh, you’re Black? You must have a big ass” or “Wow, I’ve always wanted to try being with a Black girl. It seems like it would be really different.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME. FOH with that. Also, if people could stop shouting “어머!! 흑인이다”(“Wow! a Black person!) every time I walk into anywhere, that’d be fantastic.
  • My hair is a play toy. Please don’t touch it.

Speaking with other non-Black POC expats here had me feeling that I was crazy. They would speak of having wonderful experiences in places where I really struggled. But I have come to realize that anti-Blackness is pervasive everywhere and these are the cards I’ve been dealt. And with that, I’ll finish. There’s plenty more to rant about, but this post has been long enough as it is. Thank you for bearing with me. Now to enjoy the rest of this lazy, rainy Sunday.

With love,

Christina

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3 thoughts on “Maneuvering through Seoul as a minority of the minorities

  1. I am also a black woman and I am considering moving to Korea. Thank you for posting your experiences. Yes, people treat other people differently based on the color of their skin. Black girls need to a place to come together and vent because it is emotionally taxing.

    1. Hey, thanks for the comment! What Black women experience is something so unique that only we can understand. I totally agree that we need a space to process and grow. If you have any questions about life in Korea or have anything you want me to write about, let me know 🙂

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