I haven’t updated this in a LOOOOOOOOOONG time…

But what can I say? Back in Korea, teaching English, having a great time. ๐Ÿ™‚ Very different from exchange life last time, though.

Need to revamp this site… Shaina says I am such a blogger, and I need to stop being lazy and get my butt into gear and start documenting again!!! Yay~

P.S. I got my very first tattoo today (yes, in Korea). Wowwwwwwwwwww. xD~ So… strange and different and gahhhhh~ I never thought I would get to this point…



Useful site about Seoul and where you can find certain things (including difficult to find Western goods).

“Itโ€™s 3 AM and youโ€™re giggling with inebriation. Youโ€™re wearing painfully tight jeans. You just made out with a complete stranger on the dancefloor, and you havenโ€™t sat down in over eight hours. Where are you? You are smack in the middle of Walter Meegoโ€™s world, and you have a knowing, gleeful smirk on your face.” – biography of electronic band Walter Meego

Story of my Korean life. Well. Minus the “made out with a complete stranger” part. Haha.

Man. I miss Korea. Were those my glory days? Haha, probably. Probably.

ISABEL: My philosophy professor at the Baptist college I went to, he said one day, “We are all of us born, live and die in the shadow of a giant question mark that refers to three questions: Where do we come from? Why? And where, oh where, are we going?”

– Tennessee Williams, The Period of Adjustment

First of all, before all else, I want you to read this speech, given by Guy Kawasaki, one of the top marketing brains at Apple. You’ll be more prepared for my rant. And, hopefully, your outlook on life may have changed a little.

So this week I realized that one of the main topics my brain churns over is… the prospect of my future.

I realize I have many things going for me.

1. I am Asian-American, therefore a minority, therefore stand out from many audiences.

2. I am bilingual.

3. I have enough talents and know-how to succeed in this world.

4. A lot more, but that’s not the point of this post.

But how, though?! That’s the question that’s been dogging me for the past… oh… year, I’d say. Going abroad to Korea really changed me. It’s made me start to think more deeply about things I didn’t really elaborate on before. I definitely stressed about my future, but I didn’t elaborate on the specifics on what I wanted to do. Now, after coming back from Korea, I’m quite sure I want to go into fashion… but that goes against everything my parents worked for, my parents raised me for, and everything my parents even came to this country for.

Immigrant Korean parents expect only four things from their gyopo children:

1. Successful job (successful enough to generate subtle bragging rights).

2. To become a doctor, lawyer, engineer, or “insert any other six-figure salary paying job”.

3. A great marriage. (Most often involving $$$$.)

4. Grandchildren.

I know that this makes immigrant parents sound horrible and selfish, but if you think about life from their perspective, it all makes sense. They came to this country to seek a better future than the bleak one they saw back in their home country. They toiled, shedding blood, sweat, and tears to try to provide a better future for their children, so that towards the end of their lifetimes, they could finally release their hold, sit back, smile, and say, “We have done well.” So can you blame them for expecting their children to become great, successful people? The only consistent, stable cases of success and a secure life they’ve seen is by being a doctor or some other occupation related to the sciences. (And this in all is not untrue. Doctors ARE successful, and they ARE high-paying, stable jobs, unless you like to kill your patients.)

As Asian children, we feel are compelled to listen to our parents so we don’t feel like we are failing them, breaking their expectations of a rosy American dream, we want to make them happy after a lifetime of working until they almost shed tears of blood… all this effort to prepare a better life for their children. I know I’m not the only Asian kid that feels this. I know there are countless other Asian kids out there agonizing over this. Some have succeeded in overcoming it, and doing what they love. Some have given in to it, and become what their parents expected them to be. Some have failed, and are more lost than ever. Just look at the high figures of Asian-Americans going to UC schools, then being put on academic probation or dropping out and returning home within their first year of registering.

I don’t know. I don’t know how to tell my parents that because I’m a second generation immigrant child, I have a totally different value system than they do… or ever will. How? How do I explain? I’ve hinted but… *shrug*

Thinking about it, I really don’t think I can ever 100% explain to them. They won’t ever completely understand why a doctor isn’t always a better job to have than say, a fashion designer or artist. For 99% of immigrant Asian parents, a job in the arts is worthless. Starving on the streets for your artwork? We didn’t work half our lives away in a foreign country for that. Go back to law school. Just my luck that the stereotype of artists the world over is lazy, promiscuous, starving, and drugged up.

I’m honestly quite sick of school. I just… want to go into fashion. It’s not all about “DO WHAT YOU LOVE” anymore. It’s a bit more complicated than that. There’s a whole different set of logistics involved now. However, I feelย  like fashion is something that I love that I can most definitely DO, and DO SUCCESSFULLY. It’s my passion, I realize! If only I had the chance! If only I had the opportunity! I don’t have all of the details worked out yet, but God knows I would work like a dog to be able to succeed in that field… more so than the major I chose now. My effort to work in that field would make my parents never again question my focus or how lazy I am…

Ironically, I found my passion in one of the most academically-focused countries in the world. Ironic.

I went to a UC school for a party at my friend’s place yesterday, and I have to honestly say… I’m kind of glad I didn’t go to one. In every school you will visit, I can safely guarantee that probably 40%-60% of Asian students will have majors in the sciences, particularly majors that will be most helpful to them in – you guessed it – medical school. I could sense something in them – a sort of vacancy and acceptance of the fate that their parents expect of them. So many kids blindly taking premed classes… all for a vision their parents have instilled in them from the beginning. Thinking of nothing else except O-chem and the next party where they can trashed to momentarily forget about the stress of their parents expecting straight As and the pressures of maybe doing something they didn’t want to do. I could have been one of them. If I had gone to one, I wouldn’t have experienced the many wonderful and different things I have experienced at my so-called sub-par school on a full scholarship today. I have met a wide variety of people that I know I wouldn’t meet as easily in the future. I have thought a wide range of thoughts and learned about myself. I’m not sure now if I would’ve had the same experience at a UC. I dunno. It’s kinda hard to explain. UC-goers, please try not to get offended too much. It is just my opinoin. I am one Asian-American in almost 3,800,000 Asians in America. (Since that’s a 1980 statistic, I’m sure it’s increased drastically by now.)

After weighing all the advantages and disadvantages of going to medical and law school, I think I can safely say that I am not cut out for them. Sure, if I applied my mind to them, I would probably do quite well. But then again… I’m notorious for not doing fantastically well in things I have no interest in. On the other hand, I am renowned for doing well in things I AM interested in. See where this is going?

I’m not trying to make it seem like I’m bashing on Asian premed majors or saying that Asian parents are selfish and controlling. Parents are parents; they love us unconditionally, and want us to succeed so that we won’t have to suffer the way they did in the future. However, that ambition fueled by fierce love for their children can turn into controlling behavior and unrealistic expectations. Often times in immigrant Asian households, children will have no say in expressing what they want to be when they grow up. They are influenced to be doctors. I was influenced to be a neurosurgeon. Not anymore.

I’m just saying that… we Asian-Americans are not ALL genetically-equipped to be doctors, lawyers, or engineers. We are able to become artists, counselors, teachers, entrepreneurs, cooks, singers, actors, whatever, and still SUCCEED. Trying your best is a given. We should not try with all our might at something that we’re just not good at, or interested in. That’s one definition of insanity: hitting your head against the wall repeatedly, expecting a different result. We should not feel obligated to anyone to follow their expecations of our lives blindly, without questioning and exploring.

I want to go to fashion school. I want to be a designer, if that’s not too late. I think I’d be good at it, I think I would enjoy it immensely, and, if it’s too late for designing, I can always combine the business degree I’m earning while gritting my teeth with fashion merchandising or something related. How can I make my parents more accepting of this life plan? How can I convince my parents to send me to Parsons or FIT, especially if it’s going to cost thousands of dollars, precious dollars that they don’t see any returns on???

I guess I’m lucky that I will be getting my undergraduate paid for. Heh. I guess that was prepping me for spending money on continued higher education elsewhere.

I don’t know exactly where I’m trying to go with this. I just know that I am frustrated, and worried about my less-than-satisfactory grades from a lack of enthusiasm for my major, and scared about failing in life, because that is my ultimate fear: failing at life. I can only pray that God understands what I’m going through, and guides me in whatever way He can. Going to Korea changed my life, and not for the better, according to my parents, as they will probably think once I really gather my courage and tell them I want to do fashion. I’m bracing myself. I don’t know even know what my game plan of the process of telling them is going to be. Bah.

I’m done for now. I’m sure I’ll write more about this in the future. Stay tuned, whoever’s out there that’s even remotely interested in reading about my life, lol.

I guess I just want us Asian-Americans to think outside the box.

P.S. Plus the fact that I seem to be constantly reevauluating my self and cultural identities… even subconsciously. Scary. More on this later.

P.P.S. This blog, in part, spurred this rant. Fascinating woman, her writing is great, as is her career advice.

[1] This is a great secondary source to get more scope on the Asian-American community.

1. Those cheap frozen burritos found in grocery stores. Hahahahaha.


3. Steak. Oh my goodness. Steak. STEAK.

4. A1 sauce. End of story.

5. American pizza. END OF STORY AUGH

6. Artichokes, broccoli, asparagus.

7. In-N-Out. Oh. My. God.

8. Olive Garden eggplant parmesan EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

9. Olive Garden minestrone soup EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

10. Olive Garden fettucine alfredo EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

11. Olive Garden breadsticks EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!

12. Homemade quesadillas that my brother and I made… mmmm… We were pretty damn good at making quesadillas. I have to try making them with Cheez-Its inside the tortillas next time.

13. Hashbrowns



16. Chocolate pudding, tapioca pudding

17. Bubble tea (sure, sure I could’ve had that here, too, sure sure)



20. American-style buffets

21. Mashed potatoes and gravy

22. Macaroni and cheese

23. Panda Express

24. Apple juice

25. Ginger ale

26. SALTY Tomato juice. Korea only has sweet tomato juice, and I dislike it intensely. Bah.

27. Deli turkey

28. Roast beef (with gravy)

29. Any kind of sandwiches (roast beef sandwiches with gravy, turkey sandwiches, grilled cheese)

30. Mushroom soup, cream soup, broccoli soup, veggie soup, beef stew, etc.

31. Cheese, cheese, cheese, and more cheese.

32. Salty tomato juice instead of the sweet juice they serve here. Oh God. V8, too WOW~

33. Ginger ale. *_*

More to come, oh, don’t worry.

Only 3 more days, baby… 3 more days…

I fear for my waistline in the coming months

Wow, I’m so surprised that apparently so many people read my blog! 0_0 I guess that means I better get my rear into gear and write as much as I can about Seoul/South Korea before I leave this time, haha. Actually, I’ll be returning to Korea in the future, too, so I guess I will be maintaining this for quite a while. ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyways! Some visitors to this blog expressed interest in finding a vintage/secondhand market here in Seoul on my original (but abruptly ended) post. So here’s my follow-up to it. Because of a great and stylish ์˜ค๋น  (oppa), I was able to go shopping in this area a couple times now.

This place is notoriously hard to find, so be warned. I’m not even sure I can give you clear directions because you have to go through back streets and the second time I went I must’ve got off at the wrong stop or something because the building simply wasn’t where it was supposed to be and yeah haha. Also, it’s been about a month since I’ve last gone, soooo I’m quite hazy. D;

Let me give a brief description of the place. The building is near ๋‚จ๋Œ€๋ฌธ ์‹œ์žฅ (Namdaemun Market), and quite near ๋™๋Œ€๋ฌธ (Dongdaemun). So I guess that’s why all the stores inside are constructed in the Dongdaemun way (with each floor being divided up into about 80-100 different stalls. You climb up the stairs into the building and are immediately hit with that special “secondhand”/vintage smell. There’s stalls full of these wonderfully vintage leather bags, any kind of bags, really! There’s stalls of baby clothes, clothes made for ajummas, clothes for any female, so on and so forth. I did see that most of the stalls carry either unisex or male-oriented clothing (there’s LOTS – and I mean LOTS – of male track jackets, T-shirts, button-down shirts for men, denim for men, etc. etc.). However, don’t let that scare you off! Androgyny is very in these days, and even if you’re not into that, you can find very nice clothing items that will fit you quite well. (I must warn you that the clothes sizes follow a slim build, however, for both men and women.) There are also shoes, such as vintage Converses, Nikes, etc. I was a little skeptical about trying on shoes, mostly because I’m a girl and the shoe sizes seemed only for men, but also because the condition of the shoes were not too great in my opinion (but I am quite picky about the quality of my vintage shoes… okay, I must admit I’ve never bought a secondhand pair of shoes yet ^^;;;). There’s ties, handkerchiefs, scarves, shoelaces, belts, and vests… but I’ve still to see some good suspenders. The only ones I’ve seen there were cheap quality and ugly. I dream about these amazing leather suspenders that I saw and immediately coveted in the Harajuku Gap, but didn’t buy because they were Y5400. ๐Ÿ˜ฅ So. I’ve still to see some great suspenders! I don’t think I recall seeing any household goods.

Moving onto prices. The prices here are significantly cheaper here than in even Dongdaemun. But, of course, they are selling items for secondhand. Also, the store owners are also quite willing to bargain with you for cheaper prices, especially if you buy more than one item. Some examples:

I have bought:

  1. Two high-quality, nicely-cut vests for W8,000 each (around $8 each)
  2. A Members Only black leather jacket for W40,000 (around $40) *giggles wildly*
  3. A denim bag emblazoned with a huge Union Jack for around W8,000 (around $8)
  4. Two very nice quality blazers for about W20,000 each (around $20 each)
  5. A nicely-worn brown leather belt for around W7,000 (around $7)
    – To this day, I do not understand why belts have to be over $20. >____< Yes, even leather ones.
  6. A summer dress for around W8,000 (around $8)
  7. Two denim jackets (for around $13 each)
  8. Oh yes, and my oppa got this fabulous yellow and cornflower blue-striped tie from Hugo Boss for ~cha-ching~ … W3,000 (around $3). Puhahaha~

So! As you can see, prices are very reasonable, especially since prices in Dongdaemun have been on the rise recently (also, the store operators at Dongdaemun have been getting more salty in their bargaining, harrumph). So this is a great alternative. That’s great and everything, but the most important thing remains:

How do you get there?!

Ok. I will try to help you here as much as I can. Whew. *preps self* Remember that this place is renowned for being hard to find. Ok. So I’m going to give directions from ์•ˆ์•” ์˜ค๊ฑฐ๋ฆฌ (Anam Rotary), which is where I followed my oppa’s guide to take the number 100 bus, if I remember correctly. I think it’s the 100. ;_; Oh god. I think it is. I’m so sorry I can’t remember. Anyways, you take that bus for about 15-20 minutes, and get off about 3-4 stops AFTER the Dongdaemun stop. So basically, the area is around ์ข…๋กœ5๊ฐ€ (Jongno 5-ga). There’s a market where the vintage building is located inside called ๊ด‘์žฅ ์‹œ์žฅ (Gwangjang Market). Once there, you have to take a left turn into the market and start navigating your way to this building where you will climb up to the second floor to find the vintage-y goodness.

Yeah, that’s no help. I guess the best you can do is to write the following on a piece of paper and ask people around the area:

Q. Where is Gwangjang Market?
Translation: ๊ด‘์žฅ ์‹œ์žฅ์ด ์–ด๋””์—์š”?

Q. Where is the vintage market inside of Gwangjang Market?
Translation: ๊ด‘์žฅ ์‹œ์žฅ์— ์žˆ๋Š” ๊ตฌ์žฌ์‹œ์žฅ์ด ์–ด๋””์—์š”?

Honestly… I think the best bet is for you to drag a Korean person there. It would be a great little adventure for you… whether you find it or not! Honestly, I’m not even sure if I’ll be able to find it again quickly when I go back. D; I’m pretty sure that with a Korean person that is good with directions, you will be able to find it somehow. Oh, one final note! One way to know that you’re right next to the vintage market building is if you see all these the fabric stores with bolts of cloth displayed outside. Once you hit that alley that has a whole stretch of cloth shops, you’ll know that you’re right next to the vintage market building, and should probably take the nearest flight of stairs up to a building.

Good luck, and happy hunting! Let me know if you guys first find the place, and then second, buy something there! If you need anymore clarifications or details, let me know, and I will honest to God try to help you as much as my memory permits.

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