A Korean in Canada

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Byung-hee (Chris) Han, English language studentat ILAC.

In Korea, now most kids learn English early. Istarted in Middle School. I didn’t like English.I got a D. I would have gotten an F, but my professorwas generous toward me.

Many foreigners think Koreans are unfriendly.They don’t understand. When we meet somebody ourfaces are impassive. But inside we’re friendly.We have a word for it — “jeong.”

Before I came to Canada to study, I worked in ahotel. So I understand how foreigners feel —Americans, Canadians, others. They want people tosmile. So I smile. But at first it was difficult.Because in Korea if a woman smiles, it might bemisinterpreted. The man would think somethingabout the woman. He would think she likes him.(In a man’s case, it would be the same.)

In North and South America, the sense of race issmall. In Asian countries it is strong. We areused to living all together, just one people.With Koreans my age, attitudes are changing. Butfor my father and grandfather, they think thatway. They see a foreigner and want to avoid him.Foreigners sometimes might not understand. Butinside we are kind.

Family is very important in Korea. Parents helpyou until you are twenty-five or thirty. But then you have tohelp them after. Recently, some people havechanged though. Their parents help them and theydon’t help their parents back.

I’m interested in cosmetics and aesthetics. AfterI finish at ILAC, I’ll go to an aestheticscollege. I did work like this before. I had a jobwith a cosmetics company.

I like to read history. It helps you understand.Many centuries ago, China was strong. It had astrong civilization at the same time asMesopotamia and Egypt and others. Its influencewent to Korea, and then to Japan. Now Japan isstrong ... Japan and the United States. Myfriends say China will be strong again in thefuture.

I miss Korea. I love it there. I want to go back.But in Korea, it’s difficult for a woman to get ajob after marriage. It’s changing, but it’sdifferent from Canada. I want to have a baby, butI'm not sure I’ll get married. A woman who has achild but isn’t married — that’s consideredstrange! In Canada there’s more freedom to dothat.

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