Happy New Year!
Throughout December 2013 I had been travelling throughout Tokyo, Japan and Seoul, S. Korea since there was a major family wedding in Korea.
To my surprise, people thought that I was whatever they were and would speak to me at length before realizing I didn’t understand. Then I would get the “this girl is a deaf mute” look. This has happened before in China (I speak Cantonese, not Mandarin), but I didn’t expect people to think that I was Japanese or Korean.
A computer in 2009 simulated average faces for Asians, can you tell which faces are Chinese, Korean and Japanese? (click for answer as well as South Asian faces)
My Viking husband labelled me the “generic Asian” as he was quite amused by all this. With his red hair and beard, people didn’t even try to speak to him. I learned how to say “I don’t understand/don’t know” in Mandarin, Japanese and Korean. However, people sometimes interpreted this as I didn’t know the answer to a question. My brother in law suggested that I learn how to say “I have a mental disability” which may work better.
I was so amused by my new nickname that I decided to rename my blog to “Musings of a Generic Asian” from “Musings of JF Garrard”.
Unfortunately, there was some negative stuff as well which was obvious from angry speech and body language – that I am a terrible Asian as I am hanging out with non-Asian people. Usually it would be an older Asian man that would come up to me directly and say a long speech with nasty glares.
I was being made to feel ashamed that I was a bad Japanese/Korean when I was Chinese. I’ve never traveled to China with my husband, so I’m not sure if we would experience the same thing there. Generally, I think this happened so often because the older generation wants to enforce their rules on the younger generation.
Regardless, it was a wonderful trip and I have been inspired to create art again after a visit to the Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA) and National Musuem of Modern and Contemporary Art in Deoksugung. It was amazing to see the fusion of Eastern and Western art techniques and the powerful messages behind each piece.
I don’t think I’ll see my husband much this year as I want to finish up a few books, travel to a few conventions, start a podcast and create some cultural identity art!
Over the course of the next few weeks I’ll put together my pics and comments, so stay tuned!