Tuesday, December 30, 2008

FINALLY!!!

I am about to do something that you will almost never see. (*I certainly have yet to see any blog on the "Anti-Adoption" movement side do this).

I am going to post a link to the opposing side's argument!

Yes, that is true. It is because I am amazed by this post. It is the first one that writes about any sort of proposal for alternatives to Adoption.

My biggest "issue" with the whole "Anti-Adoption" movement was their total lack of alternatives. You can't just shutdown an institution such as Adoption, and not have a way to "handle" all of the kids in the system.

You can find it here: Alternatives

Funny how almost all of the "Anti-Adoption" blogs have comment moderation, meaning the author has to approve your comments first. I'm sure it is because they are afraid of the "Blurting" out that some people against the Anti-Adoption movement might do. You will notice on my blog I do not have any sort of moderation on. When you post your comment, it is posted. The reason I do that is because if someone from the "Anti-Adoption" movement is going to post something radical on my blog and wants to try and totally trash me personally, it only helps me to persuade more of my target audience (not by logic but by personality..lol)...so I welcome everyone to post comments in agreement or in dissent!

Anyways, I posted a reply to their article, but you'll have to wait to see if the moderator will approve my opposing thoughts!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

15

I was reading yet another blog about adoption. This one in particular I believe had undertones of being "Anti-adoption". Im not sure what tipped me off, except I did find this list of 15 reason (I don't think I was included in this "proven" research...lol):

While this list of 15 gives reasons why not to give up a child for adoption, it does not provide any alternatives. If a mother decides she can not take care of a child, if adoption should not be an option, then what options does she have? If you have any ideas please let me know!

If you surrender your baby to adoption, you will be condemning him or her to suffer these proven harmful effects:

1. The severe trauma of being separated from you will radiate throughout every aspect of your baby's life. Your baby will experience your loss as the psychological death of his mother. There will never be closure.
2. Your baby will know the difference between you and his female adopter because he has bonded with you during your pregnancy. He knows your scent and your heartbeat. He seaches for the smell of your milk - not hers.
3. Your baby will feel abandoned by you, often resulting in a lifelong inability to trust anyone.
4. Your baby will always wonder why you didn't keep him and will blame himself for not being lovable enough to keep - a todder's realization that they were adopted. Many adult adopted people find they still carry this feeling inside - and it influences adult relationships.
5. As your baby grows up, your child may feel like a misfit and will suffer from low self esteem.
6. Your child may think about you constantly. This may cause your child to have difficulty concentrating on his schoolwork. Your child will be labeled a "dreamer" and a "bad student," further harming his chances for success in life.
7. Your child's adopters may not understand his lack of concentration and he could easily be misdiagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). If misdiagnosed, they will force your child to take drugs that he doesn't need.
8. Your child will lose his true identity while his adopters try to force him to be like them.
9. Your child will have no sense of his past which will make it difficult for him to envision his future.
10. Your child may suppress his true feelings and live an emotionally-numb life in order to survive the tragedy of his separation from you compounded by his adoption.
11. As your child becomes an adolescent he will have great difficulty establishing a sense of self because he will have no sense of his true history or heritage.
12. As your child becomes an adult he may have difficulty choosing a career and a mate due to his fear of commitment and abandonment.
13. Your child's adopters will probably not acknowledge that raising an adopted child is different from raising a child of their own. They will further burden him by telling him that he should forget about you and be grateful that they adopted him and gave him a home because you did not.
14. Nothing anyone does or says can ever make up for the loss of your child's first family!
15. You will never be able to change the past and undo the lifelong adverse effects of adoption on your child!

Here is my response to the above list of 15:

1. Psychological death? I never even knew such a thing even existed. Does a baby even understand the meaning of death? My birth mother is either physically alive or dead. I guess if I ever decide to search for my birth mother and I find her, that will bring closure to this "psychological death?"
2. I'm sorry, but I'm pretty sure if my birth mother walked by me on a street, I would not be able to "sniff" her out. Its been 25+ years, I'm pretty sure I can't remember if my birth mother wore Chanel 5.... However I do know my mother does like to wear Baby Soft perfume. And to think about searching and drinking any mother's milk at the age of 28...ew.
3. Abandonment issues. I would think an adoptee who was a baby would have a lot less "issue" with this than someone like myself who was adopted near the age of 5?
4. Pfft...I've seen pictures of myself when I was younger. I was cute and lovable! I didn't have much of a "break through" in my realization that I was adopted. The fact that I'm Korean and my parents are white, kind of made that pretty easy to figure out...lol. However, your baby may use this as a crutch or an excuse..yes, that is a sad fact of life, some people will try to use any misfortunes in their lives as an excuse...
5. What kid does not feel like a misfit at some point in their lives?
6. Again, another case of using a misfortune as a crutch. Do you think adoptees are the only ones with problems? How about the kid next to you who is being physically abused at home?
7. Isn't every kid in the US mis-diagnosed with ADD? This is not exclusive to adopted children. This statement is true too: "If you keep your kid he could easily be misdiagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). If misdiagnosed, they will force your child to take drugs that he doesn't need."
8. What is identity? Why do people misinterpret "identity" with heritage or ancestry? They are different. According to the dictionary identity is: "the condition of being oneself or itself, and not another". So whether you grow up with your birth parents or adoptive parents, it should have no bearing one's identity, because one's identity is their own, and not passed down in a bloodline.
9. What about someone's parents effects your future? If this statement is true, an adopted child is probably better off. Think about the scenarios in which a birth mother would give up a child (ie. economics, wedlock, social pressures) versus the scenarios of adoptive parents. The adoptive parents situation would almost always be considered "better" so your child would have a better vision for the future because they were raised in a "better" situation.
10. At least this argument separates the difference between being orphaned and being adopted. However, I still have yet to hear why adoption is negative. So I don't know how adoption compounds this issue?
11. I personally establish my sense of self based on what I have accomplished and my future plans, not on my history. I don't believe my family's history should impact my sense of self because then it would not be a "self" it would be a sense of "family"...lol
12. Honestly, who doesn't have a hard time picking a career. Also, who isn't afraid of getting hurt in the game of love?
13. Nope. My parents always reminded me that I was adopted. They were very open about it. Again, kind of hard to "hide" it when I am Korean and they are white. However, they were always very open about the subject and they were always willing to help me explore my adoption if I ever wanted too. My parents were grateful that they were able to adopt me, they never once in my life ever expected me or told me that I should be grateful that they adopted me. However, I personally do feel a great sense of gratefulness to them. Which maybe why I defend adoption and ad
14. What a joke! Just because someone shares DNA with you does not make them your family. It does make them a good donor in the future, should you ever need one. However, it does not guarantee a emotional bond you share with your family that you develop over time. Otherwise, how do you explain being closer or having more emotional attachment to some family members and not others. If this statement were true then everyone should have the same "strength" of bond between all of their family members. We all know this is not true, there is always the odd uncle/aunt/cousin that we just don't get along with.
15. Of course not! You'd be a millionaire if you could change the past! However, you can make a huge difference on your baby!



Abortion may seem like an easy answer, but it is only available pre-birth. I was abandoned around 3 years of age, so if my mother had followed that "route" it would have been called first degree murder (luckily, my mother choose the adoption route). Ironcially Roe vs. Wade, society, and medicine, will always try to de-humanize an unborn child by calling it a fetus. However, how many expecting parents do you hear call the first ultrasound image of the pregnancy a fetus? How many pregnant mothers have you heard say "Oh the fetus kicked!", or people ask "What are you going to call the fetus?". I wonder how many Pro-Choice supporters find themselves calling the unborn child a "baby"! Shocking! I bet after the first ultrasound, the vast majority of the Pro-Choice contingency would call the unborn child a Baby and not a fetus. Now ask yourself how many Pro-Lifers would call their unborn child a fetus? I bet almost none...lol

Yet another thing that anti-adoption supporters seem to over look is the options a parent has when orphaning a child. You have to imagine the parents are in the worst imaginable situation, or believe that they are, to consider giving up a child. Do you really think its best for that child emotionally and physically to force those parents to keep the child? This scenario just sounds like a bad mixture for abuse and even worse psychological damage for a child...

"Living and Surviving in South Korea"



Like I mentioned before, I have totally immersed myself into the whole Korean adoption thing. I bought several books on Amazon.com to read on the topics of adoption, with a focus on foreign/Korean adoptions. As I read these I will post my comments about them.

This was the first book I got in the mail. Here is a quick synopsis:

First off, Let me start off by saying, I highly recommend this book to any Korean who will be visiting Korea for the first time. This book touches on several key "issues" that you will not think about or read about anywhere else. There is also information that might be helpful to non-Koreans, but the target audience is for ethnic Koreans.

This is a broad overview guide of living in Korea from a Korean-American's perspective. The subtitle of this book is "What you won't learn in this Lonely Planet for Ethnic Koreans".

In case you don't know "Lonely Planet" is guide book for pretty much any country in the world. It is an excellent tool for traveling. However, Lonely Planet does not prepare Koreans returning to their motherland for the first time.

This book covers some basics such as public transportation, renting, and food. Actually I found that this book is much better at teaching the customs then "Lonely Planet". "Lonely Planet" is definitely a better guidebook with recommendations of where to go and what to see. "Living and Surviving in South Korea" is more of what to expect, in particular what to expect as a Korean visiting Korea for the first time.

I found this book extremely entertaining, and truthfully I wish I had read this book before my visits to Korea, however now that I read it, I find it very entertaining because I can laugh and say I experienced exactly what the author is writing about. The biggest thing for me was the language barrier. For the first time in my life I "fit in" and blended in with the crowd. That is until I opened my mouth! This is just one of several "issues/items" this books talks about that ethnic Koreans will face in their travels.

This book also talks gives a lot of history on the author and his personal experience. Which I always find interesting! I love reading or hearing about other Korean-Americans/Adoptees experiences.

Lastly the Author also discusses the "drive" to return to the motherland. The author discusses becoming an ESL teacher, gives hints on how do go about doing it, and other methods or ways to consider working in Korea. As I'm sure many ethnic Koreans have, the auther also weighs the pros and cons of living in Korea. The author is a definite supporter of Koreans wanting to return to the motherland.

I would highly recommend this book! I loved it from the moment I picked it up. I did "skim" through the hints section where he gives helpful hints to people on their first visit to Seoul (such as how to use the subway) because I already learned and experienced these hints.

Not only was the information excellent, but a look into the authors personal life was fascinating. Lastly, his arguments for living in Korea and his discussions about how to make it feasible was fascinating! The author almost had me packing my bags! While being an ESL teacher is perhaps the easiest way, the author does recognize people in situations such as myself where our careers are not exactly tailored to taking 2 years off to teach ESL (I'm a chemical engineer in the oil industry, so this would be a career killer), however the author recognizes this and gives other viable alternatives!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Anti-Adoption?

Im sorry I have not blogged lately. I have been pretty busy. I have found a new "hobby" or interest that has taken a lot of my time recently.

I accidently came across a "movement' I have never heard of, as you can see from my title, the Anti-Adoption movement.

I never fathomed such a movement or group ever existed! Why in the world would you want to put an end to adoption??

Sheer gross fascination drove me to continue investigating, and even replying back to the comments of some of these bloggers.

To my even more amazement, I found that many of these supporters are adoptees themselves!!!@!@!@!!@!!@

I was totally befuddled on how anyone adopted could support such a movement.

I am still trying to learn all of the premises to their arguments and I have broken them down to a couple key "issues":

1. Corruption/cost associated with adoptions could be better spent to help the masses of children in the world (ie feed a lot of kids a couple of meals.)
2. Child abuse/work by adopting parents
3. Emtional/psychological issues such as identity/cultural confusion and abandonment issues.

After thinking about these issues, the only one that carries any merit is #3. Here are my reasons I dismiss the other two options as purely an "adoption issue".

1. Corruption/cost: While I agree the cost to adopt an international child is absurd ($20-%50k), to assume that these big global relief funds are less corrupt and more efficient at using the money is probably a false premise. The bigger the corporation or group the more corrupt and more inefficient they tend to be. Secondly, While it may seem like a humanitarian idea to feed 10,000 kids a single meal with ($20,000, or the cost of an adoption), however, when a couple adopts a child, they are agreeing to take care of that child for the rest of its childhood. Something to keep in mind, from the age of 0 to 18, a child eats 19710 meals! So if a relief fund paid to feed those 10,000 children for 18 years, they would have to raise the funds for $20,000 (total cost per meal for each child) x 19710 (meals each child eats in a lifetime) = $395 million dollars. However, if those 10,000 children were adopted to couples around the world the total cost would only be $200 million dollars, because the cost of the feeding of these children would be carried by the parents and not by a relief fund (For those of you wondering, it doesn't matter w. So which one is more efficient use of money? If you really wanted to help out the masses then we should be making it easier/cheaper to adopt, not abolishing it.

However, there is a fine line. If you make adoption too easy and too cheap, then I believe this will increase the cases of child labor and abuse. So, While I hate that propective parents have to go through all this and costs, I think it is a valuable screening tool also.

2. Child abuse/work by adoptive parents. I have a two sided argument. My first concern with this argument is the fact that the Anti-Adoption movement seems to have forgotten that these same issues are faced in orphanages and foster care. I would even go out on a branch to say it probably occurs more often in orphanages and foster care because how likely are parents who are paying $20-$50k per child are going to abuse them?

Secondly; bad parents make bad parents. Meaning, if parents are going to abuse a child, they are going to do it whether or not the child was adopted or a biological child. So this is an "issue" that is greater than adoption. This is an issue that affects both adoptees and non-adoptees, and should be addressed separate of the adoption movement.

The last argument I can somewhat understand and is a little bit tougher to argue. My belief is that adoptions do not cause more harm than what has already been done. What many of the supporters of anti-adoption seem to overlook is where do these orphaned kids go if there is no adoption? Just because you abolish adoption does not resolve the orphan issue, babies will always be born, babies will always be abandoned, and babies will always need shelter somewhere. Do they get stuck in "the system" for the rest of their lives with no hope of ever being adopted?

3. The one area where I can see adoption adding emotional stress is in the cases where the parents try to "suppress" adoption or birth parents or origin queries of the adoptee. As if they want to forget that the adoption ever happened. I do disagree with this. I don't think that is healthy for an adoptee. However, I would like to think parents are doing this because they think it is what is best for the child to adapt to their new surroundings? So I hope parents are doing this because they believe it is what is best for their child? Based on what I have read and my personal experiences, I would say the best thing about adoption is to be very open about it. If the child wants to explore it, let them. If the child doesn't want to explore, don't force them. I think what many people forget is, just like a newborn child doesn't come with an instruction manual an adopted child does not either. I would also argue that in some aspects adopting a child is even more difficult because of the cultural issues and emotional issues that the parents have to face. I believe the learning curve is much steeper and the parents have to learn much faster with a child that is already starting to develop (say 2, 3, 4, or 5+ years) then an infant.

Besides the "supression" issues that some adoptees face, I do not see how they face any more or harder issues than an orphan child who has never been adopted. In fact, I think adoptees face less problems than and orphan does, just because more of the needs of an adoptee has been met than of an orphan.

Lastly, one of the final arguments in the Anti-Adoption movement is based on the custody battles between biological and adoptive parents. I'm not going to get into that one because it gets pretty messy. Plus I believe my next argument addresses this issue. While I agree it is painful to see a child who is torn between a custody battle between adoptive parents and birth parents, I don't think its right to try to abolish adoption because of these select few. I don't have the exact numbers, but I would venture to say that the vast majority of adoptions do not ever go into a custody battle between parents. In fact, I would also venture to say that there have been more orphans with no biological parent information (such as myself, being abadoned) that would benefit from adoptions, then the children who have been torn in a custody battle. Just because a few adoptions are "sloppy", why should the rest of the adoptions be halted? If this is how society felt than we out to just abolish marraige in the legal sense, because more than half of all marraiges fail and end in divorce. If we can accept those numbers, than we should be happy that these custody battles are in the absolute minority.


After my "research" so far I have come to this initial conclusion on why adoptees would support such a movement. I believe that many of these adoptees have been too long removed from their memories/experiences of being in an orphanage that they forget how much better their lives are now (after being adopted) then before (when they were in an orphanage). I don't think many adoptees could tell me that they know for a fact that their lives would have been better in an orphanage. I hate to say this, but even the ones that were abused; how can we be certain that they or some other child would not have been abused in an orphanage? Factors such as abuse is not mutually exclusive to adoption, so abolishing adoption does not prevent abuse from happening. These are the types of logic(and there are many) that I have seen throughout my research in the Anti-Adoption movement.

I did leave a comment on one post, asking if they had any supporters from children who are actively in an orphanage or adults who grew in an orphanage all of their lives. Until I see a strong support of the "Anti-Adoption" movement from these two groups of people, I don't think I will be able to support this movement. Actually, until I see a strong support from these people, I think I will argue against this movement as much as I possibly can.

If you have read all of this and am interested in this subject, or disagree and would like to rebuttal, add more information and more support for the "Anti-Adoption movement, or maybe tell me how right I am (I never get tired of hearing it!! LOL) please leave a comment and I will respond, or you can email me at: spaldirl@gmail.com

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Houston - Korea Restaurant

I'm in Houston again for another business trip! Except this time its for training and not work. I'm sitting in a room full of Blackberry toting middle age and older project managers, Im a bit out of my age bracket and league...although I do carry a Blackberry...lol

I arrived in Houston on Monday morning. Being that I travel a lot for work, I'm in like every frequent traveler club for airlines, car rentals, and hotels. So I arrive to Avis and expect to just get dropped off at a car to drive off. Instead they insist that I need to go to the counter because its my first time as a "Preferred Member"...although I did the exact same thing last week! Needless to say, I was a little miffed. They give me this horse and pony show about how my card was declined. So I gave them my card again and told them to try and run it..miraculously it was accepted...I don't know what was different. Anyways, they tell me my car number, and I stomp off to it, annoyed that I was delayed. When I get to my car I couldn't be too upset, because here was what was waiting for me:


Last week I saw a Korean restaurant that I hadn't been too. So on Monday, I decided to try it!
So I had Kimchi Jeon to start off with. I usually like to try some sort of Jeon at any new restaurant because I kind of use it to gauge how good the food is (Kind of like if you want to test an Italian restaurant you eat Alfredo). The Jeon was pretty good. Two minor issues though. The Kimchi was whole, and not cut up at all, which made the logistics of eating it very difficult. Secondly, I think partly because of all the big pieces of Kimchi, the batter was a bit undercooked.

The restaurant served the biggest variety of banchan Ive ever seen. I would rate the banchan about a 6, it was nothing memorable.


For my main course I had a spicy chicken stirfry. I can't quite remember what it was called. Even though the appetizers were mediocre, this dish was quite good. It was very spicy and very good!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

To Know or Not To Know....

If you are not adopted, try this exercise:
Close your eyes, and imagine all of your life not knowing your mother or father. Think of growing up for 30+ years never knowing your family name, your mother's first name or your father's first name. Now imagine that you don't know this information, not because it doesn't exist, but because that information is kept secret from you by the law...this is only a glimpse into the pain/frustration that some adoptees face.

To know or not to know, that is the biggest question to an adoptee..

This post is delving into an area which I am not very familiar with because it really doesn't impact me. The reason being is I have no information in my adoption file about my biological family, so I have never faced this issue. However, many adopted children do face this issue.

What's the issue? If you are not adopted or are adopted but have never tried to find your birth family, you may not be aware of this issue.

To the best of my knowledge right now, by law, adopted children do not have the right to know who their biological parents are. Right now, the law supports the parents' right to privacy over the child's rights to know.

The difficulty with this issue is the fact that both parties have their individual rights; granting one party their rights would infringe on the other party's rights. The parents' right to privacy prevents a child's right to know, and vice versa. Obviously this topic is very "sticky" and difficult, however I'm not going to shy away from this issue!

Biological Parents' Right to Privacy

How far does a mother's right to privacy extend? This is the same argument that is used to support abortion. That it is a woman's body and its her privacy (besides my Christian belief, the fact that I'm adopted also gives me a huge personal bias on the abortion issue). But you have to ask yourself how far does a mother's privacy go? I'll admit that this privacy may extend on where you define a baby or a life. However, when you deal with adopted children who eventually become adults, when do their rights become enacted?

I believe I can understand the argument for the biological parents' right for privacy. The reason being is these people have a new life, and may have remarried or have had new children and family since they gave up their child for adoption. To have this grown child return could bring extreme disruption to their current lives. This is the line of reasoning used today to protect the biological parents' privacy and thus infringing on the child's right to know.

I can see the logic behind this line of reasoning, however there is another scenario that we need to explore. The fact that this "right to privacy" does not work both ways. Meaning, while the biological parents' have a right to privacy, the child and their new adopted families do not get this same right to privacy. Biological parents, even after giving up a child for adoption, still have rights to know about their child and the adoptive parents. There are even cases of adopted children being taken from their adoptive parents and returned to their biological parents, after the transfer of custody. If biological parents privacy are protected under the law than the adoptive parents and adoptive child information should also be protected under their rights to privacy. That way both parties are protected utilizing the same "Right to Privacy" line of reasoning.

Child's Right to Know

My feeling on this is the law is too concerned with the biological parents' rights that they overlook the child's rights. There seems to be no understanding of what an adopted child psychologically goes through when facing this issue; only to find out that their biological parents' rights outweigh their own rights.

Right now a mother's rights outweigh their unborn baby's rights when discussing abortion. Now we see that a mother's rights again outweighs the rights of adoptive parents and also the rights of a child to know the names of their biological parents. Why is the mother's rights seem to outweigh anyone else in this equation? When does the child start having rights and when does the law recognize a child's rights?

The law needs to start considering a child's rights. The law recognizes a child's legal separation from their parents at the age of 18. However in adoption, the mother's rights to privacy always seems to outweigh the rights of the adopted child no matter how old they are. Does this seem right? At what point in an adopted child's life do they finally get some rights in these cases? Since 18 is the age of legal separation, would this not be a logical place to make the distinction between a mother's right to privacy and a child's right to know? I can understand the biological mother's right to privacy to protect her from being legally responsible for a returning minor child. However, after that child turns 18, there is no legal responsibility, so why does the mother's privacy extend beyond that? And why does an adoptive child's right to know not become effective when they turn 18?

If the information is available, shouldn't everyone have the right to know who their biological parents are? While this is not expressly written as an inalienable right, but how ridiculous is it to think that this is not a basic right of any human. The more that I think about this subject, the more frustrated I become. For the life of me, I can not fathom how a lawmaker feels that a mother's privacy is more important than a child's right to know who their parents are????!!! How can anyone in the world with a conscience stop a person from finding out who their biological parents are?

I don't think the lawmakers that made these laws fully understand the effects that they have had on adopted children. As if life was not difficult enough growing up in a different country, with strangers, and a strange country, but to have the law stop you from easily finding your parents is just too much. I can understand how adopted children become frustrated with the whole process of trying to find their parents. The nagging question on my mind, and I imagine most adoptees, is "Why was I given up for adoption?" While the answers are probably usually less than ideal (such as wedlock, poverty), sometimes just knowing the answers at least provides closure to the longest unanswered question of our lives.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Hello Houston!

I am currently in my room at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on the west side of Houston for a business trip. I always enjoy visiting Houston because I get to explore new Korean stores and restaurants!

As you can tell by my blog, I am totally fascinated by Korean culture. I like to think that I am aware of my surroundings...however today I had an eye opener. Ive been staying at this Hotel for two days now, and this afternoon I just saw this building next door...lol


Yes I am staying in a hotel next to a gigantic Korean church! lol. How ironic is that? lol

There is a small section of town on the west side of Houston that has a high concentration of Korean stores and restaurants. These can be found on Long Point Road in between Gessner Road and Blalock. This neighborhood is not the nicest, and actually is a little bit sketchy. I wouldn't recommend walking by yourself at night, but not so much to keep me from going! As you drive down Long Point Road you'll see all sorts of signs written in Hangul

My particular favorite stores in Houston:


So I felt like going out and do something for my blog. I decided to visit the local H-Mart for my readers and show them what Houston has to offer! (I also figured I could pick up some food :) )

Its not any regular H-Mart, its a SUPER! H-Mart!
It is so nice inside, which is a big difference from the typical "Mom and Pop" Korean grocery store (although they have their charms too!).



They have a really nice pre-made food section:


They also have a nice little "food court" area with different food, I'll admit, I was too embarassed to go up and get a real close up picture, but you get the idea:


Of course no Korean store would be complete without Kimchi! And do they ever have a selection. This is just 1 of 3 refrigerated sections that this Super H-Mart has!!


Of course, you'll need a place to store your kimchi (if your wondering what to get me for Christams, this will work :) :


Some of the very unique and rare things you can find at a SUPER H-Mart:

For those of you who have never visited an asian country this is an exotic fruit called Durian. The white thing is actually ice. Yes ice, to keep it frozen. Why in the world would someone freeze fruit? Its not to keep it from rotting. Actually its for the smell....yes, if you have to freeze something to keep it from smelling, it means it really smells bad! Durian is infamous for smelling extremely bad, so H-Mart keeps it frozen to keep it from smelling. You have to give H-Mart some "props" for selling such a unique fruit with such unique characteristics! I know when I was traveling in Thailand, hotels had signs that said that Durian was forbidden in the hotel rooms!!

Another, picture of the store in general. Even though it looks like the focal point of the picture was the rice wine in the middle. I was actually trying to get a picture of the Seafood section (without being too embarrassed..lol)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

"The Calling"

I was talking to a friend of mine last week. We were walking around a park, just talking about life in general. I think everyone needs a friend who they can just talk with, because it is totally refreshing and therapeutic. Anyway I digress...back on topic.

As were walking my friend said something to this effect: "Why do all Koreans either have gone back to Korea or really want to go back to Korea..usually as an English teacher or anyway they can. Its weird, because no other ethnicity has such a strong urge to go back to their country as Koreans that I know." (BTW, this friend is not Korean) I laughed, because it seems so true. It seems that most Koreans that I have either lived in the motherland for an extended period of time or really want to visit/live in the motherland sometime in the future.

If your Korean you may know what I am talking about...then again maybe you don't (or maybe you just have not experienced "The Calling" yet).

"The Calling" is what I am terming the urge for a Korean to return to the Motherland.

No matter if your adopted, gyopo, or FOB, I think a large percentage of Koreans seem to get "The Calling" at some point of their lives. Some Koreans get it early, and for some people it doesn't occur until later in their lives. Apparently I was sort of a late bloomer. I didn't really get "The Calling" until after my first visit to the motherland. This may sound weird, but even leading up to my first visit to the motherland, I didn't really feel that excited. I felt like I was paying my respects, not much different from traveling to any other foreign country. But after my first visit, I had it bad! I still do, which is probably why I blog about stuff about the motherland or my crazy thoughts.

While people from other ethnicities may have something similar, it seems like Koreans in particular have a very high rate of "The Calling" amongst its people.

I wonder what percentage of Koreans have been to Korea at least once in their life, and how that compares to any other country?

Share your thoughts? If your Korean, do you have "The Calling" in you?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Adopted Koreans

Recently, I had an article published in the Korean Herald talking about my adoption and my recent travels to Korea. I have been contacted by a few readers who have had similar experiences as myself or unique ones to share.

One of hte readers, Mari Cochran, made a comment to my original post. I would like to pull and excerpt from her comment to discuss further. I hope she doesnt mind, but I think since it was posted as a comment that it is "public domain"? If not, then please let me know and I will change the post.

Mari recently wrote:
"The "us" - American-Koreans who have gone through the same thing - living in America, looking Korean, a mixed hybrid of both cultures - never truely fitting in to either culture. I have met many of "us" out there and we share a few things in common other than our experiences - we love to travel - I think it is because we can't quite identify completely with a particular culture so that we constantly float around, looking for it. Even after returning to Korea (as he did and I did), you still don't fit in because you can't talk the language - even the way we walk, dress, handle ourselves in a crowd is different from a native Korean. We don't get hung up about adoption and not knowing all the facts as other kinds of adoptees seem to - we have the same attitude as many koreans - it happened, it's in the past, get over it and move on. I think Koreans are as a culture pragmatists - we've been pushed and pulled by our neighbors so long that we have developed a thick skin and in a way, developed our own unique independent attitude that has passed down through the bloodlines."

After reading her comment, I was wondering if she was talking about only Korean adoptees or also American born Koreans? At the beginning of the comment it appeared to be both, but at the end of the comment its definitely geared towards Korean adoptees. Which lead me to question, do Korean adoptees feel/experience differently from American born Koreans?

I think yes and no. In the aspect of "wanting to return to Korea for the experience" and then also the "not fitting in when they arrive to Korea" they experience fairly closely what adopted Koreans experience. However, the general experiences from these two groups may overlap they are definitely different.

More often than not, the American born Koreans (just for clarification, kids who were born in the US to Korean parents, or maybe moved to the US when they were very young, where they don't remember Korea) usually speak Korean. Which gives them a huge "step up" over adopted Koreans who I think typically may not speak Korean. If they do speak Korean it is because they had to learn through formal training versus speaking it at home.

Language is one of the biggest factors which separates cultures, which is why I think there is a big difference between these two groups. I wonder if the "drive" to learn about Korea, Korean food, language, and culture is more so in adopted Koreans than American born Koreans because they are further removed from it? I know this "drive" to learn about Korea is really strong in me right now. I wonder if it is as powerful as it is because I grew up so far removed from it, that now its like a counter-balance for all of those years where I didn't experience Korean culture? Compared to an American born Korean, who may have the same "drive" but not as strong because they have had a little more exposure to it than I have?

Maybe Im crazy, and I don't know how you would be able to measure someone's "drive" or motivation towards something. Or maybe its just person to person. I wonder if all Korean adoptees experience what Im feeling right now(a strong urge/drive/motivation to learn and experience as much Korean stuff as I can) at some point in their lives? I know if you had asked me this 10 years ago, I would have laughed. 10 years ago, I had no interest in Korean culture.

I especially like the last part of Mari's comments, how Korean adoptees are also different from other adoptees. Also how we seem to have this "thicker skin" that has been passed down our bloodlines. I wonder if there are any studies on adopted Koreans. I see a lot of similarities in what Mari has written and what Ive read from the few other adopted Koreans I have met. I wonder if adopted Koreans have somehow developed a "culture" of our own. We don't have our own language, or our own food, but we all share a common life experience that only we know about. We share this drive to identify with a culture, and to learn about Korea, and to someday return to the motherland.

Something unique about this "culture" that adopted Koreans might have, is that it was not formed as a group. With the exception of Minnesota, which oddly has a large population of adopted Koreans, our "culture" originated individually amongst each one of us, on our own. This is kind of reverse of how "culture" is traditionally definited. Usually its a common thing amongst a group of people. However for adopted Koreans it has had to develop in each of us individually and when you look at our group as whole you find this "culture". I guess it is very fitting that this "culture" of adopted Koreans is untraditional and has had to adapt because of our unique situation, similarly to how untraditional our experiences have been and how we have had to adapt to our surroundings.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Nothing Beats Home Cooking! (Part II)

So not even 24 hours later, my family went back to Hanguk for another "home cooked" Korean meal at my request!!! My family is so nice! They know how much I miss Korean food!

This time, my family was joined by my grandpa, my cousin and his wife!

I had dweiji bulgogi (spicy pork):


Here is my cousin, Pat, enjoying his Japchae!!


If you couldn't tell he's adopted...

In our family we say that he and his older brother and younger sister are adopted. This is because in our family, there are 4 adopted Korean grandkids, and 3 biologic grandkids. So the adopted Korean grandkids outnumber the biological kids. So its our inside joke that totally confuses everyone when we explain that the white kids are the "adopted" grandkids in our family...lol. We are definitely not concerned about being Politically Correct...lol

My cousin is married to Megan (pronounced Mee - gan, NOT Meh-gan!!!) who also joined us for lunch. She had bulgogi, but I won't show the picture I took of her eating. My cousin Pat and I have no dignity when it comes to food. Megan is much higher class than Pat or I so I'll spare her photo. She does enjoy bulgogi, but I don't think we have her converted on kimchi yet. You would be proud of Pat, he can put away kimchi with the best of Koreans!

Nothing Beats Home Cooking!

My parents don't cook much Korean food. About the only things we make at home are rice and bulgogi. Although bulgogi was usually with me involved, so I don't think they cook it much when I am not around. Of course thats my point of view, I could be wrong....

Even though my parents didn't cook Korean food while I was growing up, they did always make sure that I had a good supply of rice and kimchee. I personally really like gak duggi (깍두기).

Since my parents knowledge of cooking Korean food was very limited, we did go to a local Korean restaurant at least once a month. The restaurant is a small room that is attached to a Korean grocery store. The same grocery store that my parents have been buying rice and kimchee from since I was adopted. That is over 23 years! Back then the store didn't have a restaurant. It was only a grocery store.

When I first arrived the only "Korean" restaurant was actually a Chinese restaurant that happened to have a few Korean dishes. Of which my personal favorite was jajangmyeon. To this day, I love this dish, although I do not get it much. Anyways, this restaurant closed about 15 years ago.

A few months later, the Korean grocery store opened a small restaurant in a room that was attached to the store. The Korean store is creatively called Hanguk...lol

My family has been going to this restaurant since it opened and consider it the best Korean in Detroit. It is a mom and pop establishment, with the grandmother cooking the meals, and the sister and kids helping to run the store. They have known myself and my sister all of our lives.

A few years ago, we were talking to them about the other Chinese restaurant, and they started to laugh. They informed us that they were the owners of that restaurant! Which is why they opened the restaurant in the grocery store after the Chinese restaurant closed!

Anyways, since this is our favorite Korean restaurant and we have essentially been patrons of this family for over 23 years now, I consider it "home cooked" Korean food. They make the best kimchi in the world! Even with all my travels all around Korea; Hanguk makes and sells the best kimchi and gak dukki! The only place that even compares is Mrs. Hong who makes her own kimchi in Seoul!

Since Im visiting Detroit for Thanksgiving, I was able to have "home cooked" Korean twice!

First time was Friday for dinner. I went with my parents, and sister.
We had Kimbop:


Mandu:


We were hungry:


My sister and I both had yukgajang (Sorry, I couldnt get blogger to upload the image right side up):


My father had the fried mackerel and my mother had bimbimbop:





Yes, my mother is scraping out the guchujang...she doesnt like real spicy food.

And of course the world famous banchan! (only because I am posting it on my blog...lol) Although I have to say it is the best banchan I've ever had. Even better than in Korea, Houston, San Francisco, and St. Louis. Like the Kimchi, Mrs. Hong's banchan is the only one to ever beat my "home cooked" meals!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Dinner!

Thanksgiving this year was real small. Just my family (mom, dad, sister, and grandpa) and 1 of my dad's graduate students. But we still had a feast: Turkey, stuffing, mash potatoes, corn, gravy, green bean casserole, salad, and apple pie!
Finished Turkey:


Getting lessons on how to carve a Turkey:


Finished Product:


Table full of food:


I so over ate (Plate 1):


Plate 2:


Here is the apple pie that I baked from scratch. The crust was excellent, probably one of my best. The filling for some reason didnt solidify very well...so it was still a little liquidy, it still tasted good:


Here is how I eat my pie (actually, I don't really like pies. I like baking, but I don't really like pies). As you can see from the picture, I prefer whipped cream to pie...lol


For those of you in Korea, I hope you were able to enjoy a yummy Thanksgiving meal. If not, hopefully these pictures will hold you over until you come back to the US!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Its Thanksgiving in the US. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you people in Korea who can't have the day off! :(

I will post more pictures of our Thanksgiving meal when its made. I got up this morning and baked this for my family! Its from scratch, even the crust! It looks really good, I'll give a full report when we eat it!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Published

I think I posted before that I was contacted by the Korean Herald about writing a human interest article about being adopted.

Well, if your in Korea, you can pick up a Tuesday and Wednesday copy, you will see my article. It was originally only supposed to be 1 page, but after I got done they decided to print the whole thing over two days!

If your not in Korea, or unable to find it, you can read it:
HERE

I hope that works. It should take you to a google webpage that has 3 pdf documents at the bottom of it. Click on those pdf files, they are pdf's of the article.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Marriage and Christmas Trees!

As my 5 readers know, Ive been taking private Korean lessons from student at Washington University in St Louis. I'll have to say that I am very surprised at how well it is working. I "found" my tutor on the internet, and I was a little skeptical because I had no clue what I was getting myself into. "Jackie" is her American name, but she was born and raised in Korea, and her parents still live in Korea. However, she is technically a US citizen and has a US passport. But she insists that she is not a "gyopo", she's only a "FOB"...lol. I find it funny that Koreans find the term "gyopo" offensive, but don't mind being called a "FOB"..lol

What I like about our lessons is that we discuss grammar, pronunciation, and culture. Since we meet twice a week, we usually do grammar one day and on the other we practice speaking and pronunciation. Culture usually gets tied in with speaking.

I had a lesson last night. It was grammar night, but we got onto a culture topic that I found interesting. She told me that tomorrow (which is today), would be her 300th day. I was pretty confused. I knew Koreans celebrated their 100th day anniversery but I never knew of 300. Then she informed me that they even celebrate 200th day! I asked what was the customs for each of these days. I had seen on Korean dramas that guys sometimes get the girls 100 roses. Now that could get pretty expensive on 200 and 300th day anniverseries!

She told me that on their 100th day, her boyfriend gave her a ring. I knew this was a custom in Korea called "Couple Rings". She asked me if Americans do this. I had to laugh. I told her guys usually will not give a girlfriend a ring unless he is asking her to marry him. She didn't understand why. I had to explain the whole engagement and wedding thing and how in the US a ring is usually meant for engagement and most guys will stay clear of that until they are ready to get married. However in Korea, "couple rings" is I guess the equivalent of a guy giving a girl his school ring to wear? It doesn't mean they are agreeing to get married like in the US.

After this she asked me if I was going to ever get married. That caught me by surprise! "well, yea eventually, someday..." I stammared as I recovered... Then she asked how old I was, and I told her I was 28. She explained that, that was probably too young still! I was surprised by that! From what Ive seen in Korean dramas, Korean girls are really pressured to get married before 30, because after 30 its as if its too late! I assumed it was similar for guys. I asked her about this and she explained that its different for guys. She said for guys in Korea, getting married in the early 30s is good. This is because he can finish school, his military service, and be well grounded in his career.

However, apparently for girls its a lot younger. And here comes where the title of this post ties in. Jackie then made a statement which she had to explain: "For girls and marraige they are like Christmas trees"!!??!??!?!?!!??? What???? I was totally confused. Then she went on to explain. Apparently in Korea the perfect age for a female to get married is 25.

The analogy with the Christmas Tree? Well before December 25th people want to buy a Christmas trees and decorate them up, the 25th (Christmas Day) is perfect and the purpose of a Christmas tree, and each day after Christmas gets more difficult to sell a Christmas tree because no one wants one. So this is saying, marrying a girl younger than 25 is like "eye candy" and used to decorate. Marrying a 25 year old girl is perfect and is the perfect marrying age. Then each year after 25 is more difficult for a girl to get married because guys don't want to marry a girl that is past 25!

All I have to say is "THANK GOODNESS IM A GUY!!!!"...Otherwised I'd be the "Charlie Brown" Christmas tree with brown needles that no one wants to buy! I would have missed my prime marrying age! lol. Luckily since I am a guy, there is still hope for me, I still have several more years!

I asked Jackie if this type of thought is changing in Korea since more women are working and having careers. She said no. That hasn't seemed to change the belief about women getting married by 25.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving!

I know its not Thanksgiving yet, but on Saturday my friends at church got together and had a Thanksgiving potluck! The Bereans, which is the name of the group of us at church who are past undergraduate (so grad students and young career), got together for a Thanksgiving Feast.

Unfortunately I forgot my camera at home. I think some people did have cameras so I will try and get my hands on some of the pictures. We had a big Turkey, which I helped prepare and bake. The Bereans is very progressive. I say this because three guys prepared the Turkey...lol. Actually it was pretty fun in an exciting, nervous anticipation way. None of us had fully done this on our own. Of course we have watched our mothers do it, but never by ourselves! (Thank goodness for Google!)

Then we got real adventurous and decided to make homemade gravy! Again, thank goodness for Google! We had the laptaop right on the kitchen island..lol.

Just a hint for other people. We had to use a disposable cooking pan, and we didnt use a roasting rack or anything. That was a mistake because about halfway into the cooking, the pan filled up with drippings and spilled over onto the bottom of the oven! We opened up the oven and a big plume of black smoke came out and the entire house filled up with burnt smell and all of the fire alarms went off. The three of us ran around opening all the doors and windows we could. It was pretty funny. We took the turkey out and poured all of the drippings out of the pan. But, we decided that we would just have to keep cooking the turkey in the oven, even with all of the burning of the overflowing juice. There wasnt time to clean the oven, so we forged ahead. The oven kept "leaking" smokey smells for the rest of the cooking. Fortunately we were able to get the burnt smell out of the house before all of the people showed up.

The "spread" was quite amazing considering the crowd we had. I believe everything was "homemade". We had turkey, stuffing, dressing, gravy, multiple salads, mulitple breads, mashed potatoes, mashed and whole sweet potatoes, and apple and pumpkin pies. Everything looked and tasted amazing. Even the turkey came out really well. It was very juicy and didnt taste or smell like smoke..lol. The reason I said "considering the crowd" is because most of us in the group are single and a lot of them are still in school along with the fact that the vast majority of us were asian. I was actually surprised by the fact that we didn't have a single asian dish, everything was very traditional Thanksgiving food.

I love my new church and the people in it. Since our church used to be the English ministry of a Korean church, the majority of the members are Korean, along with a few chinese and japanese, and even fewer white people. We also have an extremely "young" church. Most of the members are in college or starting their careers. I would say that most people are in their 20s. There are several families that come to our church, but most people are either single or just married. What's I like most about this church is how well everyone gets along.

Well, as soon as I get my hands on some pictures, I'll be posting them, so come back soon to see!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Why Satellite is better than Cable (although its still not perfect)

In my ongoing efforts to post more, I promised myself that I will post at least once a day! Not just for the 5 readers out there, but I think that it is therapeutic for me too. So its a win win situation.

In case you didn't know, satellite television is better than cable! Cheaper, plus they have these "International Packs", where you can get a "pack" of 5 Korean channels! Actually I think its only 3 Korean channels and 2 Japanese channels. They advertise it as 5 Korean channels...you know how "they" are...all asian is the same to them...lol

KBS is included with this group of Korean channels; however it is slightly modified from the KBS in Korea; I would call it "Banana KBS". You do get the daily news (obviously in Korean), but all of the shows are either old or slightly behind the actual shows in Korea. They do this for subtitling purposes. All of us "Bananas" out there greatly appreciate KBS's work to translate the shows (The networks do a way better job of translating than the unknown internet translaters; although I do have to admit mysoju.com usually does a good job).

Although, its nice to have the subtitles underneath, I wish my satellite provider would actually give me straight KBS from Korea, so I could get the newest episodes. I guess if its any consolation, the KBS in St. Louis is actually ahead in episodes than the KBS in Chicago. You would think all of the "international" KBS stations being aired via satellite would be identical? St Louis is like 20 episodes ahead of Chicago, which makes it very difficult to discuss with my friend "Lacy Chu" (Although I don't think she minds, because she doesnt like "너는 내 운명"...GASP!!!).

While I think the Korean Package is totally worth it (I think its like $10/month), it would be nice to see some more mainstream channels. Besides KBS there is Arirang, but I wouldnt consider that a "Korean Channel". Sure its produced in Korea, but everything and everyone on there speaks English! Besides, Arirang broadcasts in the US on their own too! Of course they including the Gaming Network! No Korean Package would be complete without 24/7 coverage of the latest Starcraft news!! These are the only three channels that I recognize :(

If I got to pick the 5 channels I would choose the following: KBS, KBS2, SBS, and MBC, and this "banana" version of KBS I currently get! :)

The first 4 channels I would do a direct feed from the actual Korean channels. The only thing I would do is a time delay for the 13 hour time difference! I wouldn't want to have leave work at 9 am to go home to watch my favorite drama. I would also leave these in Korean because you wouldnt have time to translate but also because it is the "Korean Package"! Even a banana like me would like these channels, even in Korean. That way I could leanr it better. Plus, it would keep all of those FOBie ajummas in the US happy.

So if you happen to be a DirecTV or Dish Network manager, please..please...add these channels!!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Clarification!

So I had Korean lessons tonight. With a bona fide Korean. Or at least the closest one I can find. She technically is a US citizen and has been here for several years. However, the vast majority of her friends are Koreans and she preferentially speaks Korean.

I asked her if she ever heard of FOB, and Banana. She laughed and said that she's a FOB. I tried to correct her and tell her that she's a Gyopo...oh boy you should have seen the "look" I got!!! The infamous Korean stank eye!

She corrected my misunderstandings. Apparently the "rankings" go like this:

American (white) - Banana/twinkie (me) - Gyopo - FOB - Korean

I tell you what. Apparently its OK to call a Korean a FOB in the US..but dont you dare call them a gyopo!! lol.

I think most of my friends would be in the Banana/twinkie or maybe gyopo categories, although they sometimes have FOBie tendencies. However, I don't think I know many people who are true FOBs.

The lines between all of these seems really clear to me...with the exception of gyopo-FOB separation. Is there an exact number of years that separates between gyopo-FOB or what is the exact criteria for that split? After how many years in the States does it take before a FOB becomes a gyopo?

I know Im way over analyzing this whole issue, but I love it! lol...

Twinkie or Banana?

So, my friend (who shall remain nameless at this time) emailed me and said that I need to post more, and I do not disagree!!

I used to post all the time, back when I worked in Africa. There was not much else to do in Africa, and when I was at home, again, there was not much else to do. Now I work in the US and near St. Louis, so there is a lot to do! However, I do find that I get bored sometimes sitting at home, and thats when I should be posting. So, my New Year's Resolution (I know its not that time yet) is to blog more frequently. Also, I am hoping my new blog design will be done soon....its taking a lot longer than I expected!

Anyways onto the post.

My same friend, we'll call her "Lacy Chu", told me a story about twinkies and bananas. Who doesnt like twinkies? As for bananas, I tolerate them. She was not talking about food....too bad, eh? She read my post about FOBies (btw, I consider her a FOB), and explained what a twinkie and banana were. Besides the food; apparently twinkie and banana are the terminology used for people who are "yellow on the outside" and "white in the middle"...LOL.

I know again this is probably not exactly the most PC terminology but I cracked up laughing when I read this. "Lacy" claims that she's not a FOB and that she's actually a banana. I would like to disagree, because if she's a banana, then what am I? I am definitely a banana, I look asian on the outside but I am definitely "white" on the inside. I talk and think like a white person. So I now have an un-PC category that I belong too!!! Of course it doesnt sound as cool as FOB. FOB is great because you can use it as a word like "your so FOBie"; "Your so banana" doesnt make much sense. So Im going to start a quest to come up with a better word for people like me "Yellow on the Outside, White in the Middle)

Its too bad that "Lacy" has a hard time accepting her FOBness status. I have a generalization between these two categories. I would have to say 99% of the 1st or 2nd generation Korean-American (who have Korean parents) are probably FOB. If you don't have Korean parents (such as myself, being adopted) or 3rd generation or later, then you are more than likely a banana or twinkie. Lacy falls under the category of "2nd generation, living with Korean parents".

What Lacy doesn't understand is all of the "environmental" factors. Even though she has never been to Korea, she has been raised under a "Korean regime"...lol. She hasn't yet realized how her Korean parents have influenced her character with the "Korean way". Someday when she gets to be an old ajumma; with a perm, who hordes plastic bags, and comments on everyone's weight, maybe, just maybe then she will realize that indeed she was a FOB!

As for me, I have found my new sub-category! Im excited to be a banana, not too keen on the name, but Im going to work on that!

Lacy...I'll keep posting if you keep giving me ideas...maybe someday we can convince Lacy to post here as a "guest blogger". I think she secretly wants to blog...she just doesnt know it yet.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fresh Off the Boat

So I was hanging out with some friends on Friday night, when they introduced me to a new word that I never heard of before.

They kept talking about how "FOB" someone was or that was a "FOB"ie thing to do...
I kept hearing them use it, and I was totally confused by what they meant. So I finally asked what it meant.

Apparently it means "Fresh Off the Boat". I don't know what happened to the letter "T" in that acronym, it probably got left off for pronuciation purposes.

I know its probably not the most politically correct word (if you really knew me you would know I really wouldnt care if it was or not...lol), but I figure its ok since they were using it to describe themselves and their friends.

From what I gather it is similar to what Koreans refer to as Gyopos. Except FOB could mean any ethnicity, not just Korean. It just so happens that some of these friends happen to be Korean.

The term FOB is a little confusing because some of the people they were referring too, had been born in the US. Meanwhile I was not considered a FOB, even though I was born overseas and literally came here on a boat (or airplane...modern times equivalent). "FOB" apparently has more to do with culture than actual geography.

Since I am practically "white" in terms of speaking, thinking, and culture I don't qualify as a "FOB". While some people who have always lived in the US, have had enough of an influence from environmental factors such as family members to be classified as a "FOB".

I guess "FOB"s are people who might not understand idioms or irony when used in the English language. The way they think or their values may be different from "mainstream" society in the US. This part I have a little bit harder time understanding. But I think a "FOB" relates to a foreign culture. Not to say they have not done a good job of integrating, but to say that they have exterrior influences beyond the US.

This is a very interesting topic to me; which is obviuosly why I am writing about it. I was wondering if anyone else out there has heard this terminology and their thoughts on what it means. Do you consider yourself a "FOB"ie? I guess those of you in Korea from the US would be "FOB"s in Korea...lol, there's a little irony.

To be honest, a part of me is a little jealous of "FOB"s. I can't explain why. I think its because Ive worked so hard all of my life to be integrated into American society, that I "lost" my "FOB"ness, and now I found a whole "pocket" of "FOB"s. I think maybe its a new thing to me so I am fascinated by it. I have never known that many people who would be classified as "FOB"s, now in St. Louis I have a lot of "FOB" friends. Maybe its my fascination with learning and experiencing new things, maybe I want to experience what its like to be "FOB"...lol. I think it would be easier for me to just move somewhere else in the world and become "FOB" there.

I do have to say, I consider myself lucky to find so many cool "FOB" friends.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sunduboo II

It was a cold and blusterous rainy night in St. Louis. Perfect weather for sunduboo!!!

This is my second attempt at making sunduboo. Thanks to Maangchi for the recipe I followed.

I even debuted my new stone pot for this recipe!! I made a little change to the recipe. I used pork instead of beef. I think pork suits sunduboo better than beef.



The stone bowl worked great! It kept the sunduboo hot to the last bite! I think I even burned my tongue on my last bite!

It wasn't perfect...for some reason the egg didn't "bind" everything together and so it was a little watery.I think it was due to the way I mixed it in. You know what they say "third times a charm"!! I'll just have to be sure to make it soon!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Neglect! :(

I know I have been away for a while. I actually really miss blogging. My real life has been crazy hectic.

I quit my old job with Marathon Oil Company and started a new job with a bigger oil company. I travel a lot within the US now for my new job. As you can tell from my previous posts, I have been to Houston quite a few times.

I actually have a useful kitchen now! I have been cooking some new dishes, I just have not had time to post them. Maybe tonight or tomorrow I'll start posting some more pictures of the food Ive been cooking.

Also, Hopefully my new blog design is almost complete and should be on-line within the next week or two!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Seoul Garden Restaurant

Here is another restaurant I tried in Houston. I think my original post on this restaurant got deleted :(.

Anyways, for my ongoing saga to find the best, most authentic Korean food, I have been scouring Houston.

I had:
Pork and Kimchee Chim as an appetizer:


I followed that up with Bulgogi:


The thing I dont like is most Korean restaurants won't allow a single person to grill at the table :(. Being that I am visiting to Houston for business I usually eat dinners alone. This means that I am restricted from being able to grill at the table and several other dishes :(. Ive even tried to convince the restaurants to charge me for 2 people so that I can cook at the table, and they still refuse!!! Since the company is paying for the meal, I dont mind being charged a little extra so I can cook myself at the table :(.

Anyways the food was really good here. But I Arirang's staff is more friendly and makes the difference between these two restaurants.

Arirang Korean Restaurant - Houston

Im back in Houston for the third week of the last 4. I have lived in the Crowne Plaza Hotel more than in my new house...that is sad :(

Anyways, the one nice thing is Houston has way more and better Korean restaurants than St. Louis. I have found a new favorite; Arirang Restaurant. I ate here on Sunday night when I first arrived. Ive been really busy at work and really tired at night so I'm posting this kind of late.

Here is what I ate:



Pork and Kimchee Chim

It was enormous!! Like there was enough food for 3 of me. I tried my best but I could only eat a third of the plate!!! It was really good. plus there was toju slices all around the plate. Like I said this was an enormous plate of food. After I got done eating, I got a lecture from the waitress about how wasteful that was!!!

She tried to get me to take it with me, however I don't have a refrigerator in my hotel room. She kept lecturing me about leaving so much food!! I couldnt believe it!!! The dish wasn't labeled that it was for 2 people, so I assumed it was a single serving. But obviously this dish was big enough for multiple people. Anyways, why does it matter? As long as I pay for a dish, it shouldnt matter how much I leave behind. I eat more than the average person. So if there was this much left over, I feel its the restaurants fault for making so much food. Maybe they should think about cutting the portion size a little bit and not lecture the weary customer when they get this huge plate of food!

Oh well, its part of the Korean experience. I guess it just makes it authentic Korean getting chewed out by a strange ajumma!! LOL

It tasted really good. How awesome is that, quantity and quality!!!

This restaurant is quickly becoming my favorite in Houston. On my previous visits I had the following:
Haemaul chim:

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I'm Sorry I Love You - "MISA"

I'm at the airport writing this on my blackberry. I figured this is just as good of a time to write my review.

I started watching this drama at the recommendation of my friend...thanks ann!

This drama is a little different from the typical drama. Yes it still has the typical love stories, one of the main themes of this drama is the main character is adopted and finds his birth mother.

The main character was adopted to Australia; But grows up to be a con-artist. I have to say his English is horribleN especially for someone who was supposed to raised in Australia! I was barely able to get over this, but I'm really glad I did.

This is an excellent drama and brings a new twist about adoption which never crossed my mind. Most adoptees assume that their parents put them up for adoption because they were poor. What if you found out your birth parents were very wealthy and famous? This is what the main character has to face. This is definitely an unusual thing to have to face. Maybe that is why this show fascinates me...

More on this later when I'm not on my blackberry.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Crap!

I just realized that my recent posts have not been updating on Blogger...anyone else having this problem? Im fairly certain I posted 3-5 posts last week while I was in Houston.

Sorry it took me this long to realize that nothing is updating. I'll have to go back to my picture archives and re-write all of my posts...lol

My new blog site is currently being designed and I must say it looks pretty sweet. I can't wait to launch the new site with graphics, Im getting really excited!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Korea Garden Grille

The third night in my quest for a really good Korean restauarant continues... This was my third night in Houston. My third night driving over an hour for a measly 5-10 miles to get dinner! Of course your probalby thinking.. "who the heck drives that much for food??" Please remember two things:
1. Houston traffic is notoriously horrible.
2. Im addicted to Korean food

I think my quest is going to make me gain a lot of weight this week.....the things I do in the search of the best Korean Restaurant in Houston.

Korea Garden Grille was almost perfect restaurant. I want to give you the visuals..so close your eyes and take a few deep breathes and clear your mind....

Ok..think Korea BBQ; think bulgogi, korean ribeye, spicy pork, spicy chicken, spicy squid, shrimp, and octopus...Now visualize all of those uncooked on a big buffet....all you can eat...with all you can eat ban chan.....perfection???

I thought I was in heaven when I first arrived to this restuarant. Yes it is a buffet all you can eat korean BBQ restauarant. Definitely unique and definitely the first I have ever seen or even heard of.

I wasnt expecting much from the ban chan...however, it was extremely good. After thinking about it, the restauarant has an incentive to make really good banchan. Its probably way cheaper than all you can eat meat...lol. Also the kimchee was the best Ive had in Houston to date. By far. I could have filled up on rice and kimchee except I wanted to make sure I got my money's worth...lol.

Onto the important stuff...the meat... The meat was really good quality. I was real rib and ribeye beef. The chicken was good as as the pork. No gristle and not the cheap fatty stuff. I was really shocked! There were only a few disappointments. The marinade for the beef dishes could have been better. I dont think this was a way the restaurant was trying to save money because marinade is probably one of the cheaper items they buy or make. So I dont know how to explain why the marindade was very good. Its a shame because its the only think keeping this restaurant from being near perfect. The chicken, pork, salmon, and squid were really good. I didnt try the octopus and shrimp.

Don't get me wrong, the beef wasnt bad...it just wasnt what I was expecting. It tasted like plain beef and not like bulgogi or kalbi. But being that it was good beef it still tasted good.

Im sorry I was unable to get photos because...I left the camera in the car!!! and I was too lazy to go out and get it. However, I am in Houston next week and so far this restaurant has the honor of being the best Korean restaurant Ive tried in Houston. So I will probably go back..and next time I plan on getting a movie of the buffet. No matter how embarassing it might be getting a video of the buffet...lol

Sam Bo Jung Restauarant - Houston

Continuing on my quest to try all the Korean Restaurants in Houston, I wandered to Sam Bo Jung Restaurant.

Houston has begun recovering from Hurricane IKE. Unfortunately the traffic lights have not recovered. There is an estimated 2500 lights out in downtown Houston area. If you do not know any better, Houston has a horrible traffic problem. This combined with the Hurricane damage equals a horrible traffic jam. This restauarant was 6 miles from my office, and it took me over an hour to drive there!!! THe things I go through for Korean food!

Sam Bo Jung was a dark restaurant, and was pretty empty.

Lucky for me my meals have been covered by my company since I am in Houston on business. Its a good thing because my meals are averaging from $20-$30 a night! ouch...lol

I started off with mul mandoo:


Followed that up with haemul juk:



The mandoo was pretty good. Nothing that really stands out. pretty much your average mandoo. The haemul juk was kind of disappointing. It was really watery. I mean I know its soup and its mostly water, but I expect the soup base to have decent flavor. The broth of this soup did not have much flavor, it was more water than flavor of anything. Other Haemul juk Ive had usually consisted of a thicker broth. Sort of like Sunduboo, a thick red pepper paste based broth. I guess that was what I was expecting.

Overall I'd give this meal a 5 of 10. Onward with my quest for the restauarant in Houston that gets my visit twice!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Houston: Arirang Restaurant

Im in Houston for a week for a business trip. The upside of it is, apparently Houston has a few Korean Restaurants. Ive decided to try a new one each night of the week. Arirang Restaurant was the first restaurant I tried out.
I finally got some decent Kimchee Jeon:


I still craved fish, even after my fish dinner Friday night. So I ordered the grilled mackeral again:


The mackeral was excellent. Perfectly cooked and crispy. The Jeon was fairly good, Ive had better though. The biggest disappointment was the kimchee. It tasted watery and not spicy at all. The fish was excellent but the weak kimchee really altered the overall meal. Its too bad because the restaurant was very nice and a huge selection of dishes. But to me, kimchee is a basic and a fundamental.

Overall I'd give Arirang a 7.5/10 based on this meal. I would like to tray the other dishes but Ive got so many restuarants to try in so little time. Don't worry though because I am supposed to be spending a lot of time in Houston in the next year. So I should eventually have time to go back someday and try more dishes

First Meal!!

So I finally cooked my first meal in my new house. I also have a new addition to my "family"

It is an authentic Korean Cuckoo Pressure Rice Cooker!! It even has the Korean female voice that tells you that the rice is done in KOREAN!!

The family I stayed with in Seoul kept telling me that I needed to get a real Korean rice cooker. I finally did. I had to go to Chicago last week and I found a store called H-Mart...inside they had this rice cooker! So I bought it.

I made dinner..I'll have to say the rice was perfectly cooked. It was quit a bit better than the rice cooker I got from Walmart. However the one from walmart was a lot cheaper.

My first cooked meal in my new house:

I kind of cheated. I cooked mackeral that was prepared by the Korean store in Detroit. Anyways, it was really good. However, I didnt have the oil hot enough when I started cooking so it wasn't as crispy as it should have been? Better try next time.

Oh yea, I forgot to mention, I almost forgot to take a picture of it, so I had already eaten half of the fish...hehehhe

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Korean Lessons!

I love my Korean lessons!!! This is exactly what I needed to do. I have tried Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur CDs. Supposedly the best programs in their respective fields. While they are cheaper ($300 for Rosetta Stone and $250 for Pimsleur) then several classes and definitely cheaper than a private tutor (going rate seems to be about $30 per hour), they just don't compare to the face to face interaction.

When I had no other alternative Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur were fine. The problems I see with using these methods were:
1. You had to rely on your own ear on whether or not you are pronouncing the words correctly. Which is OK for a Romance language (ie French or Spanish), but for a new language that does even share the same alphabet base, this task is near impossible.
2. Learning proper grammer and sentance structure takes a lot longer.
3. No one to ask questions about pronunciations or grammer.
4. Boring. Do you realize how boring it is sitting in front of a computer? Wait...that sounds like my job...lol...j/k.

Anyways, if you can afford it I would highly recommend a class oe tutor over a self taught program. Maybe you can trade cooking lessons for language classes?