A pariah or a loner, even when being around close people, I am leaving Korea soon without any specific date for a return. How do I feel? Am I in euphoria? I have no clue. I mostly have been angry and felt jilted because the society conveniently labelled me in a category of a “lost cause” regardless of my ambition. I loathed every single person who hinted his or her disregard of me based on my, seemingly, low status. After years of hatred, I felt that I was on the brink of explosion and nowhere in the middle of the stark desert.
But then, one day, a reel in my head rolled to show highlights of good memories of Korea: years I spent with my deceased dog, the only girl whom I loved, a few good friends who accepted me as who I am, and beautiful sceneries of Korea that are underrated (compared to those of either Japan or China).
Especially, I was often taken aback whenever foreign friends happened to know more about great places in Korea than I did; ironically, they, born and raised in other countries, took me on a tour in Korea. Maybe, I was the one who deemed Korea unaesthetic and tethered myself to misinterpretation while I could have tried to walk out of my house and explored more to have a better view and opinion of the country.
For instance, South Korea is known to have the second “strongest” passport (a travel-friendly passport), allowing its citizens to travel to 187 countries without a specific visa. Furthermore, there is no need to mention South Korea’s internet ranks as the fastest in the world at an average connection speed of 26.7mb/second; in fact, the list could go on and on.
Nonetheless, those fancy stats do not seem to enrapture me. South Korea appears to have an inexplicable culture that overly imposes “unity and togetherness” of people while hardly endorsing differences whether they are about behaviour, appearance, or opinion. For an extreme example, plastic surgery is widely prevalent in Korea (Korea has the world’s highest rate of plastic surgery procedures per capita), and most of the procedures are done in an attempt to look like someone else, (mostly notable celebrities) not necessarily to fix their “defects” -- being different seems to mean being ugly in its culture. And as a person who is different in many perspectives, I am a bit jaded of being considered “ugly”.
Feeling a bit of regret, worries, yet delight at the same time, I am packing for the departure. At least, the time difference won’t be an issue.
Dylan Yang; firstname.lastname@example.org