I’m half-Korean and half-Dominican. You’d think my halves would have equal representation in my life, but unfortunately my dad was heavily assimilated to American life at a young age, whereas my mom immigrated much later in her life and therefore raised us with a lot more of her culture. So, culture-wise I think it’s more accurate to say I’m half-Korean and half-American.
I grew up without the Korean language (outside of some colorful bits my mom used when she was especially angry, foods, a few everyday phrases, etc.) until I finally studied it for a year in college. I decided that I needed to improve my listening and speaking skills, so I turned to K-dramas. I watched a handful, but they wore me down with their depressing storylines. (If there’s one thing I can say for my Korean brethren, it’s that they know how to cheapshot you into bawling your eyes out.) I started dabbling in J-dramas, which were by and large much, much happier. That, accompanied with my best friend/college roommate’s love of anime and Miyazaki movies, got me watching a show that had been relatively new at the time, “Naruto”, as well as her favorite “Fruits Basket”.
For about a year, I started watching anime. I don’t quite remember everything I watched, but the big ones were “Naruto”, “Fullmetal Alchemist”, “Fruits Basket”, “Bleach”, and “Fushigi Yuugi”. After a while, though, “Naruto” was all I watched. I started getting curious about manga when I started getting bored with the filler episodes for “Naruto” (episodes they aired when the show plotline had caught up to the manga). So I started reading the manga. Eventually, I stopped watching much anime and was only reading manga. Which I still do today. I read mainly shoujo and josei (manga geared towards pre-teen/teenage girls and twenty-something women – I admit I’m a sucker for romance, btw). Recently I really got into Korean online manhwa, too. I also started listening to a lot of Japanese and Korean music – not just anime or drama themes, but also particular artists like Super Junior, Ikimonogakari, Ayaka, Cherry Filter, etc.
I lived in Japan after college for 3 years, where I learned basic Japanese and taught English. So now I can watch pre-teen dramas and some lighter variety shows without needing too much translation (though I still have to look up a lot of words afterwards). I’m back in the States and living in California now, but that hasn’t really diminished my love of Asian pop culture.
Phew! ^I really windbagged up there, didn’t I? Well, let’s end it quick, then. Here’s some of my LOVES in unranked order:
- Spicy foods. (If it doesn’t hurt, it’s not hot enough.)
- J-dramas/K-dramas. (Hana Yori Dango, My Name is Kim Sam-soon, Coffee Prince, Buzzer Beat, etc. etc. etc…….)
- 関ジャニ∞ (Kanjani8). (Yes, I’m into Johnny’s. That’s a story in and of itself that I may devote an entry to later on.)
- J-pop/K-pop (Surprisingly, I don’t follow the latter as much as the former.)
- Competitive swimming. (That’s right – I’m not 100% nerd…I’m also part-jock.)
- OK Go. (My favorite band, and not just for their cool videos or nerdiness. I love dance rock, which defines their older stuff, but I also like a bit more experimental stuff, which defines their latest album, “Of the Blue Colour of the Sky”. Go try them out!)
- Studio Ghibli movies. (AKA Miyazaki movies. All-time faves include “Spirited Away” and “Whisper of the Heart”.)
- Fantasy. (Novels, movies, TV shows…I can be a little picky and judgey, but I do love them and the attention they’re getting. Escapist literature with a message FTW!)
- Ice cream. (My ultimate vice.)
- Cilantro. (Okay, this has been improving for me…in low doses, it’s quite nice.)
- My many, many allergies.
- Natto. (Gross.)
- Raspberries/raspberry-flavored anything.
- People with closed minds!
And that’s about it!