18 March 2018

The Guardian: “My two messed-up countries: an immigrant’s dilemma”

Immigration is never a simple equation. You do not subtract the most intimate part of yourself and replace it with another. It is a long, painful journey to make oneself a home in a strange land where the established norm is different to what you are and what you know. The act of placing your palm upon your chest and swearing allegiance to the flag is not what makes you American, but the fact that, by the time you have that opportunity, you have given the toughest and most tender parts of yourself to this country. My father has spent half of his life in America while dreaming of his Korea. I have often wondered if his life was happy. If America had been worth all that for him.

Tracking back to the past is what we immigrants do. We always circle back to make sense of the present. Part of us is always left behind in the place we came from. On that cold January day, I rode the subway all the way to JFK, and by the time I arrived, I was weeping.

America seems to be slipping away from me at dizzying speed, and becoming something I do not recognise. On the subway, I felt like that 13-year-old girl again, arriving in a strange, scary place where I knew no one – except that now I speak the language, and I have the best weapon for the fight ahead: my tortured, devastating love for America. So I soldiered on to the airport that had opened up a whole new world for me decades before, the place where it all began.

Suki Kim

Going through articles I’ve read in the past months and haven’t had the time to share here yet, here is an emotional account of an Korean immigrant, travelling back and forth between her native and her adopted country at a time when both are going through a lot of turmoil. On the US side the protests against Trump and his proposed travel ban; and in South Korea the scandal and public uproar that led to the impeachment of president Park Geun-hye. It was interesting to follow the rumors and revelations developing around that scandal as depicted here, bits of truths mixed with sexist clichés – ‘fake news’ is definitely not a phenomenon restricted to Western countries.

South Korean lawmakers demanding the impeachment of Park Geun-hye in December 2016
South Korean lawmakers and opposition party members hold placards demanding the impeachment of Park Geun-hye in December 2016. Photograph: Ahn Young-joon/AP

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