19 November 2005

Wrapping up my stay in Korea

I'm enjoying a laid-back Sunday morning. My flight leaves late afternoon, so I will need to start heading for the airport in a few hours.

I've just spent time with a cousin talking about various things, especially those related to computer games. He complained that the Chinese hackers were breaking into online games meant only for Korean nationals, and creating all sorts of problems. He also told me that he was fed up with the "homos" who were increasingly visible in the Korean society (he doesn't know anything about my own issues).

I told him that being different - be it Chinese or gay - is NOT a bad thing, and that the citizens of a truly advanced, civilized society is able to digest those differences well. And I told him that this is precisely what the Koreans lack; they cannot tolerate differences. There is a reason why Korean cities do not have sizable Chinatowns anymore, as the Chinese in Korea have been forced to assimilate (like my mother) as Koreans and lose their Chinese identities, or move on to a more tolerant society like the US or Canada. I finally told him that the Koreans should consider running online games open to non-Koreans, so that the Chinese hackers will have less incentives to hack - and a foreigner like me would be able to log on too. (Considering that the Koreans have the best online games in the world, they should really open up to foreigners.)

This is a reminder that as I keep returning to Korea for my business opportunities, I will run into lots of obstacles. This is a society that cannot tolerate differences well, even differences that are innate and unchangeable in character. And this is something the progressive community back in the United States should remember as well, as they deal with the Korean-American community and its xenophobia, racism, and homophobia.