This question is one that is not asked out loud a lot, but is often times a big worry of a lot of people. No one wants to be rejected, especially when trying to reach out to different people. Yet, for many people, they hear negative stories about Korean people being rude or just flat out racist. While, just like any other group of people, you will find that Korean people are loving and kind, you will also find jerks and bigots just like you would in any other group. So how does one deal with hate? And is this something that can be overcome in time? Let’s look at what the solutions may be.
Understanding The Reasons Why
If you really want to overcome hate, you need to know if it is hate in the first place. Because of the language barrier and cultural differences, you may not actually be experiencing hate of any kind. The way things are said in Korean will sometimes come off as rude in English, but the intention is not to hurt anyone. It’s just the way things are said or done in Korean culture. Even in English, sometimes things are done in a way that may be rude to people of other language groups. By being understanding and kind, you can overcome this barrier. But what if it is something beyond this? What can you do? Here is how I have dealt with these situations, first with Korean Americans and then with Koreans from Korea.
Korean American Hate
The hate that I’ve dealt with from Korean Americans usually comes from men. When dealing with Korean American women, usually the problem has been them not liking me or trusting me because of the color of my skin. While they may smile and be polite to me, I can see the nervousness in their actions. With men, a lot of hate comes from men that have no game and feel that I’m just there to take away “their” Korean women, who don’t want them in the first place. Some of these men have the attitude that Korean women who date Black men are no longer “pure” and shouldn’t be allowed to date a Korean after that. While these are some bold feelings, they do not say anything to my face. So how do I deal with this hate?
First, I try to remember that not all Korean Americans are this way. Many are very warm and welcoming. Having this mindset will prevent me from taking out the mistreatment of a few out on many. That could be the case with some of the men who show a prejudice attitude. Some men have had their hearts broken by a beautiful Korean American woman who decided to date and marry a Black man. So they grow to hate all Black men. I shouldn’t stoop down to that level and repeat the cycle of pain to others. Also, people can change. At one Korean function that I went to, I was told by a man that I didn’t belong and wasn’t given a program until I proved I could read Korean. But now, years later, we are friends and he cares for me on a personal level. You never know how just being kind can change a person later on.
Hate that is found in Korea is sometimes found in other Asian countries as well. In the case of Korea, hate can be based on Korea’s past. Non Korean people have come to Korea and caused many problems. Foreigners have used Korean women as prostitutes, ruined the land and tried to strip Korean of it’s cultural identity. In more recent decades, foreign men have committed horrible crimes that they were not charged for, shown a lack of respect for Korean culture and have gotten Korean women pregnant, then leaving both the mother and child behind to fend for themselves. Also, there are many stories of Korean women who have married non Korean men, only to be mistreated when they leave Korea. These events can leave a deep scar on the hearts of many people.
Because of the trouble that foreigners have caused, it is not uncommon for the major cause of hate and prejudice to be the fact that you simply are not a part of the culture. But if this is the case, you can overcome it. Even though I have been to parts of Korea where I was the first Black person that some people had seen in person, and even though they may have heard negative things about Black people, I was treated very well because I could speak in Korean and because I knew how to act in a respectful way. Showing respect, and acting in manner in which you would hope others would act, will go a long way towards breaking down barriers for you.
Instead of viewing life as people should automatically get rid of their own preconceived notions, I view every opportunity that I meet someone as a chance to be an ambassador for any group that I represent. Taking this approach can make it easier for the next person to come along after me. It will also allow people to accept me as a member of the culture a lot easier. This will not erase all of the hate that I receive. In the case of a few Korean Americans, there is nothing I can do to stop them from hating me. When there’s nothing I can do, I just keep on living my life. But for most people, you can overcome any prejudice that they have. So don’t paint all Koreans or all Korean Americans with a brush of hate. Do your best to represent yourself in the best manner possible. If so, you will break down barriers and make some wonderful friends along the way.