I remember sitting at a kitchen table in one of the nicest homes I’ve even been in. It belonged to a Korean couple that was living in the U.S. at the time. Their daughter was happily married, and considered to be very pretty. In fact, I had to stop a number of guys from asking her out since they didn’t know she was married. Sitting at the table with us was another student of Korean language and culture. Like me, she is also Black. So she asked the Korean couple, “What if your daughter wanted to marry a Black man? Would you have had a problem with that?” Korean people, especially older people, are known for being brutally honest. But why would she ask them this question? And what can be learned from this experience?
Older People Are the Ones Messing Up Everything
Have you heard that statement before? Sadly, many people feel this way. Many believe that older people are racist troublemakers who are set in their ways. Korean culture is not immune to this thought process. Many feel that older Koreans are racist and nationalistic. The older Koreans of today were the younger Koreans when many prejudice ideas were first planted about Black people in Korea. When people think of prejudice thoughts that are in Korea, many picture an older face spewing them out. So this young woman wanted to know if this couple, although seeming to be very nice, had these prejudice thoughts as well. After all, it’s a totally different subject when it’s your daughter who wants to bring home someone who was totally different than what the rest of the family looks like.
Their answer was that they would have no problem with their daughter marrying someone who was Black. All they wanted was for their daughter to marry someone who made her feel special. The young woman we were with didn’t know that this couple had adopted me as their son. They did a lot to help understand Korean language and culture in the time that we lived in the same area. And they help to introduce me to my best friend in Korea. In fact, I wouldn’t have half of the friends that I have in Korea if not for this couple.
I could go on and on about how much this couple has helped me over the years. And I can do the same about other couples that I’ve met in Korea. Even random older people that I met on the subway or just by walking in the streets of Seoul have been very loving and kind to me. It’s amazing how a simple bow or just greeting a person in Korean can make them feel special. Does this mean that all older people in Korea feel this way? No. There can be some racist and bigoted older people in Korea. But many are very loving and kind to those are are loving and kind to them.
In life, older people are our most valuable resource. They can teach us about the past and help us know how to better ourselves in the future. In Korean culture, they can teach you about the traditions and why they are so important. As a hint, they can also teach you the proper way to make your food taste better than everyone else’s food as well. So don’t shy away from older Koreans, or fear that they will automatically hate you are be prejudice. Often times, older people are some of the best people you will ever meet.