Actress turns to writer in book about life in KoreaIt’s been 14 years since Ida Daussy, a French-Korean celebrity, first came to Korea. She had an eventful life since then. She fell in love with a Korean man, married him in 1993, and was naturalized as a Korean citizen three years later.
At 37, Ms. Daussy published the book “Common Grounds of Happiness,” a collection of essays about her life in Korea.
For readers who are used to her perky image on TV shows, it’s hard to believe that she prepares five meals a year for ancestral worship ceremonies for her husband’s family, and cooks soybean stew for every meal.
“I’m constantly thinking about ways to harmonize Korean and French culture in my family’s life,” she writes in her book. “I’ve pursued it to some degree.”
She writes about cultural differences and submitting to tradition.
“I decided I couldn’t change the way my mother in-law thinks about ancestral worship,” she writes. “So I prepare a table full of seasoned vegetables, meat patties and tofu dishes. Then I bake French pies or make soups with leftover food to reduce the waste.”
When it comes to educating her two sons, Ms. Daussy tends to stick to her judgments. When her mother in-law drives away her grandsons out of the kitchen, Ms. Daussy intervenes, politely apologizing, saying “I am sorry, but men who can’t cook nowadays can’t even find a woman.” She made a bold compromise with her mother in-law, however, to keep her husband out of the kitchen.
Ms. Daussy came to Korea with the hope of building field experiences after studying international business in France. She made her first TV appearance in Korea by coincidence. Ever since then, however, she has been a popular TV host for variety shows. At first, her job had been a de facto cultural ambassador of France, explaining the French way of life to Koreans. Her efforts led her to earn the “Image of France” award from the French Ministry of Women in 2004. Last August, Le Figaro, a leading French newspaper, ran a front-page interview with Ms. Daussy.
“The French publisher who read the interview offered me an essay book, which will be published in French in October,” she says. “This time, I’ll be a cultural ambassador for Korea in France.”
In the interview, she described Korea as “Asia’s Italy,” explaining that it’s a country where kindness and service mentality are embedded on people’s mind.
“There is a certain sadness, however, that I will never fully be perceived as ‘a Korean’ no matter how much I try,” she says. “But I am happy for fulfilling the role of a bridge between the two cultures.”
by Shin Ye-ri