[LETTERS to the editor]A Kiwi banana

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[LETTERS to the editor]A Kiwi banana

I regularly read Richard Scott-Ashe’s “Perspective” columns on the Foreign Community page, and I’ve been meaning to write and say how much I enjoy them.

I’m a Korean New Zealander (born in Seoul, raised in Sao Paulo, educated in Sydney and living in Christchurch) and I’m always interested in what’s going on in my homeland.

I’m particularly interested in checking up on any developments in raising understanding and awareness of the needs of the increasing number of foreigners (and expats) living in South Korea.

Although Korea is still a fair way away from becoming a truly globalized nation (like Singapore, for example), the Perspective columns paint an optimistic picture from a foreigner’s perspective, and that is great news!

For Koreans abroad like myself - often referred to as “bananas” - staying in touch with our “Koreanness” is very important. I may be “yellow on the outside and white on the inside” presently, but as I age I’m finding that I may be gradually turning more yellow on the inside every day.

Both my husband (who is also Korean) and I, and thankfully our children who were born in Australia (and have never been to Korea), plan to come to South Korea to live within the next ten years.

However, we don’t readily fit into a “Korean” or a “foreigner” category and therefore we eagerly await the development of a vibrant multicultural and truly international South Korea, rather than the homogenous society it has been thus far, so that we can feel comfortable being “back home.”

We don’t want our children frowned upon for speaking Korean with a Western accent, at the very least, or Koreans treating us with curiosity for being bananas.

We have a prosperous and active Korean community in New Zealand and a growing number of 1.5- and now even 2.0-generation Korean New Zealanders, sometimes referred to as “Kowis” (Korean Kiwis).

New Zealand is a beautifully green and peaceful place, with actually nothing much to do, but it is still going through a somewhat painful learning stage of coping with the sudden influx of Asians - unfortunately racism is known to show its ugly face in more ways than we’d care to acknowledge, particularly here in Christchurch where I live.

There is much information about the lives of Koreans in the United States, Canada and Australia, but I personally would like to see more reported in the media about the lives of Koreans living in less well-known places such as New Zealand: What are our experiences and expectations? What does the future hold for the young Kowis? Do they plan to return home like the older Kowis such as myself, and why?

These may be some topics “Perspective” could look into for future stories, perhaps.

Thank you for helping South Korea to further enhance its appeal to foreigners and expatriates as a desirable destination to work and live, through the power of the media.

Suzana Chang, lecturer in Korean language, University of Canterbury, New Zealand
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