Before I continue with posting, I thought it would be a good idea to let many of the new readers to this blog, coming in from various sources, who I am. That I am an American of Korean and African-American descent who has lived in South Korea for a little more than seven years over the past 12, when I first came to Korea on a Fulbright in 1994 and lived in the countryside for 2 years, where I learned Korean and got an interest in the Korean education system and the construction of identity, which I started exploring as a doctoral student in UC Berkeley's Department of Comparative Ethnic Studies.
So to all you commenters who chalked me up to being a maladjusted white English teacher from the Republican party with an axe to grind about how much I hate Korea but stay for lack of better options – sorry, wrong on all counts. You can read about what I do here, and you'll just have to take me at my word that my reason for living in this country is not simply to grind my big axe hatred for this country, or to bag as many Korean girls as possible. For a fat brown man who likes to speak Korean as much as possible, I'm just about as far away as you can get from the white, English-teaching expat who likes to seduce apparently hapless Korean women looking for their Brad Pitt fantasy. Unless I'm totally out of it and Korean girls have developed a hankering for the light-skinned, nerdy Forest Whitaker-type with a hint of Hawaiian on it, that is. Maybe I'm missing the boat.
I do Ethnic Studies, and the theories I've learned, history I've explored, and the arguments I tend to make can be applied to any country. No place is free of social problems, and no place is perfect. But my research interests are in Korea; I have photo, video, and other media projects in Korea; and I would like to sometime soon like to actually finish my dissertation and get my Ph.D. while in Korea.
And one thing that you'll notice is that my written work can be sharp, sarcastic, light-hearted, haughty, self-important, and elitist. Guilty as charged, although usually not all of those things at the same time. But I take my words seriously, and I try to write as smarty-pants and in-depth as I can; one of the reasons I started this blog was to keep my academic teeth and higher writing skills sharp, which is often tough to do when you spend most of your time speaking not-your-native language (Korean, in my case) and even when you do speak English, it's mostly with non-native speakers. And since I often have to hold my tongue amongst Korean company, it's also a necessary outlet.
So a lot of stuff comes off critical, wordy, and lengthy. But it's just the mode of the blog. You might notice that the audio and video work I do on Korea (audio and video podcasts in the left menu) are far more general, non-academic, and nearly completely free of moral indignation.
And for those who like to throw flames, I'll just say that I don't erase comments unless they are abusive; I welcome disagreement but don't hold my tongue; and I'd love to see some of my regular detractors' ideas laid out all over the Internet, free for the easy attack.
I don't consider thinking aloud and reconsidering my words "backtracking" or being self-contradictory, and I'll engage arguments worth engaging, or that I have time to. I don't know everything, but I have a lot of informed opinions; and for those of you with identity politics axes to grind, just try to leave it at the door and engage the argument, not your issues projected onto things you just think I'm saying.
I know it takes a lot to read these posts, but again – no one's twisting anyone's arms, right? I simply ask that if you want to have a real conversation, then listen to my side of it properly by reading why I wrote, and reading a bit around the site, listening and watching some of the podcasts, and not just labeling based on skimming through a single post that you didn't even bother to finish.
That's all I ask.