23 Signs You’re A First Generation Korean-American


1. You didn’t have to trek over 5 miles of snow-covered mountains while being chased by wolves just to get to school everyday.

2. Your English-speaking skills far surpass your Korean language skills. At most, you can successfully order off the menu at Korean restaurants but the waitress still looks at you condescendingly because you butchered the pronunciation of some food item.

3. You didn’t know that Gangnam was a district in Seoul until your immigrant parents explained it to you and then proceeded to try to teach you the horse dance.

4. Starting from age 6, you were forced to take violin/piano lessons and practice for hours on end immediately after school. Followed by Tae Kwon Do class.

5. When non-Asian friends came over, you reminded your parents not to open the fridge to avoid having to explain the embarrassingly pungent kimchi smell permeating the entire house.

6. Having your parents live with you after marriage is just not an option.

7. If you grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood, you identified as ‘white’ rather than Korean. This confused and angered your traditional Korean parents, especially when you dared to talk back to them/disobey them because you saw your white friends do it and you thought it was acceptable.

8. Instead of majoring in pharmacy or going pre-law/med, you decided to go the liberal arts route because you wanted to do something ‘creative.’ Your parents still haven’t forgiven you. (How will you support them in their old age without a law degree?)

9. When your mother hinted that you should get plastic surgery to ‘fix’ your monolids, you cried. And then used skinny strips of scotch tape to create a faux eyelid crease instead.

10. You haven’t introduced your white/black/non-Korean boyfriend/girlfriend to your parents yet…and you most likely won’t until you get married.

11. You’ve acted as a translator for your parents from the moment you learned to talk–this was useful at parent-teacher conferences, but annoying in every other situation (i.e. explaining the dialogue in every scene on-screen in a movie theatre).

12. When visiting Korea, your fellow Koreans visibly disapproved of you communicating with your parents in English. If you’re a female and you smoke, an old Korean man probably spat on you for smoking on the street, in public.

13. You don’t idolize Korean pop stars.

14. You grew up being compared to your parents’ friends’ “more successful” children who later on became doctors and/or lawyers.

15. In high school, your white friends didn’t understand why you couldn’t sleep over their houses or why your parents made you go to hagwon everyday after already having spent 7-8 hours in a classroom.

16. In college, you made a conscious decision to steer clear of the fobby Korean cliques.

17. Your parents took you to Korean church with them and made you join the youth group to “make more Korean friends”.

18. You fought back when you were bullied for your slanted eyes and called ‘chink’ or ‘dog-eater,’ rather than just staying silent like your parents had when they first immigrated to America.

19. Fan death is not a real concern but your relatives in Korea believe it is.

20. Your dad only talks about being in the Korean military with his veteran buddies.

21. Both of your parents are golf fanatics–there is a never-ending supply of ridiculously huge visors in your mother’s closet/car trunk.

22. Your parents root for anyone Korean in all sporting events (K.J. Choi, SeRi Pak, Ji-Sung Park, Chan Ho Park).

23. Now that you’re older, you’ve realized that you don’t have to be just ‘American’ or just ‘Korean’ because your entire life has proved to be an exercise in melding the two together and you’re finally proud of your cultural heritage.

You should like Thought Catalog on Facebook here.