So I went through it and did that. Here you go:
Why did I do this? Well, lately I've been particularly feeling the pressure of being different, and being judged according to my race and nationality (when they can remember that I'm not South American). It's making me miserable, and it's turned a job I once loved into one I dread going to and struggle to get out of bed for. It's made me less inclined to explore the country I moved to, choosing instead to hide in my apartment, ordering food through yogiyo and praying that I won't get a phone call from the restaurant.
I spent months learning Korean and used to be excited about it, but these days I hardly even try because, quite frankly, I don't want to talk to you. I made a pact to stop being negative about Korea, and it's a struggle, and I'm probably breaking it now with this post. I loved this country. I was so excited to be here. But now I'm at the point where I'd rather move to grease-eatin', gun-shootin', gay-bashin' America than live another year earning good money at a relatively easy and fulfilling job in Korea.
I'm tired of being tarred with the same brush as people who made mistakes. I'm tired of people being surprised that I was able to use public transport... even though I'd been living here, and using it, for over a year. I'm tired of having 20-minute lectures over and over again about work ethic based on the mistakes made by other foreigners, when I've worked as hard as I can, gone beyond what they've asked me to do, and haven't taken a single sick day this year. I'm tired of being warned that something labelled "mepke" on the menu is spicy - that's why I chose it! I'm even tired of adorable little children shouting "Waygookin!" when they see me, even though they don't know the effect it has.
Meat carefully separated on a barbecue grill to avoid sauce-tainted stuff touching the celiac's portion gets suddenly mixed by "helpful" waiters who leap in to cook your food for you. And every single meal becomes a "How do you like Korean food?" conversation, and "Oh, she eats well" or "You can use chopsticks."
Despite all the kindness that people have shown me - the stranger who took me to a doctor on my first weekend in Daegu, my jjimdalk guy who gave me corn just because, the student who told me she wanted me to come to class early so she could have more time to practice English, the ajummas who showed me the ropes at the jjimjilbang and shared their tea with me, and the many other small acts of generosity and kindness shown to me almost every day, this feeling of otherness and inferiority has worn me down to breaking point.
Coming from SA, where we spend a lot of time talking about race and othering, this hit home. Here in Korea my white social privelege has been stripped away and I can understand the effect of these kinds of micro-aggressive terms used on people of other races in other countries. "Oh, you speak such good English..." "What kind of Asian are you?" and "Your people..." I've come to experience first-hand the psychological toll that it takes to be told you're not as good as everyone else (or to have people react with surprise when you are). And I have huge respect for people who manage to stick it out and get through day after day of living like this.
But I'm not as strong as them. I don't think I can do it for another year. I'm sorry, Korea. I think we need to break up.