Ah. So.


By Jae-Ha Kim
January 22, 2013

A couple days ago, I wrote this post about being ching chonged, and the memories it brought back. I received a lot of feedback, including this e-mail:

“Oh my goodness that writing is so powerful. I remember sitting at the butcher’s with mother. Young boys slanted their eyes with their fingers, bowed to mother, snickering and said, “ah sooo.” I was 11. I knew that mother (and I) were being made fun of. Mother bowed back and said, “ah soo,” turned to me and said, “…very respectful boys.” I wondered if she really believed it or if she was trying to protect me. The boys laughed and walked away!”

The person who emailed this to me is my sister.

I never knew this had happened to them. My heart aches a little bit thinking about it.

© 2013 JAE-HA KIM | All Rights Reserved

January 22, 2013

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Comments (5)

  1. Jimin Han says:
  2. hanguknamja says:

    (Reposted with permission from hanguknamja. You may check out his blog by clicking on his name above.)

    This makes me think of one of my earliest memories of my father, which, sadly, is of him being viciously mocked.

    I don’t recall the exact words, but I knew without a doubt that he had been deeply insulted to his face and, what’s worse, in front of his young son. I mean, how despicable do you have to be to do something like that? Not only to humiliate another for no good reason, but to try to diminish him in the eyes of his own child?

    I expected my father to lash back, if not with words, with his fists, and if not for his own sake then for mine—anything to express the inarticulate rage already about to burst within me.

    To my disappointment, however, he just muttered something to himself, grabbed my arm and walked away silently in what I must suppose was terrible grief and shame. We never spoke of it afterwards.

    Here was a man that had stood up and risked his life several times for his beliefs, who had the courage to give up a life of privilege and prestige in his own nation to start anew, penniless and nameless, in a foreign one, a man who his entire life could not tolerate the smallest injustice and who never backed down from a worthy fight—this brave and righteous man, who’s written a half dozen books in three different languages, was suddenly rendered small and speechless by some cretinous little fuck, a clown.

    I’d like to think it was on my account that he refrained from making a show of violence, but I strongly suspect he was simply confused and bewildered by the incomprehensible hostility. He knew how to fight a corrupted government, a dicatator, a system, but the thoughtless insults of some random idiot left him utterly disarmed and defeated.

    The worst part of it all, for me, was that the insults had somehow worked. I did lose some respect for my dad; he did become smaller in my eyes. After all, an idiot had got the better of him. In my childish view, he had failed to stand up for himself, and what’s worse, for his child. I’ve never fully accepted my father’s authority over me, and I’m certain that owes not a little to that single, accidental encounter on that day. It would take me many years to accept the obvious fact that my father holds far more worth in a single cell than that vile little clown did in his entire being.

  3. Yoon Soo Lim says:
  4. Paul Oh says:
  5. Mike Kessler says:

    Years ago I interviewed comic Ron Mok of “Stir-Friday Night” and some of his quotes were: “I remember growing up in Evanston and being the only Asian in my grade school.”…”I felt alienated that no other nationalities wanted to mix or associate with my ethnicity.” I can’t remember the years he meant or when he was born.

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