Sunday, February 7, 2010

Being a "kyopo" in Los Angeles Koreatown

UPDATE: So apparently I'm not moving to K-town anymore as a friend of mine in LA needed a roommate in her area in Santa Monica. I gotta be honest, about a ton's worth of stress was lifted off my shoulders when I learned that I didn't have to live in a rough, overly crowded neighborhood while being oh so lonely in a boarding house.


I have taken the initiative upon myself to live in Koreatown for at least the next 3-6 months and experience the unique Korean-American lifestyle that is offered here. Today, my friends took me to the K-Town area to check out this permitted boarding house called the Prime Guest House where you get your own furnished room and includes cable tv, utilities, bathroom, shower, heating/AC, laundry services, and they even make breakfast and dinner for you. Granted, it has many disadvantages (you obviously can't host parties here and they are very iffy with having a guest stay over) but it's the perfect place to at least get acquainted with the chaotic lifestyle that is downtown Los Angeles. Being in the boarding house felt like I was in Seoul and when you step outside and smell the Korean BBQ cooking right down the street, you can't help but feel like a piece of Korea is here with you.

I like it that all I need to do is move in there with my body and my luggages. While I can easily find a roommate here in Los Angeles, there is a part of me that calls for the need to move into this boarding house by myself and be surrounded by Koreans. If I really think about it, I think my body is telling me that I need to experience the Korean immigrant lifestyle, to at least get a feel what it's like for the men and women who come to America to start a new life. I know that I want to be here because I want to badly reclaim the Korean language and the only possible place I can do that in LA is here in K-town.

I know it's gonna be lonely, though, living in this area.

My Korean proficiency is equivalent to that of a kindergartener and my cultural upbringing is as non-Korean as you can get. From my generalized knowledge and experience of what Koreans are like, they look down upon people like me, a "kyopo" like me. ("Kyopo" is a Korean term used for Korean people who do not identify with Korean culture).

But I know I gotta do it. I didn't come to LA just to live in the pampered, white-dominated sections of the city. Other than reclaiming my Korean and trying my best to get acquainted with Korean Americans around me, I need to reclaim my Spanish as well. Withing the K-town area, the Korean population is intertwined with the Latino population and by having both worlds right in my neighborhood, it is the perfect opportunity to re-learn the languages that I have lost.

Although my paranoid friends are always telling to watch out, that I might get mugged/shot/stabbed/beaten up by Mexican and/or Korean tough guys (pretty stereotypical for sure but my friends are paranoid and blunt to a T), I did after all, come to LA to experience the utopia and dystopia of America. So while I sincerely hope that I won't get attacked by a 2-inch shiv or get my ass kicked by Korean guys 1 year older than me and demanding respect, I didn't come to LA just so I can live comfortably in a pampered world.

These are indeed some heavy things to think about while I'm already wondering how the hell I'm going to make new friends, do well in the acting world, and pay my rent in this scary big city.

Frak me...I need something to distract my mind temporarily from what is coming ahead...

Oh, why, hello Brown-Eyed Girls!


pgee said...

I usually don't read blog posts that are longer than three paragraphs, but this post was fascinating. All I can say is, post more! and have fun, good luck, and be you!

Sounds X10000000000 more interesting than my college life right now.

Besides, I don't really know what it's like in LA, but I refuse to believe in stereotypes that depict minorities as dangerous gangsters. Do things like that really happen that often? I live in the Bronx and I have never been shot.

Lew Feem said...

MMMM. This all seems so rich. I know you will love your time there. Make the most of it and continue to grow.

pgee said...

I want more details! I need to live vicariously through you. Because yes, my life is that boring. Anyway, hope you're safe!