Korean Girl, interrupted

I’m confused.

I’m a Korean girl who grew up in a white-bread farming community not far from Vancouver, BC. My childhood was pretty idyllic, running around on our farm, riding our neighbour’s horses, playing tag with my 4 sisters. Growing up as “the” visible minority in a blonde farming community, I wasn’t proud of being Korean. M*A*S*H* was a popular show in those days but you never saw any cool Koreans on it, just shell-shocked refugees or the bad guys, with their slanted eyes and flat noses, speaking what my classmates mocked as gibberish.

Fuelling my identity crisis, is the fact that my Father’s family is from the Southern part of the Korean peninsula, while my Mother’s family is from the North. But when my parents were toddlers, it was all just one country. Occupied for nearly 40 years, by the Japanese who ruled with an iron fist, but still one country. I’m no international relations expert but it seems to me that it wasn’t until after the end of the Second World War, when the allies booted the Japanese out of Korea, when the US and the Soviet Union and China started calling dibs on the various parts of Korean real estate, that civil tensions started to escalate.

It was during this period of escalation, my 5 year old mother (which would make it 1949, or a year before the Korean War) and her family left their North Korean home in the middle of the night. Their escape required them to cross a small river without a boat and so, her 2nd oldest brother dutifully piggybacked her across to safety. She always gets teary when she gets to the part where her (now deceased) brother complained about his sore back as she was a rather chubby tot. I believe my mother’s aunts and grandparents planned to join them later, but were unable to before all hell broke loose, and remained trapped in North Korea, never to be seen again.

So with North Korea’s retaliatory attack on South Korea’s military exercises on Yeonpyeong Island this week, I’m angered by the “Oh yeah?” one-upmanship style of politics that I see my two Koreas playing. In my Canadian twinkie view, I see Korean politics being more stylized by Rush Limbaugh and spittle than anything resembling diplomacy. And then the world has to weigh in, no doubt Hilary Clinton and her pantsuits will be dispatched to help restore things to order. But in my experience, Korean men are not good at backing down. People should know that while Kim Jong-Il is a power hungry, celebrity-loving, dictator ding-dong of the highest order, they should also know that most North Koreans are captives in their own country, starved into compliancy. And I find myself being embarrassed to be Korean again.

Love Lucie


Sexy is as sexy does

When I was growing up, I thought my mom was a sexless being.  Nurturing and smart, yes, but sexy?  Hell no! 

When I became a mom myself, I just didn’t feel sexy anymore.  In fact, instead of being one of those glowing new moms, I felt more like Flo at Mel’s Diner at the end of a long shift, with 20 pounds of post pregnancy “grits” to carry around. While this devolution happened slowly – as my career took off I got too busy to go to the gym, my slinky party dresses gathered dust, and I got pregnant again and again and again – the realization was instant – when I caught a glimpse of myself at the pool with my sons in a faded and saggy one piece bathing suit in desperate need of a lot of wax.

So last summer, I decided it was time to bring sexy back.  I started running and going to the gym 5-6 days a week.  It was brutally hard, but so satisfying. I no longer have bat wings (jiggly arms), my legs are strong as a bull’s, and I’ve had to replace extensive parts of my wardrobe. But as I looked at myself in the mirror today, I noticed that I’m dressing my new body like a teenager – Roxy sundress and flip flops – and wondered if I should be dressing my age, not my shoe size?  

But what is a 40 year old woman supposed to wear?  I don’t agree with those articles in In Style magazine that show readers how to work a new trend (for example, shiny leggings) on a 20, 30, 40, 50+ year old.  I always favor the stylings of the younger set, which is ironic because as a teenager my style was more Hilary Clinton than Hilary Duff.  And while I don’t have a daughter, I do have nieces, one of whom is a tween.  How much time do I have before we get caught in the same outfit?  We already shop at the same stores!  How much sexy is too sexy for the 40+ set?  

I know I’m not alone in this quandry, as many of my friends are looking hotter than ever, now that the little ones have grown up (somewhat) and won’t starve to death if mommy goes out for a run.  I have a petite friend, who passes off party tops as very short dresses.  And she looks hot!  I just saw another, more rubenesque friend in a slinky, curve-hugging green number and she rocked it too!  Which just goes to show that sexy is a state of mind, not a number, so don’t tell me What Not To Wear.  I am cougar, hear me roar!  

Love Lucie