On Korean Faces

I was on my way from back from SNU station last night and I was about to get on that bus leaving for Nokdu when I noticed that the girl who was at right next to me was Suzane. She was busy typing kakaos as she always did. Typical, I thought. Last time she typed kakaos she nearly missed her deadline for cover page illustration.

That was 2 years ago.

Anyways, I gave a slight playful punch on the side of her arms. She kept typing for a while and then looked to her side to see who it was. Both of faces changed from smiles to..wait..wtf?

She wasn’t Suzane. Or I wasn’t who she was thinking me to be.

Well, to be brutally honest, that’s not the first time that has happened. Korean faces for me, can still be very confusing; confusing in a sense that people seem to share very common features that make everyone look very similar to one another. That’s why Korean's themselves get confused when they look at my cousins and then ask me the all important question, or rather questions:

“Were you adopted?”
“Why is your sister so fair?”
“What the hell happened to you??”

I do look much darker than most of cousins, yes, for sure. Doesn’t mean I come from planet Zues. Or did I?

I think it was my first dorm orientation back in 2010 where I was just sitting down listening to the boring stuff that was coming out from one of the Residential Advisor’s (RA) mouths. They then decided it was time to show some their faces on their large projected screen.

“Anddd here we have the RA for 919B”

Nice glasses, I thought.
“This gentleman here the RA for 919C”
Did they change the slide?
“And finally RA for 919D!”
Do they just hire triplets?

I am not kidding, but they all looked identical. My friend sitting next to me was finding it hard to see how all of them seemed to look alike. Believe me, they did.

You would assume that maybe, a few months and perhaps a few years later, one would be accustomed to looking at Koreans, be able to delve deeper into the nuances and figure out the subtle differences. It only took a while to prove how futile that assumption really was.

Having had to spend almost a year with my Korean roommate Du, I noticed a certain trend in how he dressed up which strikingly resembled how others dressed up too. From hairstyles (straight down, flat approach) to glasses (near identical) to that super slim fit, ball-tight trousers; everything seemed to be how most SNU students presented themselves. So everywhere I went, I saw Du. I go to the restroom, I see him. I am at the student center, I see him. I am on a date, I bloody see him. His omnipresence was a matter of grave concern for me as I almost always ended up greeting fake Du(s) and in return, getting that “wtf” stare or a confused “hi” back.

That one time when it was really him, he got completely ignored.


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