Awkward moments

Last Saturday while my son was riding a rented bike around Seoul Forest, a lady carrying several magazines with her approached my husband if her photographer could take a picture of my son. They would publish it in the “Street Fashion” section of their “fashion magazine for kids” next month. My husband told her to ask my permission instead. She had to chase me since we were about 300 meters away. She was catching her breath when she reached me and told me about their magazine. Geez, I don’t know of any mother who wouldn’t say no.

The same afternoon, we went grocery-shopping at E-mart and we spent four hours roaming inside the supermarket. Oh well, I had to use their massage chairs on display for half an hour – I got so tired running after my son. I just might need msm lotion for arthritis when I get older. Anyway, on our way out a lady with her two kids approached me to ask about the car cart my son was using. She talked to me first in Korean and seeing that I was a foreigner she switched to English – while I answered her in Korean. And she spoke English really well. I find it a bit awkward to speak English to a Korean nor with a Filipino in a casual conversation. Whenever my Pinoy friends talk to me in English it is difficult for me to reply back in that language.

Anyway, the lady told me that my son doesn’t look “mix” and that he looked like a pure Korean. What should one say in that situation? Thank you? Also, how do you reply when a native English speaker tells you that you sound like a North American just because of your accent?

One time when I was in the subway with my son, I met a Filipino couple who told me that my son probably got his looks from his father. I just answered with a smile, but how do you politely tell them off when they start asking personal questions when you don’t even know them?

A lot of times when my son and I are outside, Korean ajosshis would approach us and talk to my son. Usually, they end up giving my son 1,000 won while I try in vain to return the money. This has happened so many times and the last time – we were in the subway with my husband when my son offered an old man his seat without us telling him too. The old man was so ecstatic that he offered to take us to dinner. We were in the public and it was embarrassing to turn the man down that we had to make up an excuse.

20 thoughts on “Awkward moments

  • April 13, 2010 at 11:55 am
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    ^__^ i’m a frequent lurker here. bet you’re son is good looking and well mannered any mother would really be proud. got to agree on how you feel…strange isn’t it…

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  • April 13, 2010 at 12:33 pm
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    Oh, I miss Seong-gyu! He is so cute!

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  • April 13, 2010 at 12:50 pm
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    Hi, I can understand your awkward moments, I’m not Korean but maybe it’s common for elder Korean people to do that to young kids (give money, etc), it’s kind of generosity, because in my culture in Indonesia, sometime our elder do the same too, like treat your kids some cakes or give money to them, I don’t expect their money but it’s not polite to refuse it, it’s just a cultural differences I think.
    Anyway, thank you for sharing this, I really enjoy your site 🙂
    .-= febriedethan´s last blog ..Obin – The Cloth Maker from Indonesia =-.

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  • April 13, 2010 at 1:42 pm
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    @Anyway, the lady told me that my son doesn’t look “mix” and that he looked like a pure Korean. What should one say in that situation? Thank you?

    ——-I ALWAYS get that same observation when it comes to my little ZACH(some would even say LUCKILY he looks very Korean)….my reply would always be a VERY awkward smile that comes with a thought “SO WHAT?” , and what makes it even more awkward is when Koreans look at my face and say I look like a Korean despite being a FILIPINO(they say aren’t Filipinos a little bit darker?)….that’s why my son doesn’t look “MIX”…..argh!!!! I’m out of awkward replies that comes with that…..kkkk
    .-= cher´s last blog ..REASONS and EXCUSES =-.

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  • April 13, 2010 at 2:48 pm
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    feel same way talking to a pinoy with my heavily accented minalin english mispronouncing the letter h been the butt of jokes many times. the most awkward question regarding my child was “why is your son handsome?” i couldnt place it.

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  • April 13, 2010 at 6:41 pm
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    hey, betch. i’m back!!! got to see you all soon. i’d love for all of you to meet baby dynamo. seong-gyu must be big now.
    .-= wendy´s last blog ..To Seoul We Go =-.

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  • April 14, 2010 at 1:20 am
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    “doesn’t look “mix” and that he looked like a pure Korean”
    — its an obvious showcase of pride on the purity of their ethnicity. Mixed ones (esp SEAsians), are always perceived to be inferior. A modern day eugenics.

    Try to tell any Korean that they physically resemble a typical Filipino, and they will feel denigrated. For most of them, the Filipino ethnicity or any trace of it is a joke. Ask the Kophino children regarding their experiences.

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    • April 14, 2010 at 1:11 pm
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      so you’re still there…kkk…anyway, have you heard about the recent findings that the korean race is not actually as homogenous as they claim to be….the Kaya kingdom’s ruler supposedly married a princess from India and later on became the Gimhae KIMS( http://www.rjkoehler.com/2010/02/26/india-the-origin-of-korea/)….so much for being so proud of their ethnicity right?and to think scholars are not even keen on pursuing this.
      .-= cher´s last blog ..REASONS and EXCUSES =-.

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  • April 14, 2010 at 4:55 pm
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    Yeah i’ve heard that, though im skeptical about it. Their claim to homogeneity (maybe) is true (give or take 10-15% of the population have mixed genes) . Especially if you will compare the degree of genetic relatedness among citizens of this country (or Japan) to a country such as the Philippines, or USA. In that sense, Korea will surely look homogeneous.

    So far this is the the authority as far as diversity and homogeneity of Asians is concerned http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/sci;326/5959/1470

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  • April 15, 2010 at 5:46 pm
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    Another lurker here. I too live abroad, but in NA. Different ethnicities, even my own Pinoys, would mistaken me for a non-Pinoy. Most of the time I pardon others.. I mean to non-Asians all Asians look alike. I myself can’t distinguish a Dutch from an English… But when it’s a fellow Pinoy, I don’t just feel awkward, I either feel offended or sad. Everyone assumes, even Filipinos, that if you’re just a bit lighter, you’re mixed. Someone had to make sure and ask me if one of my great grandparents were either Chinese or Spanish… I said no so they responded, “why do you have light skin?” =/

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  • April 16, 2010 at 7:17 pm
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    wow..your son must be ssoooo adorable. He has good manners…which I’m sure he learned from his parents.

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  • April 21, 2010 at 1:17 am
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    @albergal1012

    “the most awkward question regarding my child was “why is your son handsome?” i couldnt place it”

    It’s not actually a form of direct question. I guess it’s a cultural thing but what she/he was actually saying was same as when you or your husband is talking to your baby saying “How did you become so handsome?” It’s not a question you can answer, it’s just simply a compliment =)

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  • April 21, 2010 at 9:15 am
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    well I actually notice that a mixed-child/red from a filipina/o they [most often than not] look more handsome/beautiful than ordinary..
    hmmm

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  • May 6, 2010 at 11:35 pm
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    Just something I noticed, is that it is very common for Koreans to give money to children. It’s often a compliment or a gesture of affection.
    Similar to people giving children sweets, but because they don’t carry sweets around with them they give money. Usually the amount is very small, just enough for the child to buy some biscuits or sweets from the newsagent.
    It’s clearly a very nice gesture to your son, but also to you.
    But it is rather strange to adjust to since it is not something that happens much in other countries.

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  • May 13, 2010 at 11:44 pm
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    Anyway, the lady told me that my son doesn’t look “mix” and that he looked like a pure Korean. What should one say in that situation? Thank you?

    Easy, thank you but he is half Filipino. Nothing awkward about that.

    Also, how do you reply when a native English speaker tells you that you sound like a North American just because of your accent?

    Again, thank you and say that you never realised that your accent was any different that most Filipinos.

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  • November 27, 2010 at 10:10 am
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    this is soo cute!

    congratz Ms. Betchay~
    pinalaki mong mabuting bata ang anak mo~
    and that’s really something to be proud of!!!

    Im curious, is it true that most Filipinos are really discriminated in Korea?
    like, if you’re just walking people would stare at u in a different way.
    or in what way po?
    my Korean boyfriend once told me that he cant get marry with me because of the society or probably culture differences.
    how difficult is it Ms Betchay?
    I wonder how u dealt with that?
    I envy you~or should I say, proud of you!

    Reply

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