“I can definitely relate with Scarlett Johansson’s character in Lost in Translation (2003) by Sofia Coppola. I never fully fitted into a particular culture or country. I grew up in the Netherlands within a community connected to the Korean Protestant church, but to most of them I was very Dutch because I hung with a lot of Dutch friends as I went to a school where most people were Dutch. That’s why me and brother were sort of seen as the ‘black sheep’ of the Korean community that I grew up in. It is important for them to stay close to their roots. Even when I live for a while in South-Korea I wasn’t treated as a Korean. Due to the language, culture and custom differences. On the other hand, I also experienced that I wasn’t really treated as a Dutch person at my Dutch school. They achieved that feeling within me through their discriminative and racist comments or just plain bullying. Some even said nasty comments about Chinese people to me while I’m actually Korean. It’s all so vague to me, because I didn’t really know where I belonged. But when I began to study in the United Kingdom I was surrounded by people of different international backgrounds I realized that I don’t have to belong anywhere per se. I see myself as a human being and not necessarily labeled as Dutch or Korean. It’s a philosophy that works for me.”
Photo and story by Feargal Agard.