Humans of Seoul

“ Welcome to our home! I’m Sun and this my dad! We’re happy to answer your questions! My dad might not look it , but he’s very happy! “

((I’m mostly done revamping! I just need to tweak with the blog theme. But besides that, the Ask Box is open and ready for your questions!))

“She’s a recluse, so every day I need to take her out. She lives in Seoul, yet this is her first time coming out to a place like this. She likes things like reptiles and bugs, so we came here with an alligator stuffed animal as well. Hey! Why do you keep hiding? By the way, she’s particularly good at catching flies.”

“이 누나가 히키코모리라서 제가 맨날 끌고 나와요. 서울 사는 데 이런 데는 처음 와 본대요. 이 누나가 파충류, 곤충, 이런 걸 좋아해서 악어 인형도 같이 들고 왔어요. 누나! 왜 자꾸 피해. 아참 이 누나 특기가 파리 잡기예요.”

“I’m Japanese, but living in Korea. I sell takoyaki with hikikomori (people who avoid social contact) and NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) students and help them out with any problems they’re experiencing.”
“You could do that in Japan too. Why did you decide to come to Korea to do it?”
“I met a lot of people like them in Japan, so I felt responsible for their problems. Hikikomori problems are not exclusive to Japan; this is a problem in Korea too. So, I wanted to help them experiencing this here as well. There aren’t a lot of support groups for people with this sort of problem in Korea, but we have a lot of experience with this sort of thing in Japan, so I have the knowhow to help.”

“저는 일본인인데 한국에서 히키코모리 그리고 니트족 학생들과 같이 타코야끼를 팔면서 문제를 겪는 학생들을 도와주고 있어요”
“일본에서만 활동해도 되는데 왜 굳이 한국까지 와서 활동하시는 거예요?”
“일본에서 이런 친구들을 많이 만나와서 이 문제에 책임감을 느껴왔는데, 히키코모리 문제가 단지 일본에서만 일어나는 게 아니고 한국에도 있는 문제잖아요. 그래서 이 곳에서 이 문제를 겪는 친구들을 도와주고 싶었어요. 한국에는 이런 문제를 가진 친구들을 도와주는 사람들이 많이 없지만, 우리는 경험이 많아서 노하우가 있거든요.”

“I’m tall, so at school I was always called, ‘tall girl’. Middle school and high school students would also look at me and whisper amongst themselves ‘she’s so fucking tall’ as they passed by. I wondered why they were swearing at me. Wherever I go I can’t do anything wrong. If you’re tall, whatever you do sticks out. However, when I thought about it, my height is only a disadvantage depending on how I act.”
“Why is that?”
“If you leave a good impression once, it will last a long time. Suddenly looking at me just once, you will remember me.”

“제가 키가 커서 학교에서 항상 호칭이 ‘키 큰 여자애’였어요. 중고딩들도 절 보고 지나가면서 ‘키 X나 크다.’ 하고 자기네끼리 쑥덕거려요. 쟤넨 왜 나한테 욕을 하나 싶기도 했어요. 어딜가서 나쁜 짓도 못 해요. 키가 크면 뭘하든 눈에 잘 띄어서요. 근데 생각해보니 그 단점은 제가 하기 나름이더라구요 ”
“왜죠?”
“좋은 인상을 한 번 남기면 오래 간다는 뜻이잖아요. 딱 한번만 봐도 기억을 해주니까요.”

“I’m a Christian. When I go to church, I can’t wear clothes like this. The clothes I wear to church aren’t this revealing, but they are still really unique, so church people tend to tell me I look good. I’m the ‘fashion person’ in the youth group at my church. Wow… I can’t believe I just said that.”

<Humans of Seoul at Seoul Fashion Week>

“전 크리스찬이에요. 교회 다닐 때는 이렇게 입고는 못 가요. 이런 식으로 노출이 있는 옷은 아닌데, 그래도 저희 교회에서 제일 특이해서 교회 사람들이 멋있다고 해줘요, 저희 교회 ‘청년부 패피’라. 아 이걸 내 입으로 말하다니…”

“I’m usually really stressed about my grades. I thought I had to get good grades, so this semester was really hard, not to mention that the women’s college is so competitive. The day after the semester ended I slept for about 11 hours. That’s when I realized, this is happiness.”

“평소에 학점 스트레스를 심하게 받아요. 학점을 잘 따야겠다는 생각에 이번 학기가 정말 힘들었거든요. 여대라 다들 정말 열심히 하기도 하니까요. 종강하고 다음날 한 11시간 정도 늦잠을 잤는데 그때 딱 알겠더라고요. 이게 행복이구나 하고요.”

“I’m from India, but I have been studying in Korea for about six months. I plan to stay here for about four to five years. I’m not sure if I can get a job in Korea, but I don’t think it would be bad to stay in Korea anyway.”
“What do you think is different between India and Korea?”
“Standards in terms of liberty are different, I think, especially when applied to women. For example, in the part that I come from in India, women are expected to wear traditional clothes and strictly told not to wear jeans. I’m wearing jeans now, but wearing jeans doesn’t make me a bad person…”

“한국에 유학 온지 6개월 됐어요. 인도에서 왔고, 4~5년 정도 더 한국에 있을 것 같아요. 한국에서 일자리를 얻을 수 있을 지 모르겠지만, 한국에 남는 것도 나쁘지 않다고 생각해요.”
“어떤 점에서 한국과 인도는 다르다고 생각했어요?”
“규범, 자유의 측면에서 다른 것 같아요. 특히 여성에게 적용 될 때요. 예를 들면 제 살던 곳에서는 여성은 전통적 의상을 입어야 하고 청바지는 입지 말라고 해요. 지금도 청바지를 입고 있지만, 청바지를 입는게 저를 나쁜 사람으로 만드는 게 아닌데..”

“When I was in second grade my mother got into a car accident and passed away, I didn’t know where my father was, so I lived in Busan with my grandmother. However when I was in middle school her health took a turn for the worse, so I told my grandmother I’m going to live on my own; after that I lived by myself in Seoul. Later when I became an adult my grandmother was disappointed in me because I said I was working as a tattoo artist. So, I met my grandmother in person and showed her my first tattoo, and she was really moved by it.”
“What made her change her mind?”
“Because my first tattoo was of my mother’s face.”

“초등학교 2학년 때 어머니가 교통사고로 돌아가시고, 아버지는 어디 계신지도 몰라요. 그래서 쭉 부산에서 외할머니하고 같이 살았는데, 중학교 때 외할머니 건강이 안 좋아서 제가 스스로 독립하겠다고 말하고 그 이후로 서울에서 혼자 살았어요. 제가 나중에 성인이 된 다음에 타투를 직업으로 한다고 하니까 외할머니가 실망을 하셨어요. 그래서 외할머니를 직접 만나서 제가 처음 한 타투를 보여드렸더니 감동을 받으셨어요.”
“할머니가 왜 마음을 바꾸신 것 같아요?”
“제 첫 문신이 제 어머니의 얼굴이었거든요.”

“On my kid’s fourth birthday, the day care center held an event which told a fairy tale like story about how he was born. The story was like, you came from the sky, and as you were looking down at the ground below, you chose a mother and father. You then napped next to a flowerbed and afterward crossed a rainbow to your now mother and father. Having heard the story that day, once we came home, he went to his room alone and stayed really quiet. I was curious, so I opened his bedroom door and went in. I found him looking for a long time at a picture from the day he was born. He still thinks that was how he was born. And, he’s said lately that he dreamt about a pretty younger sister riding a rainbow and coming down from the sky.”

“제 아이가 네 살 되는 생일 날, 어린이 집에서 어떻게 본인이 태어나게 되었는지 이벤트로 동화 비슷한 이야기를 들려 준 적이 있어요. 하늘에서 얘가 밑을 내려다 보면서 어떤 엄마 아빠를 고를까 하다가 꽃밭 옆에서 한숨자고 무지개를 건너 지금의 엄마,아빠에게로 오는 그런 내용이었어요. 그날 그걸 들은 이후에 얘가 집에 와서 혼자 방에 들어간 다음에 참 조용히 있더라구요. 궁금해서 방문을 열고 들어가봤더니 자기가 갓 태어났을 때의 사진을 한참 보고 있더라구요. 본인은 아직도 그렇게 태어났다고 생각해요. 그리고 최근에 말해주더라구요. 예쁜 동생이 무지개를 타고 하늘에서 내려오는 꿈을 꿨다고.”

“Where can I see this interview? Could you give me the address?”
“Do you know how to use the internet?”
“Ah, yeah, I wanted to figure it out, so I went to the local senior center to learn.”
“Why did you want to learn it?”
“Because of the kids. My grandkids can use it, so I wanted to do it together. Now I write back and forth with them online.”

“인터뷰 어디 가서 볼 수 있는거야? 주소 좀 적어줘.”
“인터넷 하실 줄 아세요?”
“어 그럼, 나도 배우고 싶어서 복지관 가서 배웠어.”
“왜 배우고 싶으셨어요?”
“애들이, 손자들이 그걸 하거든. 그래서 나도 같이 하고 싶었어. 이제는 손자들하고 메일도 주고 받아.”

“Actually my girlfriend is afraid of birds. Even just seeing a passing pigeon, she gets scared. I didn’t realize it but, about 20% of the population have a phobia of birds. However, while we’ve been dating, she has slowly started to like my birds more. So, I’ve gotten to like my girlfriend more, as I started to realize ‘she’s even overcoming her phobia of birds..’”

“사실 여자친구는 새를 무서워해요. 지나가는 비둘기만 봐도 무서워해요. 저도 몰랐는데 인구의 20% 정도가 조류 공포증을 갖고 있다고 하더라구요. 하지만 사귀면서 제 새들을 점점 좋아해주더라구요. 사실 그래서 여자친구를 더 좋아하게 됐어요. ‘조류 공포증도 이기는구나..’ 하고…”

“(Woman) While sightseeing in Insadong, I thought this hairpin was really cute. So I said, ‘let’s buy it.’”
“(Man) At that time, I thought people couldn’t really see it since it’s so small.”
“After wearing it, what did you think?”
“(Man) Ah… that if I feel embarrassed I will pretend to be Chinese.”

“(여자) 인사동 구경하는데 너무 귀엽더라고요. 그래서 제가 사자고 했어요.”
“(남자) 그때는 이게 작아서 눈에 잘 안 보일 거라고 생각했어요.”
“쓰고 나서 어떤 생각이 들었나요?”
“(남자) 아.. 민망하면 중국인인척 해야지.”