[Q&A] Do I have yellow fever?

Yellow feveraspiring teacher asked:

Hi there!

I want to teach English in South Korea after about 4/5 years. I’ve been wanting to teach English in almost all Asian countries, but decided on South Korea at last. Haha I suppose this interest started when I was 12 (interested in martial arts and it just fired up from there to languages and beyond).

Okay, with that said, most of my friends are guys and I have no problem conversing with them or even being dorky with them. I haven’t had a girl friend since 2010, and I suppose that is a problem (I have no one to talk to when it comes to dating guys). I have been in a 2 year relationship, but broke up with him because he didn’t hold my interest.

Anyway, since I’m not really planning to return from South Korea, I thought I might as well marry someone there too (have absolutely no problem with this haha). I told my mom and my conservative dad and they both said whatever makes me happy, they will accept.

Here’s the thing, though. I’m afraid I might suffer from yellow fever and it’s bothering me. Or maybe I regard Asians as celestial beings and am often very shy when it comes to approaching them (if my mom didn’t tell the lady working at a Chinese clothing store that I was teaching myself Mandarin, Japanese, and now Korean, I probably would never have talked to her at all besides the usual for business). This makes me wonder if I would actually be able to converse with them in Korea. Fear of rejection, maybe? I don’t know.

I also like to make a study of things. Like when my mom promised me a kitten, I bought books on the history of cats, grooming, etc. I know people aren’t something you can own, but is this curiosity or the yellow fever coming through? I really don’t want to be seen as trying to be a Korean, or an Asian for that matter, but I really love everything about the cultures (okay, most cultures) and styles. Even though I’m curious about all that, I know I’ll always be a foreigner to them even after I gain citizenship.

Another thing, that is quite flattering actually, is that I’ve been mistaken to work at the before mentioned clothing store a lot of times. Some customers would ask me how much does the items cost or if I can fetch them another size. Then I tell them, “Sorry, but I don’t work here.” The most recent case (two ladies with a toddler) laughed it off, saying that I looked Asian. That brings me to another question. Asian guys that are willing do date foreigners – are they more likely to date a blonde (favouring the difference) rather than a short, dark-eyed brunette?

These silly little things seem to gnaw at me.

Also, how do you stop being shy around people who you think are more significant than yourself?

I think that’s it. Sorry if it’s off topic a bit, and thank you so much for reading. I hope I haven’t bored you. C: Thank you for keeping this blog, it is by far my favourite (you guys seem really warm-hearted when replying and for taking the time to put up with worried persons).

I must admit, I recognized myself in many of the things you wrote. I usually don’t have female friends, and mostly hang out with guys. I used to practice martial arts. Since I fell in love with Kimchi Man I am really interested in Korean culture and people. I research everything all the time, yes, including the time when I got a cat. And sometimes, when I lay in bed at night, I start worrying what it will be like when I go to Korea. Will I ever fit in there, what if they are better than me in some ways…

But the thing is, Koreans and the rest of Asians are people like any other. You are certainly going to have bad experiences with some of them, and you are certainly going to have good experiences with others. Amazing people live there – people who you should admire, but also those who don’t deserve anyone’s admiration. Just like any other place on the Earth.

I think you don’t need to worry about having yellow fever.  You are obviously a very curious and enthusiastic person. It is good you have something that preoccupies your mind, it makes you a happier and more interesting person. Unfortunately, not all people respond well to enthusiasm.

Also, everyone has preferences when it come to being attracted to someone. It only becomes a concern when those preferences blind us to an otherwise great person who might not fit our mold.

I guess it all comes down to that it is pointless to worry because you have no idea what will happen. As difficult as that might be to imagine now, you might not care about Asia at all 5 years from now. Or you might be there having a great time.

I said this before to girls who are worried they are not the type that Korean men prefer – you are not looking for a whole Korea to fall in love with you, and you are not looking to fall in love with a whole Korea. You need one guy. And there is no doubt that you can find him. If it makes you feel any better, I have dark brown hair. :)

Since I never managed to stop being shy myself, I have no idea how you can stop being shy, but I am sure if you move to Korea and keep seeing Koreans everywhere all day long the novelty will wear off.

You seem realistic, you know you will always be an outsider in some way, but I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing, it’s just a different way of living. And having people who you are close with and who love you is what makes you feel like you belong somewhere, not having someone on the street not stare at you.

I read so much about Koreans because I was in a way trying to ‘prepare’ myself for a relationship with Kimchi Man. Same things seemed to be popping up all the time. But when I got to know Kimchi Man I realized that I am dealing with a Korean guy who has no interest in StarCraft, doesn’t like rice, whose parents are really welcoming to me, who is not that good at using chopsticks, and who fears karaoke. If you move to Korea your friends, your boyfriend, and one day your husband are going to be individuals, not a statistical average of all Korean people.

– Oegukeen

10 thoughts on “[Q&A] Do I have yellow fever?

  1. This by far is the best blog I have been too! I can RELATE to everything that was mentioned above in the Question/Answer.

  2. Thanks for this post! I just found your blog after feeling a liitle depressesd. I told my family that I was learning Korean and “yellow fever” and “Asian obsessed” were some of the first responses I received. I feel that, if I’m learning a language it’s not because I think someone’s hot. If it was just that, I wouldn’t want to learn about the culture. I’d just go out and find an Asian guy and not bother to get to know him while I pin all sorts of stereotypes to him and ogle his hotness.

    • I also have a problem when people make comments like that. It insinuates that Korean culture has nothing profound to offer and Korean men couldn’t possibly be attractive so only explanation is that we have some sort of crazy obsession.

      For me it is easier to ignore because it doesn’t come from my family since they know I had no interest in Korean culture before I met Kimchi Man. Random stranger’s comments are not so hurtful. All we can do is just live our lives and hope they change their prejudiced attitudes.

      Learning a new language is going to broaden your horizons and keep your mind fresh, so good job! :)

  3. I love all your answers,you’re the best.i need help getting Korean friends.I’m very inquisitive and also love to learn about different peoples and their cultures.I’ll be really glad with your help.cíãõ!

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