South Korea's complicated embrace of gyopo - latimes.com
“Reporting from Seoul - Ann Babe knows her real name, birthday and hometown. That's because it was all included on the note left with her at the South Korean bus stop where she was abandoned as an infant in 1986.
However, beyond the name of the orphanage where she was later adopted by an American couple, that's all she knew about her South Korean roots.
The only way to find out more, Babe decided, was to return to the land of her ancestors.
Ann became one of many ethnic Koreans raised abroad who return to explore their heritage. Some come to earn money and brush up on their Korean or to please their parents. Babe took a job teaching English to learn about her roots.
What she found was a culture quite unlike that in the United States. And though she appreciates the sense of community extended to returning ethnic Koreans, at times she still felt like a stranger.
The term ‘Gyopo’ connotes "our Koreans who happen to be living overseas in another country," said David Kang, a second-generation Korean American and director of Korean studies at USC. He emphasized the tribal focus of the word: "It's this very atavistic view of Koreans as our blood overseas, almost."
For some ethnic Koreans who come here, the term gyopo has carried a negative connotation, singling them out. But most accept it as a practical label.
About 7.5 million ethnic Koreans live outside Korea, 2.5 million of them in the United States, Kang said.
As Korean Adoptees of full-blood one faces similar comparisons and are considered as the same by many Koreans. So they expect you to be able to Speak Korean but you DON’T have one or both Korean parents if you were adopted by Non-Koreans. You might be a Half-Korean like the KWB but again might not have learned Korean much, or enough for them. You have to be patient in explaining exactly who you are and your family. OH, how to do this when you cannot communicate!?
Based on her interactions in South Korea, Babe says she can break down the attitudes toward gyopo into three types.
She described the first as "a person that's older who is sort of angry about you being a Korean but not being fully Korean." The second type is "very friendly and helpful" but sometimes "overbearing when they try to convert you or reform you."
The third are people who seem flummoxed and simply incapable of grasping her background.
But gyopo who look Korean but behave in a "non-Korean" way may be a target of discrimination. Kang also pointed out Koreans' tolerance for most other foreigners' behavior: "If you're white, you can get away with almost anything."
Looking Korean has affected her employment opportunities as well.
Many English teaching positions posted on the Internet include "no gyopo" clauses. "They don't fully understand that speaking and appearance are not really related," she said of employers. Michelle Kim, a New Jersey-raised gyopo, described an interview scenario that has become familiar. "They say, 'Oh, we didn't know you were Korean; we thought you were American,' and I say, 'Well, I am an American.' "
She added that "gyopo only" jobs usually pay less.
The KWB notes are that YES, this is true but it is all based on Korean’s perceptions of “Best Teachers” and the Institutes must give in to the whims of the mothers, the AhJumMa who wants a White teacher even if they are from Belgium with a heavy accent. The KWB has lived here 14 years and lost many jobs to ‘Whitey’ nothing you can do about it!
For some the reality of being a banana does not give “White Privilege” in the land of our mothers/fathers. SIGH…