KOREANS and ROMANIANS (I)
Here I am a US citizen (ok – Canadian too) born in Romania and living in Korea. How am I adjusting? I think I am adjusting pretty well. I am learning about Korea and Koreans, and I am catching a bit of the language too (though I love languages, I do not have much time these days).
A few things about Korea and Koreans helped me see parallels with Romania and Romanians.
First of all is the location of our countries and the size. Both of our countries are relatively small (even NK included) and we are both surrounded by three great empires which seek and sought to control our territories. Romania is surrounded by Turkey, Russia, and Hungary. Of course – with the exception of Russia (which now doesn’t even have a border with Romania), Turkey and Hungary are relatively weak contries. However – I am talking about the past. At one time or another – Romania was under the influence (and even oppression) of the Ottoman Empire, Austro-Hungarian Empire, or Russian Empire (Soviet Union etc).
Romania is at the intersection of 2 continents and is somewhat at the crossroad between these three great powers. Korea is not at a similar crossroad (it is on the coast), but there are still three countries that have conquered her and/or have tried to control her: China, Japan, and Russia.
(I would put Israel in the same boat with us – between the great powers of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Syria/Hittites. I am referring to the ancient form of these countries, though parallels exist even today).
Thus – I do feel a certain solidarity with Koreans and Korea. And we are connecting. We come from “underdog” countries, many times oppressed and conquered by bigger and stronger neighboring countries, but we have fought, prayed, and survived.
In times of oppression and mourning (for we have suffered much) we developed a survival instinct and a humorous side. Yes – a humorous side. Sometimes, instead of crying and complaining, we decided to make jokes – as unbelievable as that may sound. But about this parallel between the countries – some other time.