Monday, February 2, 2009

Alternate Universes

You know the episode of "Friends" when they show what life would've been like if things had gone differently for each of the characters? Like what life would've been like for Monica if she stayed fat? 

As I walk the streets and experience the events of everyday life in Korea, I've found myself wondering about my life had I never been adopted. While never for a minute do I regret my adoption (from my perspective, it's one of the best things that ever happened to me), I am curious about whether living here would've changed my personality today.

My adoption story is probably much different than the experiences of most adoptee reunions since my birth father eventually got back on his feet and seems to be making a good living. So, I probably would not have lived in poverty my entire life had I stayed in Korea. From SangKwun's explanation of his life, I would assume my life would've followed his and I would've lived in the countryside for most of my young childhood with extended family. SangKwun talks about catching fish with his bare hands, I wonder if I would've been more of a tomboy if I grew up in that environment?

Probably around the age of 11 or 12 I probably would've come back to Seoul to live with my birth father (like SangKwun did). One thing I think is interesting is that my birth father, SangKwun, and I seem to have many similar personality faults. (These are easier to see than the positive personality traits.) We are all somewhat stubborn, are terrible with directions, and have tempers (mostly around people we're closest to). I wonder if the three of us living in the same household with these traits would've made us understand each other more or butt heads a lot? Would we still be close today or would these traits in each of us cause a divide?

Finally, I grew up in a house with happily married parents. If I lived in Korea, I would be the child of divorce, as my birth father has been divorced twice. I wonder if this would've changed my outlook on love and marriage? (Though SangKwun seems to be madly in love with Emily and plans to marry her someday.)

These are just thoughts running through my head. I know I'll never know for sure, but I like to think I'd be the same person I am now, just with different cultural norms. (And a much stronger preference for rice and kimchi!)

What do you think?


Julia said...

I love deep thoughts like this, Kim. It's such a gift to see your life from a different point of view...and I think it probably makes you grateful for what you've had in this life. I don't know if you'd be different from living in Korea but I know I'd be sad....there's no way you would've made your way to SLU to meet the Fab Five, or even Mark. What a weird thought!

Mom said...

Kim, we're glad that this time before teaching begins has given you the opportunity to get to know your birth-father and brother and to learn a little about Sankwan's early childhood. There will always be "What If's" in life but we can not begin to imagine what our life
would have been like if you and Kevin had not been a part of it!! I bet that by the end of this year you will love Kimchi!

Erin Folwarski said...

Here's what I think would have happened if you had stayed in Korea: I'm pretty sure you'd still be the funny, loving, caring, and strong willed "cream of the crop" woman that you are today, but kicking ass in Korea instead of St. Louis. And by some strange coincidence, you would have gone to SLU to be an exchange student, met me by working at the Spagetti Factory one summer, met all your great SLU girls in the dorms, and then one night at the bar, meet Mark, fall in love, and there you go. Oh, and you stayed at the Roach house during summers off from SLU and got to know/love Mary and Dennis, and Kevin.

Aunt Carol said...

Kim, none of us can know how a life in a different environment would have formed you, but I am so glad you came into our life here in the US! Did your brother live with your birth father in his early years, or was he away from him until he moved back to Seoul?

Sang-Shil said...

I'm also a Korean adoptee, and when I was in Korea I had what-if thoughts like that all the time. As in constantly. I still do, even now that I'm back in the U.S.

I think the difference for me is that I know a lot less than you do about my Korean family. I was abandoned at the gate of an orphanage, and so the list of my possible stories is endless, and will remain endless until I can find out some more information.

I love reading your blog; please keep sharing as much as you feel comfortable with!