Last weekend, I was up in NOVA during the trip I couldn’t get back from, and I went to a baseball game with my dad. During the drive up to Frederick, Maryland, we got stuck in the typical I-270 traffic, due to the fairly abrupt ending of the third lane. It’s not like my dad and I have a ton of things to talk about in the first place, especially with the language difficulties between us in the first place.
For whatever reason, my dad decided to start a topic which was akin to my mom and aunts always badgering me about how I need to get married and start popping out grandkids. The fact that it was coming from my dad was a little strange, but I guess deep down, he too wants to have some mighty grandchildren to carry on the Hong family name and bloodline, but truthfully my dad is fantastic with babies really.
It started with him bringing up a girl I went to elementary and high school with and even the same church, who is the same age as I am, and her dad is friends with my dad. And how about she’s now engaged, and that he was invited to the wedding as guests of the parents I guess. But then he said that she’s marrying a Vietnamese guy, and I just kind of snort-laugh, you know the sound I’m talking about. A Korean girl marrying a Vietnamese guy, it’s laughable to me, kinda.
This girl grew up much like I did; born in Virginia, raised fairly white-washed. But by high school, this is where we went separate directions. Whereas I went the direction of the freakshow, embracing my desire to be different and stray from the pack, whether it was through church or whatnot, she ended up going all hardcore hardKOREan pRyDe, and pretty much hung out with nobody but other Koreans. I’m not quite sure how such happens, because I went to the same church up until I was 16 and could drive myself anywhere but church on Sundays, and I don’t remember anyone trying to seduce me to the yellow side there, and for whatever reasons all the Koreans in high school shunned me before I could even shun them back.
The point of this is that throughout those socially tumultuous high school years, one of the biggest issues of the times were, well, I don’t want to say “gangs,” because gangs would act out in violence and destruction of some sort, but a whole lot of racial factions, I suppose is the correct terminology. All the Afghans, Indians and Pakistanis didn’t get along. The blacks couldn’t get along with the Hispanics, and the whites didn’t like anyone but other whites. And in my school, and my county, there was a pretty noticeable divide between the Koreans and the Vietnamese groups. It’s not that there was bitter hatred amongst the groups aside from maybe the brownies, but as it pertained to the Asians, Koreans and Vietnamese didn’t really get along.
When my high school tried to start up an Asian Students Club, I went to the first meeting, for some reason, I don’t remember why at all, but I did. But I do remember once getting there, the classroom was divided up in sides of the room like it was a gigantic game of dodgeball or something. All the Koreans were on one side of the room with the Vietnamese students on the other side. And then there were a few white-washed Asians like me, and anyone from India closer to the middle. I felt really bad for the Indians, because sure, India is indeed a part of the continent of Asia, but even they had to realize upon showing up that this was a club meant primarily for chinks, gooks, nips, and slopes. Needless to say, I never went back, nor joined. I think I went In the first place, so I could add the club to my college resume or something, now that I think about it. Oh well.
But back to the point at hand, I grew up with the understanding that Koreans and Vietnamese don’t really get along too well. Such doesn’t fully apply to me, since I’m as white as they come apparently to the eyes of others, so I have a few friends that are Vietnamese, but few are girls, and I wouldn’t even daydream about marrying any of them, regardless. So it’s amusing to me that this girl I knew growing up, would end up preparing to marry a Vietnamese guy.
All I can really say is that I don’t expect it to last. One of my cousins married a Vietnamese guy almost ten years ago. I remember at the reception, it was this odd mish-mash of both Korean and Vietnamese traditions, and the interactions between all parents and elders were really awkward and uncomfortable, because it was two different groups of Asian, neither of whom spoke English beyond a rudimentary, broken fashion, trying to convey happiness and congratulation at their conjoined families. And sure enough, the social rules took place, and it turned into all the Koreans one side of the restaurant, with all the Vietnamese on the other side. I bet everyone was as relieved as I was upon leaving the reception, and no longer out of their comfort zones.
Regardless, that marriage didn’t last long at all. I’m kind of distant from my cousins, but I don’t recall it even lasting a year. I don’t know the specifics at all, but something was severely wrong if a marriage doesn’t even survive an entire year. This cousin of mine is re-married, to a Korean guy, and I’m willing to bet that the overall sentiment of all parent/elders is that of more relief than the former. So much like that marriage, I’d be willing to bet that the girl I went to school with, hers will eventually end up in the shitter when something unfortunate, and undisclosed prior to the union happens. Pessimistic, yes, but sometimes social tendencies just weed themselves out in the end, whether the two parties want them to or not.
Korean and Vietnamese marriages, lol.