My Korean sisters!
These two beautiful ladies are Chin-Mi (left) and Jung-Min (right). I lived with both of these wonderful ladies for a full year in Japan, and we had lots of great times together.
(Yes, for those with keen eyes will notice I've put back on some weight since my wedding. For various reasons, of course, but primarily because with all the students on Spring Break I've been sitting on my butt at school all day.)
Recently, Mr. Terada the head of the Kumamoto Gakuen University 熊本学園大学 International dormitory 国際交流寮, the building adviser/manager who took care of us while we studied abroad, retired. We all showed up to his farewell party 送別会 and had a small reunion.
The wonderful surprise was that none of us knew the other alumni students were coming--the majority of us being from my tenure (circa 2003). It was a very big surprise, not only for Mr. Terada, but for us all. I was so elated to see them again, especially my Korean sisters and so I promptly ran right up and hugged them both!
While Chin-Mi is your standard prim and proper conservative Korean girl raised on wholesome Christian values, Jung-Min is your more flirtatious variety of Korean girl. I remember nights when I'd wake up in a fright having that strange sensation that 'someone was watching' me. Of course, Jung-Min was. She'd often sneak into my dorm room in the middle of the night, after getting a bit tipsy drinking beers and chatting with the other Koreans over some kimchi, and she'd sit on my bed and watch me sleep. As it turns out, she was a bit lonely and wanted company--if not some companionship. Such is the situation for minorities abroad, you often find yourselves bonding over the shared experiences of your particular situation.
Min and I would lie next to each other and talk. We'd console each other and each other's company was surprisingly relaxing. Sometimes she'd fall asleep on my shoulder in bed next to me and I'd gently pick her up, carry her to her room, and ever so careful not to wake her I'd tuck her in. Nothing ever happened between us, but our relationship was always very intimate.
Her personality is very upbeat and sassy--which I like in girls. If you have ever seen the amazing Korean film "Yeopgijeogin geunyeo" 엽기적인 그녀 (My Sassy Girl- my all time favorite romantic comedy) then I think you'll recognize the actress Ji-hyun Jun's trademark sassiness, teasing, and strong independent personality; a trait which many Korean girls like to emulate.
Unlike Japanese girls, I find many Korean women are not shy about their flirting habits. They enjoy the flirtatious tease as much as the boys who are on the receiving end of it. Although, because Korean culture is extremely conservative they are less likely to engage in "intimate" physical relations.
The comparison is a very interesting one, because even though Japanese women do not engage (at all) in flirting and deny themselves any right to engage in the social aspect of the 'sexual tease' --a natural biological attraction between sexes which plays a larger part in our instinctual mating habits which in turn directly affects our romantic feelings-- Japanese women on the outside seem to be 'overtly conservative' by refraining to openly flirt. However, they are much more liberal when it comes to sex. I've noticed that Japanese women, although highly guarded in public, are much more willing to engage in mating rituals when contained to the private sphere.
Whereas, my personal experience has been, Korean girls will always continue to push the boundary of what they can get away with in flirting--only to suddenly back off when it gets to the limit where engaging in romance becomes intimately dangerous, so to speak. Calling them teases wouldn't be fair, and frankly it's a little demeaning, because they aren't trying to get away with tormenting anyone. For them it's not about going from first or second base, or even all the way, if you'll pardon the metaphor. It's just that in their culture that is all they're allowed to get away with before it becomes culturally unacceptable (to them). Personally, I find it fun and stimulating to be friendly in the manner. There's something playfully innocent about it.
My real Japanese sister!
Here's my new little sister! Yayoi (on the right) is my sister-in-law to be exact. I've always wanted a little sister. Isn't she cute? She and her boyfriend, Masahiro, and the fam, all went to Dono-Dono of the Pissolino co., which is a fine Japanese styled Italian restaurant with an all you can eat pizza and pasta buffet.
You may wonder about the unflattering picture of them eating, but don't worry, Yayoi and I love teasing each other. We have a fun playful banter going... and it's what makes having a little sister so much fun! All considered, it's the least I could do for my new little sister. After all, I love her very much, and even though she makes fun of the way I hold my spoon when I eat, or the way I play tennis, or how many McDonald's French-fries I can shove into my face, she loves to tease me, and I figured it was the least I could do to repay her. I love ya' sis!