Dunlaps in San Salvador

Online journal of the Dunlaps' adventures in San Salvador.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Korean in El Salvador

I asked Sang Uk (known around school as Saggy) to write about what it was like to be a Korean in El Salvador. Saggy has traveled extensively and has a global view of his future in this world. Here is his perspective.

El Salvador is a small country that is nestled in Central America. Civil strife ravaged the country only a small number of years ago. Its political state is constantly landlocked in an indirect battle between left wing and right wing supporters. However, these small setbacks are not preventing the country from quickly raising its once damaged economy.

The above summarized historical definition also applies similarly to another country. All one needs to do is to replace the world ‘El Salvador’ with ‘Korean Peninsula’. Korea shares some historical pains with El Salvador. Korea also takes pride in its rising economy. Korea is as much the small jewel of East Asia as El Salvador is the pearl of Central America. I am a Korean.

Unfortunately, Koreans in El Salvador do not generally fit in. Due to our history, we’re fiercely independent and it doesn't help that Salvadorians are independent, too. El Salvador has a large gap between the upper class and the lower class. Most Korean families set up large factories for cheap quantitative production of materials and, as such, appeal to the lower class, while making enough cash to be considered upper class. This ‘breach’ alienates Koreans in a way comparable to bats. We don't really belong on land, but are not totally comfortable in the air either.

That’s not to say that Koreans totally exclude themselves from Salvadorian life. Spanish is learned rapidly by Koreans in order to communicate with the indigenous people. Communication, however, is limited to necessary talking. Styles of humor and topics of interest are much different between the two peoples. As such, Koreans tend to hang around one another rather than socialize around with Salvadorians.

The world we live in is not a flat one. We live in a spherical world where every inch of the globe is different from any other. It is hardly surprising that Korea, which is thousands of miles away from El Salvador, should have different customs. Koreans in El Salvador, unable to fit in properly, have set up independent churches, restaurants and schools here. I myself have many Salvadorian friends, and I've learned to properly communicate with them. I've lived in El Salvador for two years and have grown accustomed to the Salvadoran cultural heritage. However, I still marvel at how different I act when I’m around Koreans than when I’m around Salvadorians.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to post some of my pics. I'm a Korean who spent a lot of time in El Salvador living down there for months on end.

I have a house down there and married a local girl. Anyone want to see pics?

You're right, Salvadorians are much like Koreans but very different. Koreans like me have a Confucian background and defer to authority, higher education and age.

In El Salvador, I saw some of the youth defer to age but not really. There is no value of education for the kids in the pueblos.

I found living there discouraging because there was a lot of human potential but many chose to languish in their homes waiting for cash remittances sent monthly from their relatives working in the United States.

1:04 PM  
Blogger Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude, i'm a salvadorean that loves Korean women, they are hot!

7:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

is it knowledge bowl practice as usual on thursday this week? after the competition and all, i just wanted to know if they schedual was th same

6:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

life is coffee and coffee is life!

2:30 PM  
Anonymous Salvadoran Born said...

As a salvadoran I took a little bit of offence to the word used to describe salvadorans in their own homeland as "indigenous". I feel that it was not the correct terminology. Koreans are the migrants in El Salvador. I found it rather offensive to be thought of in that manner. Koreans in El Salvador should not think of the OWNERS of the land as the anthropological "indigenous" people. It makes it sound like Salvadorans are under Korean rule. Which will never be and over my dead body. So please take care in the terminology you use in future posts. thanks,

11:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


3:04 PM  
Blogger albert said...

Go back to north Korea you'll fit right in with kin young whore dinasty biatch

7:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel like Salvadoran born feels offended because you called him indigenous, because in El Salvador people view indigenous people as lower. They like to think they're closer to spaniard. That's why the word indio is an insult. It's racist and colonial.
That's one thing Korea has that El Salvador doesn't, pride for it's ancestral past. I'm a Salvadoran currently living in the ROK.

9:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very energetic post, I liked that bit. Will there be a part 2?

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4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Salvadorenos are incrediby forgiving and patient people. As a korean man living in ES, i make many mistakes linguistically and culturally but the peeps view my mistakes as forgiveable since i am a "salvadoran in training" lol. The gangs are what piss mee off most in the country. They are an exported byproduct of the USA and festering in ES. Otherwise i enjoy ES. I was born in the usa in los angeles and koreans exhibit the same problem of staying with their own kind. Yeah, its the comfort zone but if u want to really know the peole and country, you have to go through some growing pains, get out of the comfort zone and start exploring. You will be pleasantly surprised.

8:26 AM  
Blogger geekgasm said...

Great story, I stumbled upon your blog while Googling "La Carreta Chillona". I'm of Salvadoran descent and I'm looking to get in touch with my roots. Are you planning on updating the blog of do you have a new page? Thanks!

10:07 AM  
Blogger Moreno said...

Hi, I'm an el salvadoran man married to a korean woman living in Canada. And i have to say that el sal culture and korean culture can appear to be at the opposite end of the spectrum. Koreans can be conservative and reserved, while el sals are not. We are loud and loose, koreans are not. We both respect our elders, but koreans take it to the next level. Also, el sals are very affectionate and often touch eachother (hugs, cuddling) where koreans are not as much...not to say koreans do not hug or cuddle, but not like latinos)

I have a slightly different perspective as i also live in Canada and so the dynamics of Canada and our backgrounds are interesting. My

5:10 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I don’t like Koreans, Chinese, and Muslims in my country. This people are like rabbits they reproduce like crazy Andreas with the local economy. I don’t even know why my people don’t kick them out.

1:40 PM  

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