In Korean, there is a word called Bae Soo-jin as a combat term. Bae Soo-jin refers to setting up camp with your back to the river in order to make the soldiers fight to death by making them have nowhere to run in battle. This not only refers to the actual battle camp, but also metaphorically refers to “a situation where there is no backside as if you hit a bae-soo-jin”. Among the words used in the Western world, there are the following words. “Burn Your Bridges/Boats”.
The meaning of this sentence is that it is by a river, and breaking a bridge or setting a ship on fire means that there is no way back. So, it is used in a similar meaning to hitting Bae Sujin in Korean.
I sometimes describe the life of immigrants with the above words. Meanwhiles, it is tough to live as an immigrant without burning the return bridge. Immigrants are well aware of what it's like to live in a foreign country with regret and constantly look back on their hometown. And I know that the more profound the nostalgia for my hometown, the more difficult it is to look forward to the life of immigrants and the blueprint for the future.
When you arrive in a foreign country, all the time you have experienced at that moment stops until that country becomes your own country. Like a child who has to be reborn and adapt to a new environment, as if traveling in time, you have to learn everything one by one, adapt, and go through trial and error to challenge yourself.
And you have to jump into the job market to make a living. At this time, no benefits are allowed as foreigners. Under the same conditions, they are desperately trying to get a job that is essential to maintaining their status. In a foreign land where immigrants have arrived, the careers and experiences they have cultivated with zero ground.
In this regard, many immigrants feel two emotions. On the one hand, immigrants feel hope for future rewards for their challenges. On the other hand, you have to fight isolation, loneliness and frustration, standing in a barren wilderness with no one to help and no one concern to your situation.
As an immigrant, I am also facing adventures and going through many trials and errors. No reason for poverty or political issue, but because of the abilities we and our families have that are well suited to a particular country and region, we flew and settled like a sailboat sailing in a natural tailwind. However, I think that immigration is one of my destiny, but it may be a subject of curiosity, rejection, or sometimes worry to the settlers who have already settled and lived.
Because immigrants recognize this fact, they try to obey the law and always try to be kind with a learning attitude. Of course, not all immigrants are like this. However, the immigration they experienced was like a field that allowed them to leave everything in the past and stand at the starting line again, that is, a lesson in humility. So, they try to obey the laws and rules of the place they settle in and become a member who can do something to help the community.
Although life for immigrants is hard and each day is a series of days when you don't know what's going to happen, there are many reasons why immigrants take up this challenge. And when you set out for an unfamiliar land, you may have set out to find your own solution to life that you couldn't find in your home country.
And you may be being rewarded for your challenges by constantly asking yourself questions and seeking answers.
Seeing this series of processes as immigration, I too became an immigrant without realizing it, and now I am about to take the oath of American citizenship, but I do not regret the life of an immigrant. Because I was born as a Korean myself, I am always grateful that I had another opportunity to go back to the beginning and learn from the beginning in one part of my life.
Because I am grateful to be born as a Korean and to be able to go back to the beginning in one part of my life. Just as a baby learns to walk, learns to speak, recognizes its surroundings and creates a self-image when taking its first steps, I also created a new self in a new environment. For example, if I was in Korea, I would never have become a painter. There was very little chance of that happening, and I don't think there was any intention to do so.
But it seems that while I was struggling to survive alone in a new environment and unspoken, I asked myself more questions and spent more time waiting for answers. This is one of the biggest advantages of immigrant life. There was a process of realizing what I really wanted to do and what I wanted to become.
There is no doubt that the life of an immigrant has become a catalyst for me to find what I really want to be and want to be.
So I like to try new things and experiment with different things. I think that life itself is a place of great experimentation, where you make a lot of mistakes, learn from them, and discover your true self.
From this point of view, every day is hard, complicated, but the life of an immigrant has the power to make you think about life itself.
Myungja Anna Koh