Monday, June 7, 2010


One of my Korean friend (hyung) invited me and my roommate (also hyung) over for a dinner. We sat there and talked for 7 hours about all kinds of subjects, including life in Wyoming, military, food, relationships all the typical stuff most Korean (guys) would discuss about when they are together.

Of all the subjects we talked about, the military and the relationship talk stood out to me the most. Every Korean male citizens are required to complete their compulsory military duty which lasts for 2 years before they turn 40. Most people completes it when they are in their early 20s. Due to my extraordinary circumstances of living in US ever since I was 12 and continuing my education, I had to put off my compulsory military service at least until I graduate.

Previously, I considered about fulfilling the requirement by working in a military-defense related job, because it would actually make use of the field I am studying in and I get paid (not great, but incomparable to regular service) at the same time, even though the length of the service is 4 years. Seeing how these two hyungs I mentioned can endlessly talk about what kind of military life they have learned, I further reconsidered my idea about how to complete my military duty. From what they claim (and I'm sure it's not false), even though the military life in Korea can be excruciating and pose a great challenge, the experience you retain is invaluable as it shapes you into a better person, potentially creating "a leader" out of yourself. The most challenging fight is the one against yourself after all.

The aspects regarding the difficulty of military life poses no consideration for me at all. Of course, I'd prefer an easier path but if that's not an option, I would certainly accept the alternative. However, what's most important is which path is most advantageous to not only myself, but to others that I care about. This is what gives me the most trouble in terms of selecting the right path. I will have to think very deeply and cautiously about this matter. I am glad though, to be presented with the other perspectives of military lives, whether biased or not.

Relationship talk was somewhat of a.. delicate matter for me to discuss about. Back few months, of the time when I was engaged, they were reluctant to share their opinions with me as they claim that I was very headstrong (more like stubborn) about marrying "the girl of my choice". Not very long, we broke up because we failed to settle our differences and truly understand each other while at the same time, I had a very hard time placing my trust on her. Nonetheless, everyone around me agreed that it was the best thing for me to do, as I am too young and am not quite in the position to be talking about something as crucially important as marriage, which can change the course of my life permanently. Ultimately speaking, I prevented myself from making one of the biggest mistakes but it was also a very good opportunity for me to realize that such decisions must be given the deepest and longest considerations with acknowledging the fact that it also affects the lives of other people that are close to you. Yes, the damage (mentally and financially) that was done to me after this ordeal was harsh but I also find it to be quite proper as my immature actions have hurt a lot of people.

The hyung that invited me over is now together with a Japanese girl whom he loves very much. They plan to get married within the end of this year. Even I can see that they are meant to be together. He said something about a famous saying which co-exists in Asian territory: "When it comes to food: Chinese. When it comes to wives: Japanese". We cracked up after hearing that, but based on what I've been hearing from a lot of people, maybe the latter part could very well be true, seeing how there has been a lot of successful interracial marriages particularly between Koreans and Japanese. Either way, this is an unrelated talk for me for time being. I need to properly situate myself into more of a stable position and become a better man before even discerning about such things. This will probably take many years.

Lastly, they asked me what I want to do with my life in general. So far, I could give out basic answers such as "I want to get a PH.D, finish my military duty, work and support my family". Then one of the hyung asked me again: "No no, what do YOU want to do with YOUR life? What is your ultimate goal? What do you strive for to make yourself happy?"

Such question at the moment, is impossible for me to answer. It makes me content seeing others become happy. It propels me to excel in what I do right now to support others for them to achieve happiness. It's not something I can achieve on my own. I am not stating that I am a type of a saint, egalitarian or even a masochist (albeit contradictory). Maybe it's the way I'm grown up, the things I've seen in my life or just my nature. I am certainly not a good person either, more of an evil person if I had to say. I've equally screwed over many people (both intentionally and unintentionally) as I helped others. Still, I want others that I care about to be happy with their life before mine, because that is the only way I can be happy.

This is why I cannot answer the question. Determined? Yes. For a purpose? Yes. For yourself? No. It's a void and a hollow prospect.

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