Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Japan V. Korea

Last night, our coop met for two hours to discuss some of the spicy inhabitants of this building. My husband was hopeful (and correct) that the meeting wouldn't go too much later than 10PM because he wanted to watch the final game in the World Baseball Classic: Japan versus Korea.

We have no cable in our apartment which meant either imposing on neighbors, or trekking out to see which local establishments might have the game on display. As it happens, the best candidates for the latter solution, are Korean bars.

Now, it's one thing to go to a Korean bar in the middle of the WBC if you are half-Japanese when team Japan is playing the US. It's another thing entirely to go when Japan is playing Korea. Given that my husband roots for the Scottish rugby team (ouch) each year, and that the only way he can watch these games is to head to Irish bars, I thought he had a pretty clear understanding of what it is like NOT to want to reveal one's ethnic identity when old wars and wounds are being re-enacted via sports matches. I mean, I was very carefully tutored not to show too much emotion to the English whenever the Scottish rugby team managed . . . something . . . anything.

I have to explain that I am not terribly good at watching games. I am stressed the entire time. I have a hard time getting my head around the fact that I am watching real people, and that their fates are not set in stone. I can't pick at a script, or search a storyline for clues as to what might happen. I have absolutely no influence over anything at all. And when the Japan v. Korea game went into extra innings, it was particularly stressful. The cheering when Korea came back in the 9th inning to tie the game 3 to 3 was fantastic. And there I sat, pretending to be happy . . . my husband so excited to see fans so happy.

"If Japan wins, then we are happy that they won. If Korea wins, we'll be happy because all these people will be happy," he said. I was miserable. I didn't know who I wanted to see win. I wondered what everyone was chanting. I wanted the game to just end. Yu Darvish, who looks like a pop star (he's half-Japanese!), was not having a good evening. I wanted to go home.

Japan went on to win, thanks to Ichiro, and I thought we would finally be able to leave this tortured environment. Except, there was my lovely husband, befriending a nice Korean man. "The Japanese are smart," he said. "They played us too many times and figured us out."

"The Japanese are sneaky," I said.

He agreed. "Where are you from?"

"California," I said.

"Hunh. But like, where. Like are you mixed?"

See, this is the thing. Asians always know.

Well, out it came, and then the conversation turned into a discussion of America, and how glad we were to live in New York, and how Korea was up and coming, and how Japanese husbands aren't nice, and Japanese women are going to Korea to look for husbands because Koreans are more sensitive, and how Korean women are more beautiful, and how the Japanese are Koreans anyway, and how awful Japan was during the war . . . and I was glad I lived in New York where we could have these conversations without too much difficulty.

And then we exchanged names--his was Paul--and talked about life and politics and the news, and this morning, I wished I had gotten more information, because I really liked him. And I'm SO glad this baseball thing is over.

...the war actually came up? oh man.

this yu darvish person. tasty. alas. SO YOUNG. wtf.
and oh my god he's 6'5''
I don't know if I would have had the courage to watch that game in a Korean bar...o_0
I'm half Japanese too and got pretty "torn up" when Japan played the US.
I have Korean friends and love the country (and food) but the "issues" between the two countries make me frustrated, sad and confused.
I enjoyed this post very much! You have a wonderful blog and I am looking forward to reading your book too!
Baseball over? The real baseball starts in a couple weeks!
Moonrat--Yes, I thought you would like Yu Darvish. He is also 6 foot 5. These things happen when we blend. ;-)

I_am_Tulsa--Thank you for the kind words! And, yes, the "issues" between countries are upsetting. Things are made easier by living in the US, where we always have the American thing to fall back on, which makes me grateful. I hope you like the book; I'm going to check out your blog now. Keep writing!

Scott--Ugh. Please don't remind me. WBC had some excellent playing which was fun to watch. But I don't know about following an entire season over here, what with our insistence on home runs and all that. I like how the game is played in the East.
I am still fuming that this magnificent tilt between nations took place THREE MILES from my house and I wasn't there in person to see it.

Alas, I didn't get home from work until 9pm and most likely could not have found a decent ticket anyway. Still, I loved seeing Dodger Stadium in the spotlight like that.
I'm sorry you didn't see it too, David! That would have been some game.
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