Korea – The Low Down Adventure
I f’in love being in Korea, even if Koreans don’t love me. They see me as Japanese, maybe Chinese, but rarely Korean. After a second look, they see the Korean in me – and then I'm just an American to them. The kind that left to chase the American dream, only to return to Korea to flaunt it.
But that's not me. I cling to the Korean in me. I’m afraid that soon I’ll wake up forgetting how to keunjeol (formal bow) to my elders on Seollal (Lunar New Year) and the Chuseok (Harvest Festival). Or that I’ll forget how to set up the memorial table for jesa.
Proof of my Korean blood? My love of over-the-top fashion. Visit Korea and you’ll quickly grasp that there are two forms of fashion – cheap, gaudy style with too much lace, floral, glitter, and sequins – or head-to-toe in the biggest, most expensive high-end designers, securing VIP VIP customer status (one VIP ain’t nothin’).
When I’m in Korea, I binge on the tackiest shit I can find. I buy the gaudiest shirts for dollars apiece (this time around, it’s a cream shirt with phat cobalt stripes and an owl photo transfer and big pearls glued on it). And then I’m in a concept shop, spending so much for a T-shirt that I’m too embarrassed to admit the price. It’s the dueling contrasts that make me love Korea so much. It’s a clash of cultures in a country with a collective identity to the core.
And this culture clash got me twisted when picking out stationery! We could do a full year of Korea Kits and still have endless options. The first two STMT X Korea Kits I purposely skipped the cutesy style, heavy on characters and random quotes. It felt like cheating – it was too easy. I also wondered if it was too much, too loud. But this time around… I full on embraced it.
The first shop I stopped in almost gave me a heart attack. I had to step back and take a deep breath – too much rad. I spied notebooks that totally embody the Korean graphic style that I love. I walked away planning to take a day and think about it… but as I was headed for the door, I spotted the two-color ballpoint pens. The colors? In yo face, like the rad graphics on the notebooks! My people do not disappoint! I ran back to the notebooks and scooped up the entire selection. STMT X Korea was taking form and it was on…
And you know what? I had to go with the notebooks that rep my people. The pens made the decision easy, but the decision was already made for us... One of the covers has a girl straight up bootyclappin’!
I walked the floor looking for Mystery Item options, and despite me not wanting to double up on a writing instrument, I couldn’t pass up the felt tip pens. The turquoise color, the slick body, the perfect tip – dreamy. The only thing not going for it? It’s almost too cool to be paired with the notebook and ballpoint pens. But then it hit me – this group of rad lo-fi office supplies perfectly represents Korea. It’s a culture clash meant to be.