Guest Post: Silent Love (A Short Story)

I’m honored to share this short fictional story by Sveta, who blogs about books at Sveta’s Reads and Views.

Have a fictional story worth sharing on Speaking of China? Visit the submit a post page to learn how to have your post published here.
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(Photo by Basheer Tome via https://www.flickr.com/photos/basheertome/5562132114)

He watches her from afar, the umbrella in his hand as it rained. The raindrops ran down her unprotected face, creating streak of tears. Late afternoon sun peeked out, almost shy and hesitant in breaking the reverie between the two. The clouds were of white hue, the unexpected summer rain. The smell of earth invaded his nostrils, reinvigorating him in body and soul.

Don’t be sad, he thinks to himself as he looks towards her. He just wants to make sure that she will be all right, his final goodbye. Silently he tries to send messages towards her, hoping against hope that she’ll receive them and will understand what he cannot express in words. Don’t be sad, he repeats the message inside, please remember the happy times you and I have had; the time I told you rabbit living on the moon stories, the time I taught you to use chopsticks and how to eat bibimbap.

All this time had passed, countless years, yet I cannot say these words in my heart. I know that you might think I have no feelings for you, but it’s not true. I wish you could understand more of my culture, but you cannot, and there are things that I cannot find words for in your tongue to express.

The present image faded, no longer there in front of him, but instead the history unfolded, how he first came over to a public school, and silent with humiliation of not knowing English. How he came to meet that unusual girl, Therese Fairbanks.

Slowly, even with blocks along the way, the two of them move forward to becoming more than friends, until that fateful day before the start of their senior prom.

It was May, the rain pouring steadily down, soaking the granite, the splattering heard everywhere. He is dressed in a black tuxedo, a small bowtie around his neck, and in his hands he carries a corsage. His parents are nearby, taking pictures of him, proud of his status, of his scholastic achievements. His father walks over then, and whispers into his ear. He remembers the father’s words, what he will do after the graduation.

He checks the corsage, noticing the crimson rose in the center, surrounded by baby’s breath, an island in the center of an ocean. His parents do not know about Therese, for it is customary not talk about a woman unless there is intention of marriage. His mother is dressed in traditional Korean dress for the honor and takes pictures of him. He hides the corsage, but his younger brother spots it. “What’s that?” He moves over, his fingers getting it out.

He says it is nothing as his fingers tightens over it.

His parents come over then and spot the wrist corsage. “A nice Korean girl, right?” His mother asks as she smiles. He walks away, hoping that they will forget about it. “How come you hadn’t told us?” She asks.

He does not want to tell them that it happens to be an American girl and not a Korean girl. His mother’s family suffered under the American control. “Ah, my apologies,” he says smoothly.

“I should meet her,” his mother continues as she takes a picture of him. She motions for the younger brother to get into the picture as well. “It’s good that you are sticking to Korean girls. I am proud of you. Aigoo, I have heard so many horror stories from the church members about their sons dating American girls, you wouldn’t believe. None of the relationships worked out however, and at least now the sons know better and are dating Korean girls.” Despite the feeling that a ship was sinking inside his heart, he stood beside his brother, smiling.

Very soon he went inside his car, carefully placing the corsage on the front seat so it will not get rumpled. He hopes Therese will like it. He hears rain in the background, pounding against his windows, sees the dark gray skies with endless rain, the streetlights begin to shine faintly, their light in waves when compare it to the incessant rain. His favorite weather though. The two of them agreed to dine in a romantic restaurant and then travel to the prom. He has tried to make it romantic to the best of his ability, but due to his schedule was unable to. She wouldn’t have a limo picking her up. The restaurant and corsage is the best he can do. She will pay for the tickets to go inside.

He stops by her house and honks the car, waiting for her to come out. He wonders if she will remember the umbrella and then decides no, she will not remember it. He gets the umbrella out and walks up to her house, ringing the doorbell, hoping that no one besides Therese will open the door. Much to his dismay, an older woman opens the door, staring at him curiously. She is tall, almost as tall as Therese, with a lined face and a mass of curly light brown hair. She brushes her hair away from her eyes and stares at him curiously. “And you are?” She says without preamble. He clutches the umbrella tightly, the drops becoming tiny waterfalls. He does not want to tell this woman of himself, for she might know his family and if it should be spread around that he is here, his family will be ashamed of him.

“I am a friend of Therese,” he tells her.

“Hmm,” she says, studying him. “For someone who’s from China you’re not that bad looking.”

He doesn’t reply. He is used to people thinking he is either from China or Japan, or else assuming he is from there. He stopped trying to explain to others where he is truly from.

“Hmm,” she says again. “I’ll go get Therese.” She shouts Therese’s name loudly and he sees her enter the room, wearing a crimson red dress that exposed her shoulders, a silk shawl the color that matched the gown was wrapped around arms, tiny flowers sewn in. Her hair was piled up, red rosebuds protruding from the curls. In a word, she is breathtaking.

She greets him with a smile and a wave of her hand as he places corsage on her wrist, carefully checking to make sure that it is not too tight or too lose. He does not meet her eyes, does not want for her to see his emotions inside. “It is still raining,” he says as he lets go of her wrist and picks up the tossed away umbrella. “I will walk you to the car.” He checks to make sure that she will not get wet and the two walk towards his car.

“I like this weather,” she says. “I often fantasized about romance on those days.” She chuckles.

(Photo by Holly Williams via https://www.flickr.com/photos/hollyleighanncatastrophe/7189104754)

Despite himself, he asks what kind of romance.

“Being in a restaurant as classical music plays, eating expensive dishes, getting an unexpected proposal.”

He does not say anything as he opens the car door and she gets inside. He gets into the driver’s seat and they drive away towards an expensive Korean restaurant that he reserved.

While driving, he calls the restaurant and orders bibimbap. She is sitting beside him, staring outside. The sun peeks out slightly, the dark clouds still on the horizon. He wonders if there might be a rainbow. “Have you ever eaten bibimbap?” He asks her, concentrating on the road.

“No. What’s that?” He hears shuffling from her side and sees her looking at him. “It has a cute name.”

“It is a Korean dish,” he begins to explain. “There are lots of vegetables inside, along with chili pepper and a raw egg and some meat as add-ons. Long time ago, the dish was for emperors.”

She doesn’t say anything.

“This dish, you mix it with chopsticks then eat it with spoon. Do not worry,” he tries to reassure her. “I will show you.”

It stopped raining as the sun peaked out as both saw a rainbow floating across the sky, the arc composed of violet, blue, then finally the bright colors of green yellow and red. “It’s beautiful,” she whispers. He turns towards her, noticing the arms crossing her chest. Tears begin to accumulate, dropping down on the dress, dark marks against the red color. “I hadn’t seen one since I was a little girl.” Carefully he parks the car, extracting the keys. Neither makes a move to leave though.

“We are here,” he reminds her.

“Please, let’s go in when the rainbow is no longer seen.”

“It may take a while.” He is eager to go inside, for the prom will start soon. Unlike her, once he sticks to a plan he does not deter from it and becomes stubborn to changes.

He exits from the car quickly, and moves to her door, opening it. Her eyes focus on his as her hand reaches out for his. He clasps it gently as she leaves her seat, her other hand brushing off the dress. From her hand he feels warmth encompassing his, and surprisingly, he senses a rapid heartbeat. Never before had he felt it from someone, much less from her.

In response, he feels his heart starts beating quickly as he moves her close to him, his body desiring to taste her lips, to give her the taste of himself. He finds himself throwing away the rules, if for a brief moment as his lips seek hers out. He senses her surprise and then he tastes mint from her breath as the breathing quickens for both of them. She stays in his arms for what seems like a long time, and reluctantly he lets her go.

Her eyes are wide; her lips are parted in shock. He turns away from her, the flush heating his cheeks. Inside of himself, he mutters in Korean, “Nae Saranghe,” the words he cannot say to her. Instead he collects himself and the two walk inside. He does not speak of what happened outside.

They are seated quickly, on the opposite side of each other. To his relief, she begins the conversation. Within the restaurant he hears The Classic soundtrack.

“Has anyone told you about the rainbow?” She asks innocently.

He shakes his head.

“There is this story of Noah and the ship. Noah was a righteous man among the bad ones. God was angry at the world and eventually flooded it. He spared Noah and his family though, and they lived in a ship. When they finally emerged from the ship, God set a rainbow in the sky, saying that this promise that He’ll never flood the earth again.”

“Interesting story,” he says. They continue to wait for bibimbap to arrive. He taps his foot impatiently, remembering the movie he had seen. He decides to tell her about the movie. “The music from a movie called Classic.” He says.

“I never heard of it.” The waiter then showed up with their water. She opens up the straw and begins to sip it noiselessly.

“It’s a Korean movie,” he explains. “It starts with a girl liking a guy, but she has friend who likes him too. The friend asks the girl’s help to write letters, and the girl agrees. They begin to write letters, and soon the girl discovers the story about her mother, how the mother falls in love with one guy while being engaged to another.” He stops, unwilling to spoil the movie anymore for her.

“How does the movie end?” She asks after a long pause.

“I will not tell you,” he says. “I want you to see it yourself.”

The food arrives by then. He showed her how to eat bibimbap, how to mix the red pepper and egg together with chopsticks, and then used his spoon to eat the food. She followed his suit. He sees that she likes bibimbap and feels relived. She starts to talk again.

“Would you like to make a promise?” She asks him.

He places his chopsticks on the table, surprised by her words. A promise? What does she mean? “What kind of promise,” he asks cautiously, his fingers remain near the chopsticks.

She places her chin on top of her hands, the chopsticks still in her slender fingers. “We will graduate soon,” she reminds him.

He nods his head in response, wondering where she is leading up to.

“I think,” she pauses as he sees her inhaling inside. She places her hands on her knees and her eyes look down. “I think,” she begins again. “I think I’d like to be your girlfriend.” This time he no longer sees her face. That was not something he expected. He expected for her to ask him about keeping touch together or something of the kind. But not a girlfriend.

“How is this a promise?” He asks calmly, calculating and wondering if there is something he should do or how to switch the topic from a girlfriend to something more favorable.

She clutches her chopsticks tightly, her fingers white from lack of blood. “Just promise me that I’ll be your girlfriend.”

By Agnes Ly (Agnes Ly) at Flickr – http://flickr.com/photos/agnes_ly/1394662616/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5601939

He panics inside then. A girlfriend, his mind echoes over and over. Not something he could escape from. He wants for her to be his girlfriend, but not now, not when his parents are thinking and encouraging him to date a Korean girl, not with his future being the way it is, a future leader of a special organization. Not when there is a very real possibility of him being killed. He realizes then that much to his chagrin, the magic of the day has flown away. He no longer wants to go to the prom. He remains silent, thinking the situation over, carefully considering the options.

“Will you wait for me?” He asks as he begins to eat again.

“What do you mean?” She asks.

“Wait five years before I say yes or no.”

“Why five years? Why not now?”

He finds himself no longer able to face her. He turns his head away from hers, feeling her eyes on his face. “There are things I need to do, things I need to prepare for. I cannot have a girlfriend now, it might ruin my life.”

“What things?” She asks.

“I cannot tell you,” he says. “Please wait.”

Afterwards she told him she didn’t want to go to the prom and so he took her home. He saw the tears flowing down her cheeks as she rang her own doorbell and ran inside when the door was opened. He drove home.

Few weeks passed until he graduated and then his job began. His father gave him the airplane ticket and he called Therese at the last minute, asking her to meet him at a restaurant for a final goodbye. During that time he contemplates on whether or not to tell his family about Therese and finally decides to tell them. Understandably they were angry and upset, his mother in particular reminded him of the atrocious acts the Americans have done against her own family. Despite their disappointment in his decision for a mate, he is still needed by them. “You will continue to work here,” his father tells him, “but you no longer will have us as your family unless you agree to break up with the girl.”

Even if the pain in his heart was great and he disliked the decision forced upon him, he told them that he will not break up with Therese. Instantly he was kicked out of the house, carrying clothes on his back. His father placed him in a more dangerous position than before and if he survived the next five years then he might return and claim Therese as his own.

With a heavy heart he returns to the much pressing present and no longer sees those happy times inside his mind. Instead, the present becomes more visible as he feels tears pour down his cheeks, mixing in with the rain, adding in the saltiness. His memories gather up together like a pile of leaves, each one unique and special, different emotion colored in, and he hopes that should they fly away, every single one will return to her so she could put them in a scrapbook and look at them each time she feels sad, and soon he watches as she gets up and walks away, her form and shadow fading into others, no longer standing out. He himself gets up and walks away to his destiny, wondering if he will see her again as behind them a rainbow begins to appear within the gray clouded yet at the same time clear sky.

(Photo by Ian D. Keating via https://www.flickr.com/photos/ian-arlett/24171851760)

Svetlana is a book review blogger and enjoys reading unique literature as well as discovering AM/WF books. Her blog has something for everyone. 

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Speaking of China is always on the lookout for outstanding guest posts and love stories! If you have something you’d like us to feature, visit the submit a post page for details — and then submit yours today.

Guest Post: 4 Things That Helped Me Adapt to South Korea

Linda Dunsmore, who blogs at Linda Goes East, never expected to end up in South Korea with a Korean fiancé. She told us all about it in her previous guest post, “Am I in the ‘Wrong’ AMWF Relationship?” How a Woman Who Loved China Fell for a Korean man.

But it’s not always easy to transition to a new country. After all, as Linda writes, “Before I met Jeongsu, the only thing I knew about Korea was that its capital is Seoul. I hadn’t even tried Korean food.” I asked Linda to share some of her tips for a smooth transition to life in South Korea – read on!

Do you have some advice, a story or other guest post you’d like to see featured on Speaking of China? Check out the submit a post page to learn more about what I like to publish and then submit yours today.

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habok33I’ve always been interested in Asia and its different cultures and nations. China had especially caught my eye and I decided to study Mandarin and even move to China – which I did and it was awesome. Then, I went to California to get my bachelor’s degree, with a plan in mind to move back to China – maybe even for good.

However, something, and I like to argue it were higher powers, had completely changed my path. Actually it wasn’t something but much rather someone. While studying in San Diego, I met a handsome Korean exchange student who instantly caught my eye. We quickly started dating and he is now my fiancé.

After graduating, I did, in fact, move back to China, were I stayed for a year in Hunan’s capital of Changsha. I got to travel the country and experience the local culture to a great extent. However, I wasn’t fully happy there. Being in a long distance relationship was hard and after 1 year in China, I decided to make the big move to South Korea.

Before I met Jeongsu, the only thing I knew about Korea was that its capital is Seoul. I hadn’t even tried Korean food. However, all of this quickly changed and is now a big part of my life. I would like to share some of the strategies that helped ease my transition into living in South Korea.

#1: Learn the Language

Soon after I met Jeongsu, I started learning Korean. I’m by far not fluent but the basics help me fit in the daily life here and make it a lot easier to live here. I signed up at the local YMCA and took a Korean course with other foreigners. The good thing was that I met other foreigners – some of which also have Korean partners.

#2: Eat local food

Food is a key part of every culture. It seems like Korea even takes it to a new level, having a certain set of side dishes for every meal. I remember the first time I saw “kimchi” (the most popular Korean side dish) in Jeongsu’s fridge back in San Diego. “I’m never going to eat that!” I screamed because of the foul smell. Now, I love it and eat it with almost every meal.

12417911_1203788122969275_6374892348853201382_n#3: Do as the Koreans Do

Koreans work a lot, but also take their free time seriously and love hanging out with friends. Drinking, karaoke or even Korean traditional sauna include only few of the dozens of things Korean take on in their free time. You should also be aware of the strict hierarchy here in Korea. When you treat people older than you in a polite way, you’re going to be much more successful living here.

#4: Make local Friends

Obviously, the reason why I moved to Korea was to be with Jeongsu. Having him here helps me a lot since he can support me when I have problems of communication and he explains cultural differences to me. However, even if you move to Korea alone, you should definitely make Korean friends. You’re Korea experience is going to be so much deeper when you have a chance to see how locals really live.

What are you waiting for?

If you are thinking about moving to South Korea, don’t hesitate too long! It’s a wonderful country to fall in love with. I didn’t know a lot about Korea before moving here but now I am astounded by the country’s vast history and culture. Korean BBQ, KPOP, awesome skincare products and loads of themed cafes are waiting for you here!

NEU8Linda writes about life in Korea, her AMWF relationship with a Korean man, traveling around Asia and studying Asian languages at www.lindagoeseast.com . She is also very active on social media, especially Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Speaking of China is always on the lookout for outstanding guest posts and love stories! If you have something you’d like us to feature, visit the submit a post page for details — and then submit yours today.

Guest Post: Raising Mixed Culture Kids in a Multicultural Environment

Leslie, the white Canadian woman who is also the author of the delicious blog Korea in my Kitchen, is married to a Korean man and raising her beautiful multicultural family in one of my favorite cities in the world — Vancouver, Canada. In this lovely guest post, she comments on the benefits and challenges of raising kids in a multicultural environment (and also shares some of her fantastic recipes, including one for my favorite Korean dish, bibimbap!). 

Would you like to see your words featured on Speaking of China? We’re always looking for awesome guest posts — check out the submit a post page to learn how you can have yours published here!

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“Mom, why are they looking at us?”

The biggest culture shock for my four kids this past year when we went to Korea to visit my husband’s family was that people noticed them. Old people would rub their heads at the stop light, or touch their cheeks as they passed by. People constantly commented and touched them. We think all our mixed kids look very Korean; apparently, not to Koreans. 🙂

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In Korea with their grandmother, Halmoni

We are fortunate to live in Vancouver, Canada, a very multicultural city with people from all over the world. When we are out and about, people don’t notice us as a mixed family. It was one of the things that struck my husband and me the most when we originally came back from Korea where we were used to being noticed all the time. We loved how we were just normal.

If people comment on the kids it is usually just out of curiosity or kindness. We don’t get any negative comments. Some comments are awkward, but not rude.

koreainmykitchen2

When people do ask, I get the usual questions:

“What is your husband’s nationality?”

“Where is your husband from?”

I have even had people ask me,

“Where did you adopt your kids from?”

Honestly, the most common thing people say is,

“Oh, your kids are cute!”

To which I smile and say thank you.

One of the challenges raising mixed kids in such a culturally diverse place is that they lose touch with their own culture. My husband immigrated to Canada from Korea when he was thirty. He is very Korean; he is Korean-Korean. But because we are so normal here in Vancouver, it would be easy to let go of his culture and raise our family simply as Canadian. As the mother, I have had the opportunity to spend lots of time with the children in their early formative years. Unfortunately, my Korean is not very strong and we need to make a consorted effort to teach them Korean; it is called a mother tongue for a reason. Likewise, I love to cook and culture is very much tied to food. Luckily, I really enjoy cooking Korean food and we eat it often. So the difficulty we face, actually is to retain culture and for our children to know and appreciate their ‘Korean-ness’.

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Nyles’ first birthday – Dol

As a result, in our family, we celebrate our collage of cultures. We embrace Korean culture and nationality. We eat Korean food, celebrate the holidays and stumble through learning the language. The kids save up money to go back to Korea to see their grandmother and beg to watch Korean dramas. For dinner, bibimbap and kimbap are the most requested menu items!

koreainmykitchen4

My parents are immigrants from Holland and I grew up in a Dutch Canadian community. Likewise, we have our little Dutch cultural things that we hold on to, certain foods and expressions and I try to pass those on to the kids too. They proudly wear their Holland shirts and gobble down ‘double zout droppies’, those really salty Dutch black licorice.

And of course, our children are Canadian. They proudly sing the national anthem and wave the maple leaf on July 1st. Here, in this country where they celebrate being a cultural mosaic, we get to pick and choose the best parts of all three cultures.

Ultimately, we just try to be ourselves.

koreainmykitchen5

Leslie writes about easy Korean cooking, kids and culture and shares comics about her life with her Korean husband and four crazy kids at www.koreainmykitchen.com.
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Speaking of China is always on the lookout for outstanding guest posts! If you have something you’d like us to feature, visit the submit a post page for details — and then submit yours today.

Guest Post: “Korean-American. Or Amerasian. Or a hapa. Why so many labels?”

Ms. A writes, “My mother is Korean and my father is a mix of many things himself, mostly white. I suppose that would make me Korean-American. Or Amerasian. Or a hapa. Why so many labels?” Her essay captures the frustration of dealing with labels, and what it feels like when you don’t quite “fit in.” 

Do you have something to say about being biracial and Asian, or raising biracial Asian kids? Or do you have a good love story or other guest post idea that fits the scope of this blog? Check out the submit a post page to learn how to have your writing published here.

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(Photo by Meg Wills via Flickr.com)
(Photo by Meg Wills via Flickr.com)

“What are you?”

For some reason, that question has always bothered me. Sarcastically, I’d once responded “I’m human. What are YOU?” Of course I knew they meant to ask my background or ethnicity. Being bi-racial, mixed, or “hapa”, this was a common question. I suppose what bothered me was that the question had a deeper meaning to me. What ‘am I?

My mother is Korean and my father is a mix of many things himself, mostly white. I suppose that would make me Korean-American. Or Amerasian. Or a hapa. Why so many labels?

Growing up, I never had an issue about being mixed. But somewhere down the line I ended up having an identity crisis. To non-Asians I suddenly became “the Asian one”. When I was with full-Asians, I was “the American one”. I grew a dislike to referring to myself as “half” Korean and “half” American. It felt like being partially part of something, yet never being fully part of it. Just half.

Perhaps this had to do with the community and if you live in a community that is familiar with diversity.

Of course, the feeling of not belonging in either “worlds” also had a lot to do with my upbringing. Sometimes I would have an American mindset of things, other times I would view things the Korean way. We spoke English, ate Korean, confusingly having conservative Korean values yet simultaneously liberal in other aspects. In Korea there is a Chinese-Korean dish call jjambbong that was a spicy noodle soup that didn’t have just one type of seafood and vegetables but a large variety mixed together. That’s what I was. Or maybe like a New Orleans gumbo.

As I got older, I realized that culture is a part of you, but not your entirety. It’s a blessing to have more than one culture a part of you. And yet because of that reason, it’s why you don’t have to choose to be solely part of one completely. It’s only natural values may clash and you may physically/visually not belong to a single race. Embrace who you are as an individual first. It’s okay to be different. It’s okay to not always fit in. Its. Okay.

Ultimately what defines you is who you are as an individual. People should remember you for who you are in the inside and the qualities you display as a human.

Ms. A is a woman who believes your imperfections are your perfections and that self-discovery is a never ending path.

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Speaking of China is always on the lookout for outstanding guest posts! If you have something you’d like us to feature, visit the submit a post page for details — and then submit yours today.

Guest Post: Lessons in Korean cuisine from my Korean ex

Just because you break up with your boyfriend doesn’t mean you have to break up with his cuisine too.

Sveta and her Korean boyfriend parted ways several years back but she continues her love affair with the spicy flavors he once introduced to her — flavors that she never expected to crave. It’s amazing how a relationship, even when it’s over, can influence you in delightfully positive ways!

Have a delicious story worth sharing on Speaking of China? Visit the submit a post page to learn how to have your post published here.

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(photo by Alpha via Flickr.com)
(photo by Alpha via Flickr.com)

Recently I went to a Korean restaurant with a Chinese friend. I had a craving for a spicy Korean dish called Ddeokbokki which includes sliced rice noodles, fish cakes and vegetables, and is flavored with a sauce called Gochujang. My Chinese friend ordered a mild dish with pork, while I ordered Ddeokbokki.

As the cooks were making our meals, I wondered, Did they think that I ordered the mild pork while my friend ordered the spicy Ddeokbokki? The servers even assumed I couldn’t use chopsticks — they handed me Western-style utensils when they brought the food to our table — and they weren’t the only ones.

“Do you know how to use chopsticks?” my Chinese friend asks me.

“Yes,” I reply as I pick them up and dig right into the Ddeokbokki, to the astonishment of my friend.

I break the egg and spread it over the dish, just like I learned how to do years before. Later on, I pick up a small piece of fish cake called odang, which was covered in red sauce, and encourage my friend to try it. “It’s really good.” I’ll bet nobody in that restaurant imagined that I would introduce my friend to Ddeokbokki.

As I continue eating Ddeokbokki, I have to laugh at how much my tastes have changed. Who would have thought that a girl who couldn’t stand spicy food before 2008 now craves Korean food and even likes it? If you had told me in my early twenties that I would learn to love Korean cuisine, I would have shot you an incredulous look before launching into the many reasons I wouldn’t enjoy Korean food. After all, the Russian cuisine I was raised on — salads, potatoes, vegetables, chicken and beef — never included spicy foods like Ddeokbokki.

(photo by Anna Lee via Flickr.com)
(photo by Anna Lee via Flickr.com)

But then in January of 2008, I met Elliott, an international student from South Korea — a man who I ended up dating until September 2010. While we ate a lot of American food when we were together, Elliott also started introducing me to spicier Korean cuisine. He even taught me how to use chopsticks because his apartment didn’t have any forks or spoons.

It took me a long time to get used to the spiciness of Korean food. At first, when he would make spicy ramen noodle soup, the inside of my mouth felt like it was on fire and I needed to have lots of water to quench my thirst. Sometimes I wasn’t even able to finish the soup. But despite that, I kept on trying it. Finally, on this one day in March 2010 when I was eating this spicy noodle soup, I mentioned to Elliott that it was a little bland and even added kimchi to the broth. He laughed and told me that I was behaving just like a Korean! That was the moment I realized I had truly fallen in love with Korean food forever, beyond all of my expectations.

I am reminded of the Yiddish saying “Humans make plans while God laughs,” which means that things never turn out the way you expect them too. That includes the foods you come to love and even crave in life, like a little Ddeokbokki.

Svetlana is a book review blogger and enjoys reading unique literature as well as discovering AM/WF books. Her blog has something for everyone. She is still single.

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Speaking of China is always on the lookout for outstanding guest posts and love stories! If you have something you’d like us to feature, visit the submit a post page for details — and then submit yours today.