It could break you." Upon reading them, I felt pity, sadness even, for those who may never be able to connect with a piece of literature on a level as visceral as what I experienced with .For African women, storytelling is a lifeline, a treasured source of guidance, knowledge, healing and sisterhood that arises from the uninhibited expression of our shared experiences.When I came back to try and meet them inside I was told “Korean's only."Regina, 26 American When did you first more to South Korea? Being a black woman can be difficult, it's not easy but it has its advantages. I have a Korean friend who has spoken with me about how racist Koreans can be and how much he hates it. There is racism in Korea, but I feel like it is easier to deal with than the racism in America. It's quite easy to become more aware of one's behaviour.I first came here as a student in August 2012 and left. The ongoing use of ignorance as an excuse exposes an unending willingness to legitimize inappropriate and ill-informed behaviour.Yonela Noruwana, 29South African You've lived in South Korea and Cambodia, how has that been? And I haven't really felt oppressed by restrictions (such as the way you are expected to dress), I wear what I want, I party the same way I did when I was back home. People even take pictures of you without your permission or they'll pretend they're taking a selfie to sneak you into their picture. I had a male friend who had the same job as me, at the same institution, who was getting paid more.I really like South Korea, I have a lot more freedom here than in Cambodia or South Africa. Do locals stare at you and how is that different or similar to living in Cambodia? Have you experienced similar incidents here in South Korea? They don't know that touching your hair is not okay. But when it comes to marriage they are really against interracial marriage. You might be thinking, “it can't be that bad if you're still there."What annoys me most is when offensive and racist behavior is pardoned because of ignorance.I did watch a few You Tube videos on interracial dating in South Korea because I was interested in what was going to happen to my dating life, which was almost non-existent before I left South Africa anyway. It led me to start thinking about race and what life in Korea is like as a black woman. I began having conversations with other black women in South Korea. It was [interesting] getting used to the new environment and getting used to being othered. Well, when I first arrived a lot of Koreans didn't think I was American because I was black. The perception has been that black people are not from America. Since living in South Korea I have started getting modelling gigs. Young people would come to us with the “ Yo, what's up," attitude. So you left Korea and came back, what made you come back?What do you mean by saying getting used to being othered? What else was interesting about traveling or living in South Korea? Because in America I know I'm American but there isn't that much emphasis. Do Koreans still respond that way to black Americans today? The atmosphere; the party life is crazy and everything is open 24 hours. Since the first time you arrived in Korea to now, how are things different?
My friends went in the club, I went somewhere else quickly. It was the only thing on my mind, it felt right to come back. Living in Korea as a black woman, what is that like? More men are interested because we seem more exotic. It's nice to stand out in the Korean dating scene but it feels terrible to be fetishized. It's good mostly but I have experienced some difficulties with a few companies that won't hire you specifically because you are not a white female. But then realised and accepted that I don't qualify in their eyes. I find it really hard to believe that the issue is still ignorance.I argue that there is no misunderstanding when it comes to being sexually inappropriate.Universally we all know what is ok and what is not ok.But I didn't think too much about how it would be as a black woman, besides the issue of people touching my hair and how I was going to respond. Young people are open to black people, maybe it's not quite the same with the older people. People smelling my hands and touching my skin wondering why it's so soft. I wanted to learn more about the people and the culture. A lot of my teachers encouraged us to visit South Korea.I think I remember telling some of my friends that I'm no stranger to any of these things—for instance, when I had holiday jobs during school holidays I had a few white customers who were surprised at my mastery of English. Do you see yourself living here and settling long-term? What were some of the things you thought you would encounter in Korea?