Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What makes a Japanese.... Japanese?

Grabbing his Hoodie?
      How would you define someone who's Japanese? By the Japanese government's definition, through birthplace, or because of their blood? It's interesting to see how each country has a way to define what it means to be from that country. In the U.S. it's by birthright and in Japan it's by blood-right?  But who's to say one is right and one is wrong? It's like asking me whether I'm Venezuelan or American. I lived in Venezuela for a little over half my life, both of my parents are Venezuelan, and all of my family members (related by blood) that are alive today have spent most of their life in Venezuela. At the same time, the most important part of my academic life wasn't in Venezuela.  The amount of friends I have in Venezuela are nothing compared to the number I have in the U.S. (including the fact that my best friend is in the U.S.), and my closest relatives live in the U.S. I also posses two passports, one from the U.S. and one from Venezuela. Does this prove anything? Did I tell you that my customs are a mix from both side?
Happy Minesuke
     Just as a question my be risen to who and what I am, I believe many people in Japan are even more confused about they identity than I am. Why is this? My friend has told me that he's not Japanese but rather Korean and he's not Korean but rather Japanese. According to the Japanese government, this term would be called a Zainichi. Both of his parents are Korean, but he lived a Japanese life. His passport is Korean, but he doesn't speak Korean fluently. By the way want to know his name? He has three, Minesuke, Wungmo, and Yumo. When he speaks to Japanese people he uses his Japanese name (Minesuke), but when he speaks to foreigners he uses his Korean name (Wungmo). Why is Yumo in there? Because when Japanese try to pronounce his name they have problems pronouncing it so they call him Yumo (I call him Yumo, because it sounds cool lol). You might wonder if this matters, and the truth is that it does; and I'm not talking about only the spiritual, honorable, or abstract sense. His passport has his name as Ku Wungo, but in Japan he's known as Minesuke (formally in papers as well). This is a problem, because when he travels he has a different name. Yumo's friends are for the most part Japanese, and speak in Japanese with him. Knowing Japan as his birthplace and living in Japan during his lifetime, does it mean he's Japanese? Or does having a Korean passport with Korean parents make him Korean?
Sad Wungmo
    Other than that, what are his experiences? Are they sad? Because he has no place to call his real country? Are they happy, because he's had a lot of support? He's told me both about some of his good or bad experience. Those are more personal so I can't talk about that in the blog, but the answer that I can give is that he has. Any human being has good and bad experiences. Whether they are sad or happy. 
    Lastly, his personality can also be influenced by the culture he lives under. Does he follow Japanese standards when he goes through every day life? Well, I believe so. I'm not Japanese, so I can't say exactly what a Japanese person is, but if I were to compare him with other Japanese friends I have I would say that he's similar. Just like any other person he has differences. A lot of people have told me before that they're surprised by the type of person he is when they first meet him. He gives a different air to what most people think at first impression, and did this happen to me? Yes it did. I was surprised to know that he's a very studious person. I just became close friends with him this semester, but I had seen him last semester. I never imagined him to be a person who would study. He's also a very good friend to everyone who he considers a friend. He helps people a lot, and even gets angry for them when they don't. His friend are always there for him as well. He has tendencies that appear to me as being very Japanese, and his Japanese friends will agree with this as well. He likes to help me a lot with my Japanese, and I will help him with his English as well. Anyway, If you see him say hi (or Konnichiwa)!! He's a pretty cool person. Help him with his English (which is already very good), and talk to him like you would to any other person. No, he's not scary (like in the picture),
Angry Yumo


  1. I think the second picture is the best of the four. I never talked with this person but this picture makes him look like a very nice person, someone I would like to talk to.
    I wonder why you took pictures of him when he's not smiling because when he smiles, the photos really look amazing.

  2. I like this post a lot. Not only do you introduce us to an individual, you also discuss identity and important issues in Japanese society. This post is more focused than your others - great improvement.

    I also really like your first two photos. They are well composed and seem to show off personality. I can see how you were experimenting with representing his multiple identities but the last two photos are dark and difficult to see.


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