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From the Stone Soup Blog

An excerpt from

How Nationality Affects the Eyes

Sue Park
Sue Park, 12
Incheon, South Korea

I stood in the middle of the hallway, frightened. I took a deep, slow breath as I took a giant step through the whooshing crowd of children. I quickly scanned the group of kids next to me; they looked like 3rd-graders that were enjoying the trip. I was blankly staring at them for a while when I heard someone calling me. My homeroom teacher motioned me to come, then smiled at me. At first, I thought she was waving at the playful boy behind me, but as I stuttered, she came up to me and told me that it was my turn for the interview. At that moment, I screamed, inwardly, “I don’t want to do this!” As my teacher carefully held my wrist and took me to the man from North Korea, I did not practice my script but rather practiced the karate skills that I had learned in kindergarten, fearing sudden violence. When I finally reached the door to the interview room, which looked like a torture chamber, my teacher nudged me calmly. At that moment, my teacher appeared to be a frightful green monster pushing me to the town of hell. Recognizing my fate, I trudged to the chair and quietly sat on the corner of it, ready to leave at any moment.

Surprisingly, the man didn’t look any different from a normal South Korean man. He had a warm smile and he did not wear the military clothes that I had pictured in my head. As I quickly scanned him and looked into his plain black eyes, there was an awkward silence. And it felt like a millennium.

When I couldn’t stand the silence much longer, I blurted out my first question: “What is the main obstacle you have faced in South Korea?” and as he answered accordingly, my stomach rumbled with guilt and fear. The man calmly listed out the prejudices and perceptions South Koreans had of him, and how difficult it was for him to find a job due to the people neglecting him after listening to his North Korean accent. As he listed out these examples, my guilt increased more and more due to the fact that I could relate to all of them. As if he noticed my pain, he asked, “Is something wrong?” and I replied, “No, I’m fine!” But, I knew this was a lie.

*          *          *

You can read the rest of Sue’s personal narrative on our website: https:// stonesoup.com/stone-soup-blog/.

About the Stone Soup Blog

We publish original work—writing, art, book reviews, multimedia projects, and more—by young people on the Stone Soup Blog. You can read more posts by young bloggers, and find out more about submitting a blog post, here: https://stonesoup.com/stone-soup-blog/.