K-town – affect, doors & boundaries.

K-town is usually a part of New York that I, with great effort, try to avoid at all costs. This awkward block of West 32nd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenue makes me uneasy. And so it was with great discontent that I walked with a Korean friend towards this part of the city to what my friend described as ‘grabbing something nostalgic to eat’.


It was when we ‘entered’ 32nd Street that I noticed a change in my friend’s behavior – he changed mid-way in a sentence from speaking English to Korean. When I asked him about this rather abnormal choice of language code, he simply answered – ‘because we’re in K-town’. Obviously there is no ‘rule’ that enforces people to change their language, or any behavioral traits for that matter, when we are in a certain area. However, if this came naturally to my friend, I now have what I would call a phenomenon that I could further expand into research.

In fact this ‘phenomenon’ is exactly what Teresa Brennan brings up in her writing, “The Transmission of Affect” when she opens with the question: “Is there anyone who has not, at least once, walked into a room and “felt the atmosphere”?” (Brennan 1) But in fact K-town is far from a ‘room’ where a specific entrance and exit exists in the form of doors and windows. So how does K-town affect the way people (Korean, and foreign) behave and speak?

I doubt that I will come to a single, unifying answer to this question because indeed affection is not caused by a single factor or body but by “continuously affecting and being affected by other bodies” (Bennet 21). However, I intend to look further into the matters of how K-town, as an ecology, affects people through the noises that it reproduces, the visuals of Korean signboards, and just simply the environment itself. Also if this affection is taking place, where do the boundaries lie if doors that mark the entrance and exit are non-existent?

-Jinha Hwang-


~ by Drasleona on September 20, 2015.

One Response to “K-town – affect, doors & boundaries.”

  1. Hi Jinha,

    I believe I learned the most from your post because it’s a very real example of what it is like to “feel the atmosphere” as Brennan stated. As a Korean, I can really relate to your anecdote and how there’s something different about K-Town that makes me want to act or talk differently as soon as I enter the area. It really brings up a lot of questions and thoughts about how an environment can affect the behaviors of people. Great post!


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