Yet Another Disharmony in Flushing

I look around me again. Standing, where I stood once again. Walking, where I walked once again. The signs I see, I’m used to it. The first time I came here struck me as a surprise. I admit. Seeing the familiar Korean just blocks away from a world of English truly gives an illusion that in fact, you are standing in the middle of Seoul, and not, Flushing, New York.

And yet once again I sense disharmony. Quite different from what I felt the first time I was here, for sure. As ironic as it may sound, just visiting here once before already imprinted the image, the world of English and Korean in harmony in my head that it was no longer a “new” shock or stimulation. Yes, stimulation. Humans are animals that adapt to the environment – an important trait that has helped the survival of our species for thousands of years. In other words, we could be in the middle of a barren desert, or an ice cold field covered with snow but we will, eventually, get used to it. Get used to it. And that is shockingly, what I was doing right now. I had already gotten used to seeing the Korean among English, and unconsciously, made the link that “this is what Flushing looks like.”

So I am in an already familiar scene. And yet why is it that I am still feeling a sense of disharmony? This thought process actually occurred quite consciously, as the reason, to my surprise, was no surprise.

The reason behind the disharmony I felt the first time as well.

.

.

.

A third language.

And a vast amount of it too.

Yes.

Chinese.

.

.

.

You see, perhaps I didn’t realize it because I was so focused solely on the Korean. Or maybe it was because the initial disharmony was aroused from the identification of a “non-English” language (and such an abundance of them) in a predominantly English speaking country. Regardless the reason, i had not seen it before, and now, I do.

And seeing a third language mixed in with the Korean really hit me with the reality: this is not their streets anymore.

You see, there used to be a time where the main street of Flushing was predominantly filled with Korean, and Koreans. That, unfortunately, is the tales of the past. The moment you rise from the subway, it is impossible to unhear the loud, almost shouting sounds of Chinese flooding into your ears in every direction. Everywhere you turn your eyes, you see it. I admit. This is more of a Chinatown than Koreatown.

The main streets have been taken by the Chinese community, so naturally the Koreans had to move away from the main streets. Realizing this reality – no, to be physically able to SEE the reality, I dragged myself with a bitter-sweet smug on my face to Union Street, where they say the “K Town” for Flushing is.

‘Ironic, really’ I think to myself. How I think about this situation. It was never inherently Koreans that occupied that space to begin with. There had been people living there before, and really, even that land had been forcefully taken away from the Native Americans. And yet here I was, thinking about the “defeat” of the Korean community, and how they had to be “pushed away” from the Main Streets.

And as I arrive at the alleged “K Town”… I stop.

And burst out in laughter.

There it was. Again

Chinese.

For some strange reason – or frankly, perhaps it is because the Main Streets were just SO dribbled with Chinese – I had the strange notion, or the expectation that the so-called “K Town” would be too, flooded with Korean. And yes, there was indeed  a vast array of Korean signs and boards. But so was Chinese.

This made me realize – no, FEEL the crawling precarity for the Korean community. Here we have a large community who rely on each other of the same ethnic background to survive. They lack the English proficiency to find jobs outside their community. And already it is being integrated into ANOTHER yet foreign community? Then, say, if the Chinese community grows so large. Or say, that another different community takes over the Main Streets of Flushing, and the Korean community is yet again forced to push further outwards. And say this continues. Eventually, what will become of this community? Where will they stand? How will they survive?

This is the kind of affect I wish to translate in my works – the sense of creeping danger, sprinkled with anxiety that the Koreans in Flushing very much would feel as well. How would I do this? I’m hoping to rely on the visuals and the use of music to accomplish this. The work “Fragments of Machines” by Emma Charles, does a spectacular job in talking about the “carrier hotels” in Manhattan. With exceptional use of cinematography and symbolism, it captivates its viewers and leaves them with a feeling of discomfort, and awareness. I hope to achieve a similar outcome.

 

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~ by Sung Jin Kim on February 28, 2018.

6 Responses to “Yet Another Disharmony in Flushing”

  1. I award this blog post the “Feelie” award, as the way the writer wrote about how Chinese had seeped into what was previously a predominantly Korean neighborhood made me feel for the writer and for the Koreans in general, with the writer’s thoughts adding welcome commentary to the situation.

  2. Learning Affect – I loved your thorough description & how you came to feel the precarity of the Korean community through the affect of your ecology

  3. Best Feeling:
    I think your post demonstrates the best sense of feeling because of your introduction. You separate the familiar from the unfamiliar in a way that is interesting but also transmits affect onto the reader.

  4. Most “feelie” – I like how he expresses his feeling through the sentences.

  5. Best feeling: your descriptive language really evoked a strong sense of anxiety and unease regarding the precarity of your site.

  6. Learning Affect – This blog post is short yet creates a strong affect among the viewers. The repetitive appearance of the word “Chinese” helps in emphasizing the expansion of the Chinese neighborhood.

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