As I live longer in the South, the more I like the region.... My comfort in living in the South does not necessarily stem from my lengthy sojourn in the South; rather it reflects my rural background during my childhood in Korea. The American South and Asia have some similarities. As John Shelton Reed once said, "Somebody once called Charlestonians [meaning southerners] 'America's Japanese,' referring to their habits of eating rice and worshipping their ancestors, and the Southern concern with kin in general is indeed well known." Nowadays, if I travel outside the South, I become uncomfortable and worried, and have culture shock. My feeling of marginality is even more severe when I go to Korea than when I am in the South. This has become more the case now that I have made a deeper commitment to the South and have three southerners in my family--two sons who were born, grew up, and were educated partly in the South, and a daughter-in-law who is a white, native southerner. All these factors lead me to think that my living in the American South is not a historical accident. It feels more and more like karma.
28 December 2003
The following book excerpt is for my blogfather, Geitner Simmons of Regions of Mind. It comes from One Anthropologist, Two Worlds: Three Decades of Reflexive Fieldwork in North America and Asia (University of Tennessee Press, 2002) by Choong Soon Kim, author of An Asian Anthropologist in the American South: Field Experiences with Blacks, Indians, and Whites (U. Tenn. Press, 1977; out of print), Faithful Endurance: An Ethnography of Korean Family Dispersal (University of Arizona Press, 1988), and Japanese Industry in the American South (Routledge, 1995).