Tim Learn is a wonderful man that I think has a lot of very insightful things to say. AlliesOpinions is honored to host him for our very first guest blog feature.
Be sure to wander on over to Tim’s blog as well. “Tim Learn Blog”
Why I Wrote the Second Chewy Noh
Writers always find reasons for writing the books that they do. Sometimes it’s for the mere fact to entertain either themselves or their audience—but an audience is always better. And sometimes, the audience is whom the author wants to reach.
When watching TV with my wife, she likes to point out which actresses or singers she thinks are beautiful. And as she is Korean, she most often points out girls with large eyes and a nice complexion. Every country has their standard of beauty. The problem, however, arises when I contradict her. These girls aren’t beautiful to me. Maybe because I’m a quiet person and like people of the same ilk, or because I tend to be a bit more serious and like a person who levels me out—I usually point to the ones that look quiet and have friendly faces. Nonetheless, my wife thinks I have horrible taste in women. I’m not sure if that’s ironic or not.
What I can say is that after teaching here, in Korea, for almost ten years, I’ve seen many students. I haven’t liked all of them, and believing a teacher should do so is a myth. It’s treating them differently that a teacher should avoid. But there have been some that I find particularly endearing to me, and they tend to be quiet and friendly looking—among them a few girls.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love girls in every different type they come in. Girls are awesome. Boys scare the teacherly nerves out of me. They don’t listen. They fidget constantly and do everything in their power to not do homework. I should know—I still am one.
But when it comes to girls, there’s one type that pierces my heart every time: the young, soft-faced ones that, for some reason in the environment they live in, feel they aren’t pretty. It devastates me, only because they’re usually the ones I like the most. And even worse, they should never have to feel that way. I can attest for a fact that not one of my boy students has ever brought up such claims—not once! But time and time again, my female students feel they are less than adequate in one area or another. It defies reason.
And so that’s where Chewy Noh 2 comes in. I wrote the character Su Bin in it to voice this dilemma. Su Bin is degraded for her looks—even by family members—with most saying, “At least, she’s smart.” This may seem exaggerated, but it’s not. One parent actually said this about their daughter and I couldn’t sleep for days. Who would ever think this way or even say these thoughts in front of their child?
Now, I don’t want you to get the wrong impression. Not all Koreans think like this, just as all Americans or Canadians or wherever you’re from are not all enlightened individuals. This lack of self-esteem is a problem with every little girl in the world. The Korean-type does not hold a monopoly on it. And I hope, with Su Bin’s character and the feelings she shares in Chewy Noh and the Phantasm of Winter, some girl here or there might relate, realize, “Hey, it’s not just me,” and like Su Bin comes to see, every environment has a different ideal of beautiful. Somewhere out there, someone will think you’re amazing, no matter how the rest of the world looks at you.
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