Then I thought, ‘why?’.
Most of the interviews in any publication, this was the question what everyone asked.
That was one of the questions I got from my family who don’t really understand the reasons behind all the traveling I wanted to do. My answer was ‘I learn.’ and I got the sarcastic feedback, ‘what can you possibly learn?’ and ‘why does it matter?’ Well, good question too.
Trying new food, seeing new places, meeting different kind of people, and all the other ‘new’ experiences… everything excites me. I used to think the excitement and the desire of ‘new’ were the motive for my travels. It was, and still is, but that’s not all.
Especially during the last year of my continuous travel, I realized what really made me going; it was finding the similarities and differences among all of us. We fight, we argue, we criticize, and we compete, but all of us humans are just living in this world. No matter where you are, you eat, you sleep, you wear, you cook, you laugh and you love. We are all same. It’s the subtle differences, ‘how’ we do it.
As a Korean, from the country where has a very unique culture food and language, I always thought Korea was really ‘different and unique’ than any other places in the world. Foreigners can’t possibly like our food, understand our culture, and know about our history. It was so obvious the foreigners can’t figure out how to use chopsticks, and don’t know how to use things in Korea. But I was wrong. Plenty of our ‘unique’ cultural aspects were from many other foreign countries. It was quite shocking to me when I first realize the fact. We, Koreans, were not so ‘unique’ after all. We, people around the globe, are all human who are making our way in this world. One way or another, we are living.
The shock wasn’t a bad thing though. Since then, I found out the discovery was an exciting thing. By learning other cultures and digging deeper, I learnt more about my own culture and custom. Compare and contrast; I guess that’s the key of any kind of the education. If you didn’t look at a lot of great photography, you wouldn’t know what is the good factor to consider. There’s nothing to compare. To be a better photographer, you have to have a big knowledge database.
It was easy to think the connection between other Asian countries like China and Japan. China was the king of the world for thousands of years, and our ancestors always consider China as our ‘big brother’. However, it’s not easy to connect the dot with other countries like Finland or Latvia, far-far away across the ocean. The subtle differences I see from how different way we think and do the same thing; that makes me very excited.
For a long time, the whole time while I was growing up, I dreamt about the ‘different’ world that I was living in. In some way, I always thought we are the minority and lonely people, and it’s quite true to be honest. However, we’re not so much lonely anymore, when I saw the people around the world doing just like the same thing we did at home. Because I was thinking about ‘who I really am’ for a long time, until now, that’s why seeing these similarities and differences are so important to me. There are plenty of foreigners who love Korean cuisine, enjoy the floor-based lifestyle, and understand my language. And so do I, I enjoy other cultural aspects of different countries, just like them. I’m one of them.
We are all same, and different. That makes the world interesting. For me.