A high school girl came to Korea from America. She was an American/Chinese. She had left China as a baby and knew nothing about China, but she wanted to learn about the Orient. Her father let her come and work in the missionary’s office. She was only in high school, so the missionary looked for someone at church who had a spare room for her to stay in, and I would have offered, but I already had an American girl staying in my spare bedroom, so I didn’t have room. The missionary had room, but I think his Korean wife didn’t want her to stay with them. Koreans are not always the most hospitable when it comes to having people in their homes. They love to go out and have fun together, but they don’t always want people in their homes. The missionary really needed to find a place for this girl to stay. She could have stayed in an officetel, a goshiwan or something like that, but she was really too young to stay alone. (Officetels and goshiwans are types of one room apartments.) I suggested the girl stay in the dorm at the Christian university, and that is what ended up happening. She stayed in the dorm.
The first week the girl was here, we only saw her in dresses, but she went shopping. She was small and could wear Korean clothes. She bought herself blue jeans, boyish looking shirts, a baseball cap, and had her hair cut off like a boy’s. She got her ear’s pierced. She really changed her look right from the beginning. Her parents were older, more the age of what her grandparents should have been, and her dad was a preacher. They were strict, but she had her freedom, and she was going to change herself from top to bottom!
I invited her to come to the English Bible study in my office that my students were doing, and she came. At that time, they were always staying around after the study to play games, and she seemed to enjoy the games much more than the Bible study. She worked in the missionary’s office, but she was always late and really didn’t want to do it. She was dragging her feet a lot. She made friends with some random Koreans who spoke English on the internet. She went to meet them, and they really weren’t a good influence on her and were much too old to be her friends, but she was trying to demonstrate that she finally had freedom! They began giving her liquor to drink, and she drank it. They did You tube videos and made her the star. The You tube videos made her think she was a movie star and she had to account to her following. She really enjoyed making those videos and really got a big head about it.
She didn’t have a proper visa, so after three months, she had to leave the country. The missionary’s wife went with her the first time. They went into Japan, spent the night n a hotel, and came back the next day. However, after the next three months, she went alone. She took the KTX down to Busan and went across on the ferry. You see, you can leave the country as a foreigner and then turn around and come back and end up with stamp in your passport that gives you a three month tourist visa. That was what she was doing because no one had sponsored her visa, and working in the missionary’s office didn’t get her a visa. The second time, she went across on the ferry to Japan, and she didn’t want to spend the money to go to a hotel. She was alone. She also didn’t want to just lay down and sleep where she was. She wasn’t very internationally savvy. If I were her and didn’t want to spend money, I would have gone to a Japanese internet cafe because they stay open all night and also have beds you can rent cheaply there, but she didn’t do that. She climbed up into a tree, found a comfy place on a branch, and went to sleep. It was okay because no one bothered her, and the next morning, she woke up, got on the ferry, and came back to Korea.
She wasn’t done with her rebellion. She showed up at church sick one day. She hadn’t told the missionary what she had done, but she told me. She had gotten drunk the night before and was in trouble in the dorm because it was against the school rules to drink. Some students found her passed out at the front door of the dorm. They took her in and took care of her, and they weren’t going to tell anyone what happened to try to protect her because if anyone knew, she would be kicked out of the dorm and have no where to live. After church, I took care of her and got her proper food and medicine to settle her stomach and make her feel better and took her back to the dorm. Her rebellion was going too far.
She showed up in my office the next day. She had a meeting that afternoon with a dorm supervisor and was afraid she would be kicked out of the dorm. I asked her if she told the missionary what she had done, and she hadn’t. I urged her to talk to the missionary, and she did. He was very disappointed in her. He gave her a lecture about her Christian example. When she went to talk to the dorm supervisor, they lectured her too, but they were lenient. They didn’t kick her out of the dorm, but gave her extra jobs in the dorm as punishment and told her if she did it again, she would be kicked out for sure.
After that, I tried to make jokes with her from time about what she had done, and it only made her angry, not just the jokes, but anyone mentioning what she did made her angry. She couldn’t seem to control her temper at all. She got mad and yelled at anyone who mentioned what she did. I felt like she needed to learn to laugh at her mistake and move on, but she couldn’t.
Eventually, she went back to America. After she got back to America, someone told her parents what she had done, and the church here in Korea received a letter of apology from her no doubt prompted by her parents. She was back under their thumb. I hope she grows enough to be able to conduct her self right without them having to be strict on her forever. I’m not sure that her time in Korea helped her understand her birthplace any, but I am hoping she learned that making friends with random people on the internet and going out to get drunk with them and sleeping in trees are not a good ideas. She was lucky she chose a place like Japan where the crime rate is low to sleep in a tree because had she done it in any other country besides Korea or Japan, she might have been robbed or raped. I really wish the missionary had opened his home to her and let her stay in a room in his house because she needed older wiser people around her. I also wish that if she was going to work in his office, that he had been responsible enough to find her a better visa.