I am Jiyoung, but in Western countries I go by Georgia. I was in the university theatre group and the first role I got was called Georgia, and for three months in rehearsals I was always called by my character’s name… so soon, I got used to the name and decided to call myself Georgia in English.
I’m currently an MA student in English literature at Ewha Womans University, South Korea. I thought doing a master’s in literature would be the same as reading and loving novels… it’s not. I have no idea what I’m doing in my degree and I’m sick of reading and dissecting Foucault and Agamben that I’m heading to Australia this year to relax and figure out what I want to do with my life.
I love traveling and meeting all kinds of people. It’s where I get most of my energy from. I have an immense enthusiasm for walking around everywhere, going on cheap trips around the world, and just talking with people and getting to know about their lifestyles, cultures, and beliefs. I can become best friends with people sitting next to me on planes, my students, a friend of a friend who’s agreed to take me around just for a day.
I love to push myself out of my comfort zone. I have a knack for gathering people, whether it be the audience for a theatre performance or my group English lectures which I conduct in the summer and winter holidays. In Korean the correct term would be in-gi, (gi, as in the Chinese chi. It means people flock to you wherever you go. Not the same thing as being popular – I just attract myself to people, including the crazy ones, and vice versa.)
I also love writing. I have to write to clear my head when I have a massive dilemma. I wrote a 200-page memoir when I was in high school and published a book of personal essays with other high school students nationwide – which helped me get accepted to a lot of the major universities in Seoul.
I’m bilingual in Korean and in English; I speak better in Korean and write better in English. So I’m always writing in journals, on Microsoft Word, scribbling away, and organizing my thoughts that way. When I post my thoughts on the misogyny in Korea or how I should change my thoughts for the better on Instagram, dozens of my friends and people whom I don’t know share or save it on their own accounts. I think writing is often the best communication method, especially when you have something deep and personal but extremely strong you feel you must get out in the open. I hope to publish a book of personal essays with other graduate students from all over the world this year.
Teaching! I tutor mostly adults in their preparation for TOEFL. Right now I have seventeen students that I teach in groups and individually. I organize my classes and post tips on learning English on my business Instagram account, so I have random people from all over Korea and even from other countries asking me for help and inquiring about my classes. It’s tiring but mostly fun as I get to meet all kinds of people from diverse backgrounds who all have the common passion for learning and improving their English skills. I always learn from them as much as I teach. Every student is different and most of them are joys to work with.
I actually wrote something for my 24th birthday last September:
I love arriving at the cafes just when they’ve opened at 7am to work while drinking either sparkling juice or an iced soy latte before I need to hand in the assignment or have to go to class later that day. I’m quite sporadic when it comes to work, and I have a horrible attention span, so what really works for me is setting the alarm to every fifteen minutes so that I’m always alert and focused. Ever since I came to grad school, I’ve depended on my friends to drag me to the library or cafes to make me study. The people that make me study the best are the ones who never need to take breaks and can just read and read for hours at a time without getting distracted by their surroundings – their calm aura helps me to focus on my work. When I have to pull an all-nighter, I go to sleep for a bit and wake up at three or four in the morning to work furiously. From 10pm to 3am are my worst hours – I really need the sleep then.
I have a ton of working spots that I go around. It can be my bedroom, the kitchen table, cafes, the university library… one of my favourite places is the outside tables at one of the cafes in university. I love the sunlight and having the appropriate number of people passing by lets me focus on my work instead of dozing off or playing Candy Crush on my phone.
I listen to New Age classical music, it’s a playlist that I downloaded back in 2012 when I was in high school. It’s so comfortable and nice and reminds me of the days when I really worked… high school will probably always be the time when I worked the most in my life. The list is comprised of Yiruma and other Korean and Japanese pianists.
I have two or three homes right now: my parents’ house in Bundang, which is a suburban town an hour’s drive from Seoul, my grandparents’ house also in Bundang, where I spent my high school and half of my university life, and the tiny apartment near campus in Ewha which I share with three other girls. I feel most comfortable in my tiny room in the Ewha apartment, so I guess I would call that my home.
I love this place because I always dreamed of having a place of my own in Seoul as an adult. It’s an old, tiny apartment and can get quite messy and dusty but it’s on the top of a hill so I get free brilliant sunrises overlooking the Namsan Tower every morning and can catch the sunset on my way uphill in the afternoons.
My room is probably the smallest I’ll ever live in in all my life but the wallpaper is a nice shade of lavender and I’ve decorated it with matching pink curtains and a pink lamp so that I’m finally living out my high-teen romance protagonist bedroom goals. I’ve also put up pictures and fairy lights so that I’m surrounded by the smiling faces of the people that I love. Many friends come to sleep over (foreign friends traveling in Seoul and my Korean friends after a night out) or just to chat, and I love the freedom of having people over and talking for hours comfortably on the bed, too. The girls I live with are also super nice, and cooking together and just talking in the morning or after we’ve come home is so comforting and relaxing. I have to move out in a month because I’m moving to Australia but I think this place will be always memorable to me as my first house in Seoul as a grown-up.
It’s not really hidden as it’s the national palace but I love Gwanghwamun. It’s supposed to have the best Feng Shui in the country and I totally agree – every time I go there, I feel so open and rejuvenated. I think it’s one of the few places in Seoul where there are many tall buildings and people but you don’t feel claustrophobic at all because the space is just so wide and open.
I sometimes walk from Ewha to Gwanghwamun, which takes me about an hour, and eat Godiva ice cream. And close to that are is Bukchon or Seochon, the traditional villages with cute cafes and shops that are so nice to take strolls in and read books. I think these old houses in these villages are what make Korea unique – not the skyscrapers or the technology. So I always take my foreign friends to Gwanghwamun on a sunny day out.
I’d like to collaborate with Sensers that would like to travel, learn about foreign cultures, discuss issues to do with race and gender. I could support others in The Sense Network by hosting meetups or showing international people around in Seoul, or getting more people to join.
Feminism, racism, and climate change are such important issues that I feel very passionately about. I would like for everyone to read Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble, Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, and Edward Said’s Orientalism, stop using plastic, stop eating meat, and just think about their privileges. I think people in their teens and twenties have the right to be educated, but also the responsibility to educate themselves, not just for their own good, but for others less privileged.
You’ve got to read Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble because it is so easy to read and explains everything about gender performativity.
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