Elizabeth Shim

Name

Elizabeth Shim

Age

34

Location

New York, NY

Occupation

Co-Author of 'Seoul Sweet Seoul'

Own Words

I wasn’t always a writer, but choosing to be one full-time was probably the best decision of my life.

Before I became a writer I worked in energy and private equity. You could say I’ve come a long way.

My decision to write is inextricably intertwined with my Korean identity. It wasn’t until I moved to Korea I began a new life as a journalist, someone who learns from others for a living.

It’s great. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

Korea seeps into my writing all the time.

I remember when I first moved to Korea, a Korean American friend of mine thought I was crazy.

“I could never adjust,” she shook her head in disapproval.

“Crazy girl!” was also a common interjection.

But I adapted, or was crazy enough to adjust my expectations to the cultural norms of contemporary South Korea. And it changed me, and somehow made me whole.

Koreans don’t usually think of themselves as a people to learn from. I think of the annual outflow of yuhaksaengs, or international students who feel they must go outside their country to learn from better teachers in the United States and elsewhere. I wish I could tell them that the world has a lot to learn from Koreans too. Values like solid friendships and long-term relationships, generosity and heartfelt kindness. Flashy K-pop videos may have made Koreans more visible, but for me the real Korea remains invisible. Korea can’t be seen. It can only be felt.

I’m probably not making much sense at this point. But what I know for sure is that living in Korea, or anywhere abroad really, is a great experience for Korean Americans. That’s why my friend and colleague Hana Yoo and I co-authored a guide to living in Korea for young women. We titled it “Seoul Sweet Seoul,” because life there can be good, maybe even better. That’s really up to you.

Life has taught me fortune favors the brave. We become who we want to be when we stop wanting what other people want, and to become more of the person we were meant to be. And I know we can all make the leaps that we need to take in order to move forward.

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