After watching this flick, I realize every immigrant story is bitter sweet–the ones from Asia and Southeast Asia anyway. It’s too far between the U.S. and Asia to feel some sort of loss and all these stories seem to be about lives marked with loss and some joy, and an absolute disconnect with the new adopted country and the kids you have here shaped by it. That’s why this story makes me so darn weepy (the book, I loved; the flick, not so much. It went all over the place and never really accumulated, and it’s odd that Kal Penn, the lead, looks the same age as the actors who play his parents.) I saw it with my mom, which only added to the weight I felt, watching the scenes of the new immigrants feeling lonely in the U.S., receiving some negative attention because of what they looked like, etc., etc., etc.
Mom found the flick “boring” and decided the filmmaker wasn’t that talented. (She has no idea what goes into moviemaking, though I think, as I said…she was right). When I asked her if she still regretting immigrating to the U.S., she looked as serious as she always does and says yes.
“Really? Even after more than thirty years in this country?”
“Yes, I wish I never left Korea.”
From which point, I was completely released for any feelings of guilty or immigrant-related melancholy. I mean, seriously, if you still regret something after thirty years, don’t you think that’s a little retarded? Don’t you think at some point you don’t really think about it b/c the point is so moot? My friend’s husband’s folks immigrated from Germany–his dad from East Germany, and he ran without a look back! (Granted, East Germany isn’t like a resort country or something). But you’re here! There’s really nothing you can do about what happened so long ago. Plus, the Korea you remember from whence you came no longer exists. Even the language my folks speak from the 1970s is different than what’s currently spoken. When they go visit on occasion, think of Austin Powers coming back to the present time asking whether to shag now or later (though…another sentence might be more fitting for my parents.) All I mean is the world they miss no longer exists — the streets they grew up on are different, the people, the culture — and so, I feel sorry for them all over again.