I was born in Busan, South Korea, one of the largest port cities in the world. I lived along a river, which intertwined with a longer river that led into a huge sea. This was also the place where the Japanese army experimented with bacterial weapons to kill American cows during the Second World War. In my tragic hometown, when I was a child, I was overwhelmed by Japanese and American culture, such as Japanese robot animations and American blockbuster movies. But where was my national culture?
I ultimately found a way to stop worrying and love my hometown. Even though both Japan and the United States overpowered it, I could concentrate on the place at the phenomenological level. For instance, I enjoyed going to catch crabs with my friends at the spot where the two rivers merged. I remember the moisture and the coldness of sand, the hardness and the sharpness of crab, the smell and the taste of salt, and the sunset that said “Come back home”. I’m not sure why I stopped catching crabs: if the crabs themselves disappeared, or if Lego and video games immersed me instead. However, crab catching remains the only piece of interactive nostalgia in my life. And my projects always start with this authentic experience.
Virginia Commonwealth University