I’m Shan, Korean on my mother’s side and Russian on my father’s. I share this Hapa mix with three younger siblings.
The “What are you?” question seems to make people feel the need to conform to one specific identity and a lot of people talk about having bias towards one side of their ethnicity, rather than the other. But I honestly feel neither. Although that could come across as being ashamed of my ethnicity, I’m not and I honestly feel a good balance of the two, making it almost a new one entirely. I guess this is how it is being Hapa.
I was born and have grown up in London, UK, which actually makes me extremely British, sometimes more than anything else. I’m thankful for not growing up in either of my parents’ home countries as I feel I’ve been able to develop my own identity here; especially since London is such a multicultural and racially accepting city to live in.
I don’t feel I’ve ever had a full-blown identity crisis, though I have to admit to going through phases of feeling more Korean or more Russian. Recently, my parents split and I’ve been living with my father since my mother moved back to Busan, Korea. This has deprived me of Korean culture though I’m glad I have this time to understand my father’s Russian culture also. It has given me an unexpected window of opportunity to improve language skills and experiment culturally.
Coming across this website, it’s a lovely feeling to see how proud Hapa people are, and how we often feel as one despite the diverse nature of the group.