hapa377My name is Michaela, I am a 27 year old graphic designer and illustrator from Bratislava.

I was born in Slovakia (Czechoslovakia, to be historically accurate), but my grandfather comes from Kilju in North Korea.

For many years I lived in Bratislava and Piešťany (still my two most favourite cities), then for two years in Prague while I studied there. For the last 4.5 years, I’ve lived in Helsinki and Tampere in Finland. I live with my Finnish boyfriend, a dog, and a cat (our beloved furry children).

Most of my life I’ve been proud of my Korean heritage, but when I was younger, I sometimes wished I wasn’t so visibly ‘different’ in the mostly Caucasian society. Kids often made fun of me, especially for my different nose shape and my downward facing eyelashes. Interestingly, when the Disney movie Mulan came out, I strongly identified with Mulan herself, because she was almost like me, and that was so nice to see. :) (I also remember I used to want all the non-blonde Barbies, and I preferred the Asian looking ones the most.)

Somehow, my Hapa face looks very local wherever I travel, so people usually assume I am from wherever I am at (even some Finns thought I could be possibly of Finnish Saami heritage) and people tend to talk to me in their local language. This sometimes leads to quite humorous situations – for example, on our recent trip to China, a lady in one street restaurant brought chopsticks for me and a fork and knife for my blonde, Finnish boyfriend. On another note, while I look pretty passable in a Korean hanbok, I look like an Asian tourist in a Slovak folk costume, which is really entertaining for everyone around me. :D

Luckily, I haven’t really had any challenges as a multiracial individual, maybe except some silly ones, like the beautician not knowing how to trim my eyebrows (they have a very Korean shape). Another ‘challenge’ is picking the right foundation for my skin tone, and the right mascara; most foundations are too pink or orange for me, and most mascaras fall off my eyelashes (except Shiseido it seems….which is Japanese).

I don’t celebrate any Korean holidays, with exception of always noticing the Lunar New Year and reading my horoscope for the next year (though I forget quickly what it says). But I can cook several Korean dishes, and I’ve learned some Korean language, and I’ve done some Taekwon-Do. Oh and do you know the Eat Your Kimchi channel? I used to watch it a lot :)) Now I just often listen to trashy K-Pop compilations on Spotify, it’s very relaxing at work! :)

P. S. I also picked a Korean name for my portfolio domain: ‘misul‘ means ‘art’ in Korean and ‘do‘ is a ‘way.’ It’s also one of my nicknames, so this fits all together nicely. :)

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