I had only been living in New Malden for a few months, the nondescript suburban neighborhood in South-west London between Wimbledon and Kingston. It’s not known by anyone outside of the area, except for one thing. It has the largest Korean community outside of Korea, and for me that was the reason why I ended up spending more than five years there.
I was living right in the middle of Korea-town – and as far I was concerned this was the best place in London to be. There may have been trendy areas outside – that were better connected to the rest of London. But what did I care? I had twenty Korean restaurants to visit – this was the closest I was going to get to Korea without moving there.
To give things some context, only two years before, Psy had smashed internet records by being the most played video on Youtube. Korean movies had already become well-known, and people were getting excited by Korean dramas. The K-pop scene had yet to become the all-conquering global power it is now, but it was getting there. But all this is just the frills, the extras on what was and is my primary reason for becoming interested in Korea.
I really started to notice the women when I moved to Korea town. The first thing I did was try to learn Korean. There’s no better way to meet a girl than attempting to speak her language. At the same time this was happening I got my first law firm job – providing personal injury support for road accident victims.
Maybe it wasn’t the best job – I was far too underpaid for the stress I got trying to meet targets- but there was one thing that made me happy to come to work each day.
Nak-young was a legal secretary who started working a month after I did. Eun Young was married and had a child. Not that that stopped me speaking to her. Nak-young was tall and slim. As far I was concerned she was the most beautiful woman in my life – she had the oval face, pale skin and full lips that are associated with Korean beauty. She was much nicer than most of the k-pop girls as well. She looked great wearing a hoodie or full evening wear. I soon started treating Nak-young as a close friend and the time we spent together was extremely precious to me.
We didn’t stop seeing each other after I left the job – she got to know me even better – as I felt that i could tell her everything about myself. i started to realise that there were two types of women as far as Asian women are concerned. There are those girls you can go out with – who may go on to be your girlfriend. Then there are those who will become your close friend, someone you can confide in, on the understanding that you will remain only friends. Even if I knew that Nak-young was never going to be more than a friend, I will say that I learned so much from my time with her.
When we went out the first time she told me about her job as an air hostess, then meeting her husband, and having a son with learning difficulties. The second time, it was her turn to talk about me – and she spent most of the time helping me find a way I could have sex with my girlfriend.
I won’t say that Nak-young was my Asian first time because she was not the first Asian woman I was intimate with ( I count our encounters as intimate based on the closeness of our thoughts). I think Nak-young was smart enough to see how much our experiences meant to me, though I’m sure they were more significant to me than her.
For the first time in my life, I felt that my life had a clear sense of purpose.. I felt there was a clear connection between the spicy heat of pickled cabbage, the green bottles of soju I drank, and Nak-young’s jet black hair, long legs and dazzling crescent moon eyes. My world was good and I loved everything in it.