aapi, Art, asian american, comedy, Essay, Gender Studies, ideology, korea, Korean-American, Literature, philosophy

the INTJ-female Korean American rationale

The first Google search engine result when I look up “INTJ woman” is an article written by a fucking MAN.

Can you believe that shit? The system is against us. This is why we’re always yelling at you or rolling our eyes and just not bothering. We just can’t be bothered. We must ignore you.

The rest of the search engine results for “INTJ woman” were articles all written by white women. I don’t have anything against white women other than I don’t (can’t) always relate.

This essay is about INTJ-womanhood as me—a Korean American woman with the INTJ personality type.

The thing about these Myers-Briggs personality categories is that they just offer a surface-description of personalities and don’t offer any explanation as to why it is (nothing ever just is [unless you’re on psychedelics or meditating very deeply or something]).

I am the INTJ personality type. INTJ stands for Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking and Judgment. It’s also referred to as the “architect” personality type.

I took this test about 10 years ago and had the same result whenever I took the test again since (2 more times).

I can relate to this personality type a lot. For one, being INTJ-female is the rarest. INTJ women make up less than 1% of all women. I’m bad at math but it’s like 4 out of every 500 women are INTJs (according to those other sources written by white people).

here’s a descriptive list of INTJ females:

independent

confident/assertive

eye-on-the-ball/focused

appreciates alone time (isolation)

not a good team player

doesn’t respect or trust most authorities

no-nonsense

type-A

creative thinkers

appreciates authenticity

are good leaders by design but does not want to lead most of the time

extremely private

hates incompetence

hates time-wasters

hates inefficiency

loves (good) art

loves newness/innovation

appreciates professionalism

appreciates good skill/talent

A weird Google search engine result for “INTJ female” is the question, “Are INTJ females attractive?”

What a stupid fucking question. Why don’t you cut to the heart of what you really want to ask which is, “Are INTJ females bitches?”

That really depends but if you ask me, I’ll say that if an INTJ woman is being a bitch, she’s being a bitch because the situation 100% calls for that reaction/response, and she is nothing but RIGHT.

INTJ women are efficient as fuck. We hate wasting time and energy on anything not worth our damn. So if we take the time to engage, we do it because we feel it is worthy of our engagement, even if it means giving someone a talking to, yelling, or expressing assertion and/or correction. But most of the time, we really don’t want to be bothered with anyone’s shit.

Why are we so bent on being corrective? Well, have you seen the world? It needs constant correcting and changing. We can see the mistakes, errors, injustice, etc. We see them very vividly and clearly. They torment us.

So when we speak up, trust that we know what we are saying/doing. Thank us for offering some guidance.

Even if you don’t think we are right, you will never ever change our minds. We will always wonder, “Why aren’t they just thanking us for telling them that they walked out of the bathroom with their skirt tucked into their underwear?”

You think that INTJ women are “insensitive.”

We are. We have no time for sensitivity. You know why? Because we see the bigger picture. We’re focused on getting the job done and not so much on anybody’s fucking feelings.

Does that mean INTJ women don’t feel? Absolutely not. I feel everything all the time. That’s why I have to ignore certain people when I enter the room or disengage a lot of the times. As an INTJ woman, I have a hard time not being a deep empath. I feel everything very intensely so I developed boundaries as a skill. This took many years to hone. I did it for my survival and my own sanity.

We’re intuitive and quick to judge not because there’s anything wrong with you but because we are highly sensitive. The irony is that we may appear insensitive. But whenever you see anyone being insensitive, you can bet your money that that person is acutely sensitive. That is, in fact, how the world is, and how most people are.

INTJs are not good team players.

Yeah, this is true. I don’t like being part of assigned teams that I had no part in creating. Even when I create my own team, I still find one or two players I regret adding (and they become reminders of my mistake/error, and I despise them for it even more).

I don’t like working as a group or in teams. Why? Because of the same problem mentioned earlier. I see how everybody is doing something wrong. I can see a faster path or direction but the rest don’t. And I have trouble communicating that politely—in a way that would not hurt anyone’s fucking feelings. I’m gritting my teeth trying not to say, “Are you stupid?” So I either shut down completely (disengage) or I speak up and watch people cry.

Noticing when something goes wrong and being attentive to it makes INTJ women great problem solvers but it doesn’t mean we can always solve the problem. The fact is, harmonium is required in a team mission. Feelings should not be injured. Ideas should not be shot down. But INTJ women are impatient and we have a hard time dealing with the “normal” slow-paced “warm-up” to reaching those goals. We’ll be rolling our eyes the whole way through. Even though a part of us knows that this is the right way, we still won’t agree with it or trust it. If an INTJ woman is particularly silent during group work, just know that she is doing everything she can to PRESERVE harmonium by not speaking up and damaging morale. Just thank her for that. She’ll contribute when she feels ready/wants to.

INTJs are not good with authority.

Yes. Of course we’re bad with authority. We don’t trust anyone but ourselves. How could we trust a fucking stranger who was randomly assigned to be the leader in our lives? Does it mean that we NEVER trust authority? Not true. We all need good mentors/leaders/examples/teachers. INTJ women have GREAT role models and teachers at all times. In fact, see who INTJ women look up to. You’ll learn a LOT.

INTJ women befriend many strong and successful women. We gravitate towards them naturally because they’ve already EARNED our respect as fellow successful women. They are living the life WE aspire to. So they are our respected leaders/examples, and when they say “go” or “sit” we will militantly oblige. However, if anyone who is an authority figure LOSES our respect, there’s a good chance that they will never regain it back fully in this lifetime. (Perhaps we can begin again in another lifetime. But as for this, it’s over.) There are jobs I had where I saw my performance dipping real fast in direct correlation to how much respect I had for my supervisor. No matter how much I tried or how much they tried, once the respect was gone, there was no bringing it back. Scary for some people but completely logical for fellow INTJ women like me.

Bosses have been baffled at my behavior and comments. If they tell me to do something that I don’t understand, I never do them. If I do, I’ll fuck it up. If they say something that offends me, I straight up tell them that what they said was rude (because it is rude to be sexist, racist, classist, stupid, etc.)

It’s not that we stubbornly wish to be this way. It’s that we have major trust issues. This difficulty with authority comes from experience. We’re not just anti-authority a priori. We have lived experience with untrustworthy authority figures be they parents, teachers, any adult, any older person, church leaders, politicians, bosses, etc. Call us jaded. Call us stubborn. Call us pitiful. Call us enlightened.

The fact is, all leaders have some dirt, and it’s a good thing INTJ women are here sitting with our legs crossed in the corner with a cigarette, side-eyeing some rich fuck who thinks they’re hot shit just because they think they have the right to be. We can’t even bother to laugh. It’ll exert energy onto an undeserved place.

For INTJ women, we don’t respect anything that insists on being a GIVEN. We need to see the goods, the work, the proof. We need to see it and feel it. And even then, as long as you have authority, there’s a good chance we still won’t trust you because the very notion of hierarchy is absurd to us anyway.

We’re just like, “Why aren’t you under a tree somewhere smoking a joint and coloring in a sketch book? Instead, you’re sitting here talking way too much about shit that nobody cares about and calling yourself a leader. Just buy some big shoes and call yourself a clown instead. That’s all you’ll ever be: A CLOWN. And a shitty one, too.”

INTJs make good/bad leaders.

INTJs have the make-up to become good leaders but we hate leading because it means we’ll have attention. The INTROVERTED part of our personality and our agitation with authority make us detest being leaders. We won’t lead unless it is absolutely called for. I noticed this about myself very viscerally when people asked me to co-produce live comedy shows with them. I would think about it and make a long as list as to WHY it would benefit me in the long run to do such a thing because producing shows is a huge fucking pain in the ass. I hate doing it. I hate my co-producer while doing it. I hate everybody while doing it. It’s a nightmare. Everybody sucks.

I did it twice, and I never want to do it again. Co-producing live comedy shows as an INTJ woman is a fucking nightmare. If you’re an INTJ woman, I think you can relate.

We don’t like it when a million parts are moving and people keep asking me STUPID fucking questions. Whenever anyone asks me a question, I almost always ask myself first if that question is stupid. 65% of the time, yes, it’s a stupid fucking question (why are they asking it?!).

It annoys me when people make me repeat myself (inefficient; shows that they lack listening skills). It annoys me when people don’t know how to help themselves (incompetent; shows that they lack problem-solving skills).

In this regard, we’d make terrible leaders, and we know it fully.

Good leaders are attentive and respectful of all questions and contributions. We fully know that we don’t have the emotional bandwidth to handle that, so we will naturally back out.

We’ll only step up as leaders IF AND WHEN a situation absolutely calls for it. And that’s not to say that we’re not bossy anyhow. We are hella bossy, and not fucking sorry.

INTJ women are not sorry.

This is true and not true. I am sorry all the time for the way that I am, and this is why all the blog posts you read on INTJ women say that “INTJ females are the most misunderstood.”

We can’t help but be who we are and how we are. Greater self-awareness and mindfulness help a lot but can only go so far when we start to feel like our own space is being taken up by others.

We are radically independent (like hamsters!!!). We are fastidious and quick (we love efficiency!!!). We like PARTICULAR people. We LOVE them. We dislike or are not interested in most people.

We are misunderstood because of this. And people think we are unapologetically bitchy or mean. Not true. The damage that our personality types cause do bring us grief but we’ll never show it or tell you to your face. We will tell our closest allies or our therapists or ourselves when we’re on mushrooms, and do what we can to adjust to your needs.

But we won’t guarantee it. Because we really fucking love ourselves for who we are and how we are.

I love myself so much and I am grateful to my personality type for protecting me at all times. This personality is an armor. That’s why INTJ women are so misunderstood. That’s why your stupid fucking question, “Are INTJ women attractive?” is the wrong question.

To assume that INTJ women are unfeeling, disassociating, insensitive, or lack insight is a grave mistake. We are hypersensitive, always feeling, fully in-the-know of how we impact people, and that is why we compartmentalize the way we do, and we do it by ignoring or not responding or withholding or whatever demeaning words you want to replace the aforementioned with.

We’re the rarest because we’re special, and we’re required in all societies. Having one of us in your corner is a blessing, so count us in your prayers every night, little babies.

But leave us alone to do our thing at our own pace. That’s the greatest gift you can give us. We’ll notice you doing this and grow lonely and come to you on our own. Respect the dance of push-and-pull (밀당). But don’t over-do it. There’s nothing we dislike more than affected anything (words, behaviors, art, conversation, etc.). If it’s not authentic and not called for, we’ll just be like, “Why the fuck is this in here?”

INTJ women are creative.

Yes, and we have to be. Creativity doesn’t just apply to the arts although I am an artist. Creativity applies to any kind of critical thinking. Whenever I work in groups and I see people thinking just one way, I lose my shit because I’m like, “Hello? Why are you not looking out the fucking window? There’s a bigger world out there.”

We manage our creativity by spending time alone to recharge, meditate, self-reflect, grow, heal, and listen to our “muse.” We need that alone time to hear our own independent/authentic voice so that we don’t repeat what others say (inefficient!!!) or offer a no-good idea (incompetent!!!). We’re the hardest on ourselves. If an INTJ woman hurt your feelings today, check in on her. She probably demolished her own feelings that same afternoon. You got off easy, kid.

“The INTJ Korean woman is a fucking weirdo and she scares me.

Yeah? So what. No one asked you. Sit down. Go read a book in the corner or something.

Being Asian American, I often encounter confusion, chaos, and offense as a reaction to who/how/what I am. I don’t believe in uncalled for politeness. I abhor despise small talk. I don’t understand hierarchy. Living this life in the female body as a Korean, Korean American and Asian American is tough.

The world expects me to be subservient, unopinionated, quiet, “respectful,” caregiving, emotionally available to others and not myself according to information they got from the dumbest places ever–wanna hear it? OTHER SCREENS. Projections imagined/constructed by filmmakers, TV writers, internet bloggers, etc–people who are not ME and have no business creating and projecting some hull of what I am supposed to be on massive mediated screens that you absorb and wind up believing (ugh–when the fuck will you learn?)

These non-Korean-American-female-INTJs with influence think they know something. Now is your cue to laugh: LOL. They don’t know jack shit.

I am the opposite (or completely off-the-wall something else) of all of that which was imagined FOR you by those who are NOT me. And I wasn’t always like this. When it came to those I really loved and admired, I poured all of these very limited affective labors (awareness, sensitivity, respect, dedication) onto them, and they all let me down. Sometimes the JUDGMENT side can be weak when it is tarnished by admiration or love (this is why we often times don’t adore or love or respect). ‘Tis a lonely life for the INTJ woman.

And our judgment protects us because of the pattern we noticed in our lifetimes which developed the mantra, “There’s nobody you can rely on but yourself.” And we firmly believe this despite its limitations which we know about already so don’t fucking come at me.

So say all you want about what your expectations of me was, and how I am blowing your mind right now. That just sounds like YOUR business.

I got my own to take care of. Any reaction you have in response to me is all about you, and it has nothing to do with who/what/how I am. I just am and I have my own reasons for it unrelated to you. So sit down. Go in the corner and read a book or something.

That’s all I can think of for now. I’ll re-post if I think of more INTJ-female related stuff.

If you’re an INTJ Asian diaspora woman, please share your experiences. Thank you.

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cinema and media studies, Film, korea

meditations on Minari (2020) by Lee Issac Chung

[spoiler alert]

My first encounter with a Lee Issac Chung movie was in Busan at the Busan International Film Festival. I was aware of Chung as a filmmaker because I’d worked in film exhibition, distribution and production back in New York and pretty much any Korean American or Korean filmmaker was a part of our awareness or community.

I was at BIFF 2012 in the capacity of a buyer working for a New York film distributer at the time, and the Chung flick I saw was Abigail Harm (2012) starring Amanda Plummer who you’ve seen perform brilliantly in films like Pulp Fiction (1994) and The Fisher King (1991). I was excited to see a Korean American film director’s interpretation of the Korean folktale I’d read as a child–선녀와 나무꾼 or “The Woodcutter and the Nymph.” But it was too daffy of a flick. It felt imbalanced and a bit too experimental and weird for distribution even at a niche/boutique company like the one I was working for at the time. I wanted to like it.

I’ve been aware of Minari for about a year now after reading about it in the trades but when the film started its early release screenings I was hesitant to see it. Part of this has to do with a short clip I saw–the scene of the Yi family at their all-white church in Arkansas. It felt traumatic. Too close to home. I could feel the weight of emotions and mind state of every single Korean character in that short clip.

I finally mustered up the courage to screen it today through UCI’s Korean studies screening event, and I’m glad I saw it. The first thing that left an impression on me is the music. The young composer Emile Mosseri scored Chung’s film with such dreaminess, a moving quietness and sensitivity. Mosseri also scored Miranda July’s latest film Kajillionaire (2020).

The casting was also brilliant. I’ve been following Han Yeri’s performances since 2011 when I saw her in Korean indie films like 다시 태어나고 싶어요, 안양에 (2011) and the indie web-series sit-com 할 수 있는 자가 구하라 (2011) by Yoon Sung-ho. Han played a character with 2 personalities in Yoon’s web-series.

Han’s played diverse roles over the years. You’ve seen her in TV shows (K-Dramas) like Six Flying Dragons and Hello, My Twenties! She’s a versatile actress with great composure and control. I love her work.

Another brilliant casting choice is veteran actress Youn Yuh-jung. She was like a breath of fresh air carrying the family through stuffy and difficult moments. If you want to see Ms. Youn perform in English, check out Hong Sang-soo’s film In Another Country where she’s featured alongside another veteran actress Isabelle Huppert.

Youn’s role as Grandma in Minari got me thinking about all Korean grandmothers’ transgressiveness; how their laxness relative to their children when it comes to the grandchildren breaks open new worlds for the family. Much like how she strays the path to plant minari seeds by the creek where others avoid because of snakes. Much like how she encourages little David to be more active despite his mother’s worries. Much like how she burns down the shed. There is a wisdom to a grandmother’s recklessness. In fact, it’s not at all recklessness. It’s all wisdom.

The film’s editing felt philosophical. The cuts from one scene to the next had seamless transitions and very clearly and directly communicated the filmmaker’s voice (edited by Harry Yoon).

Part of the reason why I said that the film felt traumatic is because of its deep familiarity for me as a Korean emigre and Korean American who’s assimilated over the years (still assimilating/still resisting). The success of Minari is how well the characters collate. I, too, grew up with a younger brother and a mother and father. We moved around often since we landed in Brooklyn from Busan. Went to Jersey for a few years then to Rockland County, New York where we had to adjust to an all-white community.

Watching Jacob (Steve Yeun) get in touch with the earth and wanting to pursue farm work is another familiar thing I grew up with. Many Koreans have seen this, in fact, and it’s hard not to considering the agrarian country that Korea is. Most folks from the countryside in Korea know what farming is.

My parents had gardens all throughout the years we spent in America. Even in Brooklyn, I recall my parents forcing their way through the locked gate next to our apartment building and growing perilla. In Jersey, they tilled soil in our backyard and grew everything from red leaf lettuce to tomatoes to red peppers to cucumbers, and we ate what we picked all summer long.

They did the same when we moved to Rockland County.

I was particularly struck by the church scene when the white kids ask Anne and David insensitive questions but with open sincerity and earnestness. It was handled with such realism. That’s usually how those moments are. No one’s really mad in the moment or wishing to offend in the moment. It’s just a moment. The categorizing and emotional response to said categorization come way later when we are adults and looking back.

There were so many shots that struck me as messages from one Korean American to another Korean American. The shot of the wedding photograph, for instance, felt especially authentic–the unsmiling dad. The angry dad. The dad with his ego and dignity. His 자존심 (read arrogance). The scene of the parents screaming/fighting was also very familiar. The young immigrant parents with two young kids in tow, feeling worn out. Feeling hopeless but wanting to survive. Wanting to live a happy life. But feeling trapped. Feeling lost.

The shot of the television screen with Korean singers singing 사랑해 (I Love You) was another philosophical moment. In the early post-Korean War years, there were so many photographs of Korean war orphans or Korean war brides watching television as part of their assimilation process–to make them familiar or palatable for white Americans. But here I saw something quite different–the television as a way back home.

This is a constant for me. Whenever I watch Korean TV, it is me finding my way back home–and not even back. More like catching up. I’m staying apprised of what’s going on in Korea (I am still assimilating/still resisting). This gives me another way to consider TV. It’s a tubed screen that takes immigrants back to their homeland, back to the emotional place they completely left behind and forgot. This is why when Grandma tells the kids that their parents sang this song while staring into each other’s eyes with ga-ga eyes, Monica replies that she can’t remember. The hardship of living abroad has brought a fog over her mind and heart.

Whenever Jacob told David to go get the hwechori it brought back memories of my own beatings. There’s a hilarious pathos to the way that Korean parents forced their kids to go and find the weapon they were going to use in order to beat them with. I loved it when David brought back a lame weed in place of an actual stick for his father to beat him with.

The scene when Grandma pulls out gochugaru and myulchi which brings tears to Monica’s eyes brought tears to mine as well. To this day, my own grandmother sends gochugaru to my mother. Whenever I visit my grandmother back at her farm, she packs me a bottle of cham gireum and a jar of gochu jang.

There’s a big love story in Minari. While Monica lacks confidence in Jacob’s attempts at farming, and on the surface, they both believe that it is all about him and his ego, another way to see it is Jacob wanting to bring a taste of home into his own home for his wife who misses these flavors by insisting on raising Korean crops.

It’s interesting how even though the Yi family left Korea to live in America, they are always seeking Korea in food and in television–a way to be Korean or be in Korea. (Still assimilating/still resisting.)

Maybe mukbang is really an amalgamation of Korean immigrants’ desire for home: watch the food you miss on a screen. Watch it on TV.

I recall seeing Steven Yeun in a mukbang video alongside Sandara Park and Park Hyuk-kwon years ago.

I found Minari to be a deeply meditative experience. It’s an exemplary Korean American movie, and an extremely unique one.

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