In a city with millions of inhabitants, it’s easy to get lost in the vast numbers and forget that those numbers relate to people. Beijing’s a melting pot of cultures influenced by people from far and near. The Beijing Kaleidoscope series gives you a snippet into the lives of both expats and locals to show their diverse perspective on the city they call home.
Jung-Ah Ryu is a 47-year-old housewife who has been living in Beijing for over 13 years and happens to be the sixth person to feature in this series. Ryu’s two kids are attending college in South Korea and now hold baking classes to occupy her time. She admits that Beijing has become more comfortable then when she first arrived.
How would you describe life in Beijing?
Right now, it’s pretty satisfying. It’s very familiar now that I’ve gotten used to living in Beijing. I feel like Beijing is comfortable in the sense that people don’t try to compare. Whereas in Korea, a lot of times people judge and make assumptions, for example by where you live, the clothes you wear, the school you go to, and many other things. But here in Beijing there is much less comparing and prejudice. People just take things for what they are, and are not overly curious.
What is one thing you would still remember after all these years?
I would remember the cheap fruits, and food.
What is one incident that made you realize this was Beijing?
There was a car accident in the middle of a very busy street. However, this did not deter people from stopping and waiting for the road to be cleared, there were cars headed in all directions – it was a mess. It was the bad traffic manners that made me realize once again that this was Beijing. But that’s what Beijing is; I just grew to accept it.
What did Beijing change for you? How did you change?
I became a bit slower, more lax, in a way. I feel that it’s because life here is generally very relaxed, with little to no pressure. There’s not much going on here, which made develop a routine and in a way, I would be content to live here for a longer time, because I wouldn’t necessarily want to get out of the living pattern.
Beijing is my second home.
Although her coming to Beijing wasn’t entirely her decision, Ryu has grown quite fond of Beijing’s relaxed pace and what that has provided for her. Can a relaxed pace be found in the fast-paced city? Yes. Ryu has found her leisure time.
Judy Jeon, was our July intern, attends the Western Academy of Beijing and decided to brave the murky waters of magazine writing. She is a writer in her school’s Roots & Shoots organization, and also leads an orchestra. With less than a year left to stay in Beijing, Judy is setting out to gather different views about the place. She likes to read, hang out with friends, and can be found exploring Chinese culture around the hutongs.
Photos: Judy Jeon