It is interesting to look back in history and see how sexuality and race structured everyday life. Reading excerpts from Yun Ch’i-ho’s journals gave a foreign insight that I have never come across in my student career. Seeing 19th century United States from the eyes of a Korean is not what you see in the history textbooks. Majority of Americans who think about those time would automatically think black or white perspectives to what is occurring. Yun gave an insight into how it is being part of Southern culture as well as how they intertwined and interfered with his Korean principles.
In Yun’s journal, he had a constant battle with his lust of American white women. Knowing his desires cannot be gratified in the 19th century south, it was a struggle to be an outsider with no acceptable women to court. I wonder if his desire was genuine or if it had to do with his pale surroundings. Did Yun favor Korean women in his country while he lived there? Was the fact that there was nothing else to see during his stay in America that drove him to an interest for white women? In my opinion, I believe that it was a mix of several situations. Yes, being a student at Emory showed no promise for anything but the presence of white males and females; but, there were also plenty of African American inhabitants in Georgia at this time that Yun had no option but to be exposed to. Seeing that he was very close with the Candler family and taught the differences in social class, I believe this is a reason why African American women may not have crossed his mind.
Recognizing social class as part of love and lust is imperative in this discussion. White male students had several sexual encounters with African American prostitutes. These were looked down upon more because of race, but class was also an issue. Yun hearing about these encounters could have turned him away from intentionally encountering African American women. In my opinion, the white students and Yun had more in common after all. They both longed for the comfort of someone socially unacceptable in their college years. White students had sex with African American women when there were women of their similar color at their disposal. The fact that they were prostitutes made the desire more hidden, but it was still there.
You can see these ideas in present day. Men having sex with male prostitutes, but think of themselves as strictly heterosexual to the public. The desire is gratified, known to others, but not accepted for dinner tabs conversation. This is an aspect of the 19th century that has not changed, but just evolved.