Mehtap’s interest in Korea, and her ambitions
Mehtap’s story: her passions, her story behind her impressive Korean comprehension, and her inspirations.
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Special thanks to the editors, writers, and DIOKOS team for making this interview possible. We grow together.
We recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Mehtap Isme, a content creator and actress, born and raised in Switzerland and migrated to Korea for the first time six years ago. Her story as a successful entrepreneur and actress in Korea spans years.
Mehtap arrived in Korea as an exchange student in 2017 at Busan National University, after taking Japanese studies course that sparked an interest in Korea. She thought as she has learned the Japanese perspective of the history of Korea and the colonization, she should also learn how Koreans see it.
After her exchange, Mehtap returned to Switzerland to work for a local company, but wanting to return, she proposed to open a Korean branch and was sent to Korea as the branch head. Now Mehtap works full time at her office job while pursuing her various passions on the side – filling each moment of her time.
During our time together, Mehtap shares with us her tips for learning Korean, the due diligence of working as both a content creator and a full-time worker, and guidance and passions that drive her forward.
– Could you tell us a bit about yourself for those unfamiliar with your content?
Yes, my name is Mehtap, and I was born and raised in Switzerland. Ethnically, I am Turkish, so I grew up with a mix of both. I have been working in Korea for the past two years, but I’ve been traveling on and off for the past six years. I would say I work two jobs: one is my office job, and the other is my passion: content creation, though I do spend quite a bit of time on it. I essentially post about my life in Korea, and people interact with it.
-What interested you about life in South Korea?
It was 2016 when I listened to a KPOP song for the first time. It was If You Do by GOT7. I was entranced by Jackson, and learned that he was in a show called Roommates; where Korean celebrities live together. The show exposed me to a lot of K-content. A year later, I traveled to Korea with my sister and enjoyed the experience so much that I returned a couple of months later as an exchange student. I planned on staying in Korea for a year but met my boyfriend during that time which affirmed that I should stay for longer. Now, I work here!
– I’m surprised that you traveled to Korea based on a show. How do you stay so ambitious?
I tend to just follow my heart. I know it sounds a bit cheezy, but I am a very intuitive person, so I tend to listen to my gut feeling. That feeling ultimately led me here. I learned this feeling about seven years ago.
-What sparked this gut feeling?
I used to live for my parent’s expectations. I wouldn’t listen to my heart and would often prioritize making them proud over making myself happy. After high school ended, I started listening more to what my heart wanted to do, and begin living more for myself than my parents.
-What about Korea made you want to stay?
The differences between Korea and Switzerland made me want to come back. Switzerland is very orderly, calm, and relaxing. That is nice, but I wanted some sort of change. Korea is very dynamic. When you’re hungry at 9 pm, you can go to a convenience store or go to a restaurant. Switzerland sleeps early, so I found myself enjoying the freedom and rush South Korea provided. I like how, when I get off work late, I can go out, spend time with friends or explore the city.
-Do you have any passions apart from content creation?
I am very passionate about acting. Back in Switzerland, I was intrigued by the theatre and spent much of my time acting and watching shows. Here in Korea, that love for theatre is something I want to pursue, especially now that I have acquired my F-visa, which allows me to pursue multiple forms of work at the same time. While maintaining my office work, and creating content, I hope to pursue acting. In my downtime, I always want to find more things to do.
-Wow, you seem so busy. How do you juggle all your responsibilities and desires?
When I don’t have much to do, I feel overwhelmed. I don’t like being alone with my thoughts and tend to get depressed easily. So I try to stay busy, so I can be proud of my accomplishments. If I keep my body busy, it keeps my brain busy. Homesickness is also a huge part of my worries about being alone. I miss my family. I have four sisters who I am very close with. So part of how I cope with the homesickness is by staying on the move.
-How do some of the symptoms of homesickness manifest for you?
My sisters and I have a group chat. Back in Switzerland, I used to be one of the sisters who texted the least since we could see each other anytime we wanted. Now, I am the only one who is far away, so I find myself messaging or even spamming the group chat from time to time. For example, I’ll message them a picture of the meal I am having, or send them a picture of a mosquito bite I got.
-How do you deal with loneliness?
I don’t have a pet, but I have a boyfriend! He is extremely important in my life. Because I don’t have much family here, he is basically my support system. Sometimes, I will be overwhelmed and tired from work, and I won’t have time for editing. He always helps me. He always makes sure I am not overworking myself and supports my every endeavor.
-One amazing thing about you is your fluency in Korean, which I am sure has helped you a lot during your time here. Do you have any tips on improving listening and speaking comprehension?
I think one of the best ways to improve your speaking skills is to speak Korean as much as you can. Find native Korean speakers and communicate with them in Korean, avoiding using English as much as possible. In my case, my boyfriend and I have been together for five years, and during the beginning of our relationship he didn’t speak much English, so I found myself speaking Korean with him very often. Since five years ago, I have spoken Korean almost daily. So, I told my boyfriend that I’ve learned more Korean from him than I have from classes. Of course, classes are important too, but the speaking fluency came from him.
-That still must’ve been nerve-wracking. I’m sure there would be sometimes when you made mistakes with a word or a phrase.
Yeah, there would be misunderstandings sometimes.
-What is the most surprising or unexpected thing about living in Korea?
One of the things that I didn’t know about Korea until I worked here was communication. In Switzerland, after you get off work, people better not text you or call you about work. Like if someone calls you about work after work, it’s a no-go. But here in Korea, someone can call you about work at any time. It can be midnight or whenever, and I would still have to wake up and respond. I would also say in Korea, companies tend to be on short notice, whereas, in Switzerland, things tend to be planned far in advance. I can give one particular example. Our company often does team-building events with our clients. In Switzerland, clients tend to book six months in advance. But here, in Korea, clients will book… maybe one month in advance? Sometimes, it’s even three weeks or two weeks, so the time to prepare is so much shorter
-With all the workload, there must be times when you feel very productive. What makes you feel inspired?
I am always trying to maintain a positive attitude while keeping myself busy. Lately, I feel like I have lost my inspiration a bit. I am trying to be inspired, but because I am working so much I sometimes lose it. At this stage, I would say I am trying to find inspiration again. I used to post daily on TikTok and Instagram, but right now I am taking it a bit slower. I want to take some time for myself to figure out what makes me feel fulfilled again. In the past, I used to put pressure on myself to post every day, which would make me feel unhappy with myself and what I posted. I am trying to take a step back and be more kind to myself these days – so I can get my inspiration back again.
-Do you have anyone that inspires you?
I would say that my sisters inspire me. They all live such different lives. One of them is a doctor, the other is a writer, the other is becoming a teacher, and my little sister is becoming an artist. It’s inspiring to see what they are doing. What’s also inspiring is noticing and watching the small things. When I am just living life, I am happy to see what strangers are doing. Sometimes it is the most mundane things about people’s lives that inspire me.
-It sounds like you like people-watching a lot.
Yeah, I do. It is very relaxing for me. I like to just sit back in a cafe and look around at people. I could sit there for hours and just watch.
-What are your plans for the future?
I want to buy a really nice house. I’ve been looking at the 부동산 or the realtor website, and they have so many nice houses, but they are just so expensive. I am looking at them and simply manifesting. Maybe in ten years or so, I suppose. I also want to be more active in acting. In a couple of years, it would be great to have landed some nice roles. I also want to keep at my social media, growing it while not losing myself in the process.
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