Apparently this is a compliment. I've gotten it several times, usually when attempting to speak botched Korean or one of my students catches me studying for class at my desk or something. Or when a Korean person finds out I do taekwondo.
This is strange. I'm ok being American. I don't really want to be Korean. I like a lot of Koreans I've met, it's just not who I am. I guess its like when my students back home would tell me that I wasn't "really" white (the majority of them were black).
I would always turn this one back around on them and ask them how they would like it if I told them they weren't "really" black and meant it as a good thing. They'd say I was racist! It's like in Huck Finn when he has this big revelation that he shouldn't treat Jim like crap because Jim was "white inside." The whole notion of denying a person's race in order to be granted entrance/belonging into the dominant race is problematic, and evidence of Huck's ingrained racist attitudes. (I had a whole essay on this topic in my AP class--the kids often used that one as evidence of Huck not being racist which made me want to cry and throw things!).
Not that I'm "proud" of being white or American or anything--I have as much liberal guilt as the next privileged schmuck with an open mind. At times I've felt ashamed of it. But as I get older and mellow out a bit, I just figure it's part of what makes me who I am. And I don't think it will make anything better to pretend I'm not. I'm interested in learning about other people and their lives--all parts of it. I think it's helpful to accept people for who they are and acknowledge where they come from.
But I don't say any of these things.
I smile and say thank you (or the appropriate humble sounding protestations). Maybe I'm getting a very, very small insight into what it's like to be one of the "good" minorities the States--meaning you shut up about your real feelings a hell of a lot of the time because you know it won't get you what you want.