You Haven’t Seen Everything

Just Say No

Tuesday afternoon, and I’m inside of Itaewon Starbucks reading the latest issue of Forbes magazine.  Since I paid exactly double the cover price for this magazine, I feel compelled to read it from cover to cover.  This week’s issue of Forbes lists America’s top colleges (boring), talks about the formula for super-market profitability (mildly interesting), lists the most valuable sports teams in the USA (boring), and interviews Cisco’s John Chambers (fuck off, boring).  The most interesting section of this week’s Forbes is probably on page 14, where the editors provide financial statements for 15 fictional characters.  Unsurprisingly, Scrooge McDuck (worth $65.4 billion) leads the list as the richest fictional character.  His hobbies include swan-diving into piles of money like a porpoise, and burrowing through mounds of gold coins like a gopher.  Bruce Wayne comes in at number six ($9.2 billion), and Jay Gatsby concludes the list at number fifteen ($1 billion).  I’m guessing that Bruce Wayne outpaced Jay Gatsby because the former is a certified bachelor who spends his spare change on Lamborghinis, while the later blows through piles of cash in pursuit of poorest investment known to mankind (chasing a woman).

I usually avoid Starbucks.  I’ve found that among all coffee chains in Korea, Starbucks seems to be the chain where I am most likely to be approached by a stranger seeking free English tuition.  I know that I’m not the only one who experiences this.  For example, the previous week I was sitting in this same exact Starbucks when I felt a tap on my shoulder.  A middle aged woman who looked like a church spinster greeted me, “Are you a native speaker?”  And I’m thinking is this woman serious?  She goes on, “I have an English question, can you help me?”  And I’m thinking do I look like a fucking human dictionary?  Really?  I’m obviously (pretending to be) in the middle of a riveting magazine article. I have the magazine held up in front of my face, and this woman’s English emergency warrants her interrupting me.  She wants me to stop what I’m doing, and devote all of my attention to her.  I am now her personal English teacher because I have white skin, and blue eyes, and I’m sitting in a café in Itaewon reading a magazine.

I humor the woman, probably because I am high on prescription medication and the thought of giving incorrect English advice provides me with some kind of momentary thrill.  I’m thinking that whatever question this woman asks me, I am going to purposely, intentionally, knowingly give this woman the exact opposite of the explanation I know to be correct.  This is what I usually do when random people solicit me for English advice in public spaces.  So anyway, the woman returns to her seat to get something, and I turn back to my magazine for a moment.  Two minutes later, the woman is back.  She has brought her entire study group with her.  There are six people in total.  They all drop their bags at the table that I am sitting at.  They set down their laptop computers.  They open up their English study books and notebooks.  The woman who bothered me, and whom I assume to be the defacto leader of this group then hands me a two page printout of a newspaper article.

She says, “Ok, can you please look at the words and phrases that I’ve highlighted, and explain to us exactly what they mean?”  I look at the printout blankly and then stare at the woman.  I hand the printout back to her, pick up my magazine, and leave.  When you are sitting in a café, and a random Korean person turns their head towards you and opens their mouth like they are about to speak to you, the best policy is to just say ‘no’ before they even finish their sentence.  Preempt whatever favor they are about to ask from you, by just saying ‘no’.  No, no, no, NO.  “Whatever you are about to ask me, the answer is NO” No, I don’t want to help you with your English studies.  No, I don’t want to be interviewed and photographed.  No, I don’t want to speak with you about Jesus Christ.  No, no, no, no.  The answer is always ‘no’.  And don’t sit there pretending like I’m being rude by saying “no”.  You know damn well that if you were sitting at a cafe in Vancouver, or Christchurch, or Sydney, or San Francisco, that you would not approach a random Asian person, ask them if they were Chinese, and then ask them to help you with your Chinese homework.  No, you definitely wouldn’t do that, so don’t pretend like I’m being an asshole when I say ‘no’ to free English tuition to strangers in public places.

I need to get some shirts printed up with this slogan:

“No free English lessons”

“No interviews”

“No church/Jesus”

The slogan will be printed on the front and back of the shirt, in large, bold letters.  I figure that wearing this shirt would solve 98% of my “free English” encounters.  I figure that this shirt would be perfect for any foreigner who frequents cafes in Korea, or rides the bus or subway, or shows their face in public during the day time.  I figure that 98% of your “free English” encounters will fall into one of the above categories, and that by pointing at the shirt, you could dissuade people from talking to you without actually opening your mouth or acknowledging them directly.  I figure that instead of selling the same old, lame t-shirts, that Itaewon’s deaf/mute sidewalk hawkers would making a killing selling the t-shirts that I have described above.

Anyhow, today at Starbucks, I am at least spared the inconvenience of being bothered for free English lessons.  Instead, a homeless man decides to sit down at my table and stare at me.  I block him out by raising my magazine in front of my face.  He stays for about 10 minutes without ordering anything, and when he finally gets bored, he gets up and leaves.  Almost immediately, two elderly ajummas snatch up the recently vacated seat.  They buy absolutely nothing, and then proceed to make use of the seating and air-conditioning. They have a conversation at full volume, which after a point, becomes impossible to endure.  They are from the generation of folks who make hoiking and throat-clearing sounds when they speak.  I get nauseous and suddenly feel like I have to get up and leave.  The fact that I cannot explain to my friends why I live here is beginning to bother me.

Temporarily Seduced

Life has no meaning, and there is no God.  We are inconsequential carbon-based life forms inhabiting a feckless piece of rock hurtling through space towards an immaterial future.  We leave no mark, we leave no memory, we hold on to no love, and we have no actual value.  Life is nothing more than a long cold train ride through a dark tunnel carrying no baggage.  That is why a late afternoon stroll through the streets of Itaewon is the perfect antidote.  The hookers, tourists, trannies, deaf/mute trinket sellers, jaded foreigners and packs of voguish Korean girls part to either side of me and I feel for a moment like a trout swimming upstream.  These people are a mystery to me, each and every one of them.  In any other place, the hookers would be too old and unskilled to hook. They are not sexy, not good at make-up, not flirtatious or fun.  They are overweight and incompetent, but somehow they earn a living in Itaewon.  It’s a MYSTERY.  Why don’t foreigners demand the same quality and prices that the locals do?  The tourists look lost, and probably are lost.  You know you have a food/cultural marketing crisis when busloads of tourists flock to clusters of international restaurants for the express purpose of avoiding the local cuisine.

The trannies are some of the least attractive and most hostile in Asia.  There are countless tranny bars in Itaewon, but I’ve never seen anyone going in or out of one of these places, have you?  So, how then do Itaewon’s transgendered prostitutes earn money?  It’s an Itaewon MYSTERY.  The deaf/mute trinket sellers cluttering up Itaewon’s sidewalks are also a mystery.  Hundreds and hundreds of people must pass by these shops every day and yet I’ve hardly ever seen anyone buy anything.  One lady has been selling the same raunchy t-shirts since the Japanese occupation.  Shirts with slogans like “Fuck you fucking fuck!” and “Shit happens”.   And you know that these old women probably have no clue what the shirts say, or why nobody ever buys them.  Instead of doing a bit of research, and getting some merchandise that people might actually buy, these women continue selling the same t-shirts they were selling back when none of the streets were paved and their only customers were pimple-faced American soldiers fresh out of small town America.  Do they sell enough trinkets to pay their bills?  MYSTERY.

The groups of voguish Korean girls are actually no mystery at all.  They are here because they’ve read about Itaewon on the internet.  They are here to try exotic faux-international cuisine.  They are here to take pictures of every food item and every fruity cocktail drink they order.  To document it, to share it, to let everyone know that they braved the mean streets of Itaewon to photograph and eat overpriced foreign food.  This gains them some type of social currency on Cyworld or Facebook or Instagram.  They aren’t here for quality, and they aren’t here for cultural exchanges or interactions.  They don’t give a fuck about those things.  They are just here to take pictures of food, which when you think about it, is pretty sad.  Who takes pictures of basic food fare, and for what reason?  We’re not talking about the Michelin starred sushi restaurant that you had to wait 6 months to get a reservation for.  We’re talking basic, run of the mill, average “foreign style” food.  And yet this subject matter is so exotic, so alluring, so unfamiliar that it actually warrants the taking of several photos and the uploading of said photos to the internet.  MYSTERY.

Seeing people in Itaewon snapping photos of basic food fare reminds me of seeing people who have just been released after a long stint in prison; everything is so new, so exotic, so fascinating that their knee jerk reaction is to take a photo of it or otherwise try to capture it to memory, lest it disappear before their very eyes or turn out to be some sort of twisted dream that they will wake up from right before they go back to eating seaweed soup, pickled jellyfish, and fermented cabbage.  To them, Itaewon is an escape from their everyday reality.  To the foreigner, it’s a vague, almost surreal rendering of a place they may have left behind, but although the food bears some resemblance to what they ate back home, the actual taste of the food and the atmosphere in which it is served are like cracks in a crystal chandelier – telltale signs that something is not quite right.

And me?  Hey man, I’ll level with you:  I just come here to escape my own reality out in the distant suburbs of Seoul.  The listless, dull weeknights that consist of crushed beer cans and dirty ashtrays filled with losing lottery tickets.  The drunken stumblers, and taxi morons honking their horns until 4 in the morning.  As I walk down the streets of Itaewon, the sun beats down on my shoulders and I can feel the ground under my feet and the breeze in my face.  I can smell the chlorine and sunscreen from the pool at the Hamilton hotel.  My situational awareness is suddenly razor sharp.  Philosophy and thinking are left behind.  I have temporarily checked out of reality.  Nothing else matters.  My head is clear, my stomach flat, and my pupils dilated.  I put one foot in front of the other and make my way down the street.  I’m temporarily seduced. Maybe life does have value after all, and maybe there is a happy future.  I’ll give it some serious thought at the Goldfish Bar.

Watering Holes in the Serengeti

The Gold Bar, not to be confused with the Goldfish Bar, is a place that I enter out of morbid curiosity from time to time.  It is busy and cheap and dirty, and most of the women inside are smoking.  The crowd is mixed, but consists mostly of foreign males and a mixture of foreign and local females.  Along the wall stand a cluster of West African men who look as though they are waiting for something.  Near the bar stands a group of short, pudgy, pear-shaped Korean girls, heavily made-up and clad in tight tops and short skirts.  They are drinking ‘Hpnotiq’.  They too, look as if they are waiting for something to happen.  The scene reminds me of a watering hole in the Serengeti of northern Tanzania.  All living things gather round the watering hole for a single solitary purpose, but they are uneasy, eyes darting from side to side.  A lingering sense of anticipation is in the air; something is about to happen.  But nobody knows what, or where it will come from.  The music is an eclectic mix of Rap and Hip-hop, with the occasional Lady Gaga thrown in.  The end of each song sparks a glimmer of impatience among the pear-shaped Korean girls and their West African suitors.  They are definitely waiting for something.

Suddenly the song “How Low” by Ludacris comes on and almost immediately the gaggle of short, chubby Korean girls erupts into a fit of elation.  This is it.  This is what everyone has been waiting for.  Everyone is awake now and paying attention.  The girls break apart and start ‘twerking’ – sweet Jesus, they are twerking.  Holy suffering Christ on the cross, they are actually twerking.  They are putting all of their effort, and focus, and energy into twerking.  No wait, they are trying to twerk, but it looks all wrong because these girls are 152cm tall, with pear-shaped bodies and flat asses.  The twerking isn’t working.  They can’t actually shake their asses, because their asses are merely an extension of their backs, and just as flat.  Watching a short, chubby Korean girl try to “twerk” is like watching an almost-dead fish twitching its last twitch in the bottom of a fisherman’s boat.  But it’s the effort that counts and these girls are putting forth an astounding amount of effort considering what they’ve been given to work with.

The West African gentlemen seem to agree, and like honey bears to a bee hive, they surround the group of short Korean girls, cheering them on, encouraging their twerking.  At this particular watering hole as with any, one cannot be too certain who is the predator and who is the prey.  You might say it’s an uneven contest.  Men can never win.  Men aren’t supposed to win.  It’s evolution.  For evolution to stumble forward, women must always win.  And they always do.  Doesn’t matter if they are liars, cheats, princesses, good girls or gold diggers; they always win in the end.  But what’s the alternative?  If you think you’ve seen everything there is to see in Korea, I suggest visiting the Gold Bar, ordering a beer, and then waiting for the song “How Low” to come on.  You my friend, have not seen everything there is to see.  Not yet, anyway.



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61 Responses to You Haven’t Seen Everything

  1. b8b8q8 says:

    Flat-assed Kgirls twerking?!?

  2. L.O.H says:

    Is it my imagination, or did The Gold bar just replace The Loft for Itaewon’s diviest establishment?… What would make it complete is if they offered free booze to ‘ladies’ (in the broadest terms) on Thursday nights….

    • Gyeongi-DOH says:

      Where exactly is the Gold Bar? I’ve never seen it, and when I google it all I get is “Goldfish’ Bar.

      • The Expat says:

        In the hooker hill area. Not far from.goldfish

      • The Baron says:

        If I’m not mistaken, it’s just east of the station, on the north side of the main drag, set in a bit from the sidewalk. The entrance is made to look like a movie theater (ironic since it’s next door to a divy pub named Hollywood). Not a bad marketing strategy I suppose, since the only reason I noticed it at all as I was leaving the pub next door was because of its flashy veneer.

  3. Josh says:

    A classic Korean foot-in-the-door technique. You say yes to a small request, and they bring their entire study group and loads of textbooks for you to look at. Happened to me many times.

  4. GForce says:

    What was the spinster’s reaction to you walking out? She must have gasped, or said “wayyyyyy”, or “asshhhh” or something, right?

    I guess my natural rugged looks deter all the ladies no matter what they’re peddling or begging.

    • The Expat says:

      I don’t knoe because I didn’t turn around. I just calmly walked out.

      • TexRudeBoy says:

        If that ever happens to me, I’ll Calmly count the number of students and multiply by 50bux per and write that out on the back of the printout.

        I’ll look at them as i would a 3-eyed frog in a biological sample tray.

        They’ll exit just as gracefully as when they entered.

  5. TRFG says:

    “They are here to try exotic faux-international cuisine. They are here to take pictures of every food item and every girly cocktail drink they order. To document it, to share it, to let everyone know that they braved the mean streets of Itaewon to photograph and eat overpriced foreign food. This gains them some type of strange social currency on Cyworld or Facebook or Instagram. They aren’t here for quality, and they aren’t here for cultural exchanges or interactions. ”

    Man you are on another level with this, stereotyping and generalizing is a science for you! People from small towns in Canada come to Toronto to eat at different ethnic restaurants all the time and probably take pictures of them and probably post them on facebook. I’ve never sat and analyzed that!

    Your writing is very good though, it’s a shame your worldview isn’t. I think it’s true, I shouldn’t be reading this blog, best of luck, hope you kind of start to see things in a more mature light soon.

    • The Expat says:

      Your comments are entertaining. You seem to know a lot about Korea for someone who has never set foot on Korean soil in their lives. Perhaps Korea is your spiritual homeland, and after you become fluent in Korean, you can come to Korea and live amongst the Koreans.

    • theghostcoast says:

      Just curious, what does TRFG stand for?

      Anyways, for someone who has never been to Korea, you seem to have a lot of opinions on what you think life is PROBABLY like here.

      Let me just say that, in the US, I’ve rarely seen couples go to a restaurant, take a million of pictures of their food/each other, barely talk, and spend most of the meal on their phones. It gets annoying, to put it mildly.

      Anyways, I don’t know anything about you and don’t want to make assumptions. I hate to say it but you sound like one of those people who blindly defends Korea on any and all issues. Like the Korean rag that tried to blame Boeing or the airport for that crash in San Francisco. If you are looking for information about Korea, I would ask a friend who has been to Korea, instead of a personal blog with personal opinions.

      • TRFG says:

        so Koreans just take pictures of their food all day long? they don’t eat it?? I’m ‘blindly defending Koreans on all issues’?? what are you talking about?? I’ve entered the twilight zone!!

        • The Expat says:

          No one said that all Koreans sit down and take pictures of their food all day. The posting said that some Koreans, (women/girls, early 20’s, of a certain limited demographic) participate in this activity. This activity is strange to the general public. Seriously. If I buy a $12 plate of lackluster pasta, I’m not going to photograph it. If I buy some meat on a stick, I’m not going to photograph it. But some people do/will. Mostly food groupies (‘foodies’) or fat people (hey, nothing wrong with taking photos of what you love). But seriously, if you are going to photograph boring, plain, average food, then yes, people are going to look at you and wonder why you are doing that.

          It would be like going to a famous museum, and while everyone else is photographing famous sculptures, you are sitting there photographing a park bench, or something.

          • Waeg says:

            My last foray into the ‘twon, I watched as some late 20 something took a dozen pictures of her patbingsu, then another dozen of herself eating it. When it looked like she was pointing the camera at me, I gave her the middle finger; she responded by finally putting her phone down. I was like WTF, taking a picture of a boring Paris Baguette patbingsu? Guess it was because it was in the ‘twon, and she wanted a pic of me, a real live waeg to prove she had been taking a walk on the wild side.

          • Bdog says:

            I know what you mean. Some Korean uni students who are in the age range of 19-25, both male and female, put up proud pictures of their sad cooking ‘skillz’ on Facebook… The pictures often consist of spaghetti (the kind you can buy in any store) with tomato sauce (with nothing in it, again just the plain ole sauce you buy in the store) and that’s it. I just don’t see how cooking plain ole spaghetti is worthy of even a casual Facebook post.

        • theghostcoast says:

          “spend most of the meal on their phones”

          “you sound like one of those people who blindly defends Korea”

          Never said they do this “all day long.” Never said you were “blindly defending Korea,” just sound like you are. And trust me, I’ve seen a lot of Korean netizens latch on to forums like this one, simply to defend their national pride.

          Once you have lived in Korea long enough, you will notice that, for most people, it is extremely difficult for them to admit that they (or their nation or people) are wrong in any way, shape, or form. And you will notice the excessive photos, which do not, again, go on all day.

          • Joshua Snyder says:

            The ‘pictures of food’ epidemic is global, or at least, dominate within nations that have smart phones and facebook/instagram accounts. Koreans do it. Americans do it. Filipinos do it. Europeans do it. Everyone, everywhere at one time or another, does it. It is all around annoying, but to pin it as some specific korean “20 something age girl” problem is not entirely accurate. My buddy just went back home to Seattle last month; dude posted daily pictures of every meal he ate! I wanted to reach through my phone and throw that food across the room.

          • The Expat says:

            You are forgetting that I/we all live in Korea, and therefor, by and large, by an overwhelming margin, the women I observe in restaurants will be Korean. This is inescapable. So when I write about seeing Korean women doing something, it is because I live in Korea, and the women around me are 99% Korean. Its not that I’m singling people out. I live in a homogeneous country. I’m observing Korean behavior because I live in Korea. I don’t write about western behavior because I don’t live in the west. Many people fail to acknowledge this fact when reading the blog.

          • Joshua says:

            Good point. I hadn’t thought about your approach to writing about Korea from that angle. Makes sense.

          • Stephen says:

            The Expat says:
            August 28, 2013 at 12:54 pm

            … a homogenius country …


      • Waeg says:

        to be fair, internet memes these days often mock poseurs who take tons of photos of their meals and upload it to instagram. Koreans are simply following the global trend. And this new vid I came across recently suggests that social interactions are not what they used to be:

    • GForce says:

      Unless you’re a gyopo, how did you manage to make you way to a blog about life in South Korea? You must have some interest or connection to Korea, right?

      Its not like any of us randomly check the expat blogs for foreigners living in Slovakia or some place.

      I’m not saying “get out” or anything, just curious what brought you here.

      • unrepentant says:

        I have a Korean acquaintance who takes pictures of literally everything she eats and posts it on a blog about everything she eats. I’m talking plates of cherry tomatoes and coffee mix coffees. Last year her theme was posting a self pic ever hour or so. I don’t know which one is more pathological, but the self pics do creep me out a little more, so I think of it as a sign of recovery. The Koreans walking around Korea are for the same reasons you go there, they just don’t know it or act like it.
        Anyway this is one of the best in awhile. Whether I agree with all your opinions I’m reading about them and I like reading about them, so keep it up.

    • The Baron says:

      I’ve been amazed at how American or Canadian kyopos who have never spent any significant time in Korea (at least not since puberty) blindly defend everything about its society.

      First of all, they really don’t know what they are talking about and just assume that everyday life in this “first world” society is just like what it is in their home country. Secondly they are completely unaware that they would be total outcasts here, and spit on for not being “Korean enough”.

      Every kyopo I’ve come across since moving to Korea that has spent any time living here is utterly APPALLED and EMBARRASSED by the social etiquette (or lack thereof) by the native population.

      I recently read a great back and forth on a forum between a Canadian kyopo who had lived here for a while and a dumb-as-fuck American kyopo who had clearly never travelled to the motherland. For every negative thing the Canadian said (which I deemed to be pretty accurate from yo know, first hand experience), the dumb-as-fuck American kyopo blindly defended Korea with ill-informed logic, such as “Korea is ahead of the US in terms of women being equals, they just elected a female president!” Hilarious stuff.
      I tried to chime in, but every statement I made was refuted with refusals to believe that an American living in the Seoul metropolitan area could have any negative opinions about Korea, and accusations of me acctually being a Chinese Nationalist. Again, hilarious stuff.

      What’s also amazing is that all the other non-Koreans who had never set foot in Korea that were present in this forum thread (as well as our new friend here, @TRFG) simply could not fathom the true existence of the social faux pas that this Canadian kyopo was bringing to light.
      Do you see what I am saying???
      The fact that people inexperienced with this society simply refused to believe that these social norms exist just prove its extreme ass-backwardsness. Too ass-backwards to be believed!

      To our new friend, I invite you to come see for yourself.

      • Joshua Snyder says:

        Not surprising that people would defend their ancestral heritage. I’m sure the American Kyopo has been properly ‘trained’ to believe the ROK is the greatest place in the world, and to speak otherwise is blasphemy. Maybe it’s just me giving up, but when people make claims or accusations of things without having experienced them in any way, I just drop the conversation and change the subject. Just like, my very religious father baiting me into biblical and political conversations, I deflect and talk about sports. If the Kyopo wants to believe that, let em, more space for us at Gold Bar.

    • TexRudeBoy says:

      I just wanna point out here, that Other than a few consonants in common in our usernames, I’m not related to this fuckwit in any way, shape, or form.

      He/She/it’s projecting a lot of their issues onto the conversation, eh!?

      It’s a cryin’ shame they couldn’t be more mature about it

  6. Gyeongi-DOH! says:

    Awesome posts Jake. I really enjoyed them. I like when you prepare two ore three posts on different subjects then post them together. I will definitely be dropping by the Gold Bar!!! Ignore that TRFG fool and the weepy-eyed ‘Leave Korea Alone’ crowd. Keep on doin’ what your doing. Keep on rockin’.

  7. Smokes says:

    Ok, the Tranny Clubs, here’s the deal. You don’t use the front entrance, it’s a (pun intended) backdoor operation. Just like the 성인용품 these places have alternate ways in.

    Or so I’ve heard.

  8. mr. wolfe says:

    love the t-shirt idea, I’d really like one in that dryfit material for the gym

  9. TRFG says:

    look look look, I’m not trying to ‘defend Korea,’ I’m not trying to talk about Korean Americans and Chinese Nationalists, I’m 19 and I’m a Canadian born Iranian and I rent a room in a Persian/Korean neighbourhood in Toronto with a Korean Christian family.. they’re very nice and they give me food (I lived with an Italian family that gave me food too, both are awesome), I am not a ‘kyopo’ – which I had to look up because I only started learning Korean language last semester, so there’s more assumptions you’re making, I say one thing… that this blog stereotypes people, and THIS happens!

    I’m the one that’s losing here because I keep coming back here when I have all this stuff to do right now!!! You people get a grip and… eat a kim chee fried rice (those are good) ^^

    • The Baron says:

      Judging by the references you’ve made, you are clearly responding defensively to my post, which I assure you did not actually reference you at all. I was simply continuing the conversation with the thoughts I had as I was reading through. I was not talking about YOU, let alone accusing you of doing/being anything.

      But in your accusations of us streotyping Koreans, you are ironically stereotyping us, using the phrases “you people” and “the readers here are crazy!” I’m sure a lot of the readers here come from many walks of life, and could not be any more unalike. — And while on the topic of stereotyping, let me educate you on something that Westerners who have never lived in Korea have a tough time wrapping their free-thinking minds around:
      KOREAN SOCIETY DOES NOT PRACTICE, NOR PROMOTE THE CONCEPT OF INDIVIDUALISM. <-This is not me making a generalization, this is something they openly preach, and inform you of shortly after you arrive here. If a Korean parts from the herd in any way, they will be ostracized as an outcast. For the most part, they all dress alike, have the same mannerisms and hobbies, all listen to the same music, all in fear of being left out from the giant homogenous pack. They are probably the easiest people in the world to stereotype, because they do it to themselves.
      For fucks sake there are only three colors of cars here! (Black/White/Shilver)

      If you are enjoying your eclectic Korean-Canadian experience in Toronto, then that's great, and I'm happy for you, but don't for one second think that you can compare that experience in one the most multicultural cities in the world to the homogenous society that is the Republic of Korea. No one here is telling you that you are not allowed to like Korean-Canadian food, or that you can't learn a language aided by a primitive alphabet. I'm just saying don't tell me (or the author) how to feel about the country I LIVE in.

      And for the record, I enjoy living here. It just so happens that there are many mind-boggling aspects of daily life here that are just simply fun to poke fun at.

      • RPP says:

        What is a primitive alphabet, anyway?

        • elowel says:

          I am also curious.

        • The Baron says:

          Their alphabet is fucked, and is the #1 reason why many of them will never speak many English words properly. There’s a reason why you can learn Hangul in 15 minutes or less.

          The rigidity of the Korean alphabet and writing system puts a cap on the total limit of syllables possible, and stifles attempts at constructing creative language. You can write any Korean word or proper noun in Romanized letters without marring the intended pronunciation, but how many English words do Koreans mispronounce, basically because of the way their alphabet forces them to write the words?

          They don’t lack the capacity to pronounce the word cheeseburger correctly. They just pronounce it “chee-ju-buh-guh” because that’s the way it’s forced to be written in Hangul. Have you ever seen a can/bottle of Sprite in this country, with the name of the product being written out “suh-pa-rah-ee-tuh”. Leave it to the Korean alphabet to turn a classic one-syllable branding into a five-syllable clusterfuck.

          Things that most Koreans will do wrong from now until forever while speaking English because of their alphabet:
          – replacing “f” sounds with “p” sounds
          – replacing “v” sounds with “b” sounds
          – replacing “th” sounds with “s” sounds
          – having a phobia of digraphs
          – not being able to pronouce “r” sounds at the end of syllables
          – replacing “s” sounds with “sh” sounds (but only if followed by an “i” or an “e”)
          – replacing “z” sounds with “j” sounds, yet
          – somehow the fuck replacing “j” sounds with “z” sounds ??? (“I will zoin the history club”)
          – adding a gratuitous “-ee” sound at the end of words that end in a consonant sound that Hangul does not see fit to end a syllable with.
          – adding a gratuitous “-uh” sound at the end of words that end in a consonant sound that Hangul does not see fit to end a syllable with.

          I won’t even ask you to compare the Korean writing system to that of their neighbors, Japan and China (or did I just do that?).

      • unrepentant says:

        I have heard that Korean expats suffer from some of the worst reverse culture shock imaginable when moving back if they have been gone more than a few years.
        Gyopo’s are not members of Korean society and have false views, their parents just speak of the good old days, likely when the country was run by a dictator.
        The Adopted Abroad category is the one that has the most realistic views and the best experiences trying to integrate into society with no false pretenses and just a sense of curiosity.

      • Danny C. says:

        I have to agree, Korea is definitely not a place for individualism, ironically it’s the other way around. Groups model themselves based on what is “hip” and “up-coming”, (hip-hop fad/metro sexual fad/training suit fad, what ever group you feel you belong to). Although you’ll see the occasional unique individual grazing among the herd of cows, Korea culture strives on being selectively based on what the majority is following (like most countries). You’ll never catch me in matching Adidas top and bottoms nor will you ever and I mean never catch me in the club doing that damn Tteok dance that is in full swing at the moment, but it doesn’t effect me directly in any way so I could careless what the majority seems to like, but for those of you who haven’t yet seen it; it’s quite a show.

        All cultures have their vices and for Korea that seems to be “one” of the issue. Don’t get me wrong I love living here and for the past six years it’s been a joy and a wonderful experience, so don’t think this is a bias opinion, it is what it is… and Itaewon is the God forsaken ass-crack of Korea… but who doesn’t like going to circus occasionally?

  10. Joshua says:

    I 100% agree with loud talkers at coffee shops. There is absolutely no volume control in this country. Between awkwardly loud ‘jinjjas’ and the disgusting phlegm hacking sounds, coffee shops are some of the loudest places in Korea. Ironically, buses and subways are extremely quiet, and if any foreigner so much as squeaks in English, the ‘shushes’ from angry passengers commence immediately.

    I was playing my guitar a few months ago in my house at 11pm on a saturday night. Not very loudly, no guitar pick, just fingers. My neighbor across the way proceeded to yell at me and tell me to quiet down. Apparently, my guitar was distracting his television time, but the drunk adjeossi’s in the park next to his place yapping, phlegming, and being overtly annoying, didn’t bother him one bit.

    • branflakes says:

      I, too, get grossed out by “disgusting phlegm hacking sounds”. I keep thinking “Can’t anybody use a Kleenex?”
      I’ve got the tail end of a cold right now. Blowing my nose in the office seconds ago just made a loud, disgusting and disturbing sound as the crap in my sinuses agreed to be expelled from my body. I think I just grossed out my Korean colleagues, hahaha.

  11. elfmeister says:

    Hey if you do print out those t-shirts, let me know – I’d like to buy one.

  12. Deluxe Nuts says:

    Gold Bar is the GI joint.

    I was in there several months ago to meet a friend in the service, and I couldn’t quite understand the place. It was a GI sausage fest. Maybe it’s the cheap drinks, or they just wanted that hometown sword fight feeling.

    I bet it’s a twerkfest over at Helios.

    • Gyeongi-Doh says:

      I hadn’t been to Helios in years. I walked in a couple of months ago and it was full of young Koreans sitting at tables. Has Helios gone over to the other side, or does it return to its old self after say 11pm on weekends?…The Koreanization of Itaewon is really going too far.

      • The Expat says:

        Helios is full of tourists and local hiphop girls. Its also a major fire trap with too many people and only one exit.

        • Deluxe Nuts says:

          The new B One (nee Hard Rock Cafe, something forgettable, and the much missed meat market Lime Light) is Itaewon’s premier firetrap; with only one known exit, dark, maze-like, and packed with at least a thousand people. At least at Helios you could jump out the window and get away with a broken leg.

          Helios has also always pretended to be sophisticated until about 10 or 11pm, then the tables go up, the Nigerian Princes arrive, and the dance floor gets sticky.

        • Gyeongi-DOH says:

          Actually, the police did show up. They just stood around chatting and laughing with the bouncers, even though one dude was bleeding from his face where a bouncer shot him with a pellet gun.
          There was a long right up on it a few years back.

    • The Expat says:

      Helios is definitely a twerkfest.

  13. Gyeongi-Doh says:

    I can’t believe some of you are wasting time debating some teenage kid who’s never been to Korea. Ignore him.

  14. Inauspicious Prince of Mud says:

    Ahh, the old free English language session caper! Pisses me off no end, if anyone tries it on me these days I’ll just reply with either complete gibberish, or speak to them in Spanish or something.

  15. thisisausername says:

    Hey Baek,

    I really love your YouTube videos and I’ve watched all of them. But I think you have maybe gone too far this time.

    You would be happy if those students fell in front of the train and died? That’s psychological issue you have involving you and your ex wife. I don’t care if it’s racist, its just not anything that I want to be associated with. Its a gross way of thinking. If it’s meant as just a joke that isn’t made clear enough. I think I am as adept as most educated westerners at noticing subtlety and satire but you come across as serious.

    Basically all I’m saying is you had me as a disciple of yours until this post. I couldn’t wait until your next post or video. But this is gross. I’m of the opinion that you can’t go too far with jokes. But it doesn’t come off as a joke. That you would be the one taking pictures if they fell in front of the train just sounds like blind rage.

    Many Korean people are backward and uneducated and primitive in their behavior. But that doesn’t mean I’d be happy to see them die. Many people in Africa or the Amazon or Papua New Guinea could receive the same criticisms of being backward primitive jackasses. That doesn’t mean I want to give eugenically cleanse the world of these inferior communities.

    If it was all a joke I missed it.

    • The Baron says:

      “My only hope was that one would jump in front of the train, a ubiquitous lemming gene that calls all Koreans to a suicide solution taking over. ”

      Clearly a commentary on Koreans’ herd mentality behavior, saying that if one did it, they’d all feel obliged to do the same for fear of being left out. Guess you did miss it.

    • thisisausername says:

      Oh okay, so my previous admiration was totally misguided. Well whatever, if I wanted to read Stormfront

    • b8b8q8 says:

      An answer to your question: Numbskulledness.

    • Gyeongi-DOH says:

      That’s the thing. Korea is a nation of bronze-age peasants possessing only the slightest veneer of civilization. Yet they behave like they are the universe’s special creation. That’s what makes the culture so galling, and the whole place so easy (and fun) to ridicule. ‘Farmers in suits’ is far too kind a label to put on them. It doesn’t reflect half the story. And it’s basically an insult to farmers back home, who generally don’t go about behaving like neanderthals.

      Koreans are a special breed all to themselves. In that regard, they are right about one thing. Korea is ‘special’, but for all the wrong reasons.

  16. kiwiboy says:

    legend..but you should have seen that shit coming way sooner LOL

  17. mork says:

    thats pretty legendary, in-je.

  18. Jason says:

    Considering how shallow Koreans are, (in regards to job discrimination) they sure need to go to church.

    • Gyeongi-DOH says:

      Yeah because church encourages people to be open-minded and accepting of others…Just helps them add to their list of people they disapprove of and won’t hire.

    • LaFoix says:

      There sure are lots of vulnerable young souls ghosting about Korea, granted. But I don’t know if going to church is the answer!!! (Most of the churches here are very cultic/controlling in nature, anyhoos~~ Probably do more further harm than good!)

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