m a r k a n d e y a


Posted by Brian on January 29, 2006

So I’m walking home the other afternoon with a co-worker when we found ourselves behind a gaggle of ajumma slowly moving along the narrow sidewalk in front of us. Stuck behind them with no way around, we had no choice but to slow up our own pace until we could find a chance to scoot by.

Apparently peeved  by having to share the sidewalk with other people, my co-worker let  lose with a loud tirade against ajummas. He said they were too loud, too slow, and that he hated the sound of their voices. And this was all done loud enough so as to be some sort of mocking gesture towards the ajummas and their inability to understand what he was saying. I tried to ignore him and a few moments later we were able to zip by them.

Later that same day, walking home with  a different co-worker after our evening classes, we bump into a few Koreans in the Shinchon subway station. This other co-worker then goes off on how Koreans are totally lacking in spatial awareness and about how sick he is of being bumped into. Once again, I find myself mentally rolling my eyes.

Now, I know the therapeutic value of venting, and I know I’ve done my own fair share here on my blog and elsewhere, but the foreigner-grumbling-about-Korea thing is getting really old. Both of these guys have been here several years, and one of them just signed a new contract to stay another year. If life here is really as bad as their complaints make it out to be, why stay? And if it’s not bad enough to drive them out of the country, why complain?

I’m an old-timer here in Korea and I’ve learned that a healthy amount of insouciance while navigating the mean streets of Seoul works wonders in keeping the stress level down. People will bump into you, people will spit, people will stop and talk in the most inconvenient places; what can you do? You can let it tear you up until you are a card-carrying member of the Dave’s ESL Cafe I Hate Korea club, or you can learn to let all the hassles of the day just slide right by you so you can arrive home with a smile on your face.

I just want to holler at these people to get some perspective. In the grand sceme of things, the problems foreigners face in Korea are pretty trivial.


6 Responses to “Negativity”

  1. EFL Geek said

    I couldn’t have said it better.

  2. Nomad said

    Or, what works even better is getting out of Seoul. LOL.
    I go through phases; I can go months on end without anything bothering me and then one day someone cuts me off or pulls out in front of me and it gets to me. But I don’t necessarily think of it as a “Korean” thing that ticked me off, but a people thing. Yeah, there are issues about Korea that I write about and like to point out and even talk about from time to time, but then I look at it this way – no place is perfect. If I was living in Japan, or France, or even Ohio, there’d be things pertaining to that place that wouldn’t agree with me and I’d be blogging or talking about them.
    I don’t think there’s anything wrong about venting (going back to one of your previous posts) because there will be issues that get to us from time to time, no matter where we live and venting can be good – if it’s done constructively. There is a difference, however, between venting and outright bashing. There’s a point in there somewhere, I think…

  3. I know what you mean with the negativity. I get into those ranting mood sometimes myself every other week. But usually have to bite my tongue with my wife around. Still though, rudeness in Seoul is like nothing I’ve ever experienced in Canada or the USA.

  4. Brian,

    I’m surprised you get bumped much unless you’ve lost some weight or gotten shorter. With the exception of a few ajuma, folks on the sidewalk avoid making contact with me.

    BTW, the new design looks spiffy.

  5. Whitey said

    “…until you are a card-carrying member of the Dave’s ESL Cafe I Hate Korea club…”

    chuckle, chuckle, chuckle — good one.

  6. augmento said

    i think that knowing that the people pissing you off can’t understand you makes people a bit reckless in their ranting.

    when someone cuts you off in the states. we bash them and everything we can about them in the safety of our own car.

    Seoul at its best is merely unfriendly and i find it down right hostile most of the time. People try to claim its the most westernized city in Korea and yet I can relax much easier just about anywhere else in the country.

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