Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Parade of the Stereotypes

I use Dave's ESL as a last resort for information since threads often degrade into the usual Korea-hate but I want to share Majolica's story for a couple of reasons:

  1. It happened in Mokpo.
  2. It's a catalog of Korean stereotypes.
  3. It's my apartment building.
Majolica is actually my other half and decided to vent on the forums since (if you don't have a blog) that's the only place where she felt she could vent. I was out of town and out of cell phone reach when this happened and I only heard about this late at night when she broke down in tears telling me this story. Majolica's tale is a cavalcade of Korean stereotypes, including useless police, drunk ajussi, and assault on women:
I was busy cleaning my apartment since the new NS were supposed to arrive in the afternoon. When we were done cleaning we started taking down the first load of garbage and recycling. We dropped of a pile of bags and went back to get the remaining ones when the "garbage" ajossi came out and started screaming at us. We were trying to explain that we were just going to get the rest of the stuff and then sort everything into the right piles, when he grabbed my friend and started hitting her. We started walking away fast, went back to my apartment, locked the door and decided to wait until he was gone before going back down.
Five minutes later, who is outside my door but the garbage ajossi carrying all the bags that we had left by the dump. Along with ajossi is ajumma, and when we open the door, they start yelling at us again(and speaking WAY too fast for my slow ears anyway).

Not crazy enough for you? But wait, who is coming now? Why, it's drunk abusive neighbour man, who joins in the "screaming and shouting at white girls" fest. He keeps trying to come into my apartment, and I kept telling him, "get out"... finally, the super shows up. This guy is nice enough, but kind of rude and overly belligerent when we can't understand what he's saying to us, so my heart started sinking when I saw that he was coming in.

He comes in, (WITH HIS SHOES ON!!!) and starts walking around my freshly mopped floors, going on about special garbage bags and inspecting my place, while I'm trying to ask him to step out and figure out what he wants... meanwhile, garbage ajumma and ajossi are still standing in our hallway, and drunk neighbour is still screaming racist slurs at us from the doorway. Finally, my friend manages to get a Korean friend on the phone, explains about the hitting and the screaming, and hands it over to the super. It turns out that she's freaked out and has called the cops.

At this point, drunken neighbour's screaming has reached a cresendo, my nerves are fraying, and I shut and lock the door. Then starts the banging on the door, the ringing of the bell. Super is still on the phone with Korean friend, ajumma and ajossi are still standing there. I'm now trying to explain through our Korean friend that I can't do anything about the garbage now, I really have to leave the apartment and go to my school and run errands and I don't have time for this insanity.

Everyone still with me?
FINALLY, the police show up. They are super nice, but sort of useless. I'm still trying to explain that I was expected at my school quite a while ago, and I will promise to do whatever it is with the garbage that I'm supposed to do when I come back.

The second policeman is outside the apartment with drunk guy, when drunk guy goes absolutely batshit crazy and starts kicking all our carefully piled garbage bags and recycling down the stairs. One of the bags busts and there's food and garbage all over the stairs, the glass starts breaking, it's just a big fucking crazy mess.

I take one look and start bawling. The super is still trying to convince us to take the garbage down, but I'm so pissed off about the mess the drunk guy made that I tell him I'm not doing it now. The police are still sort of ineffectually standing around and telling drunk guy to knock it off, when garbage ajumma shows up again, carrying the right kind of garbage bags.

SHE starts cleaning up (of course, although she wasn't the one hitting us, or kicking garbage down the stairs, or doing anything at all really). We start to help her, but the police make us come with them, drive us to my bank and school (with SIRENS!!) and drop us back at home. No idea what happened to drunk neighbour or anything else, but the sweet ajumma had cleaned up everything by the time we got back.

So anyway, that's a warning to you. You can throw out anything you want, in any kind of bag you want, in any quantity you want, but you got to wrap it all up in the fancy coloured bags before they'll let you put it in the trash. And also, it takes two policemen, two waegooks, two old people, and one drunk to throw out 4 bags of garbage and 2 boxes of recycling. Also, said garbage dumping takes exactly 3 hours and 20 minutes.
ahhh Korea, how I'll miss you.
I, on the other hand, am not impressed by the sad comedy of a foreigner living in Korean society. Korea, consider yourself warned: You're on notice!


jess said...


I don't even know what to say. What a horrible way to end things.

Brian said...

I'll bet you can guess how that thread turned out by page 2.

Nick van der Leek said...

very funny story!!!

Jon Allen said...

very sad story, but all too predicable.

Anonymous said...

korea must be shaking in their butty!

Anonymous said...

"But wait, who is coming now? Why, it's drunk abusive neighbour man..." I am soo sorry that you got stuck with one of those neighbors, too. I have one in Gunpo, and local people think it's ok for him to yell at the White chick and try to barge into my place at all hours. Guys like that make the majority of Koreans, who are nice, look bad!!!