Friday, December 29, 2006

The Crazy Foreigner Haters

After having a nice lunch with Hye Sook and Rose, we decided to head to another part of town to look for some new sheets for Hye Sook and I's bed. While waiting in the subway, we were chatting in English when a rather strange looking woman in her late 20s or so walked by us. She stopped, looked at me, and then launched into a tirade that started out fairly quiet but increased as the words gushed out of her.

I caught bits and pieces: "foreigner," "selling," "Not in English," and snippets that barely made sense. Now, Hye Sook informed me later that it wasn't just my Korean that made it hard for me to understand. She said even to her the woman was barely intelligible. But she did catch the gist of it.

The woman wasn't too fond of foreigners, and blamed them for seemingly random problems in Korea. She also wasn't too pleased with the fact that Hye Sook and Rose were with me, calling them both whores, and saying that they were selling themselves for English lessons.

The subway came and we three stepped on, and the woman continued on her way. I tried to get out of Rose and Hye Sook (who both are rarely shy) what the woman had said, but they refused (even in English) to repeat it. I didn't find out until much later when we got home.

This is a rare occurrence in Korea. Foreigner hating isn't tossed around often or anything, but the crazies do seem to blame us for an awful lot.

In fact, my university (which has a very large number of both foreign professors and students) has its resident crazy. There's a man who hangs out by the library who, I'm told, likes to throw out epithets, blame, and occasionally sticks at foreigners. The police didn't want to handle it because he was on campus. The campus guards didn't want to handle it because they're basically traffic control and little more. But eventually, he was caught harassing some foreigners OFF-campus and got carted away.

For a day.

He was back on the street in no time, and still hangs around the campus, although I rarely have seen him at all, and only once up close. The one time I DID see him was right in front of my apartment building, where when he saw me, he yelled three words that neither Hye Sook or I could understand.

Koreans don't really handle crazy well.



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