Tag Archives: korean society

Korean Girls Be Scared of Me (And Every Other Dude)

5 Feb

Long time world!

Ok, so funny story time. The first time I came to Korea to live was back in 2005. It was less than 24 hours I got off the plane, and I was jet lagged. So I found a cafe at 6:30AM and just stood outside sipping my coffee. One of the part-time workers was outside washing the windows. She was close by, so I casually said “It’s nice weather today, isn’t it?” Now the rules of conversational etiquette dictate that the worker should have:

(a) respond about how nice the weather was, which could progress into a conversation if she so desired.


(b) give a short but polite reply and return to work if she did not wish to hold unnecessary dialogue.

Instead of (a) or (b), I got an ultimate death stare of universe. She didn’t say one word and just stared at me like  some crazy dude that liked talking about the weather and raping girls. She was visibly scared and weirded out. So she inched away, keeping me in her sights, and returned to work without saying a word.

That was my very first culture shock in Korea. But I later realized that it’s 1) abnormal to talk to strangers for no reason at all. And that 2) a lot of Korean girls be straight petrified of random strangers of the male kind.

Now since a lot of the fear is directed towards guys, I’m guessing it’s a rape thing. And I understand. Rape is something girls have to be aware of. It’s a serious issue, and I don’t want to make light of it. But as someone who grew up outside of this society, I think the fear might be a bit excessive.

Here’s a few “scary stories” that I’ve heard:

“Scary Story” #1

– Friend was in the elevator of her apartment building and a delivery man (with full on uniform, holding a package) was riding with her. He turned to her to ask if he was in the right apartment building. And she timidly said yes.

That’s the end of the story. Really. But she told me it was a “scary situation.” Scary enough for her to actually remember a 20 second elevator ride with a delivery man.

“Scary Story” #2

– Taxi driver takes friend home. Taxi driver has a bunch of tangerines and offers her one. She says thank you. But instead of eating it, she worries that he might have injected it with something.

She ended up eating it when she got home. And sure enough, it was a delicious tangerine.

Of course not every Korean girl is afraid of everything. But just the fact that I can quote these as examples is proof that there is a fear that exists among Korean women. Who knows. Maybe it’s all warranted. There are definitely stories about these totally normal situations that turn into shocking front page news.

I am not a girl, so there are somethings that I will never understand. But as someone that’s on the other side, it makes me not want to be nice to strangers. Because even if I am nice, I will get death stare. Your boy is mad sensitive yo and death stares are crazy scarring!

Maybe I should just be like this:

If you’re a girl, do the same thoughts run through your head? Do you think this fear is  excessive?


Koreans Love Me, But Hate Me

31 Jul

Love always wins

Don’t read if  you’re not cool with truth bombs!

Whenever I tell Korean people about, everyone tells me that I’m doing such good and meaningful work. Koreans are very proud of their culture, and I am proud to be a part of it too! I see the beauty in Korean culture. I really do. I gladly share Korean culture with everyone, and for that, Koreans love me.

But at the same time, I am still a Korean-American–not a full Korean. I have a different way of sharing Korean culture than how Koreans might choose to do it. And for that some Koreans hate me (or at the least strongly disapprove of my stuff).

Take for example my video on Korean Punishments. I love this video. The punishments are things that I personally experienced in my life. This kind of stuff makes me feel super connected to Korea (which I love!). But some Korean people didn’t like the video because they thought I was criticizing the way Korean parents and teachers punish their kids. The fact that I talked about hitting children was a sore spot for some too. But the fact is… it’s a part of Korean culture. Nearly every Korean (older Koreans at least) experienced hitting from a family member or a teacher. Shoot, I experienced it, and I was a 2nd generation Korean-American living in New York!  To me, it’s a part of the culture that’s helped shaped me and also helped shaped Korea. And I think that’s awesome 🙂 (I was also glad to see youtube commenters experiencing the same things in their own cultures!)

I also just posted on The 5 Most Interesting People You’ll See on the Seoul Subway, and I’m sure there are going to be Korean people that are not happy with the post. There I write about blind beggars, feisty ajeoshis and pushy ajummas. Things that some Koreans think I shouldn’t write about. But these are real people that you’ll see on the subways, undeniable members of Korean society. And I think they’re interesting as hell. Many foreigners will only get to meet Korean people of certain backgrounds: educated Koreans, multi-lingual Koreans, Koreans with international experience, Koreans who are not poor. But I think that’s misrepresentative of Korean society.

There are things that people aren’t so proud of in their cultures (i.e. the reality tv show ktwon–although I must admit it is entertaining). But I embrace it all. I think it’s great that there are beggars that fake being blind. I think it’s awesome that ajummas don’t care and just shove everyone out if their ways. And who doesn’t like to watch a harmless fight between ajeoshis? I don’t want to be censored because to me, it’s everyone and everything, good and bad, that make Korea so interesting.

I see the beauty in all things Korea. Love me or hate me, your boy Keith is gonna bring it honest!