This is gonna be hard

It’s only been four days, and i already hate Seoul.  Where do i even start?  I’ll limit this one to the people:

1.  Middle-aged people stare or glare at me for no reason.

2.  No one wants to give directions, and those willing to don’t know how.  It’s like they can’t think like someone who doesn’t know the city very well.  One girl my age gave me the wrong directions.  Intentionally.  But i knew what she was doing, so i called her out, to which she reluctantly mumbled something like, “Oh, i think it’s that way, then….”  She probably hated me for being American.  Fucking bitch.

3.  They lack imagination here.  Either that, or people here are even more conformist and clueless about the rest of the world than i thought.  They can’t imagine that a woman’s favorite color could be grey.  A saleswoman actually questioned me for buying a grey, “men’s color” toothbrush.  I think imagination and diversity go hand in hand.  This country is so startlingly lacking in diversity that you almost can’t blame the people for being so narrow-minded.  Doesn’t mean it isn’t irritating.

4.  People here don’t know how to mind their own business.  Let’s just leave it at that.

5.  Strangers, especially the older ones, blurt out unnecessary and unwarranted comments at you as you walk past.  Ugh, reminds me of Paris.

6.  No one has any common courtesy in public.  With people they know, they’re all about surface courtesy, but on the streets, it’s always them first.  No one moves out of your way when you’re trying to get off the subway train, because they couldn’t care less.  And then when you squeeze past them, they glare at you.  This would never, ever happen in New York.  There, people move away from the doors without even being asked to and even when it’s not crowded, because they don’t want to be in anyone’s way.

7.  The concept of “alone” does not exist, period.  No one eats alone, no one goes shopping alone, and no one lets anyone do any of these things alone.  I’ve been fielding requests from people left and right wanting to do things with me, and i just want to be left alone, damn it.  I don’t even have time to think these days!

8.  This one’s more of a personal situation with my family, but i’m including it because it speaks for the culture:  the overprotectiveness is extreme and intolerable.  I can speak Korean, i can read Korean, i can see, i can walk, i have two functioning hands, and i’ve lived in big cities.  No, i don’t need you to walk me to the subway station, teach me how to buy a T-money card, and find me a subway map.  And i can find my way out of the station myself, thank you very much.  You see, for Koreans, such overbearing care is to be appreciated, but it just makes me feel like they think i’m dumb.  When a relative says to me, “How will you find your way there yourself?”, i can’t help but be incredibly offended.

I know with time i’ll find redeeming qualities about the people, but this list will only grow, too.  I think Seoul’s going to turn me into a chain-smoking alcoholic.  That is, if the Koreans don’t give me any shit for smoking (which, surprisingly, they haven’t yet—at least not on the streets).  Only a matter of time…

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10 Comments

Filed under culture, korea, seoul

10 responses to “This is gonna be hard

  1. +1 for stress-induced alcoholism! Yay! lol

    If the subways are that bad, maybe I’ll get some sunglasses and a walking stick and pretend I’m blind. At the very least, they’ll feel bad for glaring at me. Maybe.

  2. Ra

    You smoke?

    I let my relatives cater to my needs. I like it that way. I don’t want to figure out how to get to places. I’d rather have them lead me wherever I want to go. They pretty much take me wherever I want to go. I like staying around my family though, especially my cousins, so I guess that could be the difference. I do know what you mean about Koreans being rude, and how they stare, and how they judge whatever you’re buying. One time, I was at a store and this girl kept trying things on herself in order to show me how to wear whatever I was looking at for 2 seconds. That’s just the way they are. That’s how they sell things. The interesting thing is that those acts are expected of a sales person. My uncle was visiting us from Korea and we we took him to a shoe store he wondered why the sales person wasn’t putting the shoe on his foot for him. Ridiculous, huh?!

    Another time, I was trying to buy a subway ticket by myself and I wasn’t even finished with my sentence, when this lady shoved me aside literally and started asking for her subway tickets. I stood there like a retard and didn’t say anything. I think people thought I was weird. That lady didn’t even pay attention to me. She bought her tickets and left.

    Japan on the other hand is a whole different world. Love love love Japan! You must go!

    • n

      I wouldn’t call myself a “smoker,” but i like to have a cigarette now and then. Sometimes i need more. I definitely need more these days dealing with these cultural differences.

      hahaha, i can’t believe your uncle. You’re right, though; the service is excellent, albeit stifling. It makes me think that people can’t do things by themselves, here; everywhere i go, there are people helping you with everything!

      Yeah, i just can’t believe how rude some people can be! The same thing actually happened to me at the Korean consulate when i was getting my visa. I wasn’t done at the window, and this old-ish woman just marched up to it and said to the lady who was helping me, “I finished correcting this, do i have to wait?” Um, excuse me, don’t you see me here?! Of course you have to wait!! And she wasn’t even a Korean Korean; she was an American citizen who had been living there for quite a while.

      My parents keep urging me to visit Japan. Some aspects of Japanese culture kind of creep me out, and i don’t like most of the food, but i do know their courtesy can’t be beat. And i do like the desserts…

  3. Ra

    YOU HAVE TO GO TO JAPAN FOR THEIR BREAD!

    It is to die for, seriously. It’s not joke. Everywhere you go you smell fresh bread!!!

    I’ve never smoke cigarettes, but I’m going to try cuban cigars in NY when I visit my friend this fall.

    I can’t wait!

  4. Strigiformes

    I like the discussions much better on facebook 🙂

    random question: how do you only display part of your entry on the home page?

    I hope things will look up. Either you get used to them, or they get used to you, hopefully.

    • n

      Thanks, Yang. I’m actually finishing up a post right now on why i think no one should get used to anybody 😉

      Do you mean on the facebook home page or on the blog home page? I’m assuming facebook, because i think you already know how to do it on here. You have to install an app on facebook that allows you to publicize your wordpress posts on there: http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2010/02/27/publicize-facebook/

      Once you install it, you’ll see a Publicize option in the top right corner “Publish” box of your post drafts. Let me know if you have any trouble with it.

  5. Pingback: Against culturalism « thoughts on the loo

  6. Jingjing

    Ha, I think this was the funniest post I’ve read for a long time. Don’t get me wrong, I feel your pain, but the way you write about them can be quite comedic.

    1. I’ve never seen this except in Connecticut. Fuck old people who grimace and glare at you for no reason. What the fuck is their problem.

    2. WTF is wrong with that girl? I can’t imagine anyone being so cruel and malicious for no reason. Did she think it was funny? How did you guys end the conversation? Did she simply walk off? Congratulations for sticking up for yourself and calling her out.

    3 &4. This is like China. It makes me hate Chinese people when I experience this.

    5 &6. This makes me laugh and sad at the same time because Paris was totally like this. I didn’t mind the old people saying things as they were usually kind, but the subway people…totally the same. I wanted to STAB them when I was on the metro. People who just don’t care for anyone else.

    7. I can see how it can be a bad thing when you want to be alone, but isn’t it also a compliment that they all like you so much? Glad that you are making so many friends there, even if they are unwanted.

    8. I think this is similar in all Asian countries. They are very protective and live these very protracted, insular lives. I think most Asian people tend to be afraid of things…I don’t know why though.

    • n

      2. she did simply walk off

      5&6. totally agree! hated that SO MUCH about paris!

      7. first of all, it’s family, not friends (i have almost zero friends in korea, other than the ones i’ve been making at orientation, which i’m at right now), and it’s not because they like me that they want to spend time with me. they think my mom will flip a shit if they don’t take good care of me, so they’ve been all over me, trying to help me with everything or just spend time with me and “make me feel welcome” or some such shit, and i just want to be left alone. i would never be so angry about friends wanting to spend time with me. so i guess this one is basically the same as item #8, but i separated it because i know that “alone” is a foreign concept to koreans in general.

      8. do you think it’s because in asia, college dormitory lifestyle is uncommon (most students commute from home)? that still doesn’t explain why the majority of college grads continue to live with their parents until they get married, instead of moving out like we do in the states…

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