Another Korean School Returns to Nature

This school is in a beautiful part of South Jeolla where farmland, lakes and mountains all come together.  There are a few things worth noting about this place: 1) In one of the pictures, you can see the froth from a spittlebug on one of the plants.  When I took an entomology class back in college, my professor brought in a stem covered with this foam and licked it clean in front of us to prove a point.  I never forgot the term spittlebug after that; 2) I found my first Japanese tree frog sitting on a leaf at chest level.  I was getting attacked by mosquitos at the time, so that’s the best picture I could come up with; 3) The picture of vast tracts of farmland reminded me that Korea actually has a lot of space in valleys like this, it’s just taken up by farming; 4) Schools like this come a dime a dozen out in the countryside.  As they return to nature, they tell the story of urbanization and aging demographics in Korea.

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What’s the Korean word for ‘boketto’?

Is there a Korean word for ‘boketto,’ the Japanese word for “the act of staring blankly out into space, devoid of any thoughts”?  Probably not, but if such a term were to exist in Korean, it would probably have to be tweaked a little to fit the Korean context.  Based on the definition, ‘boketto’ sounds meditative and dream-like, as though the person engaged in ‘boketto’ were at peace with his surroundings.  The Korean equivalent would have to be something more competitive-sounding, like “the act of heedlessly maximizing self-interest while staring blankly out into space, as if devoid of any thoughts, thereby affording oneself the greatest amount of plausible deniability.”  That’s about as complicated as that flimsy “jeong” term that goes out the window once Koreans engage in any form of transportation—only more apt.

One of the funniest explanations I’ve seen recently for why Koreans are the way they are comes from the blogger behind Sorry, I was drunk.  His take on what guiding forces lie behind the Korean curtain is somewhat different from mine, but I commend him on his deadpan honesty, which makes for quite a funny read if you don’t read it with sand in your sourpuss.

I’ve been thinking, this irony and lack of introspection in this country is its biggest social problem. I would say introspection (self-reflection and honesty to oneself) is pretty much the most important virtue a modern person could possess. The same applies to a collective, but the collective can’t be honest if the individuals aren’t. 

Koreans aren’t introspective because most of them live in their own tiny bubble. I’ve had a friend who said they’re too in their heads. Dr. Glover would say they live in the “unconscious.” Whatever you call it, it seems many Koreans go about their lives monotonously, without really realizing what’s going on around them. I mean that both literally and figuratively. On a literal sense, Koreans literally are not aware of their surroundings. While most people might perceive this as rudeness, I really don’t think it’s deliberate. Most people who shove into you or block your path probably don’t even realize they are doing it. It’s not like most people wake up in the morning with a plan to be an asshole that day.

I’ve said before in my “People of E-Mart/Lotte Mart” series that it’s amazing how much time I spend every day consciously aware that no one else around me seems to be similarly consciously aware of anything.

People here are rude because they are not conscious. I’m not sure it’s even rudeness because I think of rudeness as self-serving and selfish. While Koreans don’t lack in selfishness, a lot of behaviors I observe here also go against the logic of self-interest. Illogical and common-sense lacking behavior is certainly in abundance here. For example at my school, students will charge their phones and leave them out in the open on the hall way floors. Even if you aren’t concerned about theft, you would think putting your phone on the middle of the hallway floor would put it at risk of being stepped on by an equally oblivious passerby. It’s not just objects either. I’ve seen numerous instances of women leaving their strollers with the baby inside out in the middle of a sidewalk while they shop at a store. Wouldn’t you be at least a bit worried about potential kidnappers or at the very least, the baby being exposed the hot sun, cold weather, or rain (yes, I’ve seen a baby out in the rain by itself while the mom was shopping)?

Such behavior cannot be logical, let alone consciously made. It makes no sense for people to take a piss and leave their bikes perpendicular to a bike path so it would block all the other bikes. It also makes no sense for pedestrians to walk on the bike path when there’s a paved path made just for pedestrians, just right fucking there! I can’t count the number of times I had to swerve my bike to avoid hitting someone walking on the bike path while there’s an empty walkway right next to it. I really think these people are not aware of where they are or what they are doing. They are just living things that do stuff, but none of them are really alive. 

It’s the only way I can explain why Koreans have no problem shoving others out of the way, but they don’t like it when it happens to them. It’s why they can spew racist garbage but be overly concerned about other groups of people being racist against them. It’s why they spit on poor countries and are desperate to be seen as advanced by others while being guilty of the same backwards shit they think they’ve distanced themselves from. Its why die-hard patriots will stay up all night to support their national soccer team yet will litter all over their beloved country without a second thought. 

I’m okay with racists. I’m okay with rude assholes. But if you are a rude, racist asshole, you have to acknowledge and accept the fact you are a rude, racist asshole and that there are other rude racist assholes who will be rude and racist towards you.

I don’t care about selfishness either. After-all, human beings are all inherently selfish. We just have to admit to it and own up to it. Truly selfish people are usually not even aware that they are selfish. Most racists will probably tell you they aren’t racist. 

I’m not really in the business of telling people how to live their lives. People will do what they do. I can’t really change the collective. But I think this prevalent lack of introspection and honesty is something that should be addressed. I believe it will be a step toward solving problems but if not, it’s at least conducive to a happier individual life. 

If only the vast majority of other bloggers in Korea would dare to be similarly honest, interesting and funny (whether intentionally or unintentionally) when writing about Korea, then our little corner of the internet wouldn’t be so fucking boring day in and day out.

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Point the way, androgynous yellow sculpture!

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On Avocational Trespassing

When trespassing is one of your avocations, even things like getting kicked out can become routine.  For example, today I had just slipped through a loose panel in some temporary fencing and this old construction worker came around the corner at that exact moment. Our prole eyes met awkwardly and a dry, man-to-man conversation commenced thusly:

Drudge: Uh, you can’t be in here.

Bubonic Waeg: Oh, okay. [Said while snapping photos freely]

Drudge: Why ya in here?

Bubonic Waeg: Photos… [takes more photos]

Drudge: Where’d ya get in?

Bubonic Waeg: Over there. [thumbs vaguely over his shoulder and takes one more photo]  Follow me.  I’ll show you.

Drudge: [Sees the unhinged panel] Ah…

There was no animus or drama.  It felt almost routine talking with this calloused, sun-baked Korean laborer for a few moments as he repaired the breach.

There are almost always weak points like this that are propped open long before I ever get there.  The work is first done by intrepid ajeossis looking to either strip or steal materials.  They break windows, flatten fences, smash barriers and cut locks and then boost whatever they can, obviously for economic reasons.  These guys are the real pioneers at many of the sites I visit.  Thanks to them, I can often waltz in and steal images with minimal effort and minimal risk.

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Korean Mystery Meat

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‘Quincy Black’ is Back

‘Quincy Black,’ the former English teacher who slapped uglies with two Korean women and posted the escapades online, has been slapped with a meager 2.5-year prison sentence.  As one of the two women was a minor, the sentence is short if you think pedophilia is really bad, or harsh if you’ve “evolved” on the issue of pedophilia.  Those who think it’s just about right are probably “evolving” or something.

You see, pedophilia rights is a scause for applause that’s probably just a decade or so down the road in some Western countries.  At present, politically correct status whores are more focused on normalizing asscockery and ladyboys in the West, so sorry, Quincy.  Your cause isn’t the new black yet.  The rest of the developed world just hasn’t “evolved” enough in this realm of micro-minority sexual predilections yet.  YET.  But I predict “progress” will come way too soon.  The fact that pedos get savaged worse than any other inmates in prison is going to be the victimhood angle that bleeding-heart journalists are probably going to use to soften their readers someday.  Until then, stay tuned for the rights of polygamists, zoosexuals and necrophiliacs.  Anything that gives our moral betters feel-good status points.

As I mentioned about a year ago when Go Young-wook got just five years for breaking the seal on three minors, Korea may be more unfashionably progressive than other nations in this regard.  Each society develops at its own pace, and while the West is starting the slippery slope from the top down, Korea may have instead dived right into the middle in typical “dynamic” fashion.  One day hipsters who used to teach English in Korea will look back fondly and say that Koreans were going easy on pedophiles before it was cool, which is the highest form of bragging rights one can claim.  Of course, this is all tongue in cheeks, so don’t take anything I write too anally, unless that’s your thing.

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The Chinese Invasion of Jeju Island

It only takes two hours to get from my doorstep to the palm-tree-lined arrivals curb at Jeju Airport, so the sylph-gilf and I caught a flight from Gwangju Airport as soon as I qualified for D-10 legal vagrant status.  Jeju is indeed swarming with Chinese, as was recently reported over at the Marmot’s Wet, Silky Hole.  The Chinese tourists we encountered were much like your average Korean—i.e. rude, loud, ill-mannered, unabashed, and oblivious to personal space—except these virtues were running at 105% to Koreans’ usual 110%.  There’s no unalloyed dose of one’s own medicine better than for Korea to be overrun with Chinese tourists at a time when relations between the two nations are warming.  They were meant for each other.

Speaking of Chinese tourists, on our last day, we visited “Loveland,” an open-air art museum dedicated to that which Koreans are much too modest to showcase in public: sex.

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There’s nothing quite as gross as visiting a fun, sex-themed museum with your girlfriend right when a bus full of hoary old peasant tourists from China unloads its fetid contents.  Sylphs to the left of me, G.I.L.F.s to the right.  Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.

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This Chinese invasion of Jeju Island is a shame because Jeju has a bit of a Japanese feel to it (at least, in the Fukuoka sense) relative to the rest of Korea.  The streets and buildings are better maintained, driving seems to be a tad bit saner, illegal parking is less rampant, buildings aren’t as high, less trash is strewn all over the place, etc., etc., etc.  I’m not sure whether these slight differences are a result of the influx of tourist dollars or of the tourists themselves.  Either way, I found Jeju preferable to any other place I’ve ever visited in Korea.

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Bonus: The last time the gilf and I came back from a trip (that one to Japan), we boarded a ferry the same day the Sewol set sail.  Today, we returned to Gwangju by air the same day a helicopter crashed here in town, killing five.  The chopper was returning from the Sewol site after taking part in the continued search operations there.  Eerie.

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