Sutter’s Mill, Gwangju

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Can Driverless Cars Survive Korean Roads?

With Hyundai and many other companies working on driverless car technology, I’ve been thinking recently about what unique challenges a driverless car might face on Korean roads.  Here are just two that I came up with on the fly.

The first challenge will come from the fact that Korean drivers often expect each other to cut corners and bend break rules for the benefit of other drivers (The Service Dilemma).  For example, Korean drivers go apeshit crazy if you pull up to a red light in the right lane of an intersection and wait for the light to turn green before crossing over to the other side.  They go crazy because in this case you’re effectively blocking people behind you from turning right at the red.  You’re not doing anything wrong but they’ll simply expect you to understand their burning, child-like impatience.  In the U.S., we just grin and bear it.  It’s a part of life.  If you want to turn right at a red but the car in front of you is waiting to go straight, you’re fucked and that’s all there is to it.  Koreans, however, will honk at you like their wives are in labor if you don’t pull up awkwardly to the left into the pedestrian crossing or even way out into the intersection itself so they can turn right without the tyranny of a half-minute’s wait.  I know it sounds crazy but they expect this as service.

Because of this, Korean drivers are going to hate driverless cars because they’ll be programmed not to pull into the crosswalk or intersection just because the algorithm computes a garlicky taxi driver to the rear honking overzealously.  Driverless cars will not break any rules as a service to anyone else, that is, unless Hyundai programs them to think like Koreans.  This is just one example of The Service Dilemma, so when the many others are all taken together, driverless cars will quickly become the bane of those Korean drivers used to bullying others into breaking rules for them as a favor.

Another problem driverless cars will face builds on the idiosyncratic impatience, comical aimlessness and ironically rugged individualism exhibited by Koreans once they engage in any sort of locomotion.  Driverless cars, when they’re not malfunctioning, will probably drive like Germans, meaning they’ll follow the rules to the point where they’re boring.  Human drivers—especially taxi drivers—will eventually learn their weaknesses and exploit them, like clannish immigrants learn to exploit the generous welfare systems of law-abiding Western nations.  For example, one of the maddening uncertainties of Korean roads that I’m slowly beginning to view as prosaic is that someone will suddenly throw on their anything-goes hazards and stop out of nowhere.  Just fucking stop.  When this happens, it’s up to other drivers to understand the unique situation at hand and accommodate the stopped driver by simply going around him like a stream flows around a boulder kicked into its path by an obnoxious kid.

The driverless car will probably compute this as *EMERGENCY STOP* *SLAM BRAKES* and then wait for a safe opportunity to pass on the left.  There the driverless car will sit for ages while human drivers drive around it faster than it can compute *SAFE TO PASS LEFT*.  In Korea, there is no *SAFE TO PASS LEFT* unless you’re the last car, which means you’re going to have to wait until everyone zooms by you like they’re off to the emergency room.  All the sudden, illegal parking the drivers of this country ‘holistically’ tolerate is going to cause a nightmare of traffic when more than a few cars are driverless in Korea.  If taxis ever go driverless, expect commutes to take longer and fares to go higher.  When you follow the rules on Korean roads, commutes take longer.  And generally, the more rules you follow, the longer it takes—and the more everyone hates you.  I imagine that there might be a movement in the future to make taxis driverless anyway, as women will be safer and rides will be more pleasant, if more expensive.  At that point, taxi drivers will be protesting in the streets, dousing themselves with petrol and smashing driverless cars with crobars.  Things could get interesting.

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I don’t always miss golden opportunities to take hilarious photos of ajummas exercising, but when I do, there’s words.

So I was picking the gilf up from her university today and—oh my God!!—what the fuck is that?  Look quick!!  That ajumma in the kaleidoscopic blouse and 냉장고 MC Hammer 바지 is smashing her belly repeatedly up against a tree!

But then, just like that, her public display of dendrophilia was all over and she continued walking around the track like normal.

In case you were wondering, yes, by now the gilf knows generally what types of things I’ll find hilarious, but no, she still doesn’t exactly get why I think they’re hilarious.

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Moms With Ajeossis Banned from Restaurants, Cafes in Korea

More and more restaurants, theaters, and other places are not allowing moms who bring along ajeossis. Those customers have complained that this amounts to discrimination, but many others argue that it is simply the mothers’ fault for not teaching their ajeossis proper etiquette.

Article from Hankook Ilbo:

“No Ajeossis (or Africans)” Moms with ajeossis are turned away at restaurants.

Mrs. Park (32) was banned from a cafe for having a 456-month old ajeossi in a stroller. The cafe owner pointed to a sign that stated, “Strollers are not allowed.” Exhausted from the hot weather, she asked if she could use the cafe if she put the stroller outside. However, the owner refused saying, “There are customers who are not happy with ajeossis around.”
“Whenever I experience these things, it makes me feel sad as a customer bringing a grown child,” said Mrs. Park.

As No Ajeossi Zones have become more numerous, mothers are getting worried. Not only fancy restaurants, VIP lounges of department stores, but also small cafes in alleys, and even saunas are banning the garlicky firebrands. “It’s nulliperas versus mothers. They just want more drama in their empty-nest lives, so they’re turning against man-child bearers with strollers. They envy us,” lamented Mrs. Park.

Mums find it tough to find a place for themselves when they bring along their grown-ass babies. Mrs. Lee (33) said, “it isn’t easy to find an ajeossi cafe where rambunctious boys can have fun as much as they want. There’s no places for moms to be comfortable while their soju-sippy-cup ajeossis whore it up.” Although there are about 200 ajeossi cafes in Seoul, most of them are located near seedy love motels. “Call girls can only babysit for so long before they have to meet other baby clients. There’s barely enough time for me to forget about my man child before he’s back in my arms all sweaty and gross,” observed Mrs. Lee.

However, it is hard to criticize the owners for banning riotous ajeossis. In a cafe owners’ club online, there are many posts like, “I was startled when these man-children were loudly playing rock, paper scissors all day.”, or, “The cafe isn’t a daycare center.” Mr. Lim (33), who adopted the No Ajeossi Zone rule a month ago in his cafe, said, “The other day customers complained so much due to a noisy man-child. If rabid, big-headed ajeossis with their retard strength are breaking the calm atmosphere, the number of customers will go down. This is why other cafes are also considering adopting a No Ajeossi Zone.”

Ji-min Park, an activist from the human rights education center Deul, emphasized that, “Though those spaces are commercial, it is clearly discrimination to regulate someone’s opportunity to use the place. Owners should not ban customers unilaterally.” Experts advise that parents should teach their manner-less man-tots proper etiquette for being in public places. Young-woo Lee, a professor emeritus at Ieodo University, said, “Parents should not say ‘yes’ all the time to their ajeossi dependents. Once these brass-necked burdens are able to understand what they’re told, mothers should teach them manners so that they can live together with other people. That’s true love for their man-children. Something like storybooks for them to read would also be of help.”

Comments from Naver:

mize****:

Whatever their man-children are doing, parents don’t care and just talk with their friends. Do you know how noisy it is? Don’t you know other people are suffering because you are leaving your ajeossis to do what they please..

haxi****:

I was shocked to see parents using a plastic bottle as an ajeossi’s toilet. They had enough time to go to the toilet…

rari****:

I know not all parents are idiots but some of them should be blamed for letting their ajeossis do something f*** crazy.

hain****:

Even myself, a mother who is raising a man child, can’t focus on my class when people are bringing their own man children along. Even in a movie theater, parents don’t take action right away if their ajeossis are crying. As parents, it’s your duty to take care of your ajeossis. An ajeossi cafe is for ajeossis to play not for mothers to relax while neglecting their ajeossis. Also, I can’t understand parents sleeping over at a sauna with their giant, nasty ass man kids.

over****:

Why do they do that? Those Kimchi bitches who are throwing smelly nappies just anywhere is number one in the world for bad manners, ke ke.

iris****:

When I took the KTX train, parents didn’t care even though their ajeossis were noisy. I really wanted to punch them.

moon****:

Have you ever thought about the reason you’re being turned away?

jhu3****:

While I was arranging shopping carts as a part-time job, I found a smelly nappy in the cart. So insane… what exactly are they learning at home?

shju****:

ke ke, that’s why parents need to control their ajeossis. If someone is saying something to their ajeossis they always say it’s not his business. I really like this change. Young mothers, you should know that you reap what you sow.

seec****:

This is a reality triggered from an obsessive love by parents like my ajeossis are important so don’t be harsh to them.

suji****:

Mothers piled the trouble up for themselves; In a cafe they push tables with their strollers, don’t care whether their ajeossis run or speak loudly, and change nappies. They use milk which is meant for customers who order lattes, and ask for whip cream or toppings for free asking employees to “Be generous with the food.” A few days ago an woman said her ajeossis pushed a table lightly, the table fell down and a coffee on the table spilled onto the ajeossi. But it turns out she was lying. If people would maintain proper etiquette by themselves, nobody would say anything to the moms with their ajeossis.

kdw9****:

It is all because of women who think only their ajeossis are noble savages. As a mom of two ajeossis, I have seen countless stupid parents. Remember, spare the rod and spoil the ajeossi.

ssamabamania:

Just before I saw a mother and her ajeossi singing, clapping, and doing shit in the metro. His mother kept praising him, so he sang much louder. What a bi***, it was pissing me off.

babi****:

Honestly I hate ajeossis. If ajeossis are noisy I scold them immediately. Sometimes I’ve gotten into an argument with their parents. Not warning their ajeossis right away, they excuse it saying ajeossis can be a bit loud in a restaurant. They are just spouting shit.

rlar****:

Ajeossis break the silence in a movie theater, run in a restaurant, and their moms sit in a cafe not ordering anything. Of course there are well-behaved ajeossis but the number of ill-mannered ajeossis is too high, which makes cafe owners ban them from cafes. When I was young, I ran in a restaurant. Then my parents hit me with a spoon, told me off, and made me go home with my underwear around my head. Don’t say that people these days have gotten weaker. Ajeossis don’t know what is wrong till they’re taught. From now on, parents should change what other people think toward them and their ajeossis.

wldm****:

Because of moms who neglect their ajeossis whether they are noisy or not, No Ajeossi Zones have appeared. Our mothers in the old days didn’t act stupidly like them..

dmsa****:

I understand how many moms feel but you should think and respect the rights of other people as well as yours. Feelings you had when you were young are feelings other people nowadays have toward your ajeossis.

ices****:

There are insane parents who bring their ajeossis to a classical concert. You know even dogs have a vocal chord removal surgery when they are barking too much, right?

ctmb****:

All of this is because of stupid ajummas.

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Brazilian Eyelash Massage, Gwangju

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Life on the Front Lines of Digital Dementia

Everybody hates Mondays, except for people who live on the ground floor of prole tenements in densely populated neighborhoods, like me.  Mondays bring an end to the weekly surge in debauchery and stupidity that engulfs the peninsula for 48 hours.  Most appealing about Mondays is the decrease in neighbors who, for whatever reason, fail to remember the simple code for the electronic lock on the door of our building.

Being on the ground floor, I get the worst of their shortcomings.  They get frustrated after failing twice but then, rather than giving up and phoning a friend, rattle the door to the point where the deadbolt clanks violently within the metal frame.  Then they punch the numbers in again, this time harder and faster, which also clanks the deadbolt loudly, and when that fails, they let out a grunt that’s usually reserved for slow suh-mah-tuh-pone connections and computer game mission failures.  Then more rattling.  Then more frantic number punching.  Women sigh and eventually call someone for help.  Men grunt and keep hacking away until they get it.

Last night during my midnight shower I got so sick of hearing this puppy growl at the door that I wrapped an undersized towel around my nerries and walked out to greet him.  With a press of the button, it was unlocked.  I pulled it open for him but didn’t move out of the way.  From the doorway I glared at him standing sheepishly in the rain.  “다음엔 2865*, 알았지?” was all I said before letting him in.  He was about 20.  Lanky.  Didn’t look drunk but had that vacant, brain-dead look in his eyes characteristic of digital dementia.  Kids these days.  Fuckin’ zombies.

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The Break-up Scene, Downtown Gwangju

sad-bear-photoThanks for pointing this out, Chicken Nuggets!

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