Dorms That Died








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Street Shawomen of Korea

Gilf gets stopped on the street by more than a few shawomen claiming to have spiritual VIP access to her ancestors.  Just last night she was late to see me because she had one such encounter with a lady who stopped gilf in her tracks with “Your relative who had palsy,” which was surprisingly accurate, “and your other ancestors are using up their virtue to contact you from the spirit world through me.  I can see from your energy that you are the only living person in your family through whom I can help clear up any retribution for past wrongdoings.  Please come with me so we can talk more.  I can see that today is the best day for making a spiritual connection with them.”

1) Start with a strong hook. 2) Make a personal connection. 3) Give your client a savior complex. 4) Suggest a more private venue. 5) Add a sense of urgency. 6) Make the sale.


I smell a steaming pile of shtick.

This picture represents my idea of what these street shawomen look like.  They must either look like walking tchotchkes or like they’re homeless.  “No way!” squeals gilf with playful indignation, “They’re just regular-looking ajummas.  Not strange.”

Gilf has gotten a similar spiel at least five times and they’ve all started out the same way.  Is there some sort of religious hagwon for street shawomanism?  Where else would they learn such a monotonous pitch?  And why palsy of all ailments?  Maybe an unusually high percentage of elderly Koreans has palsy, so it often strikes a cord with listeners.  Or maybe it’s palsy on Tuesdays, osteoporosis on Wednesdays, etc.

They’re probably folks from 대순진리회 or 대진성주회 looking to get gilf to buy a ritual sacrifice.  That’s innocent enough, but the one part of these exchanges that doesn’t make me wanna grab my junk, tip my head back, and give a dismissive guffaw is when they admonish gilf to follow them back to their lair of lies for further consultation, and that if she doesn’t go, her “life will get harder and her blessings will diminish.”  That’s where I lose my morbid fascination and want these people to go auto-sex themselves.

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Where’s Your Jeong, Bro?

I’ve noticed that one of the neighbors regularly prefers his convenience to that of all his fellow tenants.  Apparently his jeongometer is on the fritz:


Subtle Fat Shaming

Ignore the jeong, provoke the han.

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Adventures in Autism

You know you’re in the Jeolla provinces when you ask an aut-spectrum local a simple question about something he should be able to quickly guesstimate, but he instead launches into a shambolic summary of Korea’s history in a 700-word reply before eventually forgetting the original question.  The zealous, masturbatory force of his exposition went sort of like this before my memory gave out:

“It’s lower in the Gwangju because, you know, only X number of X presidents come from Jeolla region, so regionalism and the underdevelopment is poor.  You know the May 18th?  (Seeing the topic lost, here I clenched my fists.)  So Busan and Seoul get the development and Gwangju area stays underdeveloped.  But during the Baekje Dynasty this area is the rich-ee.  It’s the richest region of Korea but now it’s the poorest.  (My knuckles were paper-white by now, but there was more.)  But then the Japan is invade and Korea now the slave of the Japan.  But you know the Lee Sun-shin?  He’s genius.  But the Gwangju not good because only Kia and Kumho factories located here.  You know the chaebol?  (Here I was beginning to lose control of my bowels a little.)  Samsung is the best-uh!  Galax-shee Ess Po.  Is good!  But the Park Geun-hye is bad.  (Here I’d already sliced length-wise and was awaiting sweet relief before he could get to the comfort women and…)  The Sewol ship is… (death doth lag)… the shame of Korea.  And Dokdo is the Korean land, not Japan.  The North Korea is too the one Korea.  The Baekdusan is highest first in Korea.  But the Korea is very small.  But the Goguryeo is than Japan more big.  You know the Goguryeo?…”

Somewhere around this point he paused, scouring his muddled mental landscape for more points, so I seized the opportunity to ask a question that by then seemed totally off topic: “So, again, how much would you say the average one-room apartment in Gwangju costs?”

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The Market That Perished





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Wonder Bread Headquarters, Gwangju


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Service-uh That Scares

There is such a thing as too much service-uh at a Korean shop.  There’s one place in my area that I don’t go to anymore because one of the purveyors had gotten into the habit of forcing something new on me that was completely culinarily unrelated to what I had just ordered.  Every time.  The first time I went in for a bowl of bibimbap she came up to me holding a random third of a dripping peach in her bare, wet hand for me to slurp up.  I just wanted me some humble bibims, not a ruined appetite.

Already off in the caliginous upper-left tier of the stands reserved for bitch-titted bellyachers and misfit malcontents I hear a vociferous discharge of guntpocketed wind emitting to the tune of:

“What the fuck, dude, it’s free food!  Just be thankful and take it.  Talk about first-world problems!”

Not even.  These are white-people problems—the creme de la creme of first-world problems.  I only got this cornucopia of unwanted comestibles in the first place because I’m a person of pallor.  And moderately handsome.  And I used more than a little Korean when I visited the shop.  As this was a family-owned shop, the entire family, from the dawn to dusk shifts, knew me.  I was their pet customer, so I got extra food under the table, things like a random ear of corn, a single slice of flavorless rice cake, and a sack full of wet nuts (yes).

The other issue is how these foods were presented to me.  When I’d walk in, it was like my presence sounded a little alarm in the kitchen; the ajumma matriarch, a squat, windswept termagant with a face of shoe leather branded with unbending ferocity, would scramble for the nearest piece of food and come right up and wave it in my face without saying a word.  Just a stern glance and an extended piece of food.

“It takes the food it receives.”

Awkwardness always ensued.  Here I was expected to say something but I never knew what to say except “Tanx.”  My verbal instincts in these cases always fail me; completely stupid shit comes out my mouth like “Hahahahahahahaah… what’sthisthanks…”  or “thankyous I’ll try ta eat it.”  I actually said that once when handed a styrofoam cup filled with fermented leeks.  (At least I didn’t say my first thought, “One shot!”)  That was the only time she showed an expression other than sheer dominance.  She huffed coarsely and trudged back to her stainless steel pillbox to shout scullion directives at the others.  I thought I saw a tinge of disappointment.  I haven’t been back since.

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