Low-intensity Guerrilla Warfare over Illegal Parking Spots

With enforcement of traffic laws being the travesty that it is in Korea, the plebeians of this mud-locked southerly prepuce must often resort to Mad Max measures when making their way through the grind of daily transit.  Parking is a great example of this.  Most of the cars you see parked on the street every day in Korea are in fact parked illegally—the laws are clear on that—but the authorities don’t make any sustained efforts to combat these innumerable parking infractions.  This makes parking very convenient; it also makes life chaotic.

It’s sort of like how you can shoot an AK-47 off in Somalia like it’s nobody’s business.  But that’s why Somalia’s Somalia.

With the absence of a central authority to keep the chaos at bay, people start engaging in low-intensity guerrilla warfare over illegal parking spots.  This includes tossing old tires, plastic bins, and other junk onto the side of the road to act as strategic territorial markings.  The smaller, heavier and more numerous the obstructive junk is, the better.  It’s a lot like the Drachenzähne used to hinder tanks during WWII.  This is maddening for those of us who live in “””villas””” because there’s no underground parking where we live, only Mad Max subterfuge.

One particular shop next to my place has prime parking real estate, but the owner got wise to us and put out a half dozen small, heavy plastic jugs filled with water in front of his business so that no one would bother to park there.  Numerous heavy objects do the trick because they’re a pain to move, so I no longer park there.  Now there aren’t any cars blocking the vinyl eyesores plastered all over his shop windows offering the exact same shit the guy across the street from him is offering.  Hallelujah.

Another local business has caught on to this defensive ploy and has begun putting big, lightweight plastic shit all along the street to keep locals, particularly me, from parking there.  I’ve responded by simply pulling into the spot and gingerly pushing the plastic shit out of the way with my bumper.  When I leave the business owner restores the plastic junk to its original place, though probably more angrily each time.  He tried half-filling his plastic shit with water to make it heavier, but it was still light enough to kick into the gutter without even getting out of the car.  So not long ago he filled it to the top.  In international relations studies, we call this the classic security dilemma.  I then responded to his provocation by dumping the water out of his plastic shit late at night and throwing it on a trash pile a few blocks down the road, after sweeping the area for CCTV cameras, of course.  Not sure what he’ll do next.

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The Temple House, Gwangju





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How to Beat Your Students Lovingly

I’ve had some colorful coworkers this side of the chaebol mudflat with whose help I’ve collected a small wealth of information about things most waegs are too scrupulous to ask, like how to beat your Korean students and make them love you for it.  Naturally, it’s incumbent upon the host of this ill-restrained literary outpost to color-in the dos and don’ts of treating Korean students like direct and indirect objects.  Whether you put these tips to good use or simply add them to your growing dossier on Korean anthropology is entirely up to you.

Unlike most duties and expectations conveniently left out of the initial job description, how best to hamburger-ize your adolescent students is a skill set that comes slowly with experience working among the blurred punitive lines typifying this land of unstinting fermentation.  It’s nothing like learning how to shame-march a ten-year-old back into the restroom to flush his own tubes of excrement, which should come intuitively.  There’s a delicate classroom ecosystem that needs to exist before the beating can begin, and nowhere have I seen these details laid out save here.  (No need to thank me.  I do it as a public service.)

If it’s done right, the ritual of just punishment can actually bring you closer to your students.  One of my coworkers used to beat her students mercilessly, though only when they crossed clear lines, and yet they literally sang paeans to her at her wedding ceremony because they grew to love her.  This was a lady who used to spit water at them and throw her dirty socks in their faces while screaming like an Apache.  That’s the power of the unsparing rod when it’s done with playful panache.  Their interaction was probably the most fascinating insight into human nature I’ve ever gleaned from this hagwon gig.  But in order to get to that level of pupil control, you first need to achieve that delicate balance in the classroom.

For starters, you must have a close work-hard, play-hard relationship with your students, one that’s close enough to where they know you aren’t just being a capricious pedo-sadist whenever you bring out the mae of love.  Next, there must be clear boundaries and codes of conduct that are consistently enforced and that the students fully understand.  A guy I know got fired for hitting his students the wrong way, namely, without having first achieved this delicate balance of playfulness, mutual respect, and just enforcement.  His ass got canned and he never understood why, seeing as his coworkers weren’t sparing any of their rods on the same kids.

It’s not just random beatings that bring the kids around.  There needs to be a set of reasonable standards for the students to live up to, e.g. not being late, bringing class materials, and doing homework.  Each infraction must come with an ironclad punishment that gets meted out each and every time, with the punishment fitting the crime.  Let up once and later the students will get all lawerly on your ass referring to arcane precedents and meticulously documented exceptions to the rule.  When enforcement is water-tight, the students will intuit these rules to the point where they know exactly how many thwacks their classmates will get when they step out of line.

Now, if you were born with a stick up instead of across your ass and all this is shocking to you, don’t blame the messenger.  Blame human nature, especially within the Korean context.  This is how reality plays out on this sea-sundering appendix of East Asia, at least, according to seasoned coworkers.

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Crane Climbing in South Jeolla






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Debate Over Korean Tourist Driver Ban in Hawaii Heats Up

From the Chosun Ilbo:

Uproar at Hawaii Plans to Let Korean Tourists Drive

Hawaii plans to lift restrictions on Korean tourists driving rental cars on the islands in an effort to boost visitor numbers, but critics say that would be irresponsible and endanger traffic safety.

The Hawaii state government said Tuesday that a special bill that will allow short-term Korean visitors to drive on the islands was given the green light in an assembly meeting.

Not everyone can simply drive a car in Hawaii. The U.S. has agreements with Australia, Japan and other countries allowing their citizens to drive rental cars, but no such pact has been signed with Korea, where road safety is not of the highest standard, so Korean tourists on a 90-day visa are not allowed to drive there.


Cathy Mahan, a Hawaii government official, said, “Rental car companies must sign up for comprehensive insurance, and Korean tourists who drive will be required to pay a deposit to be returned two months after their departure in case they break any traffic laws.”

But critics point out that car accidents on the Hawaiian Islands involving rental cars are on the increase, rising from 233 with six dead and 449 injured in 2010 to 394 with 14 dead and 638 injured in 2013.

An official at the Maui branch of the Hawaii Road Traffic Authority said, “Korea is notorious for traffic accidents. There’s one every four minutes, and an average of 160 people get killed driving every day.”

The official warned the Hawaii state government not to rush the decision. “We also need to set up more sign posts in simpler English, safety facilities and other infrastructure before allowing Korean visitors to drive,” he said.

h/t London Korean Links

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Forever in the Making, Gwangju





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Dating in Korea Gone Wrong

Not long ago, I met my third plus-sized Western woman dead set on marrying a Korean man and making this cabbage patch her permanent home.  Like the two before her, she was a fanatical feminist and social justice warrior (but I repeat myself).  This didn’t make much sense to me the first two times I encountered it: why would a feminist come to patriarchy central to settle down?  For the culture?  Sheesh.  But by the third time it reared its bobbed pate, I stopped trying to understand and instead embraced the amusement.

I was invited to coffee by her under the pretense that I might bring her up to snuff in a matter we were both involved in.  We were members of the same meet-up group here in town and she had missed a few sessions, so our little get-together was ostensibly about our shared interest and little more.  But that’s not how it played out.  After verbally menstruating her tales of romantic frustration all over me in the first twenty minutes, I began to realize that our meeting was going to have nothing to do with our mutual avocation.  It was really going to be about whether I’d be the one to fulfill her sexual needs—needs which had gone entirely unmet during her search for the elusive Korean chubby feminist chaser.

To boost her spirits, I regaled her with two tales of Western women I knew who were hot to trot with the natives.  She was famished for such stories and clung to my every word.  The first was the scintillating success story of a tall, slender Western sylph who nabbed a good-looking Korean premed student who stood 190 cm erect (heh).  To Korean women, this is the perfect man.  The other story, which I presume is more the norm, was an icy wasteland of human experience.  She wanted to know all, so I went on.

“What happened with the second one?” she asked in a ravenous tone.

“Well,” I drawled, “she had a one-night stand with a Korean guy her junior but…”  Here I trailed off in a last-ditch effort to ward her off.

“But what?” she pressed.

I unloaded, “Dude had a micropeen and never called her back.”

She gave a genuine “huh, huh, huh” to reality’s crude punchline, not realizing that I wasn’t finished.

“…Turned out he died about a month later from undiagnosed leukemia.”

Here she stopped dead in her mirth.  It’s real life, not the imagination, that deals the rawest parting shots.

A few silent sips of coffee later, she turned the tables on me and got personal.  She asked whether I had ever had any experience dating Korean women, to which I gave a long pause in earnest mental pursuit of my current relationship’s date of origin.  “Not quite three years” was not the response she was expecting to hear.  Her mistaken assumption that I was single, dealing myself daily sockburn rashes after hours-long Cheetos and Mountain Dew porn binges, had backfired gloriously.  The conversation deflated from that point on.

In a moment of weakness, she had caved on her own objectives and briefly gone back to the dating market where her odds were better, but to no avail.  This one, too, had been taken.  East Asia is home to many of the most difficult dating markets for large Western women to venture into.  The reasons why are clear, but skulls are thick things.

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