Lilypie - First Birthday

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Uncles are creepy

A couple of Hong Kong friends and I have come to the conclusion that some of the Korean uncles here are plain creepy.

There is a strange thing I observe here in Korea that when riding the subway or if we are anywhere outside, we foreigners must be careful not to talk very loudly. Talking loudly in a foreign language like English or Chinese here really gains us attention and lots of strange and sometimes, unfriendly stares from some of the ajossis (Korean uncles) and Korean girls. I observe that Korean ajummas (aunties) and Korean boys, though curious, do not look at us in a hostile manner.

Sometimes when we speak in Chinese, some of the Korean girls around us will start to mutter "chung guk sa ram" (means China people). Which I don't really like because 1) I am not from China and 2) they said it in a rather hostile manner. So what if I'm from China? Can't I step foot in your country?

Once me and my friend Katie from Hong Kong were speaking loudly in Cantonese on the subway. We always speak loudly cos we get so excited when we talk to each other and according to Katie, there's only 2 of us who understand Cantonese in this area so we were speaking quite freely... haha. We were standing, and then I noticed a Korean ajossi looking at me creepily from the side. I told Katie, hey, that guy is staring at me... and she gave him a killer stare! Then suddenly the uncle asked me, are you from Hong Kong? It seems that he actually understood a bit of Cantonese (at least he could count yat yee sam...)!

The final straw came last weekend when me, Janice and another HK friend Rita were taking the subway again. I was standing in front of a 70-80 year old ajossi when suddenly he asked me in Korean: R u Korean? I replied no, I am from Malaysia and he proceeded to caress my arm!!! I was wearing short-sleeve t-shirt. I quickly jumped and ran over to the next side of the train! So weird!!!!!

I attribute this kind of behavior to a kind of Xenophobia - the uncontrollable fear of foreigners. The Koreans have had so many foreigners (Chinese, Japanese) try to invade them and take away their culture. Their country is comprised only of one ethnicity, and they have this long endogamy culture of marrying within their own ethnic group. The Koreans are hard to accept any foreign culture, and their geographical knowledge of the world is so limited. I have a Masters student friend who till now cannot even place where Malaysia is on the world map. He thought that Malaysia is in Europe. Do I look European to him??? And they only support their country's products. There's a senior PhD in my lab who just bought a new Samsung laptop but was displeased with it and called to request for a change just because the LCD screen was made in Taiwan!

It is difficult for them to progress globally if they cannot open themselves to foreign culture.

4 comments:

libelly said...

ham sap ah pek!

Meng Hui said...

make sure u take a photo of that hamsap ajossi and i'm sure that your hubby will do something about it...

Xweing said...

Sigh.. what can my hubby do?? Luckily he just touched my arm... if not I will give him a flying taekwondo kick!!!!! X-(

leonardlcy said...

yeah i was just about so say that! Give him a taste of his own culture hahah.