Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Random Korea Reflections, 6

I've been following a number of blogs by expats in Korea since I got back. Many of them go on about the rudeness or at least tactlessness of the Koreans they meet. I guess I have to count myself lucky, since I encountered almost nothing of that sort myself. I drew a few stares, but--so I reasoned--it was because I turned up in residential areas, in a city where foreigners are not so common as in Seoul and Busan. Plus, I usually had my children in tow, who are cute enough to make you mess your britches.

Early some mornings I went out of the house we were staying in, down the winding residential street, to a small playground, where I let the kids play. From time to time people would cut through the playground, and give us a long look. But there were not a few smiles from the ajummas too, as they took in the sight of the giant foreigner appa pushing the kids on the swingset.

One morning an ajumma was sitting in the gazebo where I usually sit, so I sat down beside her. I offered her one of my water bottles, which she refused. She gestured at the kids on the monkeybars and said something. I had no idea, so I just replied, "Hankook umma, Migook appa." Korean mother, American father. She tried to talk with me some more, leaving me increasingly embarrassed, when the kids came over asking to go back to the house. I rose and bowed to her, and she to me, and parted ways.

Actually, I think the longest stare I got the whole trip was from a white women, whom I passed when leaving a Dunkin Donuts.

1 comment:

  1. The staring and what not wasn't terribly irritating at first. I imagine if I were visiting, it wouldn't bother me at all. It's after being here for a period of time that it starts to grate. Of course, some people never have a problem with it. Lucky them.

    As for the white lady at Dunkin Donuts giving you the stare down - that's not terribly surprising. There were very few non-Koreans in my neighborhood last year. When I did come across one, once every couple of month, my eyes likely lingered on them just a touch longer than they did everybody else.

    As a result of this, I understand the staring... to a point. It's when the staring continues beyond a few seconds that I get concerned for the person doing it.


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