Saturday, February 26, 2011

Confrontations in Korea

Ru Ford - Hello, My name is Ru Ford, and I too am a victim of racism.

Audience- Helloo Ru Ford, telll uss whatt happenedd. 

Ru Ford - Well, before I dive into the incident, I should preface it with something that happened earlier in the day while I was on break at work.
I was looking out the window down at the street below, as a often do during my ten minute break between classes. I notice that everyone is looking in the same general direction. I followed the onlookers' line of sights to where they converged, a man in a yellow jacket surrounded by four other men in black jackets. At first glance, it seems as though they are just talking. After watching them for ten seconds, I realize that the man in the yellow jacket is losing ground. I then hear one of them yell loudly as he throws his arms in the air. 
I open the window to the teachers lounge, while at the same time getting the attention of my co-teacher to show her the free event taking place 40 feet below. By now the man has backed up about 7 feet from the original position, but this will be about 50 feet before the end. 
The yelling is getting even louder and is coming from both the man in yellow and the four men in black. More pointing and throwing hands in the air and other erratic behavior. The man is losing ground faster and the confrontation is becoming more heated. I begin to think that they're going to fight. 
THEN... one of the men in black bumps into the man in yellow. Yes, I said "bumps," not pushes, not tackles, not shoves, not rams, not spears, not lunges, not punches, not kicks, not knees, and not shoulders. Bumps. Then again. Then another man almost meanderingly bumps into the man in yellow, then again and again. Then the first does it again. Then a third man bumps a couple times. It is comical. 
I'm waiting for the punch or ghetto slam (take down) with some ground and pound that comes with almost every fight I have ever seen in my life. It never comes.
I look to my co-teacher, "Uhh... what are they doing?" 
She says, "They are arguing about something. I don't know. This situation happens a lot in Korea, on the streets.. men arguing."
"No, I mean why are they bumping into each other like that? In America someone would have been punched in the face by now."
"Oh," she said, "Men are afraid to fight because the police will know and they will have to pay a fine."
I am amazed. Honestly, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum bump each other with more force than these guys. The men looked like a couple of dogs trying to hump the man's leg.

Audience- (Laughing)

Ru Ford - Now, about the incident that occurred later that day after work. It was about 7:25 pm. I had decided to go down to the Mini Stop at the corner of my block, and take some money out of the ATM to go buy a snack before hitting the gym. The ATM was next to a freezer, packed with ice cream, and before I knew it, I was standing in line waiting to purchase some fish shaped ice cream treat. 
There was a woman checking out at the left register. But, she was paying with coins and for some reason, unknown to me, she was using the counter area at the right register. I stood a good 4 feet back to allow her to resume position at left register after her coins were counted. 
Then, a woman walked in with nothing in hand and stood 2 feet in front diagonal left of me. At first I thought she was breaking in line. I later decided she just could not she the brands of cigarettes and wanted a closer look.
This is about the time I hear the bells ring on the Mini Stop door. I look over my left shoulder and see a man enter and think nothing about it.
He comes from behind me moving to my right and gives my two strong shoves with his left forearm to my back/right side. He says nothing and and is now diagonally 2 feet in front of me to my right.
Several things went through my head during these happenings. The typical nice guy, don't jump to any conclusions type of things, but I knew as soon as I felt the second push, what was happening. Even though, I had never experienced this before. And, if there was any doubt, he killed it when we made eye contact and then he told the clerk to get him two packs of cigarettes in a tone that said, "F*** this foreigner, get me my cigarettes girl."
See... the girl saw what was going on. I could read it all over her face, and I am sure the man could, too.
She got him his cigarettes and he paid. I am still standing in the exact same spot I have been this whole time. The man turns around, goes to my right and it seems as though he is going to go around me with no problem. But, I have braced for a possible shoulder impact because I am not losing ground. He passes me without hitting my shoulder, and just before I think everything is cool, I feel him shove his arm into my back. I completely ignore him. 
I pay for my ice cream bar and walk out. Guess who's there? 

I would fight an army of racist ajusshis to get my hands on one of these. 
Audience- Thee Ajusshii!

Ru Ford - That's right, the ajusshi jackass. He is standing all alone in the middle of a huge sidewalk. I stare him down the whole way, as I walk past him as close as possible without touching him. He never broke eye contact... nor did I. 

Audience- Whyy didn'tt youu punchh himm inn the faace or sayy somethingg.!

Ru ford - I thought you might ask that. Well firstly... I was a little taken aback and trying to get me head around what was going on. Secondly, I have read many things about foreigners fighting with Koreans and it never turns out beneficial for the foreigner. Thirdly, he was around the age of 50 and I was raised to respect my elders. Fourthly, I don't speak Korean. Fifthly, saying something in English would have probably only escalated the situation. 
Next time it will not go down the same way. 

In closing, I really hope these instances are few and far between. I would hate to ruin my visa renewal opportunities because a hateful man coxed me into kicking him through shelfs of ramen and sticky rice. 


  1. 1. We have those same fish shaped ice cream snacks here and they are amazing.
    2. Even though I am in the US people are very racist towards me as well because I am white, i don't go to certain parts of the island because of this.
    3. I believe you could have taken him.

  2. So I am in Korea now! Thought I'd say:
    A) ffs at the above
    B) Fancy a coffee some time? I live right by my school which is Ilgok-dong, Buk-gu...though god knows where that is in the real world! I don't have a cell or internet yet but I can check it when I'm at school, my email is As tomorrow is a public holiday and everything's shut im not sure what to do with myself!