Monday, May 16, 2011

Ask a Korean! News: Please Don't Do This

The Korean was going to let this one slide. But now that the news climbed all the way to third place in most-read articles, it is a notable news.

This picture will save the Korean a thousand words:

Yes, this is a crowded subway in Seoul. And these people are sitting down on the floor, playing cards, and drinking beer. The person who took this photo asked them to get up. Most of them complied, but one kept arguing all the way until he got off the subway. And now this is national news in Korea.

If you think this is not self-evidently stupid, please leave this blog.

There is no way to tell where these idiots come from, but "America" would be a decent bet. Even if they are not, this gem of a passage from Ask a Frenchman! applies to everyone who visits Korea:
Why is it Americans students (even a minority) that always behave stupidly in public places though is still a mystery to me. ... for some Americans, abroad, especially Paris, is some sort of Neverland where nothing is real and everything is designed for their own entertainment, as if the US was an island floating on a planet-wide Disneyland.
The Korean was joking when he told the BusanHaps Magazine that he would get rid of all these damn furriners if he were elected the president of Korea. But these are the moments that inspire those jokes. This is stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid and stupid some more. And it makes absolutely no sense that these things keep happening in Korea like a fucking clockwork. Please, PLEASE stop doing such stupid things. If you see another foreigner in Korea acting like an idiot, stop them too.

-EDIT 5/17/2011- Here are some additional thoughts based on the comments.

1. A lot of people seem to need a refresher course on how not to be an arrogant American:
Do as the best Koreans do, not as any Koreans do. One of the most common misguided complaint by an expat in Korea is: "Koreans do it too! Why can't I do it?" For example, there are plenty of Korean young men who get plastered on weekends, yell and pass out in the middle of the street. But that is not an excuse for you to do the same. Like it or not, for every negative action, you will be judged more harshly than Koreans who engaged in the same negative action. That's what it is like to live as a minority and an outsider. Your fellow Americans of color have been dealing with the same thing for years and years. Remember that, during Hurricane Katrina, black people "looted" food while white people "found" food? It is not fair, but it is to be expected.
And yes, the same applies to Canadians, Aussies, Kiwis, or any foreigner in Korea. The original post made that quite clear, so stop with the bellyaching.

2. A lot of people also need to get off the high horse about this being the prime example of Korea's racism. Sure, there are some elements of Korea's racism identifiable in this story. But if you want to talk about Korea's racism, there are better topics than this. Like when mixed-race children in Korea receive inadequate education. Or when a marriage immigrant was murdered by her husband. Or when a foreigner actor receives death threats just because he filmed movies exposing the ugly side of the way Korea treats its migrant laborers. (And guess what? This blog covered all of those events.) A bunch of entitled white kids making an ass out of themselves in the subway is NOT the situation where you want to make a stand about Korea's racism. (That's right, the Korean said it -- let the thousand hate comments spew!)

3. If you think Korean media makes a big deal out of everything involving a foreigner, you are wrong. Koreans may overreact to foreigners doing bad things, but they nonetheless maintain a relative measure of perspective. Here are some of the recent events involving foreigners that never became a national news, only a blip in the local news: GI refused to pay cab fare and beat up the cab driver instead; a foreign lecturer at Jeonnam University assaulted a person, seriously injuring him, and pulled a runner instead of standing trial; a foreign vessel ran after colliding into and destroying a fishery. None of these became a major news story in Korea. Why? Because as bad as these events are, these things happen. People get into fights, ships run into things. They are not supposed to, but people are not surprised at them because those things happen all the time. A group of people sitting down in a crowded subway, drinking and playing cards? That level of stupidity does not happen all the time.

The only thing to do here is to call these idiots idiots, and move on. Don't think you are immunizing yourself by saying something like "Not defending these idiots, but." No but here is necessary.

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at


  1. Surprised that they didn't get smacked by some Korean 할머니 for justice. What a bunch of idiots.

  2. I have never even seen this on BART and that's a LOOOOW standard of decorum.

  3. Is it wrong I burst out in laughter when I saw the picture? Haha just who the hell sits on the floor in the subway and plays cards??? It's too freaking funny.

  4. although i too abhor their actions, i am not one to jump to the conclusion that they are americans. in fact, judging solely on how they are dressed, i would assume at least 3 of the 5 are european.

    foreigners always act stupid abroad and they are always caught acting stupid. but natives act just as stupid if not more so--it just doesn't make the news as much. as an american who traveled extensively and lived abroad as a student, i 1) hate when other american students give me a bad name and 2) hate when people immediately jump to the conclusion that any idiot foreigner is american.


    but, maybe it's because i'm asian-american??


    Let me apologize for my friends' actions, haha. XDD

  6. Oh dear- :( - I'm a European New Zealander and am off to Seoul in a month or so, I don't want to be identified with these people... it seems to be always a few ruining it for the majority...

  7. I would agree that by dress, a few of them are likely European, of course that method is about as scientific as just assuming they are American simply because they're doing something stupid. While I am certainly not defending their actions (if it had been my group, I would have told them it's not cool and to be more respectful), I think it would be worthy of you to mention that the gent that took the picture not only called the Emergency Services Center (who basically ignored him), but also felt the need to write a long-winded rant to OhMyNews that created the story, rather than just telling off the louts with relative politeness and letting it go. There's plenty of bad behavior to go around and not all of it coming from the foreigners.

  8. gosh darn it Korean, you got to it before me. I found this article last week, but I haven't had time to write about it. It's sitting in my bookmarks waiting to be discussed...

    Seriously, if you wouldn't do it at home, why would you do it in Korea? I have never seen a (respectable) Korean drinking on the subway, and really, cards on the floor of a crowded subway car? Just because it's not illegal to drink on the subway, doesn't mean you should. Whoever they are, they make westerners look rude and disrespectful.

  9. Agreed. I think the jump to conclusions that these kids were American is unwarranted. I've met plenty of folks from the UK, South Africa, Australia, NZ and Canada while in Korea who get plastered and do stupid things in public places. And then, there's always this ...

    I guess if you're old and dressed in a business suit, it's okay to act an ass.

  10. They're too thin to be Americans.

  11. This is really stupid, but I've seen Koreans do worse.

  12. Jeez get these people out of here It's getting harder and harder to live over here because of people like this. I swear people have no idea how to live in another country. I am sure the powers at be will pass some legislation that will make it harder for those of us who want to be productive members of society in Korea live here.

  13. despite, and not justifying what Koreans do, We are the foreigners and the minorities in this country. Everything we do is looked upon and scrutinized. If you can't handle that or understand the implications of your behavior... maybe you should stay in your country and learn about it. In my home country of the US we unfortunately and shamefully do this to foreigners and minorities. There is just not enough education on living in a more globalized world as there needs to be.

  14. I'm actually glad someone took this picture. I wish more people would take pictures of ANYONE doing something insensitive, culturally ignorant, downright rude etc and get people talking about it.

    I wish I had taken a picture just yesterday of a Korean man who (despite there being barely any standing room) took out his folding chair and plopped himself in front of his hiking group buddies.

    By the way none of these hikers felt it necessary to get up and offer their seat to the mother with the baby standing next to them.

    Next time I'll take a picture of it so others can say "I bet they're Koreans because of the way they're dressed and the way they're acting'

  15. This is why we didn't really hang out with other foreigners when we were in Korea. They were either too weird, or too stupid!

  16. "despite, and not justifying what Koreans do, We are the foreigners and the minorities in this country. Everything we do is looked upon and scrutinized."

    I am glad someone said this.

    Well well well. After all this "look at us minorities" from TK and like-minded people, it seems when the situation is vice-versa, they commit the same sin: xenophobic, ethnically exclusivist biases. Were the Koreans who vacationed in foreign places (say...Japan or US?) misbehaved and got treated badly and stereotyped, Koreans would not hesitate to lament the host country's racism/xenophobia. And yet when the vice versa occurs, they have no sense of irony and act no different.

    Also, let's not forget: Koreans do 100x times worse in their own subways. (If you have followed the news, you know which cases I am talking about.) Yet when it is white people doing stuff that is super-harmless then - gasp! - it explodes in the blogosphere, both Korean and Overseas Korean.

    Am I defending the Americans*? No. But am I pointing out hypocrisy and xenophobia/Korean racism? Sure.

    *and how do you know they are Americans? How would Koreans feel if whenever any Asians came to a foreign country and spat on public, people said "they must be Koreans!" You would probably bring out the R-card or the M-card, I suppose?

  17. @ cornflake:

    I don't know about you, but if I saw fellow Koreans acting dumb in a foreign country, I would feel ashamed for them. Also, THERE HAS BEEN KOREAN NEWS about Korean tourists acting stupidly in foreign countries, and how we should stop because we're giving our country a bad name. Fellow Koreans have also replied being ashamed for them, there was no "defending our people" or whatever you seem to be insinuating.

    I wonder, has there been any such news on, say, CNN or BBC? Has there ever been articles of, "Some of us act like dicks in foreign countries sometimes, please stop"?

    The race card is taken out BECAUSE the majority is looking down upon the minority for their tradition/custom/apperances, WITHOUT them doing anything wrong. Unless it was an Ancient Caucasian Tradition to play cards on the subway, no, it's not racism, it's pointing out morons being fucking morons.

  18. I've been in Korea twice, and twice i've seen Caucasian - English speaking - people making fun of Korean street food, clothes and faces, and looking down on everything. Honestly, as a foreigner myself, i was ashamed. And i realised that Korean people would probably think i belong to their kind.

  19. It is events like these that make me question my sense of patriotism. Yes, as an American, I certainly live in a privileged society, but since when does that excuse this sort of behavior? Simply because we have the freedom to do these things does not constitute a good reason for it. Simply put, it is a very selfish tendency. Perhaps it is too much to ask, but I wish Americans would realize what idiots we can make ourselves out to be and how this effects others.

  20. It's awful behaviour, but I don't see why it's national news, much like any of the other ridiculous blow-ups we see here and elsewhere.

  21. I agree that's a really bad behavior. However it happens the same in a lot of other countries and caused by people from different nationalities.
    In Spain we have tons of tourists that behave like drunk, loud, noisy, dirty people because they think here it's normal but of course it is not.

  22. 15 minutes of temporarily rude foreigners is national news.

    That fact is the real news.

    What a glorious paradise it must be if some people sitting on the floor for a few minutes is a headline. Oh the horror those dozens of people had to endure by stepping around them. It must have been like Auschwitz.

    I mean, just imagine what the news stories must be like if there were hundreds or even thousands of violent protesters occupying buildings, or intentionally blocking traffic with their trucks, or flinging cow shit in grocery stores.

    Oh wait, sorry, those perpetrators are Koreans. My mistake.

  23. lucky i wasn't on the train. sick of white kids acting like they own korea. my wife would have yelled at me, but i would have caused a major scene. this shit ALWAYS makes the national headlines. and these assholes do not represent the majority of us who call Korea home.

    of course, the angry korean knows too well, that within a week, this post's comments thread will be loaded with korean-bashing white folks' comments. i see one right above my comment. korea is full of haters. they should all go home.

  24. Clearly, people will complain how such a *trivial* matter got on the news and how it's disgusting double standard! How dare they question the white man's rights to sit on a subway and play cards and disrupt the public! I am from a free country and I will do whatever I want!

    While clearly forgetting that Korea is not Caucasian-land and anything they will do will reflect badly upon other white folk, but oh, none of that. It's just those silly Koreans who are dumb for not realizing all white people are not the same! ... while clutching their purses when any black person comes by or comment how all Asians are the same when they're back home.

    I'm a minority in a foreign country and I'll be unjustly judged upon whatever other people of my race does? What's that?

  25. And more hate! It's getting common on Ask a Korean. Is it trendy? Should I start hating too? Please advise me, people who are sure of everything.

  26. wait, we're forgetting the most important thing.... what card game were they playing? and if they didn't offer their drinks to anyone else on the subway - then , yes, this behavior is totally rude!

    I don't think the behavior is totally rude - since it's not really interfering w/ anyone else on the subway, unless they were being dicks about ppl walking over their card game. I think it's just gross since they're sitting on a subway floor - that shit is dirty....
    But if they're having a good time and not being malicious - who cares.

    Korea and Korean people have different social norms. And if I wasn't aware of these, I would think a lot of things Korean people do are rude and intrusive, but since I know there's no malice behind it, but it's accepted behavior by them, I really don't get my panties in a bunch b/c of it. If an old Korean grandmother pushes your cart farther down the check out line while you're trying to finish bagging your groceries and get your change back and the cart is literally smacking into you, would you think it's rude? maybe. I did at first, but when I saw it was a old Korean grandmother, I didn't. (and I was at a Korean supermarket). However if I was at a regular supermarket and it was a white grandmother, I probably would have said something back, and perceived her as being bossy and pushy. Am I being racist? or am I adjusting my reactions based on what the other's social customs/norms are.

    It's not like the girl eating in the nyc subway, eating her greasy chinese take out on a CROWDED train, then get into a fight w/ this old white lady and throws her food at her! now THAT is rude. the whole thing was filmed and made local news.

  27. For a bit more context, readers should know that this story beat out stories about two bombings in metro stations for readership.

    조안나, the initial stories I saw mentioned "illegal gambling".

    Linda, thank you for introducing me to a new ('alien') world-view. I was not aware that people having different social norms could make their non-normative behavior acceptable. In fact, I thought norm-violating behavior was to be punished, as a way of maintaining the norms.

  28. Oh, God. So embarrassing. Yeah, I bet they're Americans.

  29. @brp, most welcome!
    when I first saw the picture, I too exclaimed "what a bunch of dumb Americans. so tacky!" But then after I passed my quick judgement like everyone else does, I tried to imagine their circumstances, their story, are there really any serious negative consequences of their card playing and beer drinking during a dull subway ride? What if this scene sparked the idea of a game-table-car in each subway train so ppl can go to a designated car to sit and rink and play some cards? How fun would that be?!

    Sometimes its good to get slapped in the face with something that's a bit non-normative and force us to experience a few things beyond our comfort zone. As long as there's no malicious intent behind it, let's embrace experiences that may at first seem weird or bad, and learn how the "other side" thinks. I mean, if there was a designated "party car" on every subway train in the world - I bet it would be packed nonstop. The car must have a karaoke machine! Now, THAT maybe something that would take off in Korea! it'll be called Car-aoke, and the person with the highest score gets a free subway ride!

    I'd rather be seen as an empathetic alien that knows how to instill a bit of fun in such a boring scene, than a judgemental "normal" person.

  30. Being a Korean who lives in England I am surprised by everyone's reactions. People drink and play cards on undergrounds/metros in England all the time. Another culture difference?

  31. It really might be cultural difference. If people commonly do play cards and drink on the Metro in UK, they might not have been aware that their behavior was not the norm in Korea.

  32. ...except (1) it should have been abundantly clear that NO ONE in Korea plays cards on the subway floor and (2) one of them was self-righteous to keep arguing with the person who took the photo when he politely asked them to get off the floor.

  33. 0a013670-8064-11e0-99b8-000bcdcb5194 is totally wise. It is well known that some Koreans have done far worse things than these Way-Gooks, so hypocritical Koreans should just shut the Hades up.

  34. Sam, your impeccable logic has left the Korean speechless.

  35. Nationality: Statistically, the break-down of this group is probably at least 50% American since they make up the bulk of English teachers in Korea. But I definitely don't think they are all American. As stated, the idea of playing cards on the Metro is probably an English idea. But once you get to Korea you find out that there's little difference between foreign nationalities. We all just become foreigners. And foreigners stick together. It's safe to assume that it's just a mish-mash of rude foreigners, the rudest of whom continued to play cards even after being told not to, out of spite.

    Consider the age. One thing I've found out about the expat community is maturity is based more on age and less on nationality. Korean hagwons and public schools actually like to recruit young, just-out-of-college teachers who are interested in travelling and foreign cultures because the kids like those students, and they bring a certain amount of energy and enthusiasm to the classes. Also, kids think that they are really cool and handsome, just like movie stars (at least for 3 months, until the buzz wears off). The problem with these people is that they are coming to Korea to take a year off from school, to see a new culture, to pay off their student loans, and so on. They come here and suddenly discover that beer is cheap (terrible, but cheap) and soju is only a dollar, and Koreans are extremely tolerant and forgiving of most foreigner behavior, at least to their face. Many immature, young foreigners see this as ultimate freedom to do whatever the hell they want, even more so in college, really.

    This is one of the downsides of bringing really young foreigners to Korea. Young knuckleheads, still reeling from all the freedom they had in college, now taking a year off from life, plus suddenly having access to a lot more disposable income... this sort of stuff is going to occur, and it does everyday, though not as blatantly offensive. Hopefully, as interest in Korea grows, people will be drawn to Korea not just for the money and travel opportunities but for the culture too.

    The funny thing is that my way-gook friends can't see their own actions reflected in this photo because so few people are this bad. I think we need to do a better job of holding each other accountable for the small things as well, but group-think is usually far more powerful than one reasoned individual.

  36. On the scale of newsworthy from 0-100, harmless but rude behavior on a subway hovers barely above zero and below 1. This kind of stuff is absolutely not worthy of real media, and barely worthy of blogs, much less this one, which covers a lot of relevant and serious topics.

    Someone else mentioned that this story was higher than the subway bombings on the Naver popularity list, which is about 100 on the absurdity scale and is a good indicator of how a white face added to a story automatically triggers frothing from the Korean media and public.

    The card-playing foreigners (not identified as Americans as far as anyone knows, despite the attempts of many to do so, and one girl has been identified as Korean) were ignorant and rude, no question. Had I been in that car, I'd have gone and stepped right on top of their cards and "accidentally" kicked their beer over. Had they said anything, I'd have responded "Oh sorry, I thought this was a subway, not a living room."

    But on the scale of ignorance and rudeness (both highly prevelant South Korea public standards), their behavior is not exceptional nor worthy of attention. The outrageously disproportionate coverage of this can only be attributed to xenophobic ridiculousness.

    Imagine if ran a "story" about some Korean ajummas who set up their picnic blanket right next to a "Stay Off The Grass" sign, or that Canadians flocked in droves to such an item and made it highly popular, outranking an attempted terrorism story. You would rightly think Canucks were foolish, petty, and a few other adjectives I won't mention.

  37. 0a013670-8064-11e0-99b has hit the nail on the head. It's pathetic how Koreans are making such a big deal out of this less-than-trivial offense. Which is why, here in the U.S., if we happen to witness a crime in progress, we do not report it to the police unless the crime is much worse than any that we ourselves have committed. This way we are certain never to lose face.

  38. BTW, that last one wasn't too dry for my own good, I hope^ ^

  39. Imagine if ran a "story" about some Korean ajummas who set up their picnic blanket right next to a "Stay Off The Grass" sign, or that Canadians flocked in droves to such an item and made it highly popular, outranking an attempted terrorism story. You would rightly think Canucks were foolish, petty, and a few other adjectives I won't mention.

    If ran such a story, the Korean would be deeply embarrassed for his fellow Koreans and urge Koreans to stop doing that. And you know what? Koreans do exactly this. Korean news media run stories about the bad behaviors of Korean tourists overseas all the time. (Don't believe the Korean? Take a look.) Major newspapers run editorials about how something must be done to stop Koreans from embarrassing themselves outside of Korea.

    This is not just Koreans. Anyone with a functioning sense of self-awareness -- which is the vast majority of the world, including America -- knows enough to do this. A normal person would have some self-awareness about where he stands with respect to the rest of the world, and adjust his behavior accordingly. Vast majority of foreigners who linked this story on their blogs and Facebook walls express this. It is only the small but very vocal minority that just never gets this.

  40. Sam,

    Which is why, here in the U.S., if we happen to witness a crime in progress, we do not report it to the police unless the crime is much worse than any that we ourselves have committed. This way we are certain never to lose face.

    That was one of the dumbest things the Korean has ever heard.

  41. Oh dear, I think I was still being a little too subtleㅋㅋㅋ. TK, I was NOT agreeing with that asshat clown I was referencing -- maybe next time I'll try to be a little more broad with the humor. But thanks anyway for the back-handed compliment -- at least now I know I sound very convincing when I'm being sarcastic! Hmm-- I was wondering about the sudden increase in traffic to my obscure little blog... Everyone wanted to take a gander at the 'hater'! ㅋㅋㅋ

  42. No, seriously, there needs to be some sort of "stupidity bar" for EVERYONE (and I mean everyone in the WORLD, before anyone jumps on me) who is planning to stay long-term in a foreign country. Run a few tests, interview them, SOMETHING, to see if they can be polite to others, see if they appreciate other cultures with respect, see if they're not racist or ethnocentric, see if they can resist from being rapey or physically violent. See if they have at least average common sense.

    Douchebaggery just ruins everything for the civil, polite people.

    I'm sorry for the rant, I saw too much stupidity on the Internet today.

  43. Sam! You got me. The Korean KNEW you were not dumb -- he was so totally confused. The Korean's deep apologies.

  44. I'm sorry, but while I subscribe to the idea that you should behave even better than the best citizens of a country you're in, I still think the fact that this was the 3rd most popular story on Naver demonstrates that Koreans are looking for shit to get mad at foreigners about and that there is a lot of racism there.

    And I want you to know, for the record, that I drink maybe a beer a month, I put on Shakespeare plays and raise money for Korean charities, I give up my seat to people older than me. I am kind to everyone around me and don't even stare back at the rude people who stare at me constantly.

    In a culture where you're pretty much expected to drink by your company and co-workers, in a culture where there is regularly vomit on the ground in the mornings and passed out people littering the bushes, I honestly don't see how this is such a terrible thing. I'd rather have people playing poker on a subway than have to dodge the vomit piles when I go out on a Sunday morning. I'd rather have this than the Korean guys who have fondled my ass or offered to be my "friend". We're not just "guests" over here. We live here, we work here. I know it's "reality" that we're going to be judged more harshly, and I act in accordance with that reality, but that doesn't mean that reality isn't fucking stupid. People are people and should be judged as such, and I've honestly never encountered a culture less willing to criticize itself than Korea. I hate nationalism. I hate it in the U.S. but it's if anything more nationalistic over here.

    My students hold absurd beliefs about Korean supremacy in areas where it just doesn't exist. Many of them said they were happy when the Japanese tsunami hit and by many I'd say about 30%. And yes, I know about the history with Japan and I can't pretend to know what it's like to have your country violated in that way, but this is a problem, I'd say.

    I think a handful of foreigners playing poker on a subway and drinking or who owns fucking Dokdo are the least of the concerns Koreans should have. So pardon me if I can't share your revilement of these people, even though they are not the kind of foreigner that I strive to be or that I hang out with.

  45. I've honestly never encountered a culture less willing to criticize itself than Korea.

    You don't read a lot of Korean news, do you?

  46. Sorry, that was too chippy. Here are some more substantive comments, delivered with a mind to discuss, not attack.

    I still think the fact that this was the 3rd most popular story on Naver demonstrates that Koreans are looking for shit to get mad at foreigners about and that there is a lot of racism there.

    Agreed, on some level. But here is the thing -- what about the stories of foreign criminals that never made any significant news, cited in the post? If Koreans are out to get dem furriners, why not go after them to an equal degree?

    The answer is: the stupidity and the disrespect displayed here are just so outrageous that they pushed the story to another level.

  47. @Jennifer:

    I do not at all wish to trivialize your hardships (...) in Korea, but I can't but help to agree with The Korean's assumption that you probably don't read that much Korean news. In fact, you APPEAR to fit a very typical prototype of "foreigner" that lives in Korea who (a) teaches English, (b) doesn't speak Korean, (c) doesn't interact with Koreans outside of the immediate workplace, and (d) associates primarily, if not exclusively, with fellow foreigners in Korea. Of course, I'm not accusing you of any of these things, Jennifer, merely pointing out what MIGHT be some general similarities to a fairly standard construct.

    To put this in perspective (and I'll take a gander here and assume you're from America or are at least familiar with some domestic North American affairs), picture an alien resident in America from, say, Mexico. She does not speak English. She associates only with other Mexicans who do not speak English. She goes to work, struggles to communicate with her fellow English-speaking Americans, has her fair share of negative experiences, and returns to her home every night to go to the internet to wallow in other Mexicans' negative experiences in America. Groupthink occurs, and she becomes jaded - increasingly so - until she begins to feel there are actual flaws in American culture, or a perceived lack in moral character in Americans, simply because she and a group of other Mexicans have also had negative experiences in America.

    This is basically what happens with foreigners in Korea. They come here, most never having experienced being a minority, and often experience some hardships. Jennifer, I'm not trying to trivialize or justify these - I'm just saying that you willingly came to a country knowing that you'd be a clear visual minority (a white female). Other foreigners like you who might also complain about the conditions in Korea who don't even know how to speak Korean, read Korean, or communicate regularly with Koreans, are really doing themselves a disservice - ESPECIALLY when the main means of news or information about Korean affairs comes from perhaps a few blog posts from similarly jaded foreigners.

    Also, your schpeel about your students' opinions about the Japan earthquake/tsunami is one that also applies to kids here in America, too. Trust me, there was a sizeable amount of kids who, at the time of disaster, said things like, "It's payback for Pearl Harbor." I mean, I didn't keep track or anything, but I wouldn't be surprised if their numbers were "about 30%".


  48. I apologize, I jumped the gun and assumed you were a white female. Regardless, the gist of my previous post as a whole was that many foreign residents in Korea need to gain a bit of perspective before automatically making large generalizations about Korean society or culture (for example, concerning its inability to criticize or examine itself).

  49. Adding to what the Korean said: that this is the third ranked story on Naver isn't an indication of the stress they put on it. This is a meme: it's something unbelievable, easy to consume as far as media goes, and entertaining/infuriating to look at. There are hundreds of pieces like this on the internet, and yes, some of them have even been "news-worthy" (Numa Numa/Star Wars kid/Rebecca Black come to mind). I think this behavior would have been meme-worthy if English teachers took pictures of Ajoshis doing the same thing... in fact... remember BlackoutKorea?

    I'm not furious at these idiots, as I've never met them. But it's a good reminder to all these expats, out of college and hopped up on new-found freedom, that 1) Korea is a part of the real world, not some fantasy land and 2) your actions have consequences. So... stop being such a twat.

  50. That photo and many of the reactory comments in this stream make me want to cry.

    As did this:

    I hate embarrassing westerners on the subway :(

  51. What they did was stupid. Making it to national news is even more stupid.

  52. As foreigners in this country we are all collectively responsible for each and the way we are perceived by the natives. That means that we have to take the bad with the good. You can be happy to associate with foreigners who work hard, are respected by their co-workers (and/or students, since many are teachers) and who respect Korean cultural norms and have good manners, but you are also bound to be associated with this horribly and shamefully douchey crowd. Unfortunately, you do not get to belong to a category that that includes only you. You get lumped in with Americans, Brits, etc. because that's your demographic. This is our responsibility collectively and there is no ignoring it.

    The correct thing to do if you ever see foreigners pulling a stunt like this again (and you don't fear for your safety in doing so) is to walk briskly over and in a low and calm but urgent voice, say: "Stand up. Collect the cards. Cap the bottles. Shove them in a bang or under your clothes NOW and get off the train at the next stop. Every fucking phone in this country has a camera. Stay off the news." USe your teacher voice (if you have one) and your teacher glare (how do you survive without one?) and don't respond to their arguments.

  53. hands down, they are a bunch of disrespectful idiots. Let's not assume that a foreigner lacking in manners must be American, though. I'm American, and I get angry about the dumb things my fellow expats do all the time.

  54. In response to the people complaining 'making this national news is stupid', the following are the 3rd most-read stories from major news publications in the UK (my home country)

    BBC: China farmers face 'exploding' watermelon problem

    Daily Mail: Shoppers shock as man proposes mall in food court - and is REJECTED

    The Times: The secret to a flat tummy

    The Independent: US preacher warns end of the world is nigh: 21 May, around 6pm, to be precise

    The Sun: Axed X Factor judge Dannii Minogue 'to
    join the BBC'

    The point is that to paint Korea as petty-minded on the basis of Naver's most-read news stories is to overlook the fact that, by their very nature, many most-read news stories are petty-minded.

  55. People are amazed that this story is top news over the subway bombings? Really? What's the top news on most major news sites in America right now?

    Schwarzenegger Has Baby with Staffer!

    Of course, the only logical conclusion that can be reached from this is that the American media has a burning hatred for muscle-bound Austrian-Americans with fidelity issues. I mean, why else would they give this so much coverage when there are wars being fought and jobs being lost?

    Or... perhaps modern "journalism" is such that it panders to the seemingly universal desire of humans to see the perverse, strange, grotesque, or unexpected behaviors of others.

    So why isn't it news when Koreans do something like this? Well, oftentimes, it is news, like the "Rude Girl on Train" and "Girl Berating Housekeeper" episodes. So Koreans put the spotlight on themselves in this fashion quite often as well.

    Does the fact that the people in the video are white have anything to do with it? Of course it does, but more than their race or ethnicity, it is the astounding level of ignorance and sense of privilege that they exhibit which is so unbelievable.

    I mean seriously, how full must you be of yourself that you think it's perfectly acceptable behavior to go to a foreign country and do shit like this?

    To put it in another way... It's one thing for an owner of a house to piss in the middle of his living room, but it's completely different if a stranger does it.

    The idiots in the picture just took a giant whizz on the Koreans' new shag carpet, and some are wondering why this is getting so much attention?

  56. Here's my thoughts on why this article got so big (btw, this was a ridiculous thing to do, and these guys are idiots, whatever their nationality).

    I think it's because (this is only a guess, of course as to why it became such big news) every year there are more and more foreigners living in Korea, which has been (and still is) very monocultural and homogeneous. Little things like this are kind of like a "straw that broke the camel's back"... every once in a while one story like this will blow up out of proportion because of people's worry that a continued rise in foreigners living in the country will impact the culture, and make unwanted changes. I think it's because of people's fear of change and they express it by getting upset at stories like this.

    I could be wrong, but if I think of it like that, I can understand the reaction very well. I'd be interested to hear The Korean's thoughts on why this became such a big story.

    Actually, I heard and saw a lot of foreigners discussing this article, and they have all said that there was no excuse for acting that way. I wonder if any of the people in the photo have been identified and what their reactions were.

  57. Racism is a BIG deal. Honestly who really cares if some people were playing cards on the floor? Ignore them, talk about them, or whatever. It's really embarrassing that this is even a national story. I bet several people don't even know/care about what happened in Kosovo.
    That's a tragedy.

    Sitting on the floor and being a public nuisance does not create violence.
    Racism and prejudice ARE violence.

    Americans come in all shapes and sizes.
    People will act like idiots however they do not personify their nation.
    Remember that.

    Personally, my parents have always frowned upon the consumption of alcohol. They do not drink at all.
    I myself am very fond of my liver and hope to keep my brain cells in tact.

  58. The behavior displayed by this group of individuals from an unidentifiable nationality is obviously unbecoming however; this is hardly worthy of making national headlines.
    That's a massive understatement.

    I am unfamiliar with the local laws of the area and am thus unqualified to comment on the legal aspects of the case. Had something of a similar nature occurred where I'm from (LA), and someone had complained, this would have escalated to legal matters being as public drinking is very much illegal. Even then, it would have hardly been news worthy.

    My parents brought me up to be very tolerant of others. I, as well as most people I know don't care nearly enough for what other people are doing. As the song goes, "Do what you want but don't do it around me." As long as someone isn't doing anything illegal or harassing anyone (either physically or verbally), I don't intrude on anyone. I have seen some pretty weird things in LA including some tourist urinating on some wall in Bunker Hill. I didn't bother to stop and take a picture. This was obviously inappropriate behavior but I wasn't about to infringe.

    There are obviously varying cultural differences to be had. The actions of the individual who reportedly refused to get up after being asked to do so should be singled out. The rest of the group obliged. They might have not known that their actions were entirely inappropriate.

    I understand that age is something that is both respected and revered in Korea. If that is the case, I am sure that I would be instantly deemed inappropriate. I am the youngest of my siblings however; we have always acted more like friends than anything else. It isn't uncommon for me to cuss at them or lecture them for "stupid"/ill behavior.

    Cultural etiquette of course varies widely depending on regional areas. While I know that ethnocentrism is unavoidable, assuming that the evidently Caucasian group was American is a horrible assertion. Nationality shouldn't even be a matter of importance. This is what really pisses me off. Someone did something wrong, that's news worthy. Making guesses as to the group's origins merely due to physical appearance should be insignificant. It is a biased claim.

    People have a tendency of assuming that I am either Caucasian and/or of some Asian descent. I don't usually care to verify or correct anyone being as it is none of their business. Either way it’s not nice to assume. My parents are both Mexican so I know a thing or two about being treated as a minority. In LA, I never hear the end of it. I might scoff at some white kids being treated as a minority however prejudice is not a laughing matter.

    I love to travel and experience other cultures, especially their art. I don't take kindly to people assuming that I'm some spoiled American just because of appearances. I especially hate such prejudices because I have to work minimum wage part-time jobs (on the side since I'm a full-time student) to finance my voyages. People have tendencies of making ill-founded assumptions simply because I choose to spend $2000 on a handbag. I earn what I get but no one will ever jump to that conclusion. It's easier to classify me as a spoiled American. Though I feel this, I would never call anyone out on their treatment of me or anyone else so long as they were not harassing anyone.

    I consider myself American, as does my immediate family. All three of my brothers are in the military and sport the required buzz cuts. I hate when people give them odd looks because they sometimes might identify them as gangsters when they are in fact the opposite. My older brother (who is 21) is both in the military and the LAPD and has served in peacekeeping missions in Kosovo. He grew to love the people there and its land and several locals in turn were very sad to see him leave. Now, in the streets people might view him as a thug. He does not deserve these automatic labels. This is a very common occurrence for many people.

  59. Of coarse they were in the wrong but I love how the foreigners are the ones getting singled out for this. I ride the Seoul subway between 2 to 5 times a day so I have a pretty good idea of what goes on. Every now and then you might see a foreigner doing something not so acceptable, but for the most part the far worse things are done by the Koreans themselves. I could write a book on the ridiculous things I've seen Koreans doing but some how that is all forgotten the minute a foreigner steps out of line.

  60. Keeping up with the "What's No. 3 Right Now" theme -- at New York Times, it is about how hair extension theft is on the rise.

    Hmm. Considering the usual clientele for hair extension, the Korean wonders if racism plays any part of driving up the numbers.

  61. Of course the people on the subway were being rude. I still have to say I honestly found this to be a pretty offensive post by the Korean. Imagine if every time a Korean-American person in the U.S. got into the news for doing something rude, offensive, or criminal, I approached my Korean-American friends and said this:

    It makes absolutely no sense that these things keep happening in the Korean-American community like fucking clockwork. Please, PLEASE stop doing such stupid things. If you see another Korean in America acting like an idiot, stop them too.

    I'm guessing I wouldn't have too many Korean friends left if I did that. I'm also betting that if TK decided to go to K-Town in LA on a Friday night and kindly told all the people who were behaving like drunken fools to knock it off, he probably wouldn't have a lot of teeth left the next morning. If it's now my job to police the behavior every frat boy in this country who acts like an idiot, it's time for me to go home.

  62. this is very stupid, and warrants some better perspective on how we are viewed as foreigners. however, definitely not worth the press it got.

    by the way, the argument that they are obviously american is not only insulting, but pretty absurd, especially considering the behavior i've seen here from irish, brits, canadians, australians, and europeans.

    'ask a korean' can be pretty smart sometimes. but his worst posts are when he jumps to conclusions and says something so offensive it (almost) defeats his whole point.

  63. I'm also betting that if TK decided to go to K-Town in LA on a Friday night and kindly told all the people who were behaving like drunken fools to knock it off, he probably wouldn't have a lot of teeth left the next morning.

    How people can equate this level of stupidity to a "normal" (as in, commonplace and expected) kind of stupidity like being a drunken fool is totally beyond the Korean.

    the argument that they are obviously american is not only insulting, but pretty absurd, especially considering the behavior i've seen here from irish, brits, canadians, australians, and europeans.

    The Korean never made that argument.

  64. Well, don't you think there's a good chance that the people on the subway had a few before they decided to start their impromptu card game? As a lawyer, I'd imagine you know better than anyone that people do dumb, dumb shit when they're drunk. My original point remains. If it's my job to correct the behavior of every white dude in Korea who acts like an idiot (drunken or otherwise), get me on the next flight out of Incheon.

  65. Well, don't you think there's a good chance that the people on the subway had a few before they decided to start their impromptu card game?

    Try this. The Korean is certain that you have seen a LOT of drunk people in the subways of Korea. Have you ever seen anything like this? Even the most plastered people featured in BlackOut Korea have the decency to scoot themselves to the side of the road or some kind of corner before passing out. Drunk people in Korea might fight, yell or pass out -- but they don't block the middle of the subway.

    If it's my job to correct the behavior of every white dude in Korea who acts like an idiot (drunken or otherwise), get me on the next flight out of Incheon.

    If you cannot be bothered to do what is in your self-interest as a racial minority, sure -- maybe it is not a bad idea to stop being a racial minority.

  66. First off, this kinda made me laugh. Though I'd have to point out being a young american and traveling to Europe quite a few times that those teens seem more like Europeans then Americans. Like someone said earlier they dress more like Europeans and that behavior seems more like european to me considering americans teens are less likely to sit on a metro drinking beer while Europeans are more open with their drinking. Just saying.

  67. Here's a fun little exercise:

    Explain to someone who has no knowledge of this "story" or of Korea in general that an incident occurred on a subway car in Seoul, and that it involved several foreigners.

    Explain that it was covered by the national media, that it was an extremely popular story and drew thousands of comments, as well as widespread coverage among blogs, facebook, etc.

    Then, without explaining what happened, go ahead and list off many of the reactions we've seen in this thread alone:

    +I abhor their actions
    +morons being fucking morons
    +awful behavior
    +really bad behavior
    +stupidity and disrespect are so outrageous
    +The idiots just took a giant whizz on the Koreans' new shag carpet
    +A bunch of entitled white kids making an ass out of themselves
    +That level of stupidity does not happen all the time.

    After you've finished the build-up and correctly conveyed the level of outrage, go ahead and ask that person to make three guesses as to what may have occurred.

    I GUARANTEE you that given that context, no one would ever imagine that the answer involves such a minor, irrelevant annoyance like sitting on the floor playing cards. And when you make that big reveal to your unsuspecting friend about the jaywalking-level reality of the offense, all the outrage and media coverage will look really silly and ridiculous. You'll then spend the next hour trying to justify how such extensive outrage can occur from such a non-event.

    Drunk people in Korea might fight, yell or pass out -- but they don't block the middle of the subway.

    Are you really comparing the inconsiderate but harmless actions of these people UNFAVORABLY to violent drunken behavior?

    The very socially accpeted public drunks in Korea not only are inconsiderate and rude, but litter the cities with vomit and piss, are a massive public safety and public health problem, and also contribute to real, actual injuries, DEATHS, domestic violence, child abuse, and on and on and on.

    Oh, but forget all that because thank god the drunks have the sense not to block the aisle on the subway!!!

    Come on man, get a grip on reality and have a sense of proportion.

    The tangible harm done by these fools was next to ZERO. For christ's sake, at worst a few dozen people had to side-step them.

    You minimizing the very real and very extensive harm done by drunks while trying to somehow sell sitting on the floor as awful in comparison makes you look unbelievably ignorant. But of course the fact that the drunks are overwhelmingly Korean and the floor-sitters are white has NOTHING to do with that disparity of reaction.


  68. By the way, when I gave the setup scenario to a co-worker and asked her to guess the offense, here were her three guesses:

    (1) Sexual assault
    (2) Large riot or brawl
    (3) Extensive vandalism/destruction of property

    When I revealed the reality she asked me if sitting on the floor is to Koreans as burning the Koran is to Muslims.

  69. Stop being paranoid. It was Blogger's spam filter.

  70. OpenID isn't playing nice with AOL, so I didn't pick that username. Apologize for jumping the gun on the deletion.

  71. The very socially accpeted public drunks in Korea not only are inconsiderate and rude, but litter the cities with vomit and piss, are a massive public safety and public health problem, and also contribute to real, actual injuries, DEATHS, domestic violence, child abuse, and on and on and on.

    Ok. As the Korean noted in the OP (and again in the comments,) recently foreigners caused much greater physical injury to Koreans. Heck, one even ran away from the justice system. Not a national news. But this one? National news. We controlled for the "foreigner" aspect, but the level of outrage is still different. Why?

    Here is a hint: maybe the degree of physical injury is not the only factor that leads to outrage.

    But of course the fact that the drunks are overwhelmingly Korean and the floor-sitters are white has NOTHING to do with that disparity of reaction.

    Have you even read the post? That fact has everything to do with the disparity of reaction. That is precisely the point of the post.

  72. Lol at those foreign folks whining and derailing. Sure, natives act like dicks too. There are dicks everywhere. But I'm sure attitudes like the one shown are discouraged...foreigner tourists don't care because they think they're immune to any sort of criticism since they're in a different country (or to them, a magical wonderland themepark where they can do whatever they want)

  73. As the Korean noted in the OP (and again in the comments,) recently foreigners caused much greater physical injury to Koreans. Heck, one even ran away from the justice system. Not a national news.

    Actually, you were wrong in the OP (and again in the comments), because that story was very definitely national news. 5 minutes gave me this:

  74. Yonhap = wire services. Takes in every single news in every single corner of Korea, regardless of importance. NOT national news.

    No Cut News = online newspaper, no paper circulation. Not even as big as other online newspapers like OhMyNews or Pressian. NOT national news.

    Chosun link = only available in Honam edition of Chosun Ilbo. Definition of local news.

    MBC = brief mention at morning news, near the end after the weather. Did not get mentioned again at the 9 p.m. Newsdesk show, which is the flagship news program of the station. NOT national news, although probably the closest to being one among your examples.

    Let's compare apples to apples, since people were harping about how this was no. 3 in the most read news on the society section of That story broke on April 14-15. Here is the 10 most read articles on the society section for around that time:

    No mention of the dastardly English lecturer pulling a runner.

  75. TK:
    Put yourself in this decidedly non-hypothetical situation I found myself in a couple of weeks ago:

    I had just gotten back to Seodaejeon Station on a late night train after visiting some friends. As I was taking the escalator up from the platform, I heard this obnoxious white guy behind my making loud remarks to his friend about how the various Korean women around us were dressed. I'll spare you the details, but I thought what this guy was doing was far more racist and sexist than what the people in the subway were doing.

    I really wanted to tell this guy off, but I decided not to. First of all, he was behaving in a very loud and belligerent way, so much so that the first taxi driver he approached outside the station refused to take him. (The taxi driver didn't refuse him just because the guy was white, either- the same driver ended up taking me home.) Second of all, he was with a friend. If it did become a physical altercation, there's two of them and one of me. Finally, if I do tell these guys off and I do end up in some sort of physical altercation, guess who gets to spend his Saturday morning in a police station/emergency room? What would my employer think about me getting into a fight in a train station at 1:30 in the morning?

    Trust me, I'd love to see a more respectful expat community here in Korea. But, I can only control my own behavior. If someone wants to act rude and belligerent, they're going to do so, no matter how much I guilt trip them.

  76. I'll spare you the details, but I thought what this guy was doing was far more racist and sexist than what the people in the subway were doing.

    And that didn't make the top 10 most read articles on Naver??? :-O

    Just kidding. I sympathize. I am sorry to hear that you had to go through that situation. Actually, I empathize. I used to live in Apgujeong, and that neighborhood really turned into a shitpool of obnoxious gyopos who talk REALLY LOUD in English, etc. When I visit there, sometimes I tell them off, sometimes I don't, for the reasons you described. You acted prudently, and there is nothing wrong with that. The fact that you had the urge to tell them off makes you an alright guy in my book. I trust that you would have told off the idiots who were playing cards in the subway.

    My point is simple, and it has been repeated by many people on this thread already: foreigners in Korea should have some self-awareness about where they stand in Korean society, how their behavior affects other foreigners, and refrain from doing what they should not be doing to begin with. Regardless of what you said so far, I think you do have that self-awareness. That's all I ask for.

  77. I'm a native Korean, and I've never studied or lived abroad. And let me tell you all this.

    This news is NOT a national news. It might have been on the Naver, however, it's never a major issue. Moreover, it's my first time ever seen this picture(and i love to surf the net - i've seen hundreds of useless craps only in this week.). I use(?) twitter but saw no one talk about this, nor I saw Korean people arguing about this.

    And yes, I saw the picture now, and I think - they're funny. That's all. People sometimes do stupid things when they're abroad, don't they? It's not a good thing to do such a thing, though. I'm sure other Koreans will not care about this either.

  78. @0a013670-8064-11e0-99b8-000bcdcb5194
    I GUARANTEE you that given that context, no one would ever imagine that the answer involves such a minor, irrelevant annoyance like sitting on the floor playing cards.

    Your "fun little exercise" is actually a fallacy. You are working from the premise that this is a "minor, irrelevant annoyance," accepting it as a fact while dismissing the feelings of others which demonstrates an utter lack of relativism on your part.

    In order for your "fun little exercise" to have any sort of merit, you will first have to establish that the feelings of "outrage"(your word) expressed by many are overblown and unwarranted, while your view is actually the correct interpretation of events. Without having done this first, you are merely arguing that the color red is the best, and everyone else is silly for thinking that blue is the best choice.

    So... good luck with that.

  79. This post reminds me of that Korean lady whose dog pooped on a subway floor and she didn't clean it up, even when someone handed her a tissue to do so. And there were pictures of her all over the internet--I think some of her private information was also made public.

    I remember my mom telling me about these photos she saw of a Korea middle aged man molesting a drunken young Korean woman on a subway. She frequents a forum for Korean-American women, and every lady on there was raging like crazy. We talked to my dad about this, and when he said the lady should've taken a taxi instead of being "stupid" and taking the subway, we ripped him to shreds.

    Basically, folks, just have some common sense and courtesy. These stories anger the public irregardless of race or gender.

  80. Everyone makes this about race, and starts yelling that obviously this story is a big deal because it involves foreigners. That's ridiculous. Bad subway behavior does become a hot issue in Korea, whether or not it involves foreigners. I remember reading an article about a girl on the subway being disrespectful to an old woman, and they actually got into a physical fight as a result. This was news, no foreigners were involved. It was just a case of someone acting stupid on a subway, as is this. Maybe I'm naive or otherwise misguided, but I think this would have gotten attention even if it were Koreans sitting on the floor, drinking beer and playing cards (and before anyone says "Well, that just wouldn't happen," that's exactly the point. This is a big deal not because of race, but because this sort of thing just doesn't happen.)

  81. So fucking stupid, these kids.

    They almost justify the hate for foreign tourists.

  82. "If you're in Rome do what the Romans do."So if you don't see a Korean playing cards and sitting on the subway floor then don't do it!It's just a simple common sense.I guess there are some people who think time is gold that while waiting for the subway to arrive in their destination,it's okay to feel sooo comfortable and lay their butt in one of the dirtiest place on earth.subway~~

  83. First of all, I have no idea how I came across this blog. It wasn't by subway, while sitting on the floor though. ohh man, why do foreigners do this? I don't know, but it makes the normal respectful people look bad. Just because some foreigners think they are in some free world where they can do whatever they want, doesn't mean all of them are that way. I hope the natives take time to ponder upon that, and don't automatically assume every foreigner is that way. Proceed with caution though, because there is still going to be some ignorant foreigners out there! If a native comes across a foreigner behaving unappropriately, maybe just remind them kindly that they are ruining other normal people's image, and that they are not in a dreamland.

  84. Man, so many of you are unbelievable. I see no problem with these kids doing this. I lived and worked in Korea so I do indeed understand the cultural dynamics and to most of the Koreans I meet, this would be no big deal. Kids being kids, period. What is more astonishing is the amount of people who seem to think their perspective on what is right and wrong is the 'correct' perspective on this issue. Lightne up everyone....

  85. @Stanley

    Yes, kids are being kids, but don't you think they look old enough to know the difference between being childish and being foolish? And it's not so much about the cultural dynamics of Korea but it's about the attitude of those kids. This has nothing to do with anyone's demographic background. There are kids like these everywhere regardless of their nationality and race. If they're being foolish at home? Sure, I wouldn't stop them. But there are certain things you shouldn't do at a public place like this for the sake of everyone else around you. I'm only 21 years old and I know better than this.

  86. And you talk about the matter of what is right and wrong being purely subjective as if everyone else here is an emotionally repressed close-minded bigot. I mean, I guess someone's gotta become one to keep things in order. But hey, I thought these young adults were being awfully inconsiderate just as much as you thought there was nothing wrong with this. And since no one is technically right or wrong, why don't we respect everyone's opinion and leave it at that? :)

  87. @Cykstar and bernadette

    Couldn't agree with you more. Well said.

  88. Hahaha yeesh, it's sad when THIS is news (in any country). XD

    I mean, foreigners come here and act like retards too. I guess it's just a "we're somewhere no one knows us. GO CRAZY!" mindset. Stupid, but whatever. At least my mother raised me to be polite and use common sense in ANY country. =.="

    The train doesn't look that crowded if they're able to sit like that, but, if it's making others uncomfortable and people asked them to get up, then they should just get up and stop bitching.

    They're idiots, but the people turning this into such a big deal are kinda >.> also.

  89. I'm guessing they are European. The manner of dress doesn't really scream American, and one of the males is wearing an almost pink t-shirt. Americans are usually too homophobic for that.

    Either way, these people are morons. It's thanks to idiots like these that the rest of us have to put up with crap when we are just minding our own business. To see that this was posted in May of this year sucks even more...

    I disagree with you on your examples of foreigner stories that didn't make the news, though. Taxi fighting GI and, especially, the fight-and-then-flight teacher were both more than just a blip. And, if I remember correctly, the guy who fled had been defending a female foreigner from a taxi driver that was trying to get rough. Though, I admit I might be thinking of a totally different story.

    Anyway, if any U.S. evils don't make the news right now, it's only because they want to keep the atmosphere as good as possible while they shove the FTA down everyone's throats, which is why the news of the three separate U.S. military-related incidents were barely on Naver's Korean news section for more than a few days.

  90. I think these kids were probably just trying to be "edgy" or "daring". Of course they knew it was wrong. The reason there is no open container law in Korea is because tradition is often stronger than law(hence the reason I only ran without a shirt on...once) I think it was less a situation of foreigners being disrespectful to Korea or Korean values than it was an attempt to seem different or special by flouting accepted practice. I would cite the example of teens in the U.S. skating in public parks, even though there are signs posted everywhere. Is it possible that it's just "kids being kids", rather than "foreigners disrespecting Korean values"?

  91. ehehehe
    I agree it's funny.

    But, people, don't do that. The subway is a crowded place usually and occupying so much space can be very rude and annoying.

  92. I think the first question is: Why assume that they're expats who have lived here long enough to know better?

    If they're British, this could just be misunderstanding rather than arrogance. To my eyes, their behaviour is easily explainable. The subway doesn't look crowded, so they're not using excessive space. They're positioned to scoot if someone did want to walk down the carriage. In Britain, people don't walk down the carriage of a tube, so it might not have occurred to them that people do here. In England it's not uncommon to have a beer on a train, and we don't have closed container laws. Cards are a commonplace thing, they're not seen as gambling.

    All of those things I mentioned display a lack of knowledge about Korean customs. I don't see how they show arrogance, idiocy or any of the myriad things that these kids have been accused of. Maybe they haven't noticed that Koreans don't do it. Maybe they don't get the subway often, so don't know subway etiquette. Not having seen something happen in a relatively short timespan doesn't always translate to "they don't do that here", you might assume you just haven't seen it happen. And maybe, just maybe- they're tourists fresh off the plane, with no reason to know anything about Korean habits. I agree they should learn, but I think its ridiculous to abuse them like people have done here.

    Also, the idea that someone in England would write an article about five Chinese people spitting constantly in the street (which is definitely considered rude, inconsiderate and gross in England) or standing on the wrong side of the escalator (there are signs to tell you not to do this) is unthinkable even in a local newspaper that are known for their non-stories. So it definitely says something about Korea that this was even published, nevermind got as wide an audience as it did.

  93. In the USA, even I have not seen something this stupid. Trust me man, Americans do not do this typically. This is unusual even for America and it is rude and annoying to us as well. If immature kids act this way people would be very annoyed on the bus.

    Also, please do not be politically correct and bring up "race relations" you Koreans have absolutely no understanding of such as how "people of color" are treated in the USA. You really have no reason or right to talk about it as if "white people are always racist." You don't really know the history or the truth of who is truly racist and who is just being a liberal, politically correct fascist. If you want to know the truth it is very well plausible that "black people looted" an "white people found food." The truth is sometimes ugly. Huffington Post is a biased liberal news source and does not post factually accurate news pieces very often.


To prevent spam comments, comments left on posts older than 60 days are subject to moderation and will not appear immediately.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...