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Damned Canadians in Korea

The Marmot’s got a post up about yet another idiot Canadian in Korea.

You know, Americans have a bad rap internationally, and though I wish I could agree with my friend Jessie that Canadians aren’t really as internationally beloved as they like to think they are, I do find a lot of Koreans more positive about Canada and Canadians than they are about the USA and American citizens.

It’s sad, really. When I came over to Korea, I was surprised to find so many Canadians here. At first, I took shared nationality as a kind of sign that, well, I don’t know… I guess I just had a silly instinct that maybe Canadians were nicer than Americans, more culturally respectful and aware, more likely to be educated (since we actually subsidize education).

I was wrong. Time and time again I’ve found that I was wrong. The sad fact is that the majority of the most execrable people I’ve met here—the most ignorant, backwards, closed-minded, rude, intolerant, disrespectful, deceitful, and pernicious foreigners I’ve crossed paths with—have been Canadians.

Canadians stereotypically are worse at pronouncing Korean, as in many of them don’t even make an effort to get the accents on the right syllables or to get the damned vowels right. It’s embarrassing when you’re eating dinner and someone starts demanding “SAM JANG!” where the a is pronounced like it is in “hat”, because that vowel doesn’t even exist in Korean. The a should be pronounced like the vowel in “caught”, which is something that even many relatively nice Canadians seem not to grasp.

If linguistic orneriness were the sum of their faults, I could overlook them, as I do among my Korean friends. But unfortunately, there is much more to it than that. Many of the Canadians who end up here wind up being the eternal Fratboy. You know the type: working a relatively well-paying job, often while inebriated; breaking laws in public businessplaces (say, bringing liquor into unlicensed spaces, and then gambling… in a coffeeshop, during the afternoon no less, and then refusing to leave when asked politely) and then implying that the reason you were forced to leave was because of racism; and even just that endless incessant fratboy commentary on every Korean woman who walks past, like young boys on the eve of their paid-for sexual awakening. When I say Eternal Fratboy, I don’t mean that there’s an endless supply of them, but that they remain this way as long as they remain in the country, which it seems can be years and years.

Sure, there are American teachers who behave this way. Australians, too: an ex-girlfriend of mine was stalked by a mentally unstable Australian, in fact. I’ve met a few Kiwis I didn’t like, and even the odd Brit is unsavory. But is it sheer numbers that has provided me with so many unlikeable Canadians?

I don’t know. I do know that I have a number of American friends who are just as appalled as I am at my countrymen.

Sure, it’s a case-by-case basis. I’m doing that knee-jerk reaction that so often I complain about Koreans doing with regard to foreigners in general—seeing one dirty foreigner and thinking all foreigners are dirty people, for example—but I have to say that, if I don’t avoid Canadians here, neither do I have any special affection for them, not until they show themselves to be sane, stable, and interesting adults.

And yes, I know, my examples seem limited to Canadian men. I only know a few Canadian women here, like maybe three, so I don’t feel qualified to generalize at all.

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