Beyond Comprehensible

Today’s one of those days when Korean inexplicability just leaps up and smacks one in the face.

I won’t get into the details but several ridiculous spats have broken out among a few people here, over things that make no sense. People who are doing a very good job are being penalized for personal reasons, comments have gotten back to me that have made me see certain peoples’ bigotries and two-facedness clearly, and best of all, there’s not much I can do about it except just privately support the individuals who I think are doing a good job. I will say that all of the Teaching Assistants are, in my opinion, doing wonderful work, and claims to the contrary are absolutely ridiculous. Especially claims from people with the smell of beer on their breath.

Meanwhile, I am beginning to think that, despite all of its comforting and wonderful and salutary aspects, the hyperhierarchized nature of Korean society at present (where, I’m told, age-hierarchy-awareness is much more than it was in other times in Korean history) has bad effects that make it as irredeemable as the insanity of victim/individualism culture and its legacy of social irresponsbility in the West. Everything must be put into a hierarchy, and their hierarchies are often so galling that no criticism, no excellence, no difference at all is tolerable. So people are scared to speak English on their cell phones while on a bus; so a criticism is couched in fakely-expressed concern for one’s junior’s future, and supported by implication of one’s junior’s inexperience and ignorance; so children get angry at a teacher who happens to be able to speak Korean a little too well, well enough to make the kid slot the teacher’s “second-language ability” higher in the linguistic pecking order, so that the kid tells the teacher that his knowing Korean is bad.

Or maybe I’m just grumpy because the damnable gwallishil ajeoshi (security guard) shut off the air conditioner again, inexplicably, and left it off for half of my lunch break? These guys wield too much control, just because they have keys. An alien would think they’re more important to the functioning of a University than teachers and students, that their whim rates above class schedules or educational objectives. (Whereas we all know that the top of that hierarchy is actually money.) The other day the gwallishil ajeoshi actually barged in on a guest in one of the teacher’s rooms! The guest, who was the teacher’s pregnant wife, was relaxing in the bed in her underwear and the ajeoshi’s knock was followed by immediate entry into the room. What the hell is the ajeoshi doing barging into occupied rooms? And of course, when told about it, the admin people did nothing; they seemed to think it was normal to have a security guy barging in on one’s dorm room.

But of course, they aren’t staying in the dorms. I suppose if anything’s to be done about it, we teachers shall have to do something, even if it’s just telling the guy NOT to come into our rooms to close the windows when it rains. (Which, being an overpowered old bastard with control of the building’s keys, the ajeoshi will probably just disregard. Or maybe, he’ll even turn off the air conditioning for a day to punish us.)

The Gwallishil Ajeoshis need to be put in their place. They’re obsolete, useless gossiping fishwife men who do nothing but sit in a room watching people’s comings and goings. I swear, if another gwallishil ajeoshi pulls a power trip on me again I’m going to tell him off. Even though it does one better to grovel, and beg, or even just to slowly and persistently insist on getting one’s way, I’m getting sick of asking these old know-nothings to please do what they, by rights, ought simply to do without any hassle or fuss.

I swear, the next Gwallishil Ajeoshi who screws with me will get an earful.

Hmmmm. Maybe I just miss Lime. Sigh.

One thought on “Beyond Comprehensible

  1. All my empathy. I’ve been going through many of the same gut-wrenching “What the f*&% does *this* have to do with *that*?” reaction to Korea and Korean rank/office politics lately. Sigh. At least you have AC to turn off…look at it that way.

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