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To the Ajeoshi Who Wanted to Fight With Me Near the Exit at Yongsan Station When I was Walking to Emart to Buy Sour Cream and Tinned Tomatoes, Or, How It Feels Sometimes Living Here

Dear drunken psychotic moron bastard,

I’m sorry I couldn’t beat the living crap out of you. The problem is, I suspect that you’d be let off scott-free, while I’d be spending a week in deportation jail before being sent unceremoniously to Canada.

I’m not sorry that I didn’t wave back at you. I do regret that you found it so offensive that I didn’t wave back at you when you waved at me with a snide look on your face and a plume of smoke searing from your mouth.

But you see, contrary to what you think, I am not a trained monkey. I am a human being, and whether I wave back at you or not is my choice. Perhaps you’re not accustomed to this idea. Perhaps your age and status as an apparent businessman — a manager, I’d guess, from your attire — allows you to push around the Koreans you deal with on a daily basis. Or maybe you’re just a raging bastard looking for a reason to start a fight. But if you think carefully, you’ll notice that my demeanour and behaviour was not at all unlike the dozens of Korean people who walked past you in the minutes preceding and following my passage in your vicinity. The only difference is, you saw a white face, and demanded it respond to you as if you were the Head of the Heavenly Bureaucracy. But you see, you’re just a drunken middle-aged man of no particular importance to me, and so I walked past you without response — as is my right. If you cannot handle a Westerner walking past you without giving you some kind of interactive, personalized response to your presence, I submit that you have a mental illness of some kind and that you need help. These kinds of illnesses tend to worsen, and with a more foolhardy Westerner, your skinny ass will end up busted into pieces, so I really think you’d better get some help and sort out the mess inside your numb skull.

I’m also not particularly sorry for the harsh language I used on you. You probably don’t recall, being that you’re a drunken psychotic moron bastard, but I only used words on you that you used on me. I’m sure you only remember me cursing at you — you’re older, so how can you do wrong? — but the exchange actually went like this [in Korean, so I’m translating as best I can]:

Drunken Psychotic Moron Bastard: (Waves with snide expression, blowing smoke my way)

Me: (Ignores drunk stranger waving his hand in a bizarre fashion, staring snidely, and blowing smoke; walks directly toward escalator)

Drunken Psychotic Moron Bastard: “HEY YOU!” (Loudly enough to make whole platform turn and stare.)

Me: What? (Called back over shoulder; continues walking away.)

Drunken Psychotic Moron Bastard: Fuck you! (Advances angrily, fists clenched.)

Me: Are you crazy? (Keeps walking hurriedly.)

Drunken Psychotic Moron Bastard: You son of a bitch! Fuck you!

Me: No, you’re a son of a bitch! (Hurries onto down escalator, to avoid being pounced from behind and forced to defend himself, and then being charged with the crime of defending oneself against a violent, drunken psychotic moron bastard who happens to be a Korean in a bad mood.)

Drunken Psychotic Moron Bastard: (Incoherent yelling.)

Me: (Continues down the escalator, looking over his shoulder to see if the Drunken Psychotic Moron Bastard is really bent on hitting a white person today. Sighs with relief because the Drunken Psychotic Moron Bastard seems to have been distracted by some other attraction, perhaps a teenaged girl in a miniskirt, or another innocent-looking Westerner, or perhaps he has begun to beat a woman who bore a passing resemblance to his wife..)

The thing I do regret is that the law is so lax. A Drunken Psychotic Moron Bastard like you can get liquored up, and do what he pleases, and anyone you decide is your enemy for the moment has only one recourse: to flee. If you hit me, what can I do? If you prick me, I bleed, but it’s not the same “pure” blood as yours, according to your ostensible education, so I suppose it barely counts as human blood to you.

Not that I want to hit you. Wait, no, I did want to hit you — just as badly as you wanted to hit me. Maybe more. If you were a drunken bastard in Canada who attacked me, I probably wouldn’t have fled as I did today. I probably would have hit you. I’ve never started a fight, never been in one since middle school, but I think I might just have beaten you up, just for being such a mannerless, uncivilized piece of crap. I’d probably have let you get in one punch, and then clubbed you flat to the ground in a minute or two and walked off, secure in the knowledge that I was defending myself as is my right… and in the knowledge that I have more options than just to flee any asshole who decides he wants to attack me. And don’t doubt that I could do it. You were small, and slow, and somewhat older than me. And I was mad. I was a big, mad guy at that moment. I could have hurt you badly, if you had forced me into it. Badly.

But you and I both know that here, I can’t. Which is why you shouted at me as you did, and threatened me, for no reason except I walked past you as if you were — no, because you are — insignificant.

The law as it is practiced here doesn’t assert my right to move freely — not if you decide to constrain it by assaulting me verbally or physically. That probably works well enough when you don’t have racist pathology in the mix — you’re unlikely to provoke fights with people you consider your “own kind.” But you’re the kind of Drunken Psychotic Moron Bastard who sees a face of another colour and gets his fists balled up quick. You wave, knowing that you’ll have an excuse to be furious if the non-Korean acts like a normal person, ie. doesn’t stop and give you his or her full attention.

If it makes you feel any more special, I couldn’t get you off my mind when I was looking for sour cream, or when I was in the lineup, waiting for you to drag your drunken, sorry ass up behind me at smash a soju bottle over my head. I thought of you all the way home, as I pondered on how often you behave this way, and for how long you’ve gotten away with it, and why I should have to hurry away from you instead of teaching you the manners your mother never got around to teaching you.

But you’re not that special. I won’t let you define my experience of today. I spent hours afterward speaking with bright, intelligent young people, and I think the best way I can respond is that your kind — the racist, old, ignorant frogs-in-a-well — are losing the war. The battle, for the moment, may be yours — by virtue (or vice?) of your age — but the earth is shifting massively beneath your feet. Your society is changing so fast you’re going to need a neckbrace just to watch it go. You’re already so damned future-shocked that you can only get drunk and rail… and it’s not going to get any easier, Mr. Drunken Psychotic Moron Bastard.

Have a nice ride into oblivion, irrelevance, and total cluelessness. Or, rather, even deeper into their depths. And Merry Christmas, you friendless sack of crap.


Gord Sellar

PS: My marinara sauce and calzones (with homemade faux-ricotta) turned out lovely (thanks to various posts by Charles, like this one), but the cheesecake is going to have to wait a couple of more days. I won’t be thinking of you, dear Drunken Psychotic Moron Bastard, when we enjoy it.

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