I’m on the KTX from Busan to Seoul now. The train actually offers an Internet connection for a flat rate of W1000 (a little less than a dollar US)… if you’re a Korean citizen running Internet Explorer on Windows, that is. Foreigners running Linux will have to have a dual boot and a Korean girlfriend to log them in. Yay for the Hub of Asia, I’m sure the whole Pacific Rim is just waiting eagerly to be denied basic access to most things!
Not to mention drunken guys in suits on trains. Now, it’s one thing when you encounter a belligerent drunk on the sidewalk; you can walk around him, move along, ignore him. But when some idiot decides he’ll get soused on soju and then get on a train, there’s no escape. Thank goodness we weren’t near him, but even a quarter-train away, we could hear the guy swearing, slurring his way through moronic conversation with his apologetic, non-drunken friend, shouting at anyone who asked him to quieten down. He apologized every time he saw a (male) KTX staff member, but kept at it anyway. It was really reminiscent of the behaviour of a child.
Eventually, someone decided he would be removed from the train. This was fully two hours after we left Busan, at Cheonan station. And would you believe, thoughthere were several male staff members, not one of them was visible when the guy was told he’d have to get up and get off the train. Nope, they sent the train hostess to convince him to get up and go down the aisle. The drunk tottered his way down the aisle, almost falling on people, and I raised my arm to block him in case he was about to fall on me, Lime, and my computer.
I was impressed that the guy was, finally, ejected from the train — after all, the staff could have just kept on dropping in and nicely, politely asking the guy to STFU — but at the same time, it’s pathetic that it took two full hours to get around to doing it. I’m sure it’s not the first time that a drunk moron got on the train and annoyed the crap out of everyone else in his car. Maybe they should have a drunk tank in the last car, or maybe they should just have a protocol for ejecting antisocial idiots? It reminds me of Michael’s post, from long ago, that ajeoshis ruin everytyhing. Surely I don’t need to explain why this is unfair to the dozens of nice ajeoshis I’ve met, but I will anyway; not all ajeoshis ruin everything. It’s just that while I’ve lived here, when someone has gone ahead and ruined everything, that someone has almost always been an ajeoshi, and rather often a drunken one. If you ran a betting pool about whom one is likeliest to be assaulted, attacked, badmouthed, spat upon, lied to by, everyone — including lots of non-ajeoshi Koreans — would put their chips on the “ajeoshi.”
We’re at Gwangmeong now, and I am wondering why the TV is showing mating insects and flashing cute little red hearts onscreen. It’s a bit disturbing.
By the way, Haeinsa was alright — though I’ll have more to say about that temple soon — and Busan was lovely on Friday. Saturday was rainy, but Jagalchi market — where Lime really wanted to go — was alright. More news, but none of it now. The train’s only a few minutes away, and
I want to post on Haeinsa before we arrive.
UPDATE: (I didn’t manage that post I wanted to get in before the train arrived, but I will add one little point I wanted to highlight: my issue here is not so much the public drunkenness, though it is more common in Korea than in the West, and doubtless causes many problems — I’ve almost been attacked by drunk ajeoshis for no reason enough times to feel I can say that without any reservation — but the real problem is how the actions of drunks are not dealt with. Some might say that tolerating unacceptable behaviouris a way of dealing with it, but in fact, it’s manifestly a way of not dealing with it. The fact this guy was allowed to stay on the train for two hours, shouting, cussing at nearby passengers, and causing a disturbance — let alone the fact he was allowed to board the train drunk out of his skull at all, and let alone the fact that his buddy didn’t think anything of taking a staggering drunk and a bad drunk on a long train ride — and the fact that, in the end, a thin little woman was sent to urge and plead with him to leave — rather than a big guy being sent to hoist him up and remove him from the train, after minutes of refusal — is a powerful sign of how unwilling people were to deal with the situation. Yes, they finally did boot him off, but that was about two hours too late, and quite a few dollars short.)