Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years

Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years: Version 2.0!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Don't Get Involved!

I was reading this post when I remembered one freaky thing that happened to me shortly after the birth of my first daughter.  First, some preamble:

Generally, if you see some freaky shit going on between two Koreans, the conventional wisdom is to walk away.  As a Waeg, you don't stand a chance if things escalate.  I've heard enough stories of Waegs getting in between a dispute, and when the cops come the Waeg ends up being the one hauled off the cop shop for interrogation / fining.


Same goes if you get into a fight: no matter who started it, the Waeg is generally the one who gets the shit end of the stick.  From personal experience, I can say this is true, but we'll save that story for another day.

This particular story happened at the first apartment my family lived in: it was a government owned building and was quite cheap; most of the people who lived there were lower middle class or retired people who had given most of their assets to their kids.

Our neighbor was a taxi driver, married with two boys.  My eldest had just been born, and like most in that situation, my night's sleep was generally broken 2-3 times for feeding.  This would have been fine if the taxi driver hadn't been a shit heel soju head who came home 3-4 times a week at 3:00 completely shit faced.  He'd often decide it was quite sporting to thrash his wife for some perceived slight, like the fact that the dishes had been left to dry on the rack, which he proceeded to throw onto the floor and at the walls.  He'd beat his wife while his two sons probably cowered in their room; he rarely took his disatisfaction with being a taxi driver from Inje out on his kids, thank fuck, but after about a month of this I just totally lost it.

Now, it is good advice to just not get involved, and you'll see this by the end of my story.  I didn't give a fuck at that point.  Pots slamming into walls, crying ajumma, crying baby, working on 2 hours sleep, needing to get up at 6 and go to work. . . . a fellow can only take so much of that.  I grabbed a short handled broom from the closet next to the door and stormed over to their apartment.

Once there I started screaming a mix of Korean and English profanities while slamming that wooden broom on their door: "Cmon motherfucker, you wanna slap someone around cmon out here I got something for ya" "Shippal gaesekki nom!  Nimi shipal pet pojida! Fuck you!" (My swearing has much improved since then, I assure you).

He didn't open the door, thankfully, cuz I woulda smashed his head in.  Things got reaaaaalll quiet after that.

A couple of days later the wife comes over and tells that the husband left, and that they were getting divorced.  She wanted to apologize for us having to endure what we had for so long.  She brought over some great food and all the wedding silver she had received.  She said she wanted us to have it because we had been the only people who had stood up to help.  Apparently she had tried the police and other agencies to no avail.  But now, she was free.  I was kinda shocked and embarrassed, but hey the silver candlesticks were pretty nice.  More than a few times I'd invite the boys over to play Playstation 2 and eat hamburgers or chicken.  It was fun.

Fast forward five months.  The husband finally comes back.  He took over the place while wife and 2 sons went to live in Seoul.  He wouldn't look directly at me, just glare at my back or at me sideways.  For the first month, he proceeds to have weekly parties with soju, whores and taxi buddies until 3, but usually fairly low key.  Then the parties started getting sloppier, and the eldest son came back to live with dad.  This was when things started gettin sketchy.

I had 2 flat tires one morning.  Every day someone would piss in the elevator.  The taxiwank started glaring at me directly, and started telling his son to not talk to me.  Then someone started writing racial epitaphs on the wall outside our apartment: Foreign bastards ruin our country!  Foreign Fuckers destroy our culture.  Well if your culture is about it being ok to throw pots and pans around and beat your wife at three in the morning on a regular basis, uh yeah, I got a problem with that.  Then someone left a nice pile of shit outside my door.  Some of the local kids who hung around with the taxiwank's son also started openly mocking the F5sponseree and me.  So we decided to move.

It was time to get a new place anyway, but I can't help but think about that kid: he just may end up growing up to be a carbon copy shitheel of his dad.  Despite the good times we had, dad poisoned him, since I was pretty sure the dad was getting the son to do at least some of that stuff.  So I helped spawn another little hater.

So don't get involved?  I can only hope mom and the younger boy are having an ok go of it.  I did get lucky on that one: he didn't open the door, the cops didn't come, my family wasn't hurt, nor was I.  It could have been bad.  I don't regret what I did.  And I still have the silver candlesticks.  They look great in my office.

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