Monday, December 8, 2008

The Foreigner Treatment

Now that I have settled in and things are becoming routine I've started to notice a few things. One of these things is what I call the foreigner treatment. It's hard to notice at first, but over time you generally start to realize that as a foreigner in Korea you are definitely treated differently then a Korean. There are several ways to help explain this phenomenon but I believe using direct examples is the best way.

First and foremost Koreans actually can be quite rude when you're using something at a bar. Take for example a pool table or a dart board. Now, I'm all for sharing and taking turns, what teacher isn't. Yet, I find this beginning to happen more and more. I will be in the middle of my first game of pool, or I will be playing darts with my friends and a bartender will walk up to me and tell me that other people are waiting for the table or for the board. Now this means we get to finish out our game and then vacate the machine. No problem with this. What bothers me is when they think that we are taking to long so they send the bartender or whoever speaks English five times during the course of our game. Yes, the people may have been a little impatient, but still a game takes until it is finished, and we're not even talking about using it for extra long. Now what's most important here, is that they expect us to limit ourselves to one game, however, when they get the table or machine they often will play three or four. That is what I call the foreigner treatment.

Another example would actually be this woman who took my cab. Drew and I had been waiting for about seven minutes to get a cab. Finally one starts coming down the road. Now I've already got my hand up, but this woman simply walks across the street and flags the cab down ten feet before us. I mean seriously my arm was already up flagging this guy. Luckily there was another cab two seconds behind it, but still it was rude. Once again the foreigner treatment. Had I been Korean she would not have done that. Now, it may seem like I'm just making a big deal out something that isn't that big, but still it does bother me.

I've never truly felt discriminated against, but I'm starting to get there. Another thing that helps is that I pal around with TC. TC is a Pakistani, Canadian, American who looks Pakistani. Simply put Koreans are somewhat racist. There is a definite hierarchy of races in this country. Luckily as a white person I rank second. However, TC being brown ranks him just above the bottom. This means that when we are out, Koreans are a lot more willing to be rude to him, and then subsequently rude to me. Now I do realize that I am talking very generally about things, and probably making several leaps in my theories but the simple truth is I know what I see.

I have one last piece of evidence to offer in support. This has more to do with Korean male insecurity, and the dreadful state of feminism in this country. Yeah, yeah, yah. I know I should be the last one to talk about feminism, but simply put this country could definitely need a massive infusion. Behind the bars in Korea now a days are mostly younger women. These women range from 19-35. There job is to not only serve drinks, but to also talk to and interact with the customers. Well, at several bars in the Seosan area I am a regular. This means also that I am rather good friends with many of the bartenders. I actually have several of their phone numbers.

Now what normally happens is I will be at a bar having some drink and talking to the bartenders. A rather drunk Korean man, or several will enter the bar and sit down. After placing their orders and sitting for a few moments, they will many times become very angry with the bartenders. They do because I am a foreigner and the girls are ignoring the Koreans to talk to me. Well, let's rephrase that, they're not ignoring them, they're just not paying attention to them. Seriously I have had several Korean men start barking orders at the bartenders. I've actually gotten very offended by this treatment several times. The worst part is that the girls actually go over and then pay attention to this guy. Ugh. Feminism please come to this country in massive amounts. I'd rather deal with militant feminists then practically subjugated women. At least then, the men in this country would have to start treating their women better. That's another story for another blog though. If I'm not careful I'll turn this into a really long post. Alas that is my diatribe on the Foreigner Treatment.

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