Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Things I'd Forgotten About South Korea

Dear South Korea

I used to live and work in Seoul. It was fun but time moved on and so did I. I'm in Japan now (no offence, don't take it personally) and last week I took a trip back to Seoul for a few days. It made me realise that there were things I'd forgotten about you. A few things actually.

I'd forgotten how quickly i get drunk drinking soju.

I'd forgotten about your old men in shiny shirts and shinier shoes standing around sucking on cigarettes and looking uncomfortable.

I'd forgotten about your perma-permed old ladies who have a Jeckyl and Hyde approach to dealing with the world. They sway between kind, smiley, helpful people to manic, cackling aggressive balls of wrinkles and flower print clothing. They don't seem to have a mid point.

I'd forgotten about your food. I don't mean the combinations of meats, vegetables, spices and sauces that is often carefully selected and occasionally perhaps chosen at random but I'd forgotten what your food does to me. Specifically, my digestive system. Your food doesn't seem to stay in me for very long. Essentially, it's always in transit. I'm hopeful that my body takes some nutritious elements from your food but as far as I can make out all it seems to do is repackage it into a much less appetising, slightly more agricultural version of itself. Which brings to my next point.

I'd forgotten that a lot of your bathrooms locate a large mirror above the toilet. I'm not sure when in your history your people deemed it necessary to be able to view themselves wiping their own arsehole but I'd be surprised if the demand for such a thing still exists. Maybe you can ask around.

I'd forgotten about your traffic in Seoul. It's a heinous mess. Have you considered taking it to a UN Court and charging it with Crimes Against Humanity? I'm pretty sure there's no legal precedent but it may be an option worth pursuing, if only for your own sanity.

I'd forgotten about the guys who deliver stuff on motorbikes. I have no idea what they deliver or why there is such a reckless urgency to deliver it. They seem to exist within rules, traffic laws and dress codes known only to themselves. I suspect they may have actually evolved into a different species.

I'd forgotten about the misappropriation of English swear words that adorn your various items of clothing. Last week on the Seoul metro I saw a girl with a flowery baseball cap that said, "F**kin' problems". There was also a man with a t-shirt that invited me to "Come to fuckdom". It was a tempting offer but I think it may be better if your burgeoning English language teaching system sticks a small chapter in the back of a textbook or three titled "Words You Should Avoid Putting on Clothing Unless You Want to Look Like Life-sized Youtube Comments". Also, I'm sure you've already been told this but when naming a business it might be useful to remember that not all English nouns can be used as verbs.

I think that's about it. I apologise if I sound quite negative but that's because it's easy to forget the minor entertaining annoyances and to remember the good things and the fun times.

Anyway, thanks for a nice little trip. Hopefully we'll meet up again soon.


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