Just say no

drama

I have worked diligently and for the most part successfully at avoiding being sucked into the drama that seems to occur with a fair amount of frequency in the Itaewon bar scene.  I’ve witnessed my fair share this trip but have maintained my innocent bystander status.  With just a couple of weeks remaining in this iteration of my Korea life I figured I was home free.

So I was distressed to get a text message from one of the guys in the Columbia dart league telling me he had been banned from our home bar because the owner didn’t like his “attitude”.  I also got a simultaneous email from the bar owner telling me his side of the story*.   I’m not going to get in the middle of this fight either, although it does not bode well for the future of the fledgling dart scene I worked so hard to build in Columbia.  Ah well.

I just wish people could get along, which I guess requires overlooking annoying quirks or the occasional untoward comment.  I’ve noted that alcohol rarely brings out the best aspects of one’s personality, but taking offense at every transgression isn’t worth the hassle.  Shut up and throw darts for god’s sake.

*This isn’t the first time Dirk has 86′d a dart league member.  He’s basically got a zero tolerance for anyone who does not comport to his standards of expected behavior.  It’s his bar and his right to do as he pleases, although I would likely handle things differently.  Regular customers spending money in your bar on a regular basis is kind of important to the bottom line I reckon.

There is a difference…

…between racism and ignorance.  Granted, I suppose it would be fair to say that racists are by definition ignorant.  But of course, you can also be ignorant without being racist.

The expat pages on Facebook have been on fire this week regarding the ill-conceived effort of an Itaewon pub to stop the spread of the Ebola virus by, wait for it, banning Africans from the bar.

ignorance

The story has since been picked up by traditional media like the Korea Times.  Heck, I even saw that the Drudge Report had a (non-working) link to the story this morning.  Anyway, the bar has posted some apologetic signage, but I imagine the damage is done.

ignorance2

So, was this a case of ignorance, racism, or both?  I’ve been to JR Pub a couple of times, although it’s been a few years now since I’ve ventured inside.  I was there for their grand opening way back when and I was surprised and disappointed that the bar staff uniform included a Che Guevara t-shirt something like this:

ignorance3

Which is kind of ironic, because in addition to being a mass murderer, Che was also a racist.  At the time I asked one of the servers if she had any idea of who the guy on the shirt she was wearing was, but of course she was without a clue.  I briefly mentioned some of his more depraved acts but only got a shrug in response.  I noticed a few months later that the uniforms had been changed to something less offensive, but you know the old saw about only getting one chance to make a first impression. Anyway, I don’t really know the owner having only met him briefly on a couple of occasions.  Friends of mine who know him better say he’s a great and generous guy.  And he did post what appears to be a sincere apology in one of the Facebook forums:

Firstly, I would like to specifically apologize to Africans of all nations and to the people and families who are dealing with the ebola disease. An insensitive message was directed towards you in JR Pub, a restaurant that I co-own with a Korean National, and it is something that I will not tolerate.

To everyone else, I would like to personally apologize for the posting of the racist and discriminatory sign. Anyone who knows me, knows that the sign is not representative of who I am and is not reflective of the services that we provide; no matter the race, color, creed, or sexual orientation, we value all of our customers.

I must admit, that bridging the cultural gap between Korean and international cultures has been, and continue to be, a challenge for us. When we get it right, our service stands above and beyond. Unfortunately in this instance, it was completely wrong in every way, and we take full responsibility for it.

Ironically, the night before this incident, we hosted a distinguished visitor from an African nation. The majority of his party of 80, were from African nations and we were honored to serve them.

Once my partner realized that his actions were offensive and highly insensitive, we discussed how we would like to make amends:

1. The first was to immediately remove the offensive sign and the policy associated with it.
2. The drafting of this letter of apology.
3. Conduct cultural and sensitivity training for my partner and staff.
4. Organize a fund raiser to assist in research of Ebloa and/or for assistance to the African communities plagued by the disease.

We would like to reach out to our concerned customers and community members for assistance in #4. We welcome ideas on helping us find the best way forward.

Again, for me and on behalf of my partner and staff at JR Pub, we sincerely apologize and are committed to mending the damage that we have caused.

Respectfully,
Troy Armado
Co-Owner JR Pub

Ah, so it was his Korean partner who was responsible for the ignorance on display.  Go figure.  I remember when I first came to Korea I was astounded to see signs posted at several bars saying “No Nigerians Allowed”.  And of course, foreigners on occasion find this kind of “welcome” awaiting them:

ignorance4

Racism or ignorance?  Who knows.  Heh, reminds me of story where the teacher says “McCrarey, are you really that ignorant or are you just apathetic?”  To which I responded “I don’t know and I don’t care!”  (I think that’s a joke, but having told it so often over the years it’s starting to seem like it really happened.)

Whatever the motivation for this sorry state of affairs, I think it is a fair observation that if ignorance truly is bliss, then planet Earth must be the happiest damn place in the universe.

 

 

Fumay la bush!

Why can’t American commercials be this funny?

It’s a Dutch commercial, but I found it posted in French.  Hence my attempt at humor with a phonetic rendering of the only French I know in the title of this post.

Speaking of the French, President Obama was in for some criticism this week:

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has a message about Iraq for Barack Obama: Get back to the White House and do something.

“I know it is the holiday period in our Western countries,” Fabius told a radio interviewer Tuesday in France, “but when people are dying, you must come back from vacation.”

As one wag put it “who thought we’d see the day when the French would criticize the Americans for taking too much vacation.”

Therein lies the difference

The drunks who frequent the park downstairs from my apartment are a noisy and irksome bunch.  Regularly keeping me awake late into the night and/or waking me up at the crack of dawn with their rantings and ravings.  Signs are posted all over the park prohibiting drinking but I’ve never seen that enforced.  Until tonight.

The intensity of the shouting reached an unusually high fevered pitch so I stepped out on the veranda overlooking the park to see what was going on and I arrived just in time to observe one of the drunk ajusshi’s give one of Korea’s finest a violent shove.  The cop shoved him back and said what I assume was the Korean equivalent of “settle down!”.  Now, in my observations over the years I’ve found Korean cops to be exceedingly tolerant when dealing with disgruntled citizens.  Had the drunk guy backed off I doubt he’d have suffered any consequences for assaulting an officer of the law.  Instead, he charged the cop again and the fight was on!  The cop quickly got the upper hand and was wrestling the ajusshi to the ground.  Another cop came into view at this point and as he attempted to assist his partner, a second drunk guy jumped him from behind.  All hell pretty much broke out at the point.

It appeared there were six cops versus three drunks (several other drunks were milling about but limited themselves to verbal tirades) and in short order the police had subdued the offenders and had them in handcuffs.  But what really stood out for me was the restraint the officers showed in the face of physical violence.  No billy clubs, no pepper spray, no punches–they just put them on the ground and slapped on the cuffs.

Now, of course this brought to mind the unfortunate situation in Ferguson, MO.  I don’t know what happened other than what I’ve read and I’m not passing judgement.  But in general I’ve been concerned about the growing militarization of our local PD’s.  It seems more and more the police do not see citizens as a community to be served but rather as an enemy to be subdued.  I don’t think that bodes well for anyone.

Granted, the police have a difficult and dangerous job and we obviously owe them a fair amount of discretion when it comes to protecting themselves.  But it seems all too frequently I’m seeing stuff like this woman being beaten mercilessly for having the audacity of walking on the shoulder of the freeway.  “Hey lady, what you are doing is dangerous and against the law.  Let me punch your face in.”

Handcuffed and sitting on the curb are you?  Well, a swift kick to the head seems to be in order then...

Handcuffed and sitting on the curb are you? Well, a swift kick to the head seems to be in order then…

Anyway, I think the Korean cops take more shit than they deserve, and American cops dish out more shit than is normally warranted.  I would think there’s a middle ground to be found between these extremes.  But of the two I’d say the Korean cops got the job done and everyone lived to see another day.

And now the park is quiet.  I think I’ll take advantage of that and get me some sleep.

UPDATE:  And yes, for every story of police misconduct there are probably 100 like this.

 

 

 

 

B and B

bistecca

Saturday night we dined at Bistecca, an Italian restaurant featuring beef and seafood in the Buk-gu section of Itaewon (up the road and to the right of Noksapyeong station).  It was by far the fanciest place I’ve eaten at in many a year.  Also the most expensive.  We were there through the generosity of my old friend Dennis, and dinner for four came in at over $400.  I guess that may have been over generous in retrospect.

The food was nothing short of outstanding, if not quite worth the price.  I went with a dinner set (appetizer, soup, entree, and dessert) featuring a rib-eye steak for $88.  The steak, although smallish by American standards, was melt-in-your-mouth delicious.  I ordered mine medium on the hunch that it would come out the way I like it, which is medium rare.  I was proven correct and was glad I didn’t order medium rare otherwise it would have still been mooing on my plate.  The dessert was a healthy portion of tiramisu which was quite tasty indeed.

Jee Yeun went with a seafood pasta (about the cheapest item on the menu at $26, bless her heart) and professed it to be wonderful.

Dennis and Julie shared the seafood platter for two at $120.  It was also outstanding.

Dennis and Julie shared the seafood platter for two at $120. It was also outstanding.

I took a break from dining for some “fresh air” midway through the meal.  The valet parking dude was standing nearby so I gave him a friendly head nod.  He responded by putting his hand on his belly, pointed at mine, and shook his head disgustedly.  I took that to me he didn’t like my shirt.  Or maybe Buddha.

After dinner we did some norebang and then some street-side coffee and people watching.  It was a good evening, although I did have to stand on the subway all the way from Samgakji to Gireum station.  That’s Saturday night in the big city I suppose.

Yesterday we broke our summer hiatus from mountain climbing and ventured up Bukhansan.  I sweated like an out-of-shape race horse and was soaked by the time we reached the summit.  I was soaked by a steady rain all the way down, which was pleasantly cooling although it made the rocks perilously slippery.  Arrived home safe and sound though and Jee Yeun was pleased that I had gotten off my lazy ass and did something for a change.

Tonight I’ll add another B by drinking some beer at the BnB bar with my buddy Tom.  And that brings you up to speed on my so-called life.

Rush in…

…and grab the cash!

I had the good fortune to draw the lovely Russian lass Natasha as my partner in the Dolce Vita blind draw last night.  We took us home some first place money...

I had the good fortune to draw the lovely Russian lass Natasha as my partner in the Dolce Vita blind draw last night. We took us home some first place money…

But wait, there’s more!  My ticket got drawn for the trip shoot and I proceeded to hit a triple 4 which made me W114,000 richer.

In unrelated news, I installed a second bathroom in our small apartment.

Although, technically it's more of a urinal...

Although, technically it’s more of a urinal…

Dungeons and Dragons

The dungeon otherwise known as Friends Bar...

The dungeon otherwise known as Friends Bar…

I reckon it’s time to once again accommodate Thirsty’s request for regular dart league updates.  Last night my team (The Dillinger’s Dartitis Quarintine) played the boys from Friends Bar.  This bar is not my favorite venue by a long shot.  I wrote a review of the joint way back in 2009 and suffice to say things have not improved.  It’s dirty, dark, and dank.  And they don’t serve draft beer.  So I settled for large bottles of OB at W5000 a pop.  To be fair though, the boards were in excellent condition and the lighting of said boards was also better than I remember.  And the bartender was friendly, efficient, and well-decorated.

The "dragon" in the dungeon.  Don't recall her name, but she is the sister of the waitress at Dillinger's.  I'm not much for tattoos, but I'll admit her ink was excellent.

The “dragon” in the dungeon. Don’t recall her name, but she is the sister of the waitress at Dillinger’s. I’m not much for tattoos, but I’ll admit her ink was excellent.

Our team suffered another ass-kicking, which makes us 0-3 on the season.  I’m playing in the “A” division, but I am not throwing “A” division darts.  I went 0-3 in singles, 2-1 and 1-2 in doubles.  I just can’t seem to hang with the big boys these days, which is frustrating.  Ah well, nothing to do but keep throwing and hope for better results.

On Sunday I attended a surprise birthday party for my buddy Matt (and potential future boss) at Shenanigans.  It actually was a surprise for me because I showed up by chance without an invite.  I felt a little weird about that, but the next day I noticed that I had been sent a message asking me to come.  Anyway, we did an impromptu tourney and I drew Matt as my partner.  We managed a second place finish, but had I thrown even marginally better we could (and should) have won the damn thing.  I couldn’t help but feel I let the birthday boy down.  Ah well.

The party turned out to be quite a bit of fun...

The party turned out to be quite a bit of fun…

Friday night at Dolce Vita I fared a little better, taking a first place with my partner YS.

My eyes were as fuzzy as this photo, so sadly I don't recall many details from the match...

My eyes were as fuzzy as this photo, so sadly I don’t recall many details from the match…

And other than that I guess all I can report is that I’ve been feeling a little moody lately.  In fact, this pretty much sums up my state of mind:

fourmoods

Just gonna roll with the flow for now and see what tomorrow brings.

The Y of the V

A sign of the times

A sign of the times

According to Time magazine, the ubiquitous “V” sign that Asians universally flash whenever they are photographed is all about a fallen American figure skater.

I remain unconvinced.  Plus, I’m doing it wrong.

UPDATE: Commenter Kevin notes that my “V” style is more apropos to the traditional British fuck you.

Fook you, ya damn Yankee wanker...

Fook you, ya damn Yankee wanker…

The origins of which are well known:

Winston Churchill famously telling Hitler to fuck off...

Winston Churchill famously telling Hitler to fuck off…

 

Regarding religion

So, I’ve found myself thinking about religion of late.  Not in terms of getting me some, just in general.  Which is to say I’m not exactly sure where these thoughts are taking me, but bear with me and we’ll muddle through together, okay?

Now, I was pretty much raised in the protestant tradition, at least to the extent that my grandmother dutifully took us to Sunday school every week.  I even played steel guitar in a little church band that toured the western states when I was 12.  At around 15 or 16 though I entered my rebellious phase and pretty much came to the conclusion that organized religion was all bullshit.  I certainly want no part of the Old Testament vengeful and jealous God, nor do I believe the stories of the virgin birth and resurrection.  Which I guess means that I ain’t much of a Christian.

Having said that, I do try very hard to be respectful of the religious beliefs of others.  I have a couple of Facebook “friends” (meaning people I’ve never actually met in real life) who constantly mock people of faith (usually Christians since they don’t have the balls to publicly criticize Muslims).  They are as strident in their atheist beliefs as any other religious zealot I have encountered.  In fact, I find their rants every bit as irritating as a knock on the door from a Jehovah’s Witness.

My second ex-wife was a Baptist (the other two ex’s were Catholic and the current wife is Buddhist) and I didn’t object to her taking my young children to church every Sunday.  For awhile I attended with them, but damn, I rarely left church feeling uplifted.  The sermons tended to piss me off as much as anything.  The final straw for me was the Sunday school session where we talked about “free will”.  Which was immediately followed by an entreaty to join in a planned march on the state house in favor of anti-abortion legislation.  I asked the Sunday school teacher how it could be that God gave mankind free will, but the Baptist church wanted to pass laws restricting choice?  I got the old standard reply that it was “a matter of faith”.  Whatever the hell that means.   The epilog to that incident came when the leader of the anti-abortion contingent got pregnant and was told the fetus did not a brain stem.  Yep, she aborted.

So, if I have a problem with religion it’s with the hypocrisy of the adherents.  The stuff people do in the name of God makes me want no part of the God they profess to believe in.  Oddly enough though, I don’t think of myself as an atheist.  I can accept the concept of some intelligence or power manifested in nature and the universe.  It’s just not the God you read about in earthly religious texts.  The closest I ever felt to this “God” was the night I had an epiphany after making love to my Mormon girlfriend.  “God is love” is what I felt in that blessed moment of understanding.  The very next day this woman whom I loved like I’ve loved no other broke up with me.  Which proves I guess that my God has a whacky sense of humor.  Still, I will confess that in times of crisis throughout my life I have found some comfort in prayer.  If that makes me a hypocrite too, so be it.

What prompted me to write about religion now I guess is current events.  Jews killing Palestinians in retaliation of Palestinians killing Jews.  Muslims killing Christians and everyone else who doesn’t adhere to the dogma of that particular sect.  All in the name of the same God of course.  But that is where any moral equivalence ends.  Israel has the right to defend herself.  If Hamas doesn’t like civilian casualties, they should stop trying to kill Israeli civilians.  And what ISIS is currently doing in Iraq (and the Taliban in Afghanistan) is an affront to all humanity.  So, when my liberal friends lament the “war on women” as evidenced by Hobby Lobby not wanting to pay for birth control on religious grounds, I share this photo:

“We have established the brigade to raise awareness of our religion among women, and to punish women who do not abide by the law” --ISIS commander

“We have established the brigade to raise awareness of our religion among women, and to punish women who do not abide by the law” –ISIS commander

Now, I want to accept as fact that of the billion or so Muslims in the world, only a relatively small percentage are of the radical Islamist variety that engages in head chopping, stoning, honor killing, and flying passenger planes into buildings.  But here’s the thing–I never see protests or outrage from these “moderates” regarding the atrocities being done in the name of Allah.  In fact, what I have witnessed is quite the opposite.

I have a couple of Pakistani Muslim friends in Itaewon.  Both are smart, kind, and generous.  They own a bar I regularly frequent. Both drink, smoke, and have married outside the faith.  I guess it doesn’t get any more moderate than that, right?  Except they have gone ballistic (no pun intended) over the current conflict in Gaza.  I finally had to block one of them on Facebook because I grew weary of the anti-Israel and anti-American (like it’s our fault!) rants.  I could match ten photos of some outrageous act being perpetuated in Pakistan for every Israeli impropriety.  And at least Israel is acting in self-defense, not out of some misguided belief in religious justification (what, she was raped?  We must stone her for being a whore!).

Anyway, I posted the picture above on my Facebook in the context of American politics (the so-called war on women).  And my Muslim friend responded that it was “anti-Muslim propaganda”.  One of the commenters asked if he was denying the existence of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS) and the murderous acts in which they are currently engaged.  He responded:

yes ISIS exist and they have broken Syria and Iraq in to parts. They are trying to create a divide in Sunni’s and Shiites. Rumor has it that the leader of ISIS Abu Bakr Baghdadi was trained by CIA and mosad to create chaos in middle east so that the idea of greater Israel can be achieved. I came across a world map issued by the US think tanks in which they have shown 5 middle eastern countries dividing into 15 smaller countries. If u Google it you can find it and then you search for greater Israel map and you will know a secret.

So much for moderate Islam, eh?  Suffice to say, I no longer feel comfortable patronizing their bar these days.  I have taken an oath to avoid drama in Itaewon and I fear that drinking there may lead me to say some things that will lead to dramatic consequences.  And to what end?  Clearly, no minds will be changed.

Of course, America’s feckless foreign policy has played a part in what is taking place in the Middle East.  Can’t blame God for that, although I can and do blame Obama.

Jews

Sorry for the rant.  I’m just thinking things are gonna get a whole lot worse before they get any better.

God help us all.

 

An ugly night

In dart league last night we played Dillinger’s Dill Pickles, the top rated team in Itaewon.  The results were as one might expect, but to get beat and throw badly was not a pleasant experience for yours truly..

After the match two people I like very much got into a verbal altercation.  It appeared to me to be a simple misunderstanding, but one of the two was drunk and he tends to be a mean drunk.  I tried to calm him dawn to no effect and keeping with my “no drama” policy I got up and went to pay my tab.  When I returned things had escalated to the physical and tables were being knocked over and beer glasses were flying.  Soon enough some folks stepped in and managed to separate the combatants, but it was a very ugly scene.  I left at that point not wanting to deal with the aftermath.

Fights are relatively rare in dart league, but I found the whole experience disconcerting, disappointing, and depressing.  A sorry shame it was.

 

No Mo!

And no more Tony either...

And no more Tony either…

Another weekend, another farewell party.  This time it was Tony and Mo saying their goodbyes to Korea as the Army has deemed they are needed in San Antonio.  When I returned to Korea after a 13 month hiatus, most of the old faces were gone.  Tony and Mo were amongst the new faces I met and enjoyed spending time with, if only for a little while.  Such is the life in Itaewon I suppose.  I will say they put out a nice spread of food and free beer for their friends and we all had a good time.  I wish them both best of luck in the future.

As in the tradition at these farewell parties, a darts tournament broke out.  Traditionally, the guests of honor do not win said tournament.  Last night I drew up Mo as my partner, and Tony was paired with Dolce Vita proprietor Jim.  And sure enough the four of us met in the finals, guaranteeing that at least one of them would break the tourney jinx and go out on a high note.  After a long and drunken match in which none of us could hit the outs for which we aimed, I snuck  in a double 1 for the win.  Tony was philosophical about it, saying if I win Mo gets the money, if she wins she gets the money.  So I guess it all went according to plan.

After the party I wasn’t quite ready for the subway journey home so I headed up Hooker Hill to a country bar I used to favor, The Grand Ole Opry.  It’s been years since I was in there, but the ajumma who runs the joint remembered me as did the waitress, so that made me feel pretty good.

The guy in the cowboy hat was doing the Texas two-step and making the girls smile.  There was a time when I fancied myself a pretty fair country dancer, but alas I was without a partner last night.

The guy in the cowboy hat was doing the Texas two-step and making the girls smile. There was a time when I fancied myself a pretty fair country dancer, but alas I was without a partner last night.

And since I promised Thirsty more posts about darts I’ll briefly mention Friday night’s action at Dolce.  I teamed up with Shane and we both struggled all night, but somehow managed to make it through the winner’s bracket undefeated.  We met Wan Jun and Steve in the finals and they dispatched us pretty quickly in the first set.  We were down and almost out in the final leg of the match–behind on points and 17s wide open.  We had bulls closed, and they needed one more bull for the win.  And then I managed a double bull on my first dart which put us up on points, hit a double 17 with my second dart, and then a single 17 for the win.  Yeah, I was lucky, but it was still a sweet finish.

We both went home W20,000 richer...

We both went home W20,000 richer…

Thirsty?

I’ll drink to that!

neil

Last night I had the pleasure of running into a long time LTG reader and old friend Neil Hirst (aka Thirsty) at Dolce Vita.  I’ve been knowing Thirsty since we met at a dart match in December 2006 when he impressed me by recounting his favorite posts from the blog, including the time I busted open my skull and witnessed what turned out to be a friend of Neil’s falling out of a cab. And over the years he’s continued to read the blog and occasionally even comment!  You can’t buy that kind of loyalty, but you can reward it with a beer.  So I did.

Neil left Korea a few years back for Jakarta but we stayed connected via LTG. He then spent some time in China where he acquired a beautiful Chinese wife who subsequently provided him with a handsome son.  Thirsty proudly reports the boy can cuss in three languages!  These days he calls Singapore home, but a recent promotion will afford him the opportunity to visit Korea several times a year.  So, I’ll be looking forward to our next chance encounter.

Speaking of which, there was a fair amount of kismet involved in my running into Thirsty last night.  I wasn’t even supposed to be at Dolce Vita as I have a standing Wednesday night dart date at Bull and Barrel with my Canadian friend Craig Cowper.  Craig had to cancel last night, so I made my way over to Shenanigans where I enjoyed some beer and conversation with a university professor who hails from Alabama.  He wanted me to stay and throw some darts with him, but alas, I had left my darts at Dolce Monday night.  So, I went to retrieve them and ran into a friend whose son was visiting from Russia and she asked if I’d give him a game or two.  Which I did.  He’s a fine lad and his game is improving, but let’s just say his missiles weren’t flying as accurately as Mr. Putin’s.

And then Thirsty appeared and we played us some darts, drank us some beers, and had us some fun.  Oh, and Neil’s also a big fan of the Big Hominid’s blog and he mentioned that he enjoyed reading about me and Kevin meeting up a couple of months ago.

So, that’s the story of how I quenched my thirst for a good night in Itaewon!

 

Metamorphosis

Once upon a time I was a lowly caterpillar crawling through the muck and mud, lost and directionless, unable to find my way.  And then one day I awoke to find myself a butterfly!

But in all seriousness, my political transformation was not this extreme but I can certainly relate to what the author is saying.  My personal biggest irk is #4 and #5 on the list.  The left tends to demonize contrary viewpoints by making shit up.

Sometimes I lose hope for my country, but you never know.  People may actually wake up.  And given the left’s tendency to overreach (the current border crisis comes to mind) maybe we’ll actually get the Change we were Hoping for.

Sadly, the Republicans aren’t much better than the Democrats, so I’m not sure that winning a Senate majority will make much difference.

The link is worth the read.

 

 

Farewell, so long…

…I’ll be the same tomorrow.

But things will be different here as two, well technically three, old timers are moving on.  Two goodbye parties yesterday made for a bittersweet weekend.

Doug is being returned to Columbus, OH after 21 years in Korea.  He goes involuntarily having (finally) ran afoul of DoD's "five year rule" which requires civilians to rotate out of overseas assignments after five years in country.

Doug is being returned to Columbus, OH after 21 years in Korea. He goes involuntarily having (finally) ran afoul of DoD’s “five year rule” which requires civilians to rotate out of overseas assignments after five years in country.

Bill and June are excited about their move to Vietnam where Bill will teach at the international school in what appears to be an outstanding opportunity for the family.

Bill and June are excited about their move to Vietnam after 10 years in Korea.   Bill will teach at the international school in what appears to be an outstanding opportunity for the family.

.I wish them well and thank them for the memories.

 

About last night

So, I had my typical Friday night of darts at Dolce Vita although somewhat atypically I managed a first place finish.  My nephew Justin came by the bar for a couple of beers and then we headed out to the samgyapsal joint I favor.

As is our normal practice the conversation soon turned to politics. And when I start getting wound up my voice gets somewhat intense.  Not shouting really, just kind of aggressive.  I was in this mode when the waitress came to our table and shushed me.  Now, I was taken aback by this because it was just the two of us at the table surrounded by crowded tables of loud Koreans drinking and laughing and enjoying their grilled pork belly. Which is how it should be.  I mean, this was not a fine dining establishment. And to be honest about it, I may have been talking louder than normal if only to be heard above the din of the surrounding crowd. As I looked around the room and noticed just how loud everyone else was being I got pissed off.

At that very moment the waitress who had offended me was serving the largest and loudest table of Koreans in the joint. So I turned around and said (probably shouted) “are you going to tell them to be quiet too, or is it only the miguks who aren’t allowed to make noise?”  Of course, I said this in English so I’m sure she didn’t understand most of it, but it did appear from her reaction that she got my point.  I turned back to my nephew and said “am I wrong?”.  He agreed that we hadn’t been louder than anyone else but he said he was embarrassed by my outburst.

I guess in retrospect I am too. This is not the first time I’ve encountered being singled out for noise when Koreans are notoriously loud when dining (especially when soju is involved) and seem to be ignored. But responding to racism with rudeness is not the solution.  I’m sure all I did was perpetuate a negative stereotype when I loudly confronted the waitress.  I should have just let it go like I normally do I suppose.

I think it is also true that English voices tend to stand out in the crowd so to speak.  I’ve noticed it on the subway myself that foreigners always sound louder when they are speaking together.  Upon *ahem* more sober reflection perhaps I sounded louder than I was.

Meanwhile, I was again awakened early this morning by noise from the downstairs park. This time it was two ajummas shouting at each other. And so it goes.

Oh, I also doused my keyboard in diet Coke this morning.  I did my best to clean it up quickly, but as I feared some of the keys are now not functioning correctly. Which made typing this post especially challenging.  Ain’t life grand?