A Mild Irritation


Sometimes it is difficult to accept certain idiosyncrasies they call culture as part of living in a different country but one does have to try!

It’s been raining!  Rain plus lack of spatial awareness means one thing in Korea….carnage!!!!!!!

Most Korean’s appear non plus when considering the personal space of others and are averse to any sort of umbrella etiquette.  It’s the destination that is important, and any obstacles in the way are ignored as if invisible; always to the detriment of my eyeballs, my arse, my two valuable baubles or my ribs.

Chungjuites walk around blissfully ignorant as to whether someone is a metre or a centimetre away from them. This can be very comical when you are the observer and not the victim but can be quite annoying when you have to be continually on the look out for incoming drones. When it rains the drones are completely out of control. The spatial violators have an excuse; scientifically they have a problem associated with the rate of spatial processing and intelligence known as Mental Rotation Ability.

We all know that Koreans are generally a petite race, but when two or more of them get together on a street in front of you, it is nearly impossible to pass them, they seem to have an ability to make themselves so awkward that Twiggy would have difficulty finding the space to overtake.  They will also swing out an arm or elbow or umbrella or bag without checking the coast is clear, so the item could easily end up in your eye, mouth or stomach.  Their mobile phone addiction can also cause serious repercussions.  The curse of the SMARTPHONE, involves ambling aimlessly with your  heads down, focussed on the phone, to the chagrin of all around.

The “trolley is a playpen” syndrome can also be irritating.  The shopping trolley was designed to carry purchases, right? Wrong! It was developed to carry the under fives who unrestrained grab, pinch, vomit, smile and snarl at anyone who is actually shopping with a purpose.  Family shopping is a prime leisure activity here, we see packs of drones with legions of lieutenants all under 5 years old.  They congregate at the end of aisles or usually in front of the product you NEED to buy. You try “excuse me”, 실례하겠습니다! (shillehagessumnida), usually without success.  Often there is eye contact, a nod or a look of disgust but very rarely a positive response.

Journeying home from work can be the biggest trauma. We pass by an army base around 5.30pm.  Sometimes around 10 soldiers join us, they carry a pungent aroma of stale tobacco and days old sweat.  It’s a giddy aroma for the senses to absorb.  They sit on each others knees, fondling hair and thighs, stroking faces, a scene unlikely to impart fear into advancing mercenaries or national guards. The soldiers who stand usually take hold of the bar in front of your nose and at the slightest hiccup, such as a bump in the road or the navigation of a corner, finish up imparting the fag/sweat cocktail into your nasal passages. Space, the final frontier, to boldly go where no Korean has gone before, maybe developing spatial awareness, these are the muttering af a pretty happy GET in Korea.  Live long and prosper!

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