Sunday, July 08, 2007


Got THIS from The Marmot – you can watch the video, even if you can't read the Korean, of these guys basically singing their own impromptu offensive lyrics on the subway and a few shots of them being silly outside a Hooters.


Given the history of YTN specifically, and the rest of the Korean media in general, and the race and "protecting Korean women" trope in the media, the fact that some extra-stupid foreigners actually were special-stupid enough to actually upload their frat antics to YouTube doesn't strike me as news.

It isn't contextualized, and it's the only thing you ever see foreigners ever getting the spotlight for, so I just see it as more race-baiting for the readership – except this time, it wasn't totally unfounded, like the "Hongdae Mad Max" bullshit story that YTN basically just made up last time.

I'd love to see any of the Korean media do a story typical of many foreign experiences, which is that many of us are harassed so much – partially provided with the emotional ammunition by white-and-black-baiting stories like these – that I, for one, don't even take the subway anymore because or both verbal and physical harassment.

The way I see it is this:

– Is this typical of foreigners' behavior in Korea?

– If not, and by definition, is it particularly newsworthy?

So if I see a story in the news US about the behavior of black folks, such as "1 in 10 Black Men In Prison", I feel bad about the situation, but it's newsworthy and socially relevant. But a headline such as "Black Man Assaults White Woman on Train" doesn't fly if there's not, for some god awful reason, a pattern of black men assaulting women on trains.

If that had suddenly become a social problem, in that black men were singling out white women on trains and it had become some weird point of racial tension, then it's newsworthy. But if it's in a news environment in which the society is hostile to blacks and that particular behavior isn't common at all, then I say it's cheap race/nationalism-baiting.

Let's face it:

– This isn't typical behavior on Seoul subways; I've seen foreigners be rowdy and stupid, but they generally keep it to Itaewon/Hongdae if you see it at all, and in the bar, and aren't dumb enough to YouTube themselves. They just made themselves an easy target on a slow news day.

– And the newsworthiness? Was anyone assaulted? Was the stupidity characteristic of some aspect of foreigners' life here? And was it something that could be negatively compared to the behavior of a group of Korean ajussis in Chongno on a Saturday night?

Basically, like all these stories, they play to the stereotypes Koreans already have of foreigners, and the incidents themselves aren't even newsworthy. Would I hang out with these guys? No? Do they deserve to be on national news? Also, a no, even if they were being lewd.

I've got UCC up on YouTube of all kinds of topics. We walk around Seoul tasting shit, talking to folks, interviewing people, all kinds of stuff, speaking Korean, being respectful, etc.

This isn't even typical of the stuff on Korea on YouTube – and there's lotsa crazy shit on YouTube. But most of the stuff about Korea is quite positive to harmless.

Why ain't my black ass on the fucking national news?

Well, we know that's a rhetorical question; we know why. Maybe I should make a UCC about my insatiable sexual appetite and how exotic and talented the Korean ladies are, especially in groups of three or more; I'm sure that piece of balderdash would have me on Korean news, if I made a UCC about it, video diary style.

In a hot minute. Even though, again – it's not newsworthy. But it plays to Korean sense of race and gender lines being broken pretty well. That's why shots of these guys in a Hooters is there as well – it doesn't matter that this particular gendered/raced interaction is actually not inappropriate – it just matters that there are rowdy foreign men in the same frame with scantily-clad Korean women.

Note how the pictures play together: foreigners being assholes, by themselves; foreigners in a Hooters; foreigners (blacks, specifically) outside the Hooters acting "crazy". What, besides being a nuisance on a subway, is really worthy of national news coverage? And the lyrics to their little soliloquy, while offensive, were only so in translation, and pulled off their site, given to the Korean American intern there at YTN for the summer, which left the producer of the story rubbing his/her hands together in glee.

So basically, foreigners act a fool on the subway and tape it and upload it; it's found out after the fact, not in some altercation in which the police are even called; it's put up on the news with the subtext that "this is how foreigners are acting in our country."

When foreigners do something really worthy of confirming the stereotype, please let me know; until then, I'm just going to continue to ignore YTN's lowest-common-denominator newscasts and continue to not take the subway, since regularly being called "nigger" and told to "go back to America" or even being pushed by some drunk idiot isn't something I like to experience once or twice a month.

I dare YTN to do that story. Which is more common? Foreigners acting a fool and messing with innocent civvies in the city? Or foreigners – especially men, and God help them if they're with a Korean woman – getting verbally and physically assaulted by (usually drunk) Korean men?

And don't even get me started about watching my back on Korean streets in late 2002/early 2003. I didn't even go near the subways in the winter unless I absolutely had to. I got fucked with every day, and saw many other foreigners getting fucked with, and anecdotally heard just about every foreign man under the age of 40 having a story of getting fucked with; I even had a Korean American female student get blindsided, whacked and attacked by someone in Hongdae for, as far as she could tell, speaking English – she never saw her attacker, and only realized she had been struck in the face after she came to her senses after being knocked to the ground and her friend she was with told her what happened; or a couple new Fulbright ETA's on TWO occasions within weeks of each other being sent to the hospital, one after having a metal folding chair bashed over his head, as we were walking and minding our own business as we walked into a bar in Shinchon.

Need I go on? I could, you know. A guy friend I knew who got slapped for no reason in subways, another nerdy Fulbright scholar who got in a fight with an ajussi who called his Korean wife – right in front of him – all kinds of names even I don't want to repeat here, my friends on the intercity bus to the countryside who got the taste slapped out of her mouth by an ajussi who told her she "was Korean and shouldn't speak English", or a friend's friend last month who was the only foreigner to even lift a finger to stop a drunk ajussi who had inexplicably starting beating the holy crap out of a young woman who was a complete stranger to him – when the other Koreans in the subway car did NOTHING to stop this man who had simply gotten on a subway car and started pummeling this hapless Korean woman – he was the only one who followed the guy off, called the police, convinced them to come with his halting Korean after continuing to chase this guy for an HOUR, and then finally, when he convinced a random Korean guy to talk to the police on his behalf, when they finally came out:

They wanted to arrest HIM.

Niiiiiiice. They thought he must have done something. He's like, "I'm the one who CALLED you." Niiiice. Like I said in other posts – if the police are called and there's no video tape, the FOREIGNER is going to jail, no matter what.

I'm not defending these idiots on YTN, but I do question the motives for putting them on, even if they aren't the types to bring home to mama. It's about context and relevance, and YTN has continued to fail both of those tests with me. And since I think the other story is far, far more typical – foreign men getting to be the whipping boy for whatever political/personal beef happens to cross some drunk ajussi's mind at a particular moment, while I'm in a tailored suit standing facing the subway door watching Battlestar Galactica – YTN can kiss my uncouth, black, foreign ass.

I'm gonna keep my new little camera around and YouTube that.


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