My Brilliant Korea

Korea hater

Blogging | September 30, 2010

Dear Korea hater. It's not Korea. It's not Koreans. It's you. YOU. (Yates, S: September, 2010- via Facebook).

Until recently, a Korea hater lived in my building.

Except that, at the time, I did not identify him as a Korea hater.

I thought he was merely a Blythe hater.

In retrospect, it was an easy mistake to make, since he possessed all the traditional qualities of a Blythe hater.

Most importantly, he did not want to be my friend.

I discovered this at the orientation week held last August to welcome 500 new foreign English teachers to the SMOE (Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education) program.

For most of the week he sat directly behind me.

When I smiled at him, he looked straight through me.

When I attempted conversation, he looked away.

Total Blythe hater, I thought to myself.

I wasn’t particularly bothered by this, as I have come across Blythe haters in the past.

They are usually quite nice people, except for the fact that, well, they are not a fan of me.

Anyway, I assumed that at the end of the orientation week I would never see this particular Blythe hater again, and that both of us could continue to co-exist on planet Earth without disturbing each other in any significant way.

Until I saw the Blythe hater a couple of days later, sitting outside my apartment building.

Why God, why? I thought to myself.

Why, did you have to put a Blythe hater in my building? Of all the people you could choose (if you existed!) Oh, the humanity!

I knew I had three options.

1. - I could feign an asthma attack, re-enter the building, watch the Blythe hater from my window and exit the building after his eventual departure.

2. - I could hold my head high and walk straight past him, thereby setting a tone of animosity for the next year.

3. - I could paste on a smile, take a deep breath and walk over to greet him.

I took a deep breath.

“Um, hi,” I said, nervously.

“Uh, I met you at orientation week? You were sitting behind me? My name is Blythe? I’m from Straya?”

The Blythe hater raised his eyes and looked at me with disdain.

He sighed.

“I remember you,” he said.

I continued.

“So, it looks like we’re living in the same building. If you wanted, maybe we could grab some dinner together sometime? I mean, only if you wanted to? There are heaps of restaurants around here. And I don’t really know anyone living in this area? So, if you didn’t want to eat alone, we could eat together? Sometime? If you wanted?” I said.

I was starting to understand why he didn’t like me.

He sighed again.

And rolled his eyes.

“I suppose so,” he said.

“I’m in room 208. Knock on my door. If I’m home, maybe we can eat something”.

It was the most underwhelming dinner acceptance I had ever received.

I walked away knowing I would never knock on his door.

Over the coming months, the Blythe hater and I progressively reduced our communication.

In the beginning, we would say hello as we passed each other in the street.

Then we would offer each other a curt nod.

Eventually, one day, he looked at me, looked away and walked straight past me.

I knew we had reached the point of no return.

But I didn’t realise how far the Blythe hater was prepared to go to ignore my existence, until our paths crossed in the foyer of our building, one snowy December evening.

I had decided to stand in the two-by-two metre space, while I waited for a friend to arrive.

Suddenly, the Blythe hater appeared.

I smiled.

The Blythe hater walked straight past me, brushing my shoulder in the process.

“Um, hello?” I said, with an attitude not dissimilar to the cast of Clueless.

He swung around, looked at me, and breezed out the door.

Without. A. Word.

I stood, fuming.

What the hell did I ever do to you, dude? Seriously. What? The? Fuck? I thought.

A few minutes later the Blythe hater reappeared, with a carton of milk in his hand.

“Hi,” he said.

I nodded at him and looked away.

“Look, I know I’ve been really rude to you,” he continued.

“I’m just going through a hard time in Korea right now. I needed to take it out on someone. That person was you. I’m sorry. I don’t know why it was you. Korea’s just hard, you know?”

My mouth dropped open.

He wasn’t a Blythe hater afterall, he was a cut-and-dry Korea hater.

As it turned out, the Korea hater had been in the country for four years- he was not fresh off the boat in August, as I had previously imagined.

I came to realise the Korea hater had simply stayed in the country (far) too long and no longer saw magic and wonder in the quirks of the SoKo.

After four years, the SoKo just irritated him. A lot.

Korea had become his prison, not his escape.

He is a cautionary tale.

The Korea hater has recently returned to the USA to look for work. In one of his final blog posts from the Land of the Morning Calm, he listed "fear" as the overwhelming reason he stayed in Korea as long as he did.


1. Jess on October 1, 2010

I think you encountered a 'Charisma-Man' who was at the end of his career. A Charisma-Man is something of a confident, popular, handsome star in the foreign country until he comes across his kryptonite, The Western Woman. I met many in Japan. There's even a cartoon based on Charisma-Man.

I encountered so many people in Japan that had been there for 4 years plus who were dissatisfied with the place. Men and women alike. I'd ask everyone of them, 'why don't you leave?' And the general response was "because, what can I do at home? I've got no career, I can't be an English Teacher at home and I'm a no-one at home." It was really sad.

I'm sure none of them regret their experience but it's highly recommended to have an exit plan before you go and to leave before you get too disenchanted with it. That way you make sure you have nothing but fond memories of the place and the people.

Signed yours truly

The Blythe Lover (actually that sounds too steamy, I'll try that again)

Love Jess

Hope you are well

2. Blythe on October 1, 2010

Haha. I love you Jess.

3. Lyndall on December 2, 2010

Edward in Twilight approached Bella in the same way.

Fear, as your mentioned, was the reason.


Any Comments?

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