Dear Korea,

Dear Korea - You are a bit of a weirdo.

Blogging | October 27, 2010

Dear Korea,
We’ve known each other for a while now, so I feel we are close enough for me to be able to just come out and say this.

You’re pretty weird. Not that it’s a bad thing. But it’s true. You are. My grade five teacher might even say that you’re a few kangaroos short of a paddock, but he was pretty weird too.

It is funny how time and forced proximity can turn what in the real world is bat shit crazy, into a mere personality quirk though.

What would be quite traumatic events in Australia, inevitably end up coated in the sepia shades of memory, with all the sharp edges blurred to a warm fuzziness.

So when I think of the time I came home from work to find the pest control man wearing one of my skirts while dancing around my apartment, I just don a sideways smile and think “oh Korea”.

The crazy man at the subway who would not stop muttering “do you know?” while shoving his accusatory finger in my face before deciding to rip my earring from my lobe in front of a subway car of “isn’t it great that foreigners are invisible because we can’t see anything” Koreans, is now just thought of as Mr Crazy.

Admittedly, Mr Crazy is thought of less fondly than the Pesty Groover, but that’s because he also tried to push me in front of a train. In a few more years that sepia coating will probably transform Mr Crazy into Mr Grabby.

Being mistaken for a Russian prostitute is actually kinda funny when you think about it. While mum didn’t find it quite as amusing when that man offered me $300 for coffee and “happy time” in front of her at Insadong last week, she doesn’t know you like I do.

Also, when you told me I was HIV positive, I knew you were just joking. Obviously, it was impossible. I knew it was just your weird sense of humour that made you mark the test as positive, when what you really meant to do was repeat the test because something went wrong in the process. Hi-larious.

(Just a tip K – this would have been less hi-larious for one of my many colleagues who whored themselves around south-east Asia during the summer vacation. So I would be a little careful on who I played this particular joke.)

Some would say that the little old man who told the guard who told the policeman that I was stealing my own bicycle was accusing me, but really, I just know that you were being a bit weird. My hands were full, so unlocking the combination to my lock was taking a little longer than usual, but only an anal-bitter-crazy person would seriously mistake a girl opening a bicycle combination for a mint green and white polka-dotted bike for a thief based on their non-Koreaness.

Given that it was only last week that I spent more than 10 minutes explaining first to the man, then to the guard he called, then to the policeman that the bike was mine before I was allowed to continue on my way home, I am still feeling residual weirdness coating that particular memory.

Yet even as I write this to you, I feel a smile beginning to haunt the edges of that particular memory and I can feel the sepia start to creep in already.

Before you know it, that old man and I will be having tea in my mind, discussing the hilarity in that he once thought foreigners weren’t allowed to buy bikes, which is why he thought I was stealing mine.

Anyways K, stay weird.

Me xoxoxox

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About Louisa Jones

Louisa Jones is the pen name for a recovering journalist who randomly decided to leave her very understanding and patient husband for a year to randomly live in Seoul.
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