Image source: Domina no Do!
Have you read this? Probably. While there are dozens of K-Bloggers out there, we’re the only ones reading what each other wrote so the odds are pretty good that you did. It’s an incestuous collective after all. Yes, it’s tongue in cheek. But it also exemplifies the attitudes of a lot of Lifers here and I feel those are the sort of attitudes that need poking with a sharp stick.
A little something about the permanent residents of Expatlandia, my newbish targets of a lampooning: If they’ve been living in a foreign nation for a very long time, it’s because they’ve pretty much trapped themselves there. Either by marrying someone who can’t bear the thought of leaving the homeland behind, by their lack of marketable job skills back home (Oh! My ears are burning!), or by the insurmountable cliff-face they created along the sides of their comfortable ruts. Odds are pretty good that they’ve successfully distanced themselves from your “Temporary guest-worker” reality via marriage and/or citizenship. Letting any long-timer tell you that your experiences and views are meaningless is akin to letting some rich asshole on the other side of the counter tell you how to be a proper barista because you didn’t get him his burnt-tasting sugar coffee fast enough*. If they act like your criticism of a country/ culture is an attack on them for some reason, well… It’s like people who continue to buy Apple products no matter how often they get screwed by it. There’s no talking to them.
Having said that, let me as a long-timer tell you “What is” in regards to South Korea. What is, is that you’re doing great.
The truth of the matter is that you can get the reality for guest workers here down pat within the first three months. Maybe it’ll take six if you’re fortunate enough to have a Korean partner who can shield and comfort you when reality intrudes upon your wee Cloud Cuckoo Land. You are an expert by month nine because there isn’t a lot to figure out aside from how you’re going to deal with your frustrations. And while it’s just good manners to not talk down to others, you should never be ashamed of pointing to your scars and spitting on the memory of your enemies.
These boats are metaphors
You do understand Korean drinking culture quite clearly: Everyone is a drunken sot and if you want to spend life looking at the bottom of a bottle, this is a good place for it. The subtleties of Korean drinking culture extend only as far as not telling your boss that you don’t want to visit a whorehouse with him, how do belt out some Trot at the noraebang, and where you can find bottles of Bauchus F already chilled. The rest of it is just as loud, stupid, and prone to violence as the bar culture back home.
Do get a guitar. And some sweet tattoos. Do hang out in Haebongchong (or even Hongdae!) if that’s your thing. Do try to use all of that youthful vitality to gain popularity with the opposite sex. You’re probably in your twenties, for fek sake, when will there be a better time to sow your oats? Let me tell you right now: It sure as hell ain’t when you’re in your forties. The only think you’ll be doing then is waiting for a doctor to sew your heart bypass shut. And really, are you going to let some middle-aged guy in a necktie tell you that you’re being conformist? Seriously? Laugh at anyone who tells you that with the other musicians at the musician orgy.
These judgmental-looking robots are also metaphorical.
Play the Foreigner Card as often and as freely as you’d like because if you don’t you’re going to be saddled with all of the cultural horseshit the locals can’t escape from. Such as working fourteen hours unpaid overtime without complaint just because everyone else is and you don’t want to stand out. Or having to listen to some drunken asshole ramble on and not letting go of your hand just because he’s older than you. Sure, learn the language as much as you need to given your circumstances. That only makes sense because it may help you protect yourself at some point. But never be afraid to wave that Imma Ferriner! card because it’s your high-speed ticket away from stupidity.
Seriously though: Don’t blame Confucianism for anything that doesn’t involve eating the shit of your employer just because he’s your employer. Sewol? Not Confucianism. That was Capitalism left to babysit itself. The taxi/ bus/ delivery driver nearly killing you at the crossing in their hurry to get to the next destination? Not Confucianism. That’s also capitalism being left to babysit itself. Always put the blame for bad things where it belongs: Unrestricted capitalism and the irredeemable monsters that promote it.
tl;dr – Keep on keeping on. And by that I mean: Keep on until you get out of here and to somewhere that doesn’t allow you to be so drunk all of the time. I’m worried about you.
* To put it another way: They have bad taste and you just want to get through your day without crying in public.