In the world’s most wired country, two out every five people run a personal blog. When a company wants to launch a new product, or the government wants to make an important announcement, these bloggers are wined and dined lest their disapproval sink the venture. Internet addiction is a huge problem, and recently a couple was charged with letting their baby starve to death as they spent their time living in a virtual world. People are driven to suicide by internet rumours and message boards, blogs and chatrooms are awash with the vilest abuse. Korea is a country where people live online.

When I first moved to South Korea I stopped writing. I found the country absolutely uninspiring. My hopes of moving to an exotic paradise and penning the great novel of that location seemed to die when I arrived and found myself amidst an ugly, unfriendly nation.

After about six months I forced myself to write. The only problem was that what I produced wasn’t the sort of writing I’d expected. They were perceptions of the world around me; details of an unpleasant life in a dark corner of the universe. I didn’t dare post any of these pieces to a blog, or send them to a magazine or newspaper. I was ashamed of having not found something bright and cheerful to report. I had failed.

Then, a few months later, I started Korean Rum Diary (so-called because the lives of alcohol-soaked, sweaty expats reminded me of Hunter S. Thompson’s novel). At first I forced myself to be delicate – calling it an exercise in tactful writing. Even though I said nothing overly critical or unfair, I seemed to draw a lot of attention simply by being honest. Sometimes I wrote about bad English, sometimes I commented on a popular news story, sometimes I posted photos of the country, sometimes about the joy or heartache of teaching, and sometimes about walking down the street and being spit on. The critics swooped in and offered their vicious criticisms. I was called an idiot by the vast majority of my readers. They said Korea was a heaven on earth and that only a racist pig would say otherwise.

These readers, of course, were mostly Korean, and used that most cowardly of screen names, “Anonymous.” They offered critiques like, “Many foreigner is come to Corea (sic) is looser (sic) and is fucking complain. Go home America.”

I kept writing and within a few months I’d moved from two or three readers a day to around two hundred. KRD became a freakshow. It was linked on many of the English language blogs in Korea, and routinely referred to as “the angriest blog” around. People seemed to enjoy coming by just to mock me, or to argue on my comment boards.

It wasn’t long before the death threats came in – vague, violent messages in broken English from disturbed Korean males in their mid-twenties. I ignored them mostly, but I must confess that sometimes I posted them as part of the freakshow – to draw more readers. People came to my door from time to time, banging on it and stealing my mail. I simply got a second apartment and watched my back on the way home from work.

I had plenty of regular readers, and not all of them came for the freakshow element. Every day I would get messages from people who identified with my problems as a foreigner in an unfriendly country. Whenever the insults and death threats became too much, it was these other lost souls for whom I’d continue to write.

After a year I was getting a thousand views per day, and although I was tired of writing about Korea and struggling for material, I kept on simply because there were readers. I had become an attention whore. I would write short, pointless posts and just let my readers insult each other on the comment boards. Everyone knew KRD because it was controversial. It was a place to go and start a fight over the latest piece of news. I started hearing my name being used in the foreigner bars, and referenced on other blogs and websites about Korea as the very definition of an “angry” Korean blog.

Perhaps one of my most widely read posts concerned my first employer: Andover Language School. I wrote an honest account of my time there and warned others against taking a job in for a crooked business that would ruin their lives. The owner of Andover, however, threatened to sue me. I sought legal advice and realised that in Korea “there is no defense against libel.”

I wasn’t the only bad boy in town, though. Although I wasn’t the first blogger to criticize Korea, during KRD’s tenure there were dozens of angry blogs appearing, with varying levels of merit. Most famously, “Mr. Wonderful” came along with his blog, An Idiot’s Tale. He became notorious as an anti-Korean blogger, yet he loved Korea. He simply wrote about family life, and transcribed his Korean wife’s speech: “You da vely stoopid man!” People called him racist, and he ignored them. His blog grew more popular than mine. It is still somewhat of a phenomenon in Korea, drawing irate readers and inspiring the most vicious criticisms.

Amidst a sudden surge in angry blogs, another popular one appeared. It was called Lousy Korea. When it emerged that the blog’s author was female, it became the greatest target of hate in the K-blogosphere. Lousy was subject to the most vile abuse, and rather than being left on her comment boards, a lot of it was directed at her e-mail account. It soon became clear she wasn’t safe in her own home.

I received a message from Lousy earlier this year. She told me that she was receiving death threats aimed at me; that people thought we were the same blogger. Apparently Korea’s netizens couldn’t imagine a female blogger with as much venom as Lousy. They included my real name (which I had thus far kept hidden) and my address, along with a several page essay on how I would be tortured and killed.

Then the e-mails became worse, and soon Lousy was forced to leave Korea. The breaking point was when people began threatening to kidnap and murder the children of foreigners across South Korea. She said that freedom of speech wasn’t worth that price, and I honestly struggled to justify my own writing. I gave up blogging for a while, asking myself whether it was worth writing if people could actually get hurt.

When Lousy left the talk of killing children stopped, and a brief wave of tolerance washed across the K-blogosphere. The Korea Times ran an article asking whether Korea should perhaps be a little more open to criticism, and condemning death threats as an inappropriate way of dealing with unpopular opinion.

When things calmed a little I decided to shut down KRD. It wasn’t a popular decision, but it was the right thing to do. My own life had become so messy that I didn’t need the hassle of cyberspace to distract me. KRD had run its course. I began writing a blog because I had gotten out of the habit of writing, but after a year and a half of blogging I had no time for anything else.

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DAVID WILLS is the managing editor of Beatdom Magazine, and the author of The Dog Farm and Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the 'Weird Cult'. You can learn more about him on his website.

117 responses to “The Freakshow: Blogging in Korea”

  1. Brad Listi says:

    i used to blog everyday, back before TNB began. i can relate to what you describe…that inertia of writing something everyday for public consumption…i felt duty-bound to it after a while, and not always in a bad way. the key difference, i suppose, is that my comment boards weren’t all that hostile. it was usually a lively conversation, often unrelated to anything i’d written about. it was often the case that what i’d written was simply a starting point, or a pretext for a regular online salon. i was the sideshow.

    then TNB launched, and i got married and had a kid, and life did its thing and things changed, and i haven’t been able to write as much as i used to….

    i still have a lot of those old blogs somewhere, i think, on a hard drive somewhere. it would be odd to read them now.

    anyway…always a pleasure to read about your adventures….

    you’re in malaysia now? are you now TNB’s correspondent in kuala lumpur?

    • There’s something to be said for writing for yourself, rather than for an audience. I found that I was just pushing stupid half-thoughts on my readership, and they seemed to react positively. The problem, then, was that rather than actually practicing and polishing my writing, I was slacking and making myself feel like I was actually doing something…

      Having said that, everything I have ever published about Korea came from the half-formed little ideas that went out on KRD. Every polished thing I’ve put on TNB probably came from an unpolished piece on my own blog.

      You mention marriage and kids slowly doing the writing process. I guess that’s true, although I have neither. I certainly wrote more when I was single, and before I had a job and went travelling. I suppose it works both ways, because at the end of the end it’s real life that gives us the material to write about.

      It’s strange looking out your old writing and seeing what you used to think, and how you used to feel. Embarrassing sometimes. I have all my life’s writing stored on my computer (which is a scary thought – I should really back it up) and it’s amazing how much of it just absolutely sucks… But it’s fun to read, and to see where you change your style and ideas.

      I’m in Malaysia this now, living in a hotel in Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown (which makes a nice change from always ending up in Koreatown). I’m waiting on my visa for a job in China, hopefully starting in the middle of next week. Taiwan didn’t work out, sadly, although I guess I just missed an epic typhoon… Wow. That’s not the first time I’ve left Taiwan and missed a typhoon. They must hate my karma-dodging over there.

      I still have a couple of Korea stories to tell. I like to let things work themselves over in my head before writing them, so it might be a while before Taiwan, Malaysia and China find themselves the subject of my TNB posts… Also, China has a “Great Firewall” which I’m sure will have TNB blacklisted! I might have trouble getting around that.

      • Brad Listi says:

        well, good luck to you, sir. i hope we get to hear about your travels in china.

        as for marriage and kids slowing down the writing…i guess it’s true to an extent, but i’m still doing the work, and it’s not fair to lay blame anywhere. furthermore, having a child has the effect of making me both more sleepless and more focused at the same time. i’m awake about 20 hours a day, so i have a lot of time to do stuff. the truth is that i’m probably writing and reading more now than i have in a while. late nights are good, i find, for getting that kind of thing done. early mornings too. but i suppose that’s obvious.

        • I’m sure yo will hear about China in good time. I’m very excited about it. I’ve been to Beijing before, but that’s not really China China… It’s a big tourist fantasy.

          Yes, late nights and early mornings are great for getting stuff done. I’m not really sure why… although I have a suspicion it’s related to coffee-intake.

    • Greg Olear says:

      For me, kids means less time to write but more to write about. It’s a trade-off, of sorts.

      I’ve also found that I write more and better when I’m busy. If I could go to one of those colonies and spend six months communing with nature and poring over my work, I’d probably just comment all day, or worse. I write more when I have some distractions. They sort of force me to work, and force me to take a break.

      • I think the most I ever wrote was when I worked at a crappy store in Scotland, slogging away all day and barely having time to sleep… Something about the exhaustion just brought me to a place where I needed to write.

        Of course, when I take time off and have hours to myself and a computer in front of me and a head full of ideas and a pot of coffee and everything else needed to get the job done… It’s time to Facebook or Twitter or whatever other form of procrastination is the order of the day.

    • ff5828582fei says:


  2. Greg Olear says:

    Many foreigner is come to Corea is looser and is fucking complain. Go home America.

    I knew from the Malcolm Gladwell book that Koreans are shitty airplane pilots, but I had no idea about any of this. How can there be no laws regarding slander? Um…duh.

    I think the motion of fame on a smaller scale — as with your K-pop piece — is fascinating. It’s notable that KRD got so big there…whatever your intentions when you arrived, you certainly got a novel’s worth of material out of your stay.

    Why would they block us in China? We love China!

    • The slander thing comes down largely to what Gladwell talked about – age, gender, wealth, race. If you aren’t top-dog, then you don’t speak up. If you are top-dog, then you don’t listen. In other words, if you’re a rich Korean dude then you can sue whoever you like for whatever reason. Of course, honour comes into it. To slander someone is to take away their honour, and if they have enough honour then it is dishonourable for the country to allow that honour to be taken away…

      Well, I’m just trying to explain something that’s so ricetarded it shouldn’t be explained.

      Fame is a weird thing. I’ve never wanted fame and I doubt I’ll ever properly have it. Even in Korea no one knew who I was until they asked that question: “Where are you from?” Because there really was only one Scotsman around, and they knew who he was.

      You’re right, of course, I have more than a novel’s worth. That has proven a bit of a problem. My little book has never quite made it to completion because when it comes to a point it really feels like two or more books jammed into one. There are some great sentences, but overall it’s just too much. Maybe I need to settle and write two or three novels.

      As for China, it’s just that they’ve blocked so many sites so arbitrarily. TNB strikes me as the sort of thing they couldn’t censor, so they’d probably just go ahead and pretend it doesn’t exist. I’ve already downloaded the software I hope will allow me to jump that firewall, so hopefully I won’t be lost to the world.

    • ff5828582fei says:

      foad please

  3. Judy Prince says:

    This is so unnerving, David—-downright frightening—-to find out about such a venomous mountain of reaction to the blogs. What do you suppose underlies such venom?

    • Massive insecurity and a national inferiority complex that’s hard to imagine. The country is so desperate to appear macho and strong (after centuries of invasion and defeat) that they are obsessed with impressing the west. They petition the US government and people every few months with random statements about Korean superiority – about how the Sea of Japan should be called the “East Sea” (in spite of if being west of Japan) and that a certain island called Dokdo belongs to Korea…

      There’s an old quote I was looking for to include in this from Jack London, who noted that even 100 yrs ago it was impossible to hold an opinion in Korea that was contradictory to that of a Korean. There are other quotes from hundreds of years ago that show the country really hasn’t changed in some senses – ie in regards total xenophobia and a desire to appear super strong.

      • Judy Prince says:

        Thanks, David, for the explanation. The history defo helps to understand what seems whacko.

        Maybe it’s like country-envy or country-jealousy, so that if you feel your country’s inferior to another one, you get freaking weird and strike out at folks from countries you think are superior.

        • Yeah, I think that’s it. A sort of combination of the two. They’re embarrassed about their history so they warp it (Koreans are notorious for making up lies about their national history). They also show off and present themselves as greatest country in the world. Indeed, Korea has a lot to be proud of… but they don’t help themselves by showing off. They also have a particularly odd relationship with America. They hate America for being multi-cultural but love it for being rich. They are embarrassed that America (and Britain) saved them from each other in the Korean War, and hate to admit that its America’s military presence and complete financial investment that has kept the nation stable… Yet they’re constantly calling for Americans to “get out” whilst leaving their money and guns behind.

          Oh, I could go on and on but it’s bad for my health! That’s another reason I stopped K-blogging. I prefer NOT to think about Korea, sometimes.

        • Judy Prince says:

          I do so appreciate your “take” on the complex Korea situation, David, but now I, too, want you to stop addressing it—-let’s take care of your health!

        • Alright. I have one more story I want to tell, and one more that should one day see the light of day… but not yet. Apart from that I’ll no doubt get around to stories from other countries in the near future.

        • ff5828582fei says:

          foad thx

  4. Becky Palapala says:

    “Is fucking complain.”

    Why do I love this so much? I want to use “complain” as an adjective forever.

    Or, I mean, technically, I guess they’re trying to use it as a verb, but they’ve got some weird combination of tenses going on. I recognize it from discussions in linguistics class…like some some very common arrangement for “broken” English, pidgins, and creoles, but I can’t remember what it’s called.

    It has a name.

    Anyway. Is fucking amuse me.

    David Wills, you may have the strangest life of anyone I’ve ever met. It all goes to show, though, that the perception of America being the only place in the world where people are violently closed-off while the rest of the world holds hands and sings kum-bye-ah is total nonsense.

    Man, people everywhere are the same. Squatting on their little carpet squares, spitting and hissing when other people come too close.

    • If you like that, then I’m sorry I deleted all my blog posts. There were thousands of sayings just like that. After a while you stop appreciating how wonderfully humour bad English can be.

      Your last two paragraphs pretty much nail it. Life, that is. We all think that where we come from is the shittiest place, but in the end we travel and see the world and realise that we’re all human beings, just like each other, and we’re all a bit stupid and scared.

      One thing I always wondered was whether people in other countries spend ALL their free time surfing the internet for anti-their-country stuff to hate. Like, in Scotland people are dumb and racist, but we don’t go online and stalk our foreigners’ blogs with hate. Or do we? I don’t think so.

      • Irene Zion says:

        I love hearing your stories, David,
        because they are things that I could never experience.
        I get to live these things through your words.
        and for that, I thank you!
        Looking forward to more about Korea, then Taiwan, then Malaysia, then China!

        • Well, I’m glad you dig my travel tales, Irene. I have fun writing them, and thinking about writing them. In fact, sometimes it seems things only happen to me because I’m meant to write about them. We’ll see what happens in China. There will no doubt be some adventure to tell of.

        • Zara Potts says:

          I second Irene… I love your adventures. You could make the desert or the polar ice caps interesting, David S. Wills!

        • Thanks, Zara. I would love to visit a desert one day, but I’m not really a fan of the cold… so maybe I’ll leave the ice caps to Bear Grylles and co.

  5. Irene Zion says:

    More than adventure follows you, David,
    danger follows you too.
    Try to watch out for it!

  6. Irene Zion says:

    Keep your back to the corner and always scope a way out of every situation, just out of habit.
    You tend to get into things where knowing how to get away quickly is recommended.
    So just practice it, so it becomes second nature.
    (Lord, if you were my son I’d have pulled out all my hair by now!)

    • Haha, sorry to scare you. But don’t worry, I guess I am a survivor at heart – I always do keep my eye on the exit, ready to run. I also go to lengths to avoid trouble, believe it or not.

  7. Brian Eckert says:

    Dave, I know just from posting several, limited accounts of Korea, which you were generous enough to link to, that strong, negative opinions about the peninsula tend to garner outrage from nationals and expats alike. It seems to me that ostensibly open-minded foreigners become almost as culturally myopic as Koreans the longer they stay in the country. Perhaps its the lack of diversity or the availability of $1 bottles of booze. I’ve given up trying to define that strange little country, as all my efforts lead me down a road of futility. I do know, however, that although you tired of KRD for the reasons you describe above, it served to open up a dialog with Koreans, about Korea, which, despite the vile and hate, is no small feat.

    • You know, I didn’t mention the pissy foreigners who get wound up about “Korea-bashing.” They are awful, but at least they aren’t as troll-like or death threat-driven as the natives.

      You’re right, though. KRD actually was successful in a civil manner. I always let people have their voice (unless that was a death threat or giving my address away) and always answered civil complaints in a civil manner. I even made a bunch of Korean friends who came charging in with their rage and found some place to actually debate.

      Oh, and $1 bottles of booze… Never a good idea.

    • ff5828582fei says:

      off yourself thx

  8. Yes, more of this stuff. Love the insight into the lack of insight that is Korea. But I agree with the notion that we all think our particular country couldn’t be any more backward and insular and governed by fools. Then we travel and see, nope, it’s a global condition. Somehow, possibly just after the plague lifted from central Europe, we lost sight of the fact that we are all deeply stupid animals.

    Confronting this fact is probably why $1 bottles of booze have been available, and widely guzzled, since the Sumerians figured out how to ferment bread.

    • I wonder whether we’d all get along better if we could just wrap our heads around our own stupidity, or if we’d just slip back into some ancient ways of living. Maybe its our arrogance that has helped us develop. Or maybe it’s cheap booze…

  9. You’re always funny. I also love (despite the death threats, and I’ve gotten them, too, as a result of blogging; some truly insane things have been written to me, about me, etc) how even the worst times make for good stories.

    I take it this wasn’t *North* Korea, either (of course not, right?). Crazy story.

    Are you still in Korea? Why not re-activite the KRD just to torment those readers? I always say that we shouldn’t be scared into silence, especially if we are just telling the truth and not even trying to be mean.



    • It was a very tough decision to shut down KRD and for a long time after I genuinely did think about restarting it. I didn’t like the idea that maybe I was doing it out of self-preservation, but honestly it was the right thing to do – a deeply selfish act. People were pretty pissed about it. I still see references to my blog every couple of weeks (there was one on Thursday I read) from people who say I was wrong to shut down. Maybe I was. But it’s liberating to be able to write about other stuff, and to write about Korea without a certain set of expectations.

      I have wondered what they’d make of KRD in North Korea… I doubt they’d react any different, to be honest. Those countries are one and the same.

    • ff5828582fei says:

      please diaff

  10. Matt Baldwin says:

    Rest in peace, KRD. I’ll miss you.

    Glad you’re out of there, though. Your reportage has certainly made me look at the various Korean films I’ve enjoyed in a whole new light.

    What a strange fucking place.

    • Ah yes, Korean movies: one of the peninsula’s redemptive qualities. I have no idea why their TV and music is so bad, but they can sure make a decent film. Well, one of their directors can…

      Korea certainly was strange, but it’s also strange how quickly it begins to feel normal. I was there about a week before it was just home. I guess – and this is probably the first time I’ve realised this – that writing about Korea was fun because it let me view it as a strange new place when in fact I just walked around accepting it all.

    • ff5828582fei says:

      would happily kick your face in

  11. dwoz says:

    On the topic of Korean racism/xenophobia…

    I was once almost in an intimate relationship with a stunning, amazing, talented Korean girl (in Boston). She liked me and I liked her. When I asked her out on our THIRD date, she fairly curtly informed me that as much as she wanted to see me, there wasn’t even a bizarre alternate universe where we would ever be a couple, much less a married couple.

    At first I thought she was just moving on, and had enough of me, but I soon found out that it was because I was not myself Korean. She had in fact been taking a huge risk associating with me in a romantic way whatsoever…risk of disownment by her family, risk of complete alienation from the local Korean community.

    (this was back in 1982)

    (by the way, her daddy was well-off)

    • Sorry to hear about that, but it’s not a particularly unusual story. They’re very protective over their women. Try and find a white guy in Korea who hasn’t been spat at when walking with his K-girl… People get sick to the stomach when they think about mixed-race relationships over there.

      Of course, it all falls on the woman’s head. Nobody raises an eyebrow when a man buys himself a Filipino or Cambodian wife. (And these countries have actually made it illegal for their women to marry Koreans because of the number of them who are returned, beaten and pregnant, a year later.)

      But things are very, very slowly improving in that regard. There are women in Korea with foreign husbands, and although they are very definitely of lower social rank because of it, they aren’t exactly being stoned to death anymore.

      • Bob says:

        what bull shit!

      • dwoz says:

        Well, David, I certainly don’t think that girl was risking her life. But she WAS risking her way of life for certain.

        Glad to hear that it seems to be abating. Not entirely sure how I’d react to being spit on. Probably not well, or appropriately.

        Side note…this reminds me of stories I’ve heard about Sri Lankan bloggers.

        • That’s absolutely true. She was risking a lot simply by being around you. I think that with every generation that will move along to the point where it becomes fairly acceptable, although I think that they’ll always be possessive over “their” women.

          Which is a common thing around the globe. Most cultures feel possessive over “their” women. It’s embarrassing. There’s not much fear about the menfolk going off after foreigners…

          Are you going to tell me about these Sri Lankan bloggers or do I have to go Google it? Or visit Sri Lanka?

  12. Simon Smithson says:

    You should have challenged them all to a Starcraft match.



    That’s one of the things I hate the most about the internet. The bravery people have when they suddenly have the veil of anonymity and distance.

    Although it sounds like the Korean element who dissed you probably wouldn’t have had much of an issue following through on their threats, going by some of your previous stories.


    I’m so glad you’re on TNB, Divad.

    • This is about the one place I write where I don’t have death threats thrown at me. Having said that, I made a lot of good friends through KRD. Even some of the haters came around and we ended up sharing a soju or two.

      The internet is a weird beast. I remember once arguing that it was great because anonymity was possible, bringing people all to one equal level… And then I guess I realised that we’re all dicks, especially when we don’t have to face the consequences of our dickdom.

      I’m still not entirely convinced that the buggers didn’t get me in regards my blog. I never really found out why I had to leave Korea. It could well have been a pissed off reader. Having said that, I guess I am luck I never got knifed on my way home from work. If I was in Scotland and I managed to piss off the local nationalists, I most certainly would have been stabbed.

  13. Anonymouse says:

    Why no mention of Youseok and the Korean Sentry Boys?

    • Ah shit, I forgot…. But honestly, there were so many blogs I could’ve including. Brian in Jeollnamdo (sp?) was also the victim of Korea’s netizens. Anyone who expressed any doubt over Dokdo or the Korea Times or the “East Sea” was subject to harassment.

  14. Bob says:

    If you don’t like Korea, get out!

  15. […] at TNB my recent post concerns the world of K-blogging… That is to say, the dangers of putting down any sentiment […]

  16. Bob says:

    All in good fun!

  17. This is a fascinating read on Korean culture. Like Elizabeth above, I had to doublecheck that you weren’t referring to North Korea. But in fact, Korea sounds to me like something of an Eastern version of the nation of France. I’ve never had the experience blogging, but I’ve had similar (though less life-threatening) expat experiences over here. Something about the orneriness and it masking general feelings of insecurity as a nation make it easy for me to draw similarities. Also, the phrase “Go home, America.”

    • That’s interesting. I’ve not been to France since I was a kid (excluding a few stops at CDG) and I still have it stuck in my mind as some weird perfect place where everything is right. Which is silly, of course, but I spent so many wonderful years there. To hear it compared to Korea… Well, I’m sure you’re right. I need to get back and take a look.

      Once again, I’ll say North and South Korea really aren’t worlds apart, in spite of the difference in wealth and foreign influence. They still retain their hardcore oldworld xenophobia.

      • Of course, the France-Korea comparisons probably break down in several places, but still there’s an aspect to French life that could be described as softcore old world xenophobia. Maybe with less spitting.

        • Ah, xenophobia without spitting is like love without kissing. Half-assed at best! One of my buddies in Korea was a French dude with a Korean wife. He eventually got so sick of the country that they moved to Paris. He also said he couldn’t imagine putting his kid through Korean “education”… which is a fair point. It would be cruel to subject a kid to that sort of thing.

  18. Jeffrey Pillow says:

    Death threats. Jeez. I’ve never written anything powerful enough for someone to want to kill me. The closest I’ve come to an internet psycho is some perv who kept asking me what size shoe I wear and if I’d post more videos of me palming a basketball.

    The daily blog has run its course for me too I decided earlier this week. I noticed a pattern in my posts. It was mostly shit. I don’t want to write shit. I want to be a solid writer. I think blogging makes me a lazy, unpolished writer.

    I enjoyed this. You and Justin Benton’s posts I really dig. I can relate. Maybe it’s the similarity in age. I don’t know. Anyway, FYI: your link to KRD was off by a letter, in case you wanted to change it. You spelled rum “run” so it went to a dead link.

    • I don’t think it’s about power, necessarily. In fact, most of what I wrote at KRD was really pretty unimportant. Often they were just half-thoughts on some ridiculous, obscure subject. People just took offense to the fact that I had an opinion.

      It’s weird, but blogging has that up and down effect. It gives you the routine you need to write, but pulls you into a world where it really doesn’t matter if you make huge errors in grammar or even spelling. But then again I guess it’s just good to be writing, as long as we remember to diversify – keep on writing that novel or pushing articles towards magazines etc etc.

      Thanks for the compliment, and for the heads up about the link. I guess it’s not terribly important as the blog is basically dead. I’m not even sure why I put a link in there.

  19. Joe Daly says:

    What a fantastic read and a powerful insight into the culture over there.

    I’ve all but given up on blogs, message boards, etc., other than Facebook. The illusion that online activity is consequence free so often brings out the worst in people. It’s not like they get fearless behind the keyboard- it’s more like their greatest fears are set loose in cartoonish proportions. Jingoism is just one of the many faces of fear.

    Loved that you called yourself out as well when your writing became a vehicle for getting attention. Anyone who’s ever published a blog/diary/update/etc. has been guilty of the same, but not all have that self-awareness.

    My favorite piece by you, by far. And that’s saying quite a bit.

    • Wow, thanks man. I appreciate that.

      I try to be honest with myself, especially in regards my own writing, and I was always aware that the blog was bad for my ego. I would become a total dick, I’m sure, if I ever actually became famous. I really loved the notoriety at times, although it was also a big hassle. Anyway, I’m glad I gave up. I still like to write about Korea (obviously) but for other audiences. I think Korea turns its visitors into psychos. The whole K-blogosphere is a madhouse. The isolation of being abroad really fucks with people’s minds.

      I know how you feel about the internet, and I largely feel the same about Facebook… but I find what I like and stick by it. Twitter amuses me. I have a couple of good blogs that I read, and of course I’m always keeping an eye on the Nervous Breakdown. There’s a good atmosphere here that I’d hate to see disappear.

  20. angela says:

    david, this is really fascinating. i would have enjoyed reading your blog, i think.

    i’ve never been to Korea, but in my experience with Korean Americans, that overweening pride seems to cross oceans. in college, the Korean girls always looked down on we who weren’t. “Oh, you’re Chinese?” cue end of potential friendship. those Korean Americans who didn’t feel this way seemed to prefer to actively isolate themselves from the rest of the Korean community.

    i was also in a very long relationship (and short marriage) with a Korean man. he was American born, like me, but still, perhaps unconsciously, held onto his parents’ old world ideas – that his family was better than mine, that he was doing me a favor by marrying me. his mother loved to tell me how “lucky” i was. his brother married a Korean-born woman, and while she was never overtly nasty to me, i did feel as a non-Korean i was basically just some random stranger to her, rather than a relative.

    oy, i could go and on.

    • I’ve known quite a few Korean-Americans, but I met them all in Korea… So although they may well have grown up with that K-pride, it was shaken out of them pretty quickly upon return. It seems that actually seeing Korea after being made aware of the outside world is a bit of a reality shock. It’s not the best country in the world… In fact, it’s downright shitty.

      It’s a damn shame that they look down upon non-Koreans so much. I didn’t realise that Korean-Americans could be like that, but I’m not surprised by the native Koreans. I’ve seen it so often it’s just expected. You’d think that once you become part of the family, after falling in love with someone, that you’d be accepted… Fear of the “outsider” is just so ingrained in Korean culture that I wonder if they’ll ever shake it.

      I met my girlfriend’s biological parents and they seemed to love me because I could speak a little Korean. They also said that they liked me “Because I make her happy,” which I thought was really sweet.

      • angela says:

        david, it makes sense that Korean Americans’ perception would change after spending some time in Korea. i think you mentioned your girlfriend being treated weird by the “natives” (or maybe i made that up). i certainly experienced the same thing in China, and by the end of my six months, i was so sick of the place and the people.

        that is so sweet about your girlfriend’s parents! i wonder if Asians are more accepting of whites as their children’s significant others than of other types of Asians. my mother is far more accepting of my current boyfriend (who’s [mostly] white) and never approved of my ex. but i think there were a lot of factors other than race at play, just as there were a lot of issues going on with his family, besides their standing in the Korean community.

        • Yeah, I think I did mention that before. There used to be a terrible hatred for Korean-Americans because they were perceived to have been spoiled by the west, and weren’t welcome back… but now they’re tolerated as a sort of lesser of evils. They’re disliked and shunned to an extent, but still considered human beings, unlike whites or any other race…

          And yeah, white people are definitely top of the foreigner pile. If you’re black, forget about it. Dark skinned people are treated so horribly over there. Other types of Asian also get that treatment. There are quite a few S.E. Asians coming to Korea for work, and they are treated awfully by the locals.

  21. Uche Ogbuji says:

    Having read a bit of KRD (when you linked it from your K-Pop article), and having heard some of your hair-raising stories of the country in person, I must say I’m grateful for having my eyes opened. I was genuinely impressed with Korea when they hosted the world cups, based on what I saw on TV. I assumed it must be an very urbane place to have put on such a show with such apparent spirit. But following your breadcrumbs, I’ve learned of plenty to disabuse me of such notions. It’s too bad, because I consider reductive nationalism to be one of the vilest traits in existence, but if the cap fits the peninsula, the peninsula wears it.

    I wish you a much better experience in China, and much inspiration.

    One thing: I have seen “Corea” on occasion, and in particular, on the scarves that the throngs at the world cup venues were brandishing “Corea” seemed the predominant spelling. Is that kinda like the “Mogadishu”/”Moq’dishu” where the inhabitants move towards preference of a different romanization from the colonial original?

    • I absolutely agree about nationalism. It’s a heinous quality, to be sure. There’s nothing wrong with being proud, exactly, but when you use it as an excuse for hate or intolerance it becomes a terrible problem.

      At the World Cup Korea managed to show the world that they had become a developed, wealthy nation. Indeed, they are. But they – like all other countries – have so many problems. A country can only develop so fast. Most of Korea is still struggling with the change, and of particular notice to me is the fact that they can’t quite reconcile the face that they want to make money with the knowledge that doing so means communicating with the dirty world outside their peninsula.

      The “Corea” thing is about nationalism and hatred towards Japan. Koreans typically believe that the western world favours Japan, and that everything we do is in support of the Japanese evil agenda… Of these issues one of the minor, but most amusing, ones is that of the spelling of “Korea” in English. Koreans genuinely believe (and I don’t think I’m being unfair in throwing the entire country into one generalisation here) that they are the centre of the world and as such are allowed to dictate what other countries think in regards them. They believe that the spelling of the word “Korea” is part of a conspiracy to put down Korea, because K comes after J in the alphabet, whereas C obvious comes before either of them…


      It all comes down to a very macho culture of needing to come first in every respect. They can’t even bear the thought of having their country’s name come later in the alphabet than their enemy.

      • Uche Ogbuji says:

        Oh hell no! Rank pettiness on top of ultranationalism?!

        Reminds me of the passage in The King and I where the kids go up in arms because their British teacher shows them a modern map of the world in which Burma is bigger than Siam. She has to counter by showing them that Great Britain is even smaller.

        Maybe someone needs to tell those infants behind the “C before J” nonsense that the United States and United Kingdom both come much later in the alphabet. Or at least point out that Afghanistan still pwns them, no matter what they do 😉

        • Oh lord, try showing a map of the world to a bunch of kids over there… “But teacher, no! Korea so big!” Sorry kiddies, your parents lied.

          Honestly, though, I took it upon myself to teach geography to my kids and they absolutely loved it. They’d always ask, “Teacher, where’s Scotland?” and ask how they could get there. It was cute.

          Haha, I could imagine trying to explain the sequence of nations in the alphabet… “Yeah, but your countries obvious suck. Korea number one!”

    • ff5828582fei says:

      foad please

  22. Flint says:

    KRD! David. 🙂

    Good post.

    While I miss your site you made the right decision for you. The Korean nutizens are a bunch of extremists. Who can blame someone for not wanting to be subjected to their bullshit?

    All the talk about nationalism reminded me of one of my favourite quotes from former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

    “There is no such thing as a model or ideal Canadian. What could be more absurd than the concept of an “all Canadian” boy or girl? A society which emphasizes uniformity is one which creates intolerance and hate.”

    The final sentence never fails to make me think of South Korea.

    Take care

    • Hey Flint, good to hear from you. How’s life post-Korea?

      I was a little sad when KRD died, but it was indeed for the best. Sometimes you have to confine things to the past. Wave goodbye and move on. I did it with K-blogging, and I did it with Korea.

      That’s a fantastic quote from Trudeau. I’ve never heard it before but I’ll definitely be using it in future. Genius.

      • Flint says:


        I love being home but I haven’t been able to find a job I like. There are plenty of part time jobs and jobs I am not interested in. So, I have been thinking of leaving again.

        Today I got a job offer from my old boss (the good one) in Korea. Not sure I want to go back there now, if he had sent it a month or so ago I probably would have jumped at it. I am going to have to think about it.

        I have been thinking about ending my K-blog. All it seems to be about is negative things … since good things about Korea were few and far between when I lived there I rarely hear anything good not being there. Korea Times makes is just too easy to criticize. They keep raising the bar on stupidity. Plus I am running out of Korean mook pictures too. 😉

        Trudeau was a genius. Best PM we ever had. One of the few people who would look at a reporter who asked a stupid question and TELL them they are stupid. Or tell them to F off. 🙂

        • Yeah, I couldn’t face life back in the real world. I’m in China this now working at a university. The money’s good and the life is alright. I’m actually really enjoying it like I never did in Korea. Of course, it could all go wrong… but I’m happy for the moment. Scotland was fun last month but there were no jobs, not that I expected any.

          I’d obviously advise you against Korea! I do, however, recommend Taiwan and China. Japan sounds like a tough place to cut it but if you get in people usually stick around for a while.

          I keep an eye on your K-blog but honestly I don’t much comment on K-blogs these days. I only occasionally write about Korea and bring myself back to that awful part of my memory. Haha, I’m exaggerating… to an extent.

  23. Andrew Nonadetti says:

    Good Lord, David! Not that Korea was on my must-see list but, after reading this? Holy Hannah. Of course, this would be an interesting way to put a hit on someone. Start a virulently anti-Korean blog, whip up the masses, then release his address as the author’s…. Hm….

    Glad you’ve moved on. No sense rolling around in that kind of muck when you don’t need to.

  24. Paul Clayton says:

    David, I’m a little late to the party, but I enjoyed your post, and all your posts, BTW. Sad to hear that you had to move on. I fell in love with a Korean girl in my twenties, but she wouldn’t give me the time of day. Actually, neither did a lot of really attractive white girls, either. I ended up marrying a naturalized Chinese-American woman and we got along well for a long time. My daughter is bi-racial, my son, Asian (adopted). And my last girlfriend, also Chinese, born there.

    I must say, I do love the Chinese I know and I feel like I have married into that culture. As far as my attraction for Asian women, and specifically, Chinese, well, it’s like that old saying, Gentlemen prefer blondes. And some gentlemen prefer brunettes. And I’m drawn to Asian women.

    I’ve been in China twice. I must say, the last time I was there I got awfully sick. I thought I had the bird flu and would die. I would not go to the hospitals because of what I’d heard about how they would rip off foreigners. My fevered brain made me a little paranoid too, and I considered leaving my girl behind and heading for the airport and a plane back to the USA.

    I hope someday the Chinese deal with their Big Brother government. Anyway, may you have a great experience.


    • I just got to China on Tuesday morning, and I absolutely love it so far. The people seem pretty nice, and my co-workers are fantastic. It’s very different from anywhere I saw in Korea. All my co-workers are married to Chinese women! It’s amazing. In Korea they forbid their women from marrying foreigners (although obviously without a great deal of success) but in China apparently it’s a good thing for the family. Or so I’m told.

      I’m with you on that Gentlemen Prefer Asians thing. We’re all made different and you and I are made to appreciate that type of woman in particular.

      I must say that the Chinese “hygiene” isn’t really doing it for me… I don’t like the fact they use human faeces on their vegetable gardens or that the bathrooms are… well… beyond description. But I dig the country in general.

      • Judy Prince says:

        Re the bathrooms in China (PRC), David, you’ve hinted at the reason I decided, while living a year in Taiwan, not to visit China. It was inconvenient enough in Taiwan where one crouches over a hole in the floor, no toilet paper is provided, and “cleaning” consists of hosing the room with water. However, dear Rodent reminds me of my chauvinism—-and he seems to be correct in this stereotyping—-that USAmericans are obsessed with cleanliness, especially of the bodily variety. Now that I’m in England, I’ve gotten hygiene-lazy, showering/shampooing every 3 days instead of every morning.

        More random thoughts: I think that Korean females are amongst the most beautiful in the world, along with Ethiopian and Eritreans. My own judgement, of course. Also, I love Korean cuisine, and was quite frustrated at *not* liking Taiwanese dishes, though loving Japanese and some Chinese (baudz, the cabbage/pork-filled steamed dumplings; and awesome chicken noodle soup).

        Super-random association: I tried to make cloutie dumpling this week (finally dubbed it “Judy dumpling!); will have to actually follow Ma Broon’s recipe next time. If you ever get to Glasgow again, do have the cloutie dumpling at the popular *Babbity Bowster* pub (meaning “baby’s pillow” and named for a young-folks “kissing” game). I love that pub! Great food, great gobbets of televised sports! What’s not to like?

        Hey, take care, you! How’s the Hallowe’en thing going? Are you carving pumpkins along with your students? Wait—–that locution might be confusing. heh.

        • Ah, the bathrooms… Yeah, I’ve come to realise just how awful they can be, and I wish I’d realised before I wrote that old article about Asian toilets. I didn’t get just how nasty Chinese ones are…

          I’m obviously biased, but I totally agree with you about Korean women. They’re beautiful indeed. They are also scare. You don’t ever mess with a Korean girl! They’re tough. A lot tougher than the men.

          Korean food is great but I haven’t had it since leaving. It’s not something I’d want an imitation version of – the original is perfect and I wouldn’t change it.

          Never been to “Babbity Bowster,” and in fact haven’t really ever spent much time in Glasgow.

          Halloween should be fun. We’ll be doing the pumpkin thing with the students. I did that with my kindergarten kiddies the last two years and it was great. Trying it with university kids should be a treat, too.

        • Judy Prince says:

          David, will you and your students save the pumpkin innards to make pumpkin pies?

          I just read a Grauniad (Guardian) article about Brits making pumpkin pies, and the commenters (never shy, them) seem to’ve decided that that particular USA import was one they’d rather had stayed in the USA.

          Pumpkin pie’s dead easy to make, and either it or its southern USA equivalent, (sweet) potato pie, are THE pies (as well as apple, cherry, etc) we have for Thanksgiving and Christmas, exploiting the autumn/winter seasons when many of the pumpkins are ripe. Some families really get involved in the pumpkin carving with really creative and weird “faces”—–and they’ll make a real “jack o’ lantern” by putting a candle or a small bulb inside the carved-out pumpkin, one of the reasons being to have it in the front window on Hallowe’en evening to scare the little trick ‘n treating buggers.

          Thanksgiving is the most-traveled of all USA holidays. Makes sense, I guess, kind of like the month-long Lunar New Year in Taiwan when all generations of the families come together and eat themselves into a blissed-out state.

        • I would but there aren’t really any ovens here for making pies. Which is a shame. I do enjoy pumpkin pie. It can be a bit much, though. Pumpkin pie needs to be perfect, and even then I can only manage small doses. But I would disagree with that Guardian article and suggest that my life would have been worse without it. I was introduced during my first stay in California, and learned to make it. Then I learned about pumpkin seeds, which are also awesome. When I did pumpkin carving in Korea I always made the kids save their seeds and toast them.

          Ah yeah, it’s only a month ’til Thanksgiving. Good times. It’s one holiday I’ve been blessed over the past few years with celebrating, thanks to an abundance of American friends. I think I’ll be on my own this year so I doubt there will be any pumpkin pie. 🙁

        • Judy Prince says:

          Great idea to save the pumpkin seeds and toast them, David.

          Shame you don’t have an oven.

          I bet by Thanksgiving you’ll have American friends with whom you can gorge on goodies.

          I hadn’t realised how much the nostalgia factor regarding food was important to me until I got to Taiwan where I really didn’t like the native food. On top of the food frustration, I kept getting lost due to ignorance of written Chinese, my mum had died in the States, and I hadn’t yet made friends in Taiwan. A USAmerican colleague (and his wife) at Dan Jyang University invited us USAmericans for a Thanksgiving meal at their home to which we each brought a dish. I hadn’t realised there were so many USA’ers at the uni. We had a full house, lots of traditional American food, and it wonderfully revived me.

          Other things that revived my spirit were watching (the very few) American tv programs and English-speaking radio programs.

          Happy pumpkin-carving!

        • You know, I just went to a big Chinese version of Costco (I think they also have actual Costcos) and found some pumpkin pies… They’re expensive but they look delicious.

          It’s funny how little flavours from home can mean so much. For me I’m not sure it’s exactly that, but rather the simple pleasure of a good meal or a nice TV show. Or some rum. Or wine. Living abroad is great but you can really offset the loneliness and bad days with a bit of good food. Well, I just spent $100 at Chinese Costco and it went mostly on rum and cheese and ice cream – the foods that I have lived on for many years.

          I honestly kind of liked Taiwanese food and I do like Chinese food… although the “stinky tofu” almost made me puke. And it’s hard to eat in a restaurant knowing that the toilets in the back are lingering there in their evil, stanky way…

        • Judy Prince says:

          Pumpkin pie! Yes!

          David, I bet you’re right that they’ll be delicious. The Taiwan cakes and pies and pastries were fantastic; a local bake shop was my second home. 😉

          You had me chuckling at this:

          ” . . . although the “stinky tofu” almost made me puke. And it’s hard to eat in a restaurant knowing that the toilets in the back are lingering there in their evil, stanky way…”

        • Hell yeah. Can’t wait!

          I’ve been exploring China’s gay scene tonight. It’s quite vibrant, actually. Went to a place called “Revolution”… Good times. Starting to really love this country.

        • Judy Prince says:

          You mean the government doesn’t suppress gays like they do Christians? Wow. What next?

        • Exactly. Well, the bar was literally underground so I imagine the govt would be suppressing it if they could…

        • Judy Prince says:

          Incredible, David. It’s ever-astonishing that gays seem to be the last group to be “accepted” in so many societies.

  25. Byeong Joo Kim says:

    Korean netizens really are something else, and truly represent the ugliest, most despicable qualities common to my people. I’m sure you know this already, but they’ve already caused more than a couple Korean celebrities to commit suicide in the past year alone, and have even managed to poison a few of their relatives. (No, I’m not joking.) For Christ’s sake, if you hate a k-pop singer that much, feel free to bitch about it on the internet, but leave people’s fucking family members out of it. Goddamn.

    I think some expat in Korea put it this way– Koreans don’t go out of their way to be nasty to foreigners. They generally mistrust anybody outside their intimate circle of friends, family members, and co-workers. If foreigners are ever mistreated, it’s because you’re completely out of their social circle to begin with.

    If you think Korean society is bad in the twenty-first century, you don’t know how bad it was during the 1970s. My grandparents went through hell to discourage my parents from marrying because my mother was from a poorer part of the same province. Even today my old relatives, who hail from Gyeongsang-nam province tend to make nasty jokes about people from Jeolla province, and so on. I don’t even want to know what they think about black foreigners, although they have been very cordial and accepting of my cousin’s decision to marry a Chinese man.

    The corporal punishment in public school was too worse several decades ago (I mean regularly sending kids to hospitals kind of bad), and the environment was even more ugly and polluted. This is what happens when you force a country poorer than Zimbabwe to undergo 200 years of industrial development in the span of thirty five years. Every single Korean above a certain age suffers from major post-traumatic stress disorder. It’s kind of shocking how South Korea managed to do industrialize, even considering the aid we received from the U.S., but now the world must deal with the consequences.

    I take solace in the fact that Koreans have improved their outlook immensely over the past several decades alone. Yeah, it’s still bad, but how much worse was it way back then? You already know that we are a racially and culturally homogenous people, and unlike Taiwan or Singpore our country (until quite recently) had no ethnic minorities whatsoever. Not only that, Koreans were forbidden from leaving their country to conduct tourism until a few decades ago. Everything they know about foreign cultures has been filtered down through a nasty, fascist government that is the direct ideological heir of Hirohito’s Japan.*

    Race issues are improving in my country, and I wonder when it will someday be ready for LGBT rights. (haha, no.) Yet I wouldn’t be totally surprised if gay marriage here were legalized in thirty years, given the massive social changes that have swept the country in the past few decades alone. We Koreans are very, very unpredictable people, despite our capacity for group-think.

    *Side note: President Park Chung Hee (the father of modern Korea) was a high-ranking lieutenant in the Japanese imperial army, and even wrote and signed a personal oath swearing eternal fealty to the Japanese emperor. He basically wanted to continue Imperial Japan’s racist policies under a Korean context. Well, I think you already know he succeeded with flying colors, for better or worse.

  26. Byeong Joo Kim says:

    As for anti-Americanism in Korea, Koreans do have some very legitimate grievances against America and the West in general, although that certainly doesn’t excuse any xenophobia. When you promise people democracy, but instead help prop up a nasty dictator (and violent ajosshi) who basically spoke Japanese as a first language, you can’t expect people to weep with gratitude when they hear the Star-Spangled Banner. Just sayin’.

    Actually America has had a nasty habit of doing this everywhere in the world, not just in South Korea, but I think Koreans are more likely to express their hatred in ugly ways.

    Koreans were always pretty anti-American, it’s just the military dictatorship suppressed any dissent against their anti-North, fascist party line. Once democracy was restored to the South people practically exploded in paroxysms of rage. I believe the central and southwestern parts of the country (Taegu, Gwangju in particular) are notorious for anti-Yankee hatred.

    Hence you see their overreaction to the deaths of the two Korean girls in 2002, anger against Apollo Ohno at the winter olympics, the anti-US beef protests, etc. You know people are really, really stupid to bite the hand that keeps the North from turning their cities back into rubble, but deep down Koreans understand that Americans won’t do shit as long as the Kim dynasty remains in power. How many Americans can locate my country on the map, anyway? Hell, how many American politicians know the difference between North and South Korea?

    Once the US actually threatens to remove its armed forces from the peninsula, you will see a sharp reduction in anti-American sentiment in South Korea. It’s just realpolitik. Koreans are lots of things, but stupid we are not.

    • Flint says:

      “As for anti-Americanism in Korea, Koreans do have some very legitimate grievances against America and the West in general”

      What are they? Only thing I can think of is the splitting of Korea in two by the “Great Powers” after WW 2 and propping up dictators.

      • Byeong Joo Kim says:

        It looks like somebody rode the little yellow bus to school. Did you not read the rest of my post, guy?

        • Flint says:

          Evidently you are right, sorry you ride the short yellow bus. I guess calling you a moron would be picking on the retarded so I will refrain.

          I wasn’t being sarcastic. The rest of your post talked about over-reaction but not where else the cause could have came from. I WAS wondering if there was more. Now, I don’t care.

        • Flint says:

          David … if you want to remove or edit my post above I have no problem with it. The twit irked me. I didn’t think that you might not want crap like that on your site. No disrespect intended.

        • Byeong Joo Kim says:

          No, I made the cause explicitly clear in my post. Your shitty reading comprehension skills are not binding upon me. Piss off.

          Oh yes, only five million people died during the Korean War and under North Korean tyranny, and a further 100,000 South Koreans died under military repression of left-wing activities. If some (but not all) Koreans blame Americans for instigating all that misery (which is unfair, but not entirely without merit), then why wouldn’t they examine the United States through a highly distorted and irrational lens?

          If you want a more thorough and comprehensive treatment of democratization in South Korea, any treatise by scholars of modern Korean history (e.g. Andrei Lankov, BR Myers) will do. I won’t waste any further words with you.

        • Go ahead, guys. My Korean history isn’t particularly great, so go ahead and argue all you want. I don’t really have any particular words of wisdom to impart.

    • Thanks for the long, considered comments, Byeongju. I always appreciate genuinely considered replies to my thoughts on Korea, and you’ve certainly given a lot to think about. (Although to be honest I thought your reply to Flint was pretty uncalled for.)

      I don’t think that Koreans are stupid, but I think they are very passionate and that passion can become misguided. The anti-American sentiment displayed through reactions to various events (the 2002 deaths, the beef thing etc etc) don’t show necessarily a stupidity of the nation, but rather a tendency towards group-thinking and hysteria. I get the impression that Korea will move away from that. It has indeed come a long way in a short time.

      I do feel, though, that the hatred of America comes not from anything political, but rather a sort of entrenched racism. It just seems that way. I’ve seen racism all around the world and usually when there’s some big uproar like the beef protests it comes from people simply waiting to get upset.

      But yes, I suppose this is also improving. Koreans are having more interaction with foreigners and realising that we’re not all monsters. Hopefully another couple of years will see yet more improvements.

      Anyway, sorry for the short reply but I’m a little busy today.

      • Byeong Joo Kim says:

        There’s a lot of shit Koreans will never say to foreigners, even if they speak fluent English as I do. I did read your blog before you deleted it. You misunderstood a lot of things about Korean society, but I did appreciate your willingness to speak your mind honestly. You’d be surprised how many Koreans, especially those who have traveled abroad, will voice similar complaints about Korea (well, usually not with your harshness), yet we are told to put a “good face” toward foreigners and defend everything about their country. It is just madness.

        Korea’s passion is very beautiful when we devote it toward the right things (e.g. rapid economic development, recovery from the Asian financial crisis, the 2002 World Cup), but it is truly the most despicable thing on Earth when we devote it to hatred. This is the mentality that spawned Nazi Germany. It is very unlikely that Korea will ever go that far, but that still doesn’t mean it isn’t deplorable.

        As for racism, I don’t think it properly describes anti-Americanism in Korea. In my experience, older Koreans who were born before the Korean War tend to be hospitable to a fault toward Americans, despite their xenophobia and ignorance. Of course, they are still prejudiced against people from other nations (note: in their eyes, all white people are American, and all rich people are white), but that should more accurately be described as classism rather than racism.

        It’s the people who grew up in the aftermath of the Korean War who are spectacular assholes. This is where all ajummas and ajosshis come from, and I don’t blame them for being rude toward everybody, their lives have been nothing but misery since day one. The ultra-nationalistic propaganda they were force-fed under Park Chung Hee’s rule didn’t help things, either. If their generation died out today, that alone would solve 75% of Korea’s social ills.

        Side note: I did find out that the ROK government has phased out most of the ultra-nationalistic bullshit from curricula in primary schools, probably because a substantial percentage of Korean children born today is mixed-race. (I believe it was one out of ten in 2005, it is undoubtedly higher today.) I eagerly look forward to returning to my homeland after a few decades, but not today, for the reasons you mentioned.

        BTW, did I mention how much I hate ajosshis? We can’t say this out loud in Korea due to social custom, but everybody just loathes them. My Korean friends in America all cheered for the youtube girl who was assaulted on the subway. I feel guilty about hating them, since they are victims of their environment, but they are so contemptible. Oh my fucking God. Now I want to cry.

      • Byeong Joo Kim says:

        Sorry for the long, rambling post, but I do enjoy conversing with foreigners who have lived in Korea, who tend to vary widely in their experiences. I am sorry you had such a rough time, I think Japan, Hong Kong, or Taiwan would be a better match for Westerners wanting to explore Asian cultures.

        Just stay out of mainland China. It has so many of Korea’s social ills (ultra-nationalism, dishonesty, xenophobia, etc.) with a much lower standard of living, although the culture is much more varied and interesting.

        • Yeah, adjussis and adjummas are pretty much loathed by anyone who visits Korea. They have reasons for being such assholes… but so do all assholes. People are products of their environment.

          I’m actually living in mainland China right now. It’s too early to speak with any accuracy, but I’m really enjoying myself so far. I enjoyed my time in Korea, too, but differently. Taiwan was absolutely brilliant when I visited, as was Japan. But we’ll see. Time often highlights faults that are hard to view on first impression.

        • Flint says:

          An Idiot’s Tale shut down. Or at least locked down for now. He was receiving threats from Korean nutizens and I guess decided enough was enough.

        • Holy shit! I never thought I’d see the day…

        • He’s back online now. I guess the netizens couldn’t keep him down.

  27. dwoz says:

    this thread is funny. It’s like TNB’s “Field of Dreams” moment.

    • Haha, I like it. I honestly expected a bit more aggression, though. I guess TNB doesn’t pop up on Naver or Daum.

      • Byeong Joo Kim says:

        As of Wednesday of next week, Mr. Yankee-nom will shut down his old blog and resume blogging at a new url:


        I admire his concern for the safety and welfare of his Dragon Lady and the Children of the Rice. Kurt Vonnegut always was one of my favorite authors, even in South Korea.

        If you’re interested, by the way, here’s the Chinese counterpart to your Korean Rum Diary:


        It felt so distant, yet oh so close to home.

        • Thanks for the links. I didn’t realise Mr Wonderful was at a new blog. I hope it works out well for him. I never understood exactly why people hated him so much.

          The Chinese one is actually pretty good, too. I can’t really find anything I disagree with, but I do enjoy living in China… so far. I’ve got to say that China’s toilets are far worse than Korea’s, and Korea’s are AWFUL.

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