It’s hard for outsiders to understand just how prevalent prostitution is in South Korean society. People from Europe or the United States will think of prostitutes in terms of stereotypes lifted from movies, and the occasional drive through a bad neighbourhood. These girls, we think, are a small minority working street corners for pimps.

In South Korea, however, prostitution is everywhere. Certainly there are places notorious for brothels, but they exist out in the open across every city in the country. It is technically illegal, but these American-introduced laws are largely unenforced, and “crackdowns” are just for show, to appease the international community.

You might be forgiven for overlooking prostitution as a tourist, unless you pass a U.S. military base or perhaps visit Seoul’s famous “Hooker Hill,” but once you know what you’re looking for, it’s hard to miss. Perhaps the most common example is the “barber shop.” Of course, these places don’t even pretend to offer haircuts. They are simply apartments with rotating barber shop poles outside, and they can be found in even the most well-developed areas of the country.

Prostitution also exists wherever there are supposedly massages, saunas, nightclubs, karaoke, motels… It’s not considered a big deal and it is available all day, every day, everywhere.

Various reports place the number of women in the Korean sex industry at around 1.2 million. That’s between 1 in 5 and 1 in 10 adult women presently engaged in the sex industry… To put it another way: there are more prostitutes in Korea than there are schoolteachers.

Prostitution is so common that it accounts for between 4-5% of the country’s GDP. That’s more than the forestry, agriculture and fishing industries combined.

Perhaps a more telling statistic is that 20% of Korean men in their 20s pay for sex more than 4 times a month. It’s staggering to think just how acceptable it is for men to pay women to have sex with them.

It is so common for male employers and employees to visit prostitutes together, and to discuss at work their plans to visit a brothel, that the government actually offers financial breaks to companies whose male employees pledge not to pay for sex.

So how does such social acceptance of prostitution effect the attitude of Korea’s men towards women in general? Well, Korea is ranked 63rd out of 70 countries on the Gender Empowerment Measure, with countries like Cambodia and the United Arab Emirates following closely behind…

Human trafficking is a tremendous problem in Korea, too, or at least it would be if it were considered immoral. Women from Russia and South-East Asia are commonly brought into Korea after the offer of a legitimate job, only to find themselves trapped in the sex industry. It’s estimated that there are hundreds of thousands of these women currently working in crooked massage parlors and karaoke rooms.

Likewise, Korea exports its own citizens to the United States in what U.S. Immigration described as “a highly organized logistical network” between the two countries. In Los Angeles, 90% of prostitutes arrested each month are Korean-born.


But these are mere statistics. Numbers without human faces, and devoid of any particular attachment to reality.

Let’s take a closer look.



When I visited a journalist friend in Seoul last year, we decided to visit a notorious area of Uijeongbu (a town familiar to fans of M*A*S*H) and interview some of the prostitutes. We planned on writing an article that cut to the heart of the issue and got real stories from real women whose voices are lost amidst these heartless numbers and meaningless political rhetoric.

We took off from his apartment in the early hours, armed with a tape recorder and ready for anything. The streets of Uijeongbu look identical to every other city in a country which cannot stand originality or deviation from the norm, and we hardly noticed as we slipped into the red-light district.

On either side of a large, busy road were bland, innocuous building exactly like those on every other street in the country, except that the doors were open, and clichéd red lights shown from within.

“This is it,” he said. “You ready?”

“Of course.” And I was, or I thought I was. How bad could it be?

We agreed to walk down one side of the street, cross over the bridge, and back down the next. We didn’t think it was right to go into a brothel and demand an interview with some poor girl, so we decided that we’d just look around talk to whoever made the first move. If a girl came out and asked us for business, we’d engage her in conversation, and see what happened.

The first few doors were closed, and the next were open but the rooms were empty. These weren’t organized brothels with pimps and dozens of girls – these were the homes of women who lived and worked in the same filthy room, with only a small kitchen and bathroom attached.

About halfway down the street we came across an occupied room. The girl – or rather, the middle-aged woman – looked out at us and shook her head. “Not for you,” she said, in broken English.

“Why?” my friend asked, although we both knew.

In Korean, she explained: “Because you are foreigners.”

We asked her how much she charged, and she refused to say, but said that for $5 we could have a beer. She grabbed two domestic beers and moved to open them, but we declined and left quickly. The room stank of sex and looked like the sort of place you might catch an infection simply from sitting on the bed.

We passed a few more places, either being told “Not for you,” or “It’ll cost more for a foreigner.” We tried asking a few questions, but got no answers. Mostly, though, we were left speechless by the conditions in which these women lived and worked. The rooms were vile, even by Korean standards.

“We’re not getting anything,” my friend said. “We should at least sit down with one of them, just have a beer and talk.”

“I don’t know, man,” I said. “I’m losing my nerve. This place is making me sick. I don’t think I could even stomach a beer, and honestly I doubt they’ll talk even if we sit down with them.”

We crossed the bridge and started down the other side of the road, having gained nothing useable. We didn’t even speak. It was just too depressing. Prior to actually stepping into the hooker district we’d been guilty of thinking of prostitution in those cold terms – numbers, percentages, rhetoric. Up close it was just hard to look at.

On the other side of the road we were getting some offers. Older women stood outside these apartments, offering their services and the services of younger, more attractive women. Obviously they’d watched us on the other side of the road and decided that they could probably make a bit of money. We were, perhaps foolishly, very well dressed.

We threw out some questions and asked if we could record the answers, but although the women had no issue with the tape recorder, they answered our questions with offers of blowjobs and price lists and chose to practice their English. We learned nothing.

About halfway down the road we found an open door with the standard red light and beaded strands hanging from the frame. Inside there was a mattress on the floor, a refrigerator full of cheap Korean beer, and a haggard woman sitting, waiting for a punter. When we stopped and looked inside she glanced up and we knew that she was trying to decide whether or not to offer herself to a foreigner.

That’s when we noticed she was not alone. There was a child sitting on a chair, opposite the bed. She was watching a drama on a small TV set in the corner, but there was nowhere else for her to be. There was one other door in the room and it led to a filthy little toilet. This was the girl’s home.

The woman said a number and I honestly don’t recall what number it was. My friend and I just turned and walked very quickly down the street, away from the mess. We passed three more women on the street who tried to entice us into their homes, but we ignored them.

We slipped silently out of the red-light district and back into normal, regular Korea without noticing. It was the same fucking place, except the doors were no longer open. Barber shop poles and old women with cards and promises of young women lined the streets. We both agreed to get out of the country as soon as we could. It was rotten to the core and would likely never change.

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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.

150 responses to “Watching Mother Work”

  1. M.J. Fievre says:


    Very informative. And heartbreaking. Thank you for sharing this. Are there any organizations at all trying to change the situation?

    • There are a few organisations, but they don’t hold much sway. The government has been conducting “crackdowns” for a long time, but these are useless. Prostitution is so entrenched in Korean society that honestly it’s unrealistic to expect the police force to really achieve any measure of success in this respect. The best we can hope for is that it becomes a little more marginalised – that maybe some people will become a little less accepting.

      I guess, though, prostitution will always exist all over the world.

  2. Matt says:

    Fucking-a, man.

    Though I’ve never had the desire to engage it, I’m all for legalizing prostitution here in the U.S. Legalize, tax it, lay down safety and medical regulations (for both the workers and the customers), because, as you say, it’s one of those things that will always exist all over the world. There are records of it dating back to ancient Sumeria, the “oldest profession in the world” etc.

    But this….man, this is fucked up. The kind of entrenched behavior you find in a culture that has completely enshrined gratification at the expense of valuing human life.

    Kudos to you and your friend for trying to do an expose, even you weren’t successful.

    • Something else I wanted to get into here was the attitude foreigners in Korea held towards prostitution. I’ve never done it and never will, but I find it shocking how people come to accept it. A lot of people seem to think, “Well, I haven’t gotten laid in a few weeks so it’s no big deal…” because the obviously can’t get their head around the reality of it. To them it’s just a matter of their own needs.

      I think that legalisation would probably help the situation for workers, and let these guys who need/want it and everyone would be happier. But I don’t see it happening on a grand scale. We’ll still have women being trafficked, abused, and we’ll still have kids watching their mums work.

      Korea isn’t the only country in the world where this happens, but it’s one of the few that tries to present themselves as thoroughly civilised and advanced, whereas the reality is something totally different.

  3. This was intense, David. I guess I never really knew how extreme the situation was/is over there. Disturbing, chilling and so accepted.

    I think that you did find the story you were seeking, just not in a manner that you expected. If these women were to get out of the trade would the country have any jobs to support them?

    • Yeah, like I said, it’s hard to imagine, even when you read the numbers.

      There was a report (from which I took a few of the stats above) that claimed that the country’s GDP would fall more than 1% if it were to be effectively stopped. But that’s just one reason it would never happen.

      I’m not sure what these women would do without it. Women in South Korea can get “good” jobs, just like in the west. I’m not sure how much respect they really get.

  4. Zara Potts says:

    The very fact that you write a piece such as this, shows what a kind and thoughtful man you are, David.

    It is terrible and shocking and depressing and unfortunately it isn’t just a Korean problem. These places exist right around the world.

    The ubiquitous ‘barber’ shops and ‘hairdressing’ shop fronts though, do so seem to be a Korean thing. We have plenty of them here in Auckland and I often wonder how many women working there have actually been trafficked or at the very least, tricked into working there.

    In New Zealand, prostitution is legal. I don’t know that it has had the desired effect though. We still have dodgy parlours and brothels operating where women are most likely forced into service and we also have a terrible problem with underage prostitution here.

    In Christchurch (my hometown) which is one of the more genteel and pretty places you could imagine, there is a very seedy underbelly. Every night, on one of the main roads, on every corner stands a fourteen/fifteen year old. It’s a real problem, and one that nobody seems to have an answer for.

    It’s a miserable existence for these teenagers, and dangerous too. The murder rate for Christchurch street prostitutes is pretty high. All in all it’s a very sad thing.

    It may be the oldest profession, but it’s still one of the saddest and most dangerous.

    • Yeah, it’s not just a Korean problem. South Africa has horrendous statistics tied to it, too. Japan and China, I hear, are also bad. I think it has a terrible impact upon the way young men view women. I’ve read stories from a lot of women who just accept the fact that their men will go off and screw prostitutes. It’s part of his job as a businessman. If he said no he’d be fired…

      I guess one of the problems with legalisation is that in nice, expensive establishments where the girls are well paid and there is protection of all sorts, you can really control it and make it a tolerable job. But there will always be cheaper brothels and there will be more guys go there, and fewer restrictions, and more danger.

      It’s always a shame to imagine teenagers resorting to it. It’s such a vulnerable time in life, and so easy to be pushed into such a horrible profession.

  5. zoe zolbrod says:

    I had absolutely no idea that prostitution existed to this extent in South Korea. Amsterdam, Hamburg, Mumbai, Bangkok, Phnom penh, so many notorious places, but… Your statistics are staggering. What are the economic conditions that result in so many women working in the sex industry? I thought Korea was a powerhouse, economically. I had heard that it’s a runaway consumer society, putting the US to shame in that regard, but from your description, it doesn’t sound like women are choosing sex work to pay for their designer clothes. It does not sound like it is even allowing them to provide decently for their children. Could you tell if the women you saw were Korean or were from elsewhere?

    Thanks for opening my eyes to this.

    • Korea is a wealthy country where women technically have equality, blah blah blah… So much in Korea is a sham for the international community. This is a country that was dragged, kicking and screaming, from the depths of poverty. It happened so quickly that the changes never became entrenched in the national mindset. They have laws against prostitution (which were forced by the Americans many years ago) but it is a part of life and it always has been. Sadly, it always will be.

      Korea maybe rich and modern and beset buddies with America, but it’s very different. It has its own culture and that involves men visiting prostitutes every week. The number of women working in the industry has nothing to do (in this particular case) with economic conditions. It’s all to do with what men want. They push and trick women into it, and create constant demand. This is a society where women are treated terribly, and all the while the model their laws on advanced western countries, so they can impress the world.

      The women I saw were Korean. Down in Busan’s “Foreigner Town” (yeah, that’s is official name…) the women are mostly Russian and Filipino. Around Daegu I think a lot of them are Chinese-Korean.

  6. Very grim, David. I had no idea prostitution was such a pervasive part of Korean society. Now that I think about it, though, in San Francisco the Korean element of the massage trade always seemed disproportionate. I agree with your assessment that nothing will ever change. Not here, not there. Pick any country and observe the way people use one another, and the relative degrees to which they are desensitized to it. The conjunction of commerce and gratification. From the worst room in Korea to Elliott Spitzer and everything in between.

    • “Desensitized.” That’s a good word for it. If people viewed it in a negative light it would probably become a little less popular, although it’s never going to fully disappear. Instead, it’s just what happens, like the sun rising and setting. No one cares. An inevitability.

  7. Quenby Moone says:

    I think that your description of the horrid conditions and your revulsion speaks volumes above what you might have gleaned from interviews. Interesting that you could make a piece about NOT getting the interview as compelling as you did–it underscores the desperation and the entrenchment of a situation you were unable to delve into without sinking well beyond your own comfort level.

    I think that is an amazing feat. Thanks.

    • Thanks, Quenby. Although this was not what I set out to do, I have always been a failed of “failed journalism” – that style of writing where the journalist sets out for one thing and comes back with another, but in the end you get the idea… Hunter S. Thompson did it well.

      I suppose a professional journalist would have gotten interviews and explored brothels from one end of the country to the other, but that’s a different story. This was just a glimpse. An eye-opener. I think that in Korea there are a lot of stats about prostitution and they are just absorbed without care, and I wanted to show a tiny bit of the reality.

  8. Irene Zion says:

    This is just gut-wrenchingly sad.

  9. Don Mitchell says:

    Nicely done, David, and of course as everybody has said, very sad.

    Where are the men? I don’t mean the johns — I mean pimps, friends or partners of the women, that sort of thing. From your description, it’s as though you stepped into a completely female world. That wouldn’t have surprised me if the hookers had come to the district from somewhere else, meaning where they lived when they weren’t hooking. But the rooms were their homes, and all you saw were women, which leads back to my question.

    • That’s an interesting point, Don. I’m sure that there are men pulling the strings, making cash somewhere. But also, I think that in Korea the women do, to some extent, run this industry. If not the big bosses, they certainly rule it from the management positions. I doubt a man would risk being seen as a pimp in Korea. If he makes money, it’s probably as “landlord” or some other such job. A lot of men marry women from China with promises of better lives… and then next thing they know they’re forced to work on streets like this. The husband probably takes all the cash.

      I do get the feeling that in Korea (where women are very strong) the business is to some extent run by women, who know that men will always pay for sex. I’ve read about the tough female pimps that run some of the bigger brothels, and even stories from North Korea…

      Ah well, that’s just speculation. Maybe some day someone will go out and get the full story, and expose it for the world.

  10. times have changed…i found this from the sf chronicle from 2003…it says they are not promiscuous, so how does that explain the industry?…i wondered what current hiv rates were…well done…crazy coreans…

    In South Korea, conservative mores discourage frank discussion about sex and some people say promiscuity and adultery are less common than in other Asian countries. Many health experts say society’s renunciation of promiscuity is a major reason why South Korea’s 50 million inhabitants have one of the lowest HIV infection rates in Asia.

    Very few contracted HIV through dirty needles. In 2002, South Korea recorded 400 new HIV cases, compared to 124 in 1997. And by 1993, the majority of new infections were passed from Korean to Korean. The sex industry in South Korea is big business, accounting for $20 billion, or 4.1 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product in 2002, according to the Korean Institute of Criminology. To control prostitution, government officials are considering legalizing it. Korea’s National Institute of Health plans to install 18,000 condom vending machines at major nightspots throughout the country and at “every possible location we can,” said Kwon Jun Wook, an NIH official.

    • Interesting interpretation… I wonder what they mean, exactly, when they talk about promiscuity. Do they include prostitution? Because I honestly don’t think that Koreans generally consider visiting prostitutes as constituting unfaithfulness.

      Also, it’s quite an insular society, to say the least, and back then (which is a long time, given how much Korea changes) it would be hard to get facts without taking them directly from the government… which has always sought to give the world a good opinion of Koreans (the chosen people).

      Regarding AIDS, Korea doesn’t really let HIV positive people into the country. Hotel rooms also feature condom dispensers and free condoms as standards. That’s probably why they have a low rate of STDs in spite of everything.

  11. Michelle says:

    This was so sad to read. I’m so ignorant, I had no idea…

    What is the timeline on this? I mean, has it always been such a problem, or reaching crisis level more recently?

    I’m wondering because my mom came here (U.S.) from South Korea around 1970. She’s never talked about this; I don’t think she knows. I still have some relatives there. I don’t know, this really shocked me, especially the trafficking part…


    • Prostitution, as far as I’m aware, has been common in Korea for centuries. It was only first made illegal in 1948, when the America forces outlawed it. That law was a bit ridiculous, though, and was altered a few years later.

      In the years after the Korean war, prostitution flourished, thanks to lonely American GIs, and also, presumably, increased salaries.

      I’m honestly not sure how much worse it currently is, but there’s one thing that should be said: That Korea claims to be a modern, civil, decent society with equality for all, and yet as we can see, it is far from perfect, and in this one respect they seem to have no real drive for improvement.

  12. I’ll just add to the chorus here and say how hopelessly depressing this is. I wonder how many of the prostitutes were once that little kid in the corner watching television. If it’s that much a part of daily existence as far back as one can remember, no wonder it’s both commonplace and accepted. Good work on bringing an important story to light — though it’s really disheartening to think there’s nothing to be done about it.

    • That’s an interesting point. I’m sure it’s a contributing factor, and if I actually managed to get any real interviews, I’d probably have found out. Still, that’s something some one else can hopefully ask.

      I’m sure that there are things that could be done, but sadly, I doubt they will. For that to happen you need people to want it done. We need the international community to keep shaming Korea, and for people to stop saying “Well done! You’ve come so far!” and instead say, “Really? You do what?”

  13. Simon Smithson says:

    Man. Grim.

    Prostitution is, academically, such a complex issue. There are a thousand discussions to be had about it, from the wider issues that stems from accepting the commodification of the (usually female) body to whether there’s any kind of redemptive honesty about it… I don’t know. Conversations that would probably warrant hitting the library first.

    I think it’s probably something that will never be eradicated – leaving aside the question of whether it should or shouldn’t be. What would be the best outcome would be legislation and transparency, but maybe the system that exists now is too wide-spread and entrenched for change to take place – even if there is the will and opportunity to change – over anything less than generations.

    In the meantime, those poor women, and the poor fucking kid.

    The attitudes that you’ve seen and reported on in South Korea – in the age of the internet (in which South Korea is thriving) and increased globalisation and exposure to different cultures – are they being eroded at all? Or is it pushing things the other way?

    • Yeah, it’s a complex issue that people have and will continue to discuss for years to come. It’s not going anywhere because men want sex and as long as there are desperate women in this world, the supply and demand will match up. You’re right, though: a little transparency would make a difference, even if it just helped improve the lives of people stuck in the industry.

      Korea is fiercely nationalistic, and so they do try and fight the encroaching outside world, but yeah, times are changing. With every crotchy old bastard that dies, the country stands a chance of improving. But in certain respects I just can’t see much change coming. All over the world we develop differently, for better or for worse, and while Korea is making money and ever so slowly coming to accept outsiders, I doubt they’ll change their centuries-old acceptance of prostitution.

      Maybe I’m wrong. I certainly hope so.

  14. A sad, sobering piece for sure, David. This one statistic really got to me:

    “more prostitutes in Korea than there are schoolteachers.”

    Wow. I don’t really know what else to say about that one.

    • Yeah, that’s something that really stuck me. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a teacher, my mother is a teacher, or whatever… There’s something horrifying about the fact that this is a country where it’s more common to sell sex than knowledge. But then again, these are amazing facts that go in one ear and out the other. No statistic really grabs the whole issue.

  15. Calvin Veblen says:

    “This is a country that was dragged, kicking and screaming, from the depths of poverty.”

    Any “writer” who contributes this to the commentary accompanying their article has some pretty obvious issues; none of which demonstrate any capacity whatsoever for nuance or, in this case, history.
    It’s an absolutely disgusting statement.

    I have an idea for this atrocious “writer”. Next time you drop by one of the several hundred American military bases dotted throughout the world, why not head out with some of the boys for a little RnR on the weekends? Why not interview them as their busy buying the services of a German, Fillipino, Colombian or Iraqi whore? Whole towns are known to spring up around these bases, solely for the purpose of keeping the Yanks from raping the local townsfolk and ideally making a few bucks while their at it.

    Having read this article and your accompanying statements, I can state unequivocally that you’re a terrible writer, an atrocious student of history and an absolute hack as a journalist. You lack verve, style, intelligence and any considerations of complexity as far as I can see.
    If you’re going to have at it son, *HAVE AT IT*. Wagging your finger and saying “this is bad” is slop bucket, hackneyed horseshit.

    You’re an boorish, moralistic asshole and I pray that your defense rests on the fact your a junior high student – because any grown adult writing this junk has a severe mental handicap.

    Have your parents send you to med school – where your finger wagging can have some use berating smokers.

    • What to say to a comment this fucking ignorant? Well, I’ll start by saying “Fuck you and the Hyundai you rode in on!” Asshole.

      What makes you think I deny the role of American servicemen in the establishment of brothels around the world? What makes you think that even if I did it would draw from the facts I stated and experiences I related?


      Fuck you.

      Shut the fuck up with your moronic half-thoughts and degenerate fucking opinions. Don’t be so fucking defensive. Come back with a real, considered point and we’ll talk. Until then you can crawl back to your hole in the ground and fucking entertain yourself with your own “wit”.

      (Also, when one wants to use the phrase “you are”, it’s often abbreviated to “you’re” and never to “your”. Just so you know…)

      • Becky Palapala says:

        Oh, fuck, David, don’t listen.

        The main purpose of this guy’s bombastic blow-hardery is to let him hear himself speak. He’s impressed with nothing in the world but his own ability to put together fascinating insults, and he aims to help, defend, or entertain no one but himself.

        It’s obvious he does it often enough. Let him whack away at his critical schlong, the perceived heft of which he is obviously quite taken with.

        Talking to him won’t help. The only appropriate response is a middle finger and no further regard.

        • Gloria says:

          My guess: this guy is in the military and he took it personally that David mentioned that there are brothels near bases. As if David were attacking or accusing him personally. Knee-jerk reaction.

          Interesting, sad, reasonably well supported essay, David. Thanks for sharing.

        • Michelle says:

          G, that was my take as well.
          What a douche.

        • Michelle says:

          “Critical schlong” lmfao!! omg

          Now that would be a spectacular name for a band!

    • Slade Ham says:

      Wow. Simmer down, cowboy. You want someone to banter with about R&R with the soldiers on “military bases dotted throughout the world”, I’ll happily go with you. Of course quite a bit of money gets spent on prostitution by them. They’re young guys with pockets full of disposable income in countries where you can legally buy pussy for pennies on the dollar. But is that the source of the problem? God no. It’s just another symptom.

      David posted a story about what he saw and how it sickened him. At least there was a point. I’ve read your comment four times now and am still not even sure exactly what you’re upset about. Nothing to debate, nothing to converse about. Just a weak attempt to use big words and yell.

      There’s a quote I recently read that I would like to repeat here:

      If you’re going to have at it son, *HAVE AT IT*. Wagging your finger and saying “this is bad” is slop bucket, hackneyed horseshit.

      Because that’s pretty much all you did.

    • Uche Ogbuji says:


      You seem to make a half-start at a counter-argument, but then you give up and completely collapse into schoolyard invective. Maybe if you actually present an articulate counter-point, there could be some useful discussion here. As it is, you just come off looking like a troll.

      • Becky Palapala says:

        The point, or objection, is a valid one. At least a worthwhile question worthy of debate.

        A strong enough one, even, that it would an incredible act of uncommon douchery to make everyone ignore it and just go straight for his odious tone.

        Yet Calvin persevered.

        He’s a hero, really. To trolls everywhere.

      • Becky Palapala says:

        I wonder if “odious” is what Cal meant when he said “odorous statement.”

        I wonder what its odor is?

        What DOES the race debate smell like, I wonder?

  16. Calvin Veblen says:

    Okay shit for brains – what the fuck is the point of this statement?

    “This is a country that was dragged, kicking and screaming, from the depths of poverty.”

    You mean like how Scottish people had to be physically coerced by the British from living in boggy marshes, eating their own excrement and regularly engaging in incest?
    Is that the path you’re on about boy?

    Really – asshole – what the fuck is the point of that statement?
    What are you saying by making this claim, you fucking waste of skin?
    Be specific. Be exacting. I’m really interested in knowing how you defend that statement.

    Are you suggesting Koreans loved being poor? Are you suggesting they were helpless invalids who required the assistance of some benign entity to help save themselves?

    Is Korea yet another in the long list of subhuman nations enlisted to be the white mans burden, you fucking slimeball piece of shit?
    Is that what you meant by that?

    Your statement – that Korea was “dragged kicking and screaming, from the depths of poverty” is so egregiously stupid, so patently fucking retarded, I’ll bet you wrote this fucking essay with a crayon. And wearing a bib.

    And the rest of your fucking “fans” can go fuck themselves if they don’t see the problem in that odorous statement. If you dinks can defend a prick that scribbles shit like that in the afterwards of their writing, you’re all hopelessly lost as writers. And as decent human beings.
    Stick to your blogs.

    All I see here is a load of sanctimonious horseshit from a bunch of no talents. Praising some dumbfuck who couldn’t write a decent fucking shopping list. Racist fucks.
    Peddle your shit elsewhere.

    I’ll come back and visit when this useless piece of shit writer known as David S. Wills is thrown kicking and fucking screaming into a volcano with the rest of his boggy, inbred Scottish population.
    Racist piece of shit.

    • Becky Palapala says:



      In the face of this kind of genius, I guess I SHOULD just throw down my pen.

      Some of my favorites: “Shit,” “Fuck,” “fuckS,” “fucking,” “shithead,” “piece of shit,” “asshole”

      I am outdone! We are ALL outdone!

      Did it ever occur to you, new friend, that we were never able to consider in any serious way what might be wrong with David’s statement because you were carrying on like a rabid hyena so loudly and with such an obvious desire that all eyes and thoughts be trained directly on you that we couldn’t hear ourselves think, let alone think about anything other than what a monstrous philistine you were?

      I’m no one to tell you what to do, but you may discover you have a more pleasant, productive experience with other human beings, I mean, socially and persuasively, when your opening salvo is not to accost them with a butcher knife. This tends to be common knowledge, but maybe you’re drunk.

      • Calvin Veblen says:

        Here’s my opening paragraph:
        “This is a country that was dragged, kicking and screaming, from the depths of poverty.”

        ‘Any “writer” who contributes this to the commentary accompanying their article has some pretty obvious issues; none of which demonstrate any capacity whatsoever for nuance or, in this case, history. It’s an absolutely disgusting statement.’

        Here’s the author’s response:
        “What to say to a comment this fucking ignorant? Well, I’ll start by saying “Fuck you and the Hyundai you rode in on!” Asshole. ”
        So really – nice try that my invective kicked this off. What you saw was the little runty author load up on the swear words because he doesn’t have an answer for the loathsome racist comment he made about the nation of Korea – and he knows he’s got NOTHING.

        Ladies (and yes, I use the term loosely) and gents – that’s the argument in a nutshell. The young, dumb and full of shit Scot can’t muster a rational, reasonable, honest response to defend his ugly, noxious statement, so he hurled invective and you all; to a person, swallowed the load he gave you.

        Yeh – this author is really a master of the written word. Look how inventively he utilizes the well known national brand name of a car to denigrate his critic. He’s a comic genius sorta.

        Nice to see that morons on Nervous Breakdown come in colours other than white, though.

        Welcome person of colour – whose native country was probably dragged kicking and screaming from the depths… oh, wait… they’re still living like mangy animals there.
        Poor little fella.
        Crawled out of the toilet that was his native land.
        On behalf of David S Wills, let me welcome you to the civilized world.

    • Uche Ogbuji says:

      Damn. I gotta stop chomping this popcorn. I’m getting obese. But drama this riveting can have no other accompaniment. *sigh*

      • Becky Palapala says:

        Skip the butter, man. As long as you do that, fat free!

        The carbs are negligible. You’re a runner. Chomp away.

      • I’m happy to share my popcorn, Uche! No butter. Gets on the gloves you know.

        • Uche Ogbuji says:


          No way I’d dare! That’s stuff’s sacred. See, I cottoned on to the whole getup. You as Audrey Hepburn take possession of the fourth wall itself, which is, of course, the bucket of popcorn, artfully chosen to represent the audience. Therefore the popcorn embodies the Baudrillardian continuum between the world of image construct and that of reality.

          I mean, this petty drama is fun stuff, but I know better than to screw with archetypes. Far better to go obese 🙂

      • Erika Rae says:

        Uche, you are awesome. You also have something between your teeth there….

    • Gloria says:

      making a hypocritical show of religious devotion, piety, righteousness, etc.: They resented his sanctimonious comments on immorality in America.

      Clearly you prefer your own sanctimonious horeshit over ours.

      • Simon Smithson says:

        Actually – and I hate to do this – I think Calvin may have a point.

        This is one of those strange coincidences that come up, but I actually got David to write a shopping list for me one time. I was asking about some books on the Beat Generation, and the list… man. Terrible. The pacing was all wrong, it lacked any real sense of flow… honestly, by the end of it, I thought it could have been written by three separate people.

        I’m sorry, David. I should have said something at the time. But… who knew? I could never have predicted something like this happening.

        I’m so sorry.

        Calvin, I don’t know how you heard about the list, if maybe someone I spoke to about it spoke to you about it, but, I guess you’ve got bravery that I don’t, because I just couldn’t bring myself to point out the glaring flaws in it to David. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings.

        • Gloria says:

          Well from one no talent to another, can you blame him? It’s hard to get an especially good flow with a shopping list. Sometimes you’re tired. Other times you’re in a hurry. You know?

          Besides, I’d much rather read David’s shopping list than the shopping list of someone who insists upon peppering in the words “shit” and “dick” – can you imagine the looks when I brought my shopping cart to the front of the store? It would be chocked full of shit and dicks, Simon! Chocked full!!!

        • I’ve been working on the same shopping list for almost a year now. And it’s just about done. But I keep forgetting to add the horsehit.

        • Gloria says:

          Nathan – be sure to get crayons and bibs on there. And pricks. Don’t forget your pricks.

        • I have some pretty obvious issues.

        • Gloria says:

          Well, I mean – who amongst us doesn’t?

        • Don Mitchell says:

          I wonder if Calvin Veblen is or fancies himself related to Thorstein Veblen.

          As I see it, he might have a point if David had related his “kicking and screaming” comment (which seems to be what set C.V. off) to anybody other than Koreans.

          I can’t see that he did.

          Does anybody see where David said or implied (imagined implications don’t count, C.V.) that malign racist outside forces did this?

          C.V.’s cursing reminds me of women I’ve known who aren’t used to cursing. My second wife, for example, would get angry and sputter and gasp but only manage a fearsome “Fuck you, you fucking . . . fucker.” Lots of emotion, not much creativity.

          There are some mighty fine insults and curses in the world, C.V., so widening your horizons could help you there.

          Just today I was writing something and managed to work in a Bougainvillean curse I’ve always been fond of. It’s short and easy to hurl: “kado wekoa!” It can be used against men or women and translates as: “you vagina of a sow who’s just given birth!”

        • “I wonder if Calvin Veblen is or fancies himself related to Thorstein Veblen.”

          Haha. I love it.

          Vitriol is a wonderful thing when it’s well handled. Mr. Veblen has no grasp on it, whatsoever.

          “Kado Wekoa” is a fine example.

          I liked the Korean, “Shibalya!” If you say it right you usually spray saliva over whoever is standing in front of you, which is a fantastic added insult.

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          Dude! The other day, popping up in notifications from Twitter (I keep an eye on the #igbo hashtag), I saw (from a user @bahjide) the following status:

          #igbo tweople wt does “otu nne gi na ta chewing gum” mean??!!

          Well what it does mean is: “Your mother’s cunt chews chewing gum”

          Now *that’s* what I call creative cursing 😉

        • Wow, that’s a beauty of an insult. I love it.

          Sadly, Simon, I still can’t use YouTube. But “ag1qpycfabq” sounds like a pretty funny name for a video.

  17. Zara Potts says:


    I guess I’ll go fuck myself then.

    After I stop laughing at the statement: “..with the rest of his boggy, inbred Scottish population. Racist piece of shit.”

    Hmm. A few words spring to mind. Pot. Calling. Kettle. Black.

    • Gloria says:

      Dicks and pricks and racists! Oh my!

      • Becky Palapala says:

        “Peddle your shit elsewhere” confuses me, though.

        He came to US, didn’t he?

        Shouldn’t he being the one peddling elsewhere? Since he apparently took a wrong turn into KKK town?

        I mean, if I did that, I’d for sure peddle my shit elsewhere.

        • Gloria says:

          Right? Don’t like what we’re selling? Go shop somewhere else!

        • Becky Palapala says:

          “Dicks, pricks, and racists, Oh MY!”

          Sounds like it has some pretty serious kink potential for the husband and I.

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          Yeah, but boy! How do you bury a safe word in that one?

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Whooo’s a naughty, naughty native???

          The safe word is “post-colonialism.”

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          *He whistles innocently*. You know. Safe word. Like in playground zombie tag…or something…yeah.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          Such noble savagery!

        • Haven’t you guys noticed there seems to be a marked increase in this sort of no-gravatar angry/illogical rationality-bait on TNB lately?

          Well, I don’t buy this one either.

          I suspect “Calvin Veblen” is some kid in his boxers getting a kick out of getting a rise from people and has no real investment in questions of prostitution, or even proto-Korean xenophobia. The suspicious “Veblen”, for instance. Is it giving “Calvin” too much credit to presume that he’s referencing Thorstein “The Theory of The Leisure Class” Veblen? And that “Calvin” is probably John Calvin. Or Calvin Coolidge. Or, in a really funny twist in relation to the real Veblen, maybe Calvin Klein?

          At any rate, the best medicine for bad spellers, prank commenters, and bullshit artists in general is a yawning silence.

        • Gloria says:

          @Sean – I suspect they’re all the same people. The angry Jesus talker from earlier is this faulty-logic having F bomb dropper. Those’re my two cents.

          Look, here’s the thing: there’s not a person on this site who’s opposed to engaging in intelligent debate or in being called out on an error. I just think, you know, we’re all kind of opposed to people being dicks. Well, I can only speak for myself. I’m opposed to it – at least when they’re not willing or able to cash the checks they write.

          Your yawning silence point is a good one. Normally I abide this. It was a slow day elsewhere for me.

        • Or “Calvin” from Calvin and Hobbes… Although I suppose he was named after John Calvin…

          Yeah, those are wise words, Sean. A yawning silence is the best way of dealing with a twat like this. My personal blog has been taking a lot of abuse over the past few months, and I’ve been especially nice to Korea in that time. Every time I allow one of these comments to go up, and then offer any sort of reply, there’s a deluge of others! It’s great for traffic, but it’s a royal pain in the ass.

          Best just to ignore them, I suppose.

  18. What’s really amusing here is that my last TNB post (excluding the interview) was called “Freakshow: The Danger of Blogging in Korea”… wherein the author learns to ignore trolls and delete comments that threaten to descend into name-calling nonsense.

  19. Joe Daly says:

    Phew. Did someone order a sucker punch?

    Wow. Tremendous piece, David. Enjoyed the facts and analysis of the situation, which really put some teeth with you experience, which itself probably needed no teeth…

    Anyway man, hellaciously disturbing. Which I think is a good thing- I need my thoughts provoked from time to time.

    Rock on, brother.

    • Thanks, it was an odd approach to a subject that is far too often tackled in a predictable fashion.

      There’s a big picture, somewhere online, made up of numbers relating to prostitution. It’s brutally effective, precisely because it’s so simple and to the point. I guess it goes the other way – rather than explaining numbers or offering a face, it just blasts you with facts that you can barely believe. I wish I could find the link…

  20. Calvin Veblen says:

    You’re not answering the question, coward.

    “This is a country that was dragged, kicking and screaming, from the depths of poverty.”

    What do you mean by that statement?

    • It’s a reference to my favourite Will Ferrell movie.

    • Becky Palapala says:

      WHO’S a coward?

      Either you’re Canadian or pretending to be, but in any case, I don’t think you’re qualified to level accusations of cowardice on others.

      Maybe he just doesn’t give a fuck what you think or say. Shocking, I’m sure. How could anyone not? You’re such an orator.

  21. Erika Rae says:

    David, what did you do to Calvin’s girlfriend (boyfriend?) to warrant this response?

    Man, guys. Not sure what this is about.

    Calvin: You called him on a comment you didn’t like. Fair enough. It might have carried some weight if you had left it at that. Instead, within a single comment you revealed yourself to be spiteful, oddly illogical, an ageist, suffering from a touch of Tourette’s, and a poor speller on top of it.

    David: Ignore him. Don’t take any more bait. This anger against you is larger than this post.

    David is a respected writer here and has written a thought-provoking piece that deserves more than this.

    • Thanks, Erika. I was an idiot for answering his first comment. I should have known better. It was bad enough that I absconded into the woods with his girlfriend, boyfriend and mother… I didn’t need to go as far as to mock his Tourette’s, spelling and logic deficiency.

      • Zara Potts says:

        I blame Erika Rae. She started all this with her spurious ‘Whack a Doo’ email….

        • Fair point. She brought the wrath of the trolls.

        • Gloria says:

          One just struck Irene Zion. There’s a whole gang of them. One on Sean B.’s post the other day. No fewer than 3 on Slade’s most recent. And now Irene. (Irene, for god’s sake!) This isn’t even the same thing as villagers with pitchforks. This is more like the don’t care bears with rocks and sticks.

        • It’s the price of success, I guess. I mean, it’s inevitable. TNB gets mentioned all over the internet, the print world, everywhere. It’s a big enough website that now douchebags with no talent have decided they can vent their ignorant opinions on the comment boards.

          I suppose, as it’s been said over and over, the best thing to do is to ignore them. Maybe even run a zero-tolerance policy on trolls. Delete their posts before they spiral out of control.

          But really, Irene?!

        • You know, it really is a testament to the quality of TNB that everyone seems so surprised by this. Any other website we’d all have long become calloused to this sort of juvenile presence, because it’s so constant and universal. The snotty comment on mine didn’t bother me at all. To be honest, I thought it had some merit. And, really, that’s all you can ask for. An actual viewpoint. In your instance, David, you’re dealing with either a prank or someone genuinely unbalanced. In either case, there is no way to respond except to pour yourself a Guinness, sit by the fire, and read something else.

          My personal feeling is that this is all the work of the same extremely clever person. They’ll get bored and then we’ll go back to guessing each other’s astrological signs.

        • Yeah, they’re probably the same person. Notice the same mistake over and over: “your” and “you’re”. It could be a coincidence, but I’ve noticed it a couple of times.

          I don’t mind when someone disagrees. As I mentioned in my “Freakshow” post, I’m happy to talk with people, providing they come into the argument civilly. Likewise, I also think (and this is just a personal view) that it’s strange someone could be so disagreeable, and care enough to post so frequently. If I see something I don’t like, I go somewhere else. It’s a big internet. Lots of other stuff.

          Then again, there’s no harm tactfully expressing an idea. You can reason with some people, but not with trolls. They just want the attention. They like the freakshow element.

        • Erika Rae says:

          @Zara – You know what they say: crazy attracts crazy. Long live the wack-a-doos!

        • Zara Potts says:

          Amen, sister!

  22. Calvin Veblen says:

    You still haven’t answered the question.
    You’ve had plenty of opportunity.

    What do you mean when you say, “This is a country that was dragged, kicking and screaming, from the depths of poverty.”

    If you can’t answer the question of what exactly, the point of making such a statement is (and by all means, you may conjure up any old historical or anecdotal evidence to back up this blithely stupid , woefully racist comment) then I suggest your writing is likewise void of meaning anything as well.

    Those are your words Mr. Mills, and the fact that you’ve had ample opportunity to explain their purpose or intent and failed to do so says a lot about your skills as a thinker and a writer. Which is to say, there’s no there there.

    Come back when you’re an adult (ie: when your nuts drop) and can account for the things you write, little fella.

    • Hobbes says:

      Since South Korea is not a living thing, and thus cannot literally kick or scream or be dragged anywhere, it’s pretty obvious Wills is speaking figuratively, using “dragged kicking and screaming” idiomatically.

      What he means is that the country was not ready for its relatively quick economic success, much like Saudi Arabia half a century ago; it takes more than financial success to change a culture.


      Now fuck off.

      • Calvin Veblen says:

        If it’s so obvious what he’s saying, let him say it himself.

        I’m sure the writer appreciates your efforts at carrying the steaming turds of their words for them (ie: you’ll make a nice ‘lil bitch), but the fact this fey goof can’t even muster a defense for their shitty writing (in which nothing happens) and gets kudos for it tells me there’s a sizeable market in hapless, shallow retards rushing to the aid of a loser who can’t defend themselves.
        Supporting this loser of a writer simply generates more of their shitty writing, void of any emotional or intellectual weight and lacking even the “authors” justification.
        They literally cannot bring themselves to explain *why* they wrote what they wrote.
        And you morons call that a “writer”?
        This clown took a big fat dump in the pages of this site and you all applauded. Nice work.

        Hey Hobbes, does he let you hold it while he takes a piss?

        It’s ironic in a way. This writer apparently needs to be carried kicking and screaming to the adult world, where words have meanings, statements have consequences and truths are acknowledged for their depth of insight.

        How pathetic that this “writer” needs someone to help explain what they’re saying.
        And it’s a sad, pathetic bunch that defends the silence of a racist, xenophobic asshole.

        You can go back to quietly swallowing Mr. Wills junk now Hobbes.
        I’m sure he feels you’re a valued friend…

        • “Mr. Mills”?

          Clearly there’s no arguing with your powers of perception.

        • Calvin Veblen says:

          Yeah – that’s how memorable you are, you xenophobic two-bit, gutless hack.
          You aren’t even worth scrolling up to see if I’ve spelled your name properly.

          PS: Be sure to thank your mommy, Mrs Hobbes when you call for helping you explain yourself.

          I’m done wiping my ass with you boy.
          Have a nice life writing for periodicals.
          And good luck pushing that piece of shit, lowbrow website of yours.


        • Becky Palapala says:

          I’m suddenly intensely curious to see some of your work, Mr. Veblen.

          Though I suppose if it exists at all, it would have your real name on it, so that would never do. It would be ruinous to your career in craven, anonymous internet fuckheadery.

          I can only hope that you put as much thought into your writing as you put into these posts. Less competition for us.

        • Yeah, it’s always amusing to see trolls so opinionated, and yet so unwilling to post their own work for public scrutiny… Hmm… Almost as if they know that they’re talentless and that’s what makes them so bitter…

  23. Simone says:

    David, such a thought provoking piece doesn’t deserve the ramblings of Mr C.V, who, in my opinion, needs his mouth washed out with soap and his head to be slapped with a spelling book.

    I’m not sure I would’ve been able to stomach what you saw and experienced.

    Just before the Soccer World Cup this year there were a few emails going around, supposedly from the government, warning us about human trafficking. I’m certainly no expert on the subject so I’ll let this link speak for itself:



    “If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known, that we are at all times ready for War.” ~George Washington

    • Oh, it hardly bears thinking about. Really, human trafficking is something that we should be stamping out… yet how many people really understand the reality? Very few. Even the ones who’ve read websites like this can’t comprehend it. It is indeed modern day slavery – something that we should all be ashamed of, for it exists across the world and as long as it does, we are not doing enough as human beings. There’s no excuse for it.

      As for cheap trolls, I’m thinking about going to bed right now rather than going to war. I’ve had a long day and I don’t feel like waking up tomorrow with 200,000,000 comments regarding some idiot about whom I could care less.

    • Calvin Veblen says:

      “…who, in my opinion, needs his mouth washed out with soap and his head to be slapped with a spelling book.”

      And that’s why you’re a failed writer honey.
      You’re a moralizing, school-marmish ditz slapping together a trope that was dead in the 19-fucking-50’s.

      LOL. “Wash your mouth out with soap.” ROFL…

      You come see me in Iowa, baby cakes. If you can handle it.

      • Don Mitchell says:

        Iowa! My mother’s people were from there.

        Are you in this picture?


        • Gloria says:

          Oh, Don… As if I didn’t already love you…

        • Gloria says:

          Simone – – Don’t take the bait, sweetpea. Imagine this “person” delivering the line, “You come see me in Iowa, baby cakes. If you can handle it,” with his dick in his hand while looking in the mirror and in the same tone of voice as De Niro’s “You talking to me?” Now go spit the puke out of your mouth, realize that he’s probably jacking off imagining your response, and just get on with being the better person. For realz.

        • Zara Potts says:

          It’s Carol!!!
          That horrible receptionist in the hotel where Simon and I stayed!

          It all fits now..

          The initial C…


          This is Carol’s revenge.

        • Ha! Don, you’re brilliant.

      • Simone says:

        Rubber. Glue. Whatever! *rolls eyes*

        Oh and by the way, honey, I’m a reader, not a writer. Therefore NOT a failure. At anything.

        • That quote made me think of Allen Ginsberg, and what he’d have to say about Carol Veblen…

          …who in fits of rage stayed up all night, hammering illogical nonsense on his computer, howling for his lost life…
          …who posted innumerable comments under false names while his mother shouted “Come on dear, it’s time for bed”…
          …who weeps day and night for life between sessions spent on YouPorn and pwning noobs in World of Starcraft…

  24. dwoz says:

    This is what, about the 2nd troll I’ve seen on TNB since about May….that’s really pretty darn good averages.

    • That’s true. We’re pretty lucky to be troll-free most of the time.

    • Gloria says:

      No. Two struck Slade the other day. Sean B. got one, too, recently. Erika Rae had one yesterday. And last night, one went and said some stupid shit on an old post of Lenore Zion’s. So, including David’s, that’s six in a week.

      • dwoz says:

        I guess it just seems like pretty high signal-to-noise.

        On the forum site that I admin, we have been forced into moderating about 2 users a day.

        There is something about the words “David Wills” and “Korea” that seems to flush them out of the underbrush though…


  25. Aaron Dietz says:

    Wow, I thought this was a great piece, and there’s even a giant troll event happening! This is more entertainment than I could have hoped for on a brilliant Saturday night!

    • Thanks, man.

      As I’m currently in China (the future) and most of the banter is taking place in America, I keep waking up and finding more troll drama. It’s terribly exciting.

      • Aaron Dietz says:

        Heh. Right now, my girlfriend is in Taiwan, and I’m always making jokes about how she lives in the future. Sometimes it’s like time travel to see her on Skype. Thank goodness for the Internet….

        • If she’s anything like me, I bet she says things like, “Oh my god, get to safety! The bomb drops in only five hours! There’s no time to lose!”

          Or, the classic: “Yeah, it sucks in the future. Damn apes rule everything.”

          Or, the sneaky: “Quick, get to the story a buy a lottery ticket with the follow numbers…”

          Ah, there are so many advantages to living the future. Well, except for those damn robot overlords.

        • Aaron Dietz says:


          She’s very kind in not telling me who won the games before I watch them.

        • Taiwan has such fast internet that they’re technically a few minutes ahead of other countries in the same time zone. People sit down to watch a football game and it’s finished in five minutes. They try to write an e-mail and by the time they begin to type it’s already written.

  26. D.R. Haney says:

    It’s fascinating to me that TNB is, more all the time, subject to sniper-fire. How did we elude the Internet standard for so long? But I can’t help but love how we look after our own, Mr. Mills.

    This piece reminds me a little of eXile pieces about prostitution, except that, significantly, you didn’t — well, I think you probably know the distinction I have in mind.

    • It’s nice that we went so long without it, and indeed it’s fantastic that the regulars here care enough to defend one another from these trolling losers. It’s truly one of the finest places on the internet. Every time I log on I’m proud to be a part of such a wonderful online gathering.

      I remember those eXile pieces. They certainly took a different approach…

      • Irene Zion says:

        What the heck is going on here?
        I’m in New Orleans about to leave for the airport home.
        Some of this language is young text-talk, I think.
        I wondered over the signature ” 18R” until I realized that was an ” l ” ,
        Therefore meaning “later.”
        But what does “ROFL” or ROFI” mean?
        (just for my edification….)
        I’ll get to this later (L8R) when I get home & have time to read it all. )
        Remember, David Wills Mills, I think you’re great!)

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          Irene, I’ve been sitting for a while on a piece about my love of Internet lingo, and i think you’ve spurred me to wrap it up (after the Nigeria series, of course).

          Anyway, for now:

          ROFL = rolling on the floor laughing

          Of course, the late spate of trolling has me SMH (shaking my head).

        • I have no idea about some of this internet lingo. I’m familiar with “lol” but that’s about the extent of it.

          I’m now looking forward to your internet lingo post, Uche. (inlftyilpu)

        • Irene Zion says:


          I need a text lingo dictionary.
          PLEASE get one written.

        • dwoz says:

          IMHO, this troll needs his a$$ kicked to the DSOTM. IANAL, however, so I can’t comment on the legal aspects.



  27. Brian Eckert says:

    Wills, you have a knack for bringing the internet crazies out of the woodwork. I’m really not sure why this is, though I suspect it has something to do with the fact that you aren’t afraid to speak your mind. P

    Concerning Korean hookers, I too was shocked when I encountered streets like the one you describe. And once you realize what the barber poles actually signify, its appalling to note that you can encounter a place selling blowjobs just as frequently as one selling kim bab.

    I’ve always secretly wondered if I have the nerve to pay for sex. I think maybe I’m just curious about what it’s like to have sex with a hooker…from a strictly objective standpoint. I mean, it has to be better to bang a young, relative handsome foreigner than a drunk ass, frog-faced ajjushi, right? Or maybe its all the same to a hooker.

    China sounds like a trip, man. I’ve been sending out applications lately, seeing what kind of offer I can get heading into the spring semester. I’ve got another buddy in Beijing. Could be good times…

    • Yes, stating opinion can be a dangerous, offensive thing. Especially regarding Korea. I enjoy reading old stories about visitors to Korea from decade and even centuries ago. In some ways, little has changed. Even back then foreigners weren’t allowed opinions.

      I’ve never paid for sex and I can’t really imagine what it would be like. I mean, it has to be a little weird, doesn’t it? Aside from the fact that your money is funding an evil empire (which is also what happens when you pay your taxes, right?) it must actually be very odd. Unless the woman is a total pro and can pretend that she wants to be there… I don’t know. I’ve never found the idea particularly appealing.

      China is fantastic. I love it. It is a bit like Korea in some ways, but it’s a little friendlier. Beijing is great but it’s expensive, and the smaller cities are pretty impoverished and dirty. You see some crazy shit here…

  28. At the risk of sounding stodgy or pro-censorship or something, I have to admit that I’m really not thrilled with the way someone who joins the comments board just to hurl personal insults and swear at everybody has the power to usurp the discussion entirely. I don’t think Comment-Board-Crazies add to a debate or an open discussion, they simply hijack and trivialize things. This is a time, in my view, for the “delete comment” function, so that everyone else who reads subsequently doesn’t end up just responding to the Crazy instead of the actual piece.

    I thought this was an interesting essay/expose, David I myself rankled a little bit at moments about how Korea was being described by someone who isn’t Korean, isn’t native to the country, and wondered if anyone (who knows more about Korea than I do, and perhaps had a different perspective) would challenge you. Had that happened, in some civil and open way, it might have been interesting.

    It’s clear that you care a lot about this topic, have extremely sincere intentions and have educated yourself on the issue. This piece is well-written, and you’re certainly entitled to your take on a culture you’ve become immersed in. Even if there are folks who might beg to differ with aspects of this portrayal, you haven’t said anything here that isn’t completely within your right to say, or that you haven’t illustrated your reasons for concluding. I myself felt I had learned depressing but relevant statistics from your piece, which is also rich in atmosphere. Nicely done.

    Some people have pointed out that TNB is such a love-fest that we could use a bit more assertive debate. Probably. But there’s a difference between a debate of ideas vs. just pandering to someone seeking attention.

    IMHO, you shouldn’t have taken this guy’s bait. It was beneath the integrity and tone of your essay.

    But we all make such mistakes. So once you’d made the mistake of engaging with him, perhaps you should have reconsidered, gone back and deleted the comment strain, so as to prevent further idiocy raging and obscuring the real content here. That’s permitted, isn’t it? I’m “admin,” so I can’t remember if regular contributors can do this too. But if not, wouldn’t Brad be able to do it for you?

    Just because something is “online” doesn’t mean we are legally and morally obligated to let anyone say anything s/he wants. Many, many forums have comments “moderated.” That’s been largely unnecessary at TNB, but in this case, man, personally I’d have kicked that grammatically ignorant rage-fest out of bed. No one has the right to take your story and make it all about himself. While your TNB friends all raced to your defense (we sure have a great group here, don’t we?), why should they have to waste their time with that Bozo instead of talking about your actual work? Arguably, their sticking up for you only gave him exactly what he wanted: the ability to hurl more abuse and have a platform where people were paying attention to him.

    Glad to see the conversation eventually returned to normal.

    • Gina, I agree with you and I hold my hands up and admit that I was a fool to have answered this commenter. I was not in the best of moods and it was a moment of weakness. As I’ve stated before, it was particularly foolish of me in light of my recent post about blogging, and my personal history with this type of comment. Honestly, on my personal blog I would probably have deleted the comment and condemned all subsequent comments of that sort to the spam folder. Here, though, I’ve never really thought of this space as my own. I feel that it’s a sort of free forum for debating the work I dared to post.

      Anyway, most of the subsequent comments came over night. I answered the troll and went to sleep, and when I woke up I’d missed most of the action. By that stage I didn’t feel like deleting dozens of comments and trying to block the original commenter.

      Well, it was a lesson – hopefully – learned for me. In future I will be a little more considered in my actions and my replies. This also might be my final post about Korea. It was certainly planned as the last one, and unless any other stories jump into my head, I can’t see another one coming. It really is the Korea thing that grabs people. If I were talking about prostitution in China or America or South Africa, I doubt anyone would care too much.

      Indeed, TNB can be a love-fest and that’s something I think is rare and beautiful and I would be sad to see it changed. I have no issues with civil debate, though, and we do see it from time to time. Everyone has a different opinion and it’s nice to talk. Hopefully we’ll have more readers in future who can express themselves a little better.

  29. Irene Zion says:

    I was away and missed this whole dust-up.

    I think we need to be able to discuss things openly,
    but there is a certain amount of civility that must be met.
    The person writing did not want to discuss anything,
    he just wanted to rant.
    Ranting is more than unproductive,
    it creates anger and hurt and it is destructive.
    It starts an argument, not a discussion.
    Nothing of any worth could be gleaned from all of it.
    It took away from your post, which, I suppose, is what he was after.
    I don’t like it that he succeeded sidetracking your story.

    • I agree completely. The whole thing was my fault. I should’ve ignored him to begin with. Anyway, I’ve spammed his recent comments. He did succeed in his goal, which is a shame. But there you have it – the internet. It’s a wonderful thing, and this is a small price to pay.

    • Calvin Veblen Jr. says:

      [Edited for idiocy.]

      • Becky Palapala says:

        Outing us. To whom?

        Who has been enlightened here?

        Who have you shown our error to?

        Where’s the big reveal, Cal? I don’t think you’ve shown anyone anything other than your risible lack of rhetorical skill and willingness to break your own arm to pat yourself on the back.

        Do tell us more. I’m sure we’re all on the edges of our seats.

  30. Calvin Veblen Jr. says:

    [Edited for idiocy.]

  31. Calvin Veblen Jr. says:

    [Edited for idiocy.]

  32. dwoz says:

    It’s too bad wordpress doesn’t let you set up a way to black-hole (i.e. automatically ban) posts from particular IP addresses. That’s a VERY useful tool.

  33. mail31.aspx says:

    No wonder Real are so keen to tap into the 48-year-old’s expert knowledge of the transfer market.

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