And on the drunken, high and sexually miscreant foreigner (and gyopo!) front…

Over at Three Wise Monkeys, Christopher Smith writes the unthinkable—that Westerners living in Korea may be contributing to their own occasionally besmirched reputations:

Can any sympathy be given for MBC’s program and its producers? Some might say that there is no smoke without fire. Are Westerners blameless and merely the victims of Korea’s insecurities about foreigners? After all, they do use the same word for “alien,” “외국,” as they do for “foreigner.”

A few weeks ago there was a foreigner beach party on Wando beach, Jeollanamdo, which every teacher currently working in public schools in that province will have heard about. The party-goers caused quite a number of complaints to come from locals that included too much noise, rubbish on the beach, topless women, and, worst of the lot, the vandalism of a closed public toilet, which was broken into and although without any plumbing (the reason for the closure), was utilized anyway causing what I would imagine to be a particularly unpleasant sight and smell.

The regional coordinator of public school teachers was quite rightly furious and sent a strongly worded e-mail to all teachers warning against any future misconduct and declaring the price that would be paid if the perpetrators are identified.

But this was all a one-off, right? I mean people from any country and any culture can have a bad day, and there are plenty of expats living in Korea who would turn their noses up at such behavior. While this last statement is obviously true, perhaps it is time that those of us coming from Western English-speaking cultures admitted that we have a growing problem with our moral behavior and reputation in other countries and especially with regard to Asian countries.

Not sure what the 외국 comment meant—we use “alien” and “foreigner” interchangeably, too. Or at least we used to, before we abandoned them both in favor of “immigrant,” used regardless of sojourn status or even legality of residence.

Besides that, though, his other observations ring sadly true. I by no means intend to discount the role racism and sexual insecurities play in the occasional displays of resentment expressed by Korean men at Western men. Much of the resentment, though, is based on racism and disrespect aimed at them by Westerners, not all of which is just perceived.

Sadly, the structure of Korea’s Western community probably doesn’t help. Between the English teachers and the GIs, you’re dealing with a lot of young men, the social constituency most likely to do stupid shit. This already troubled constituency is then hit by a double whammy—living overseas, the social pressures of their home societies no longer apply, and in Korea, the host society does not do a very good job of enforcing its social pressures on Western foreigners.

They are, in essence, free of social restraint. Most Westerners can handle it, but many cannot. We’ve all seen it, and more to the point, your Korean neighbors have all seen it.

Anyway, read Mr. Smith’s post in its entirety. The writer also has what seems like quite an interesting blog here, and I see he’s been to Indonesia’s Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, which ranks very, very high on my list of places to visit and photograph at least once in my life.

While we’re on the subject of misbehaving Westerners, NoCut News has run a four-part series on, and I quote the series title, “The Reality and Twisted Values of Some White Men.”

No, I’m serious, that’s what’s it’s called.

The inspiration for this, of course, was NoCut’s big scoop on the Western dude who secretly recorded himself having sex with Korean women (who has reportedly been sacked and is undergoing investigation).

Anyway, Part I deals with the ongoing saga of Chris Golightly, the American contestant on Superstar K3 who, according to the report, is now being investigated on charges of defrauding and blackmailing his ex-girlfriend. Most of the story, though, deals with him being a serious player. Or at least allegedly being a serious player. And a douche. Or allegedly a douche, anyway, with most of the testimony coming from his ex-girlfriend.

Since, as everyone knows, angry ex-girlfriends usually make the most reliable of sources.

Part II deals with websites and books on dating Korean women, such as this site, some nameless Youtube video I’d be keen to see and the book “Making Out in Korean.” The big beef is that many white guys come to Korea already with ideas about Korean women.

Part III is about drugs, and Part IV—personally, my favorite—deals with Itaewon’s night culture. This one is pure comedy gold, and ends with this money quote:

Of course, we don’t intend at all to defame all foreign men in Korea just by one nightime scene of Itaewon’s club street.

It’s true, however, that the foreign men this reporter saw on the street in Itaewon appeared to be nothing more than hunters chasing Korean women. It was filled with, literally, “white hunters.”

I assume they’re not referring to these guys.

At least the Nigerians can enjoy a break.

I wish I had time to translate these stores—their entertainment value alone is immeasurable.

Now, dear gyopo readers, before you get too giggly reading about the journalistic misfortunes of your more melanin deficient brethren, you haven’t been forgotten, either. In E-Today last week, one story on drugs noted that while native speaking teachers (i.e., whitey) needed to submit drug tests and criminal records, you guys—and by you guys, I mean F-4 visa-holding gyopo—did not, and this was a blind spot in Korea’s drug enforcement efforts. With the number of gyopo involved in drug offenses on the rise, this has led to calls for F-4 visa holders to submit drug tests and criminal records, too. They even got somebody from Anti-English Spectrum on record calling for strengthened controls on gyopo.

On a positive note, though, it appears—judging from this comment—that somebody in an official position has issued an opinion about the MBC program on foreign relationships.

  • Wedge

    Thanks for this. Imagine that–guys chasing after tail–something that has never been done in the history of mankind.
    And the beach thing is funny to a guy who used to live in Haeundae: “Wait, only we Koreans can fire bottle rockets, play loud music, litter every square foot and generally make asses of ourselves on the beach, not you foreigners!”

  • Wedge

    This gives me an idea: Next time in the ‘won a bunch of us expats needs to go out in full Teddy Roosevelt safari gear. Who’s with me on this one? We might as well look the part.

  • Jakgani

    This type of behavior is to be expected when Korea employs and flies over graduates fresh out of university. The graduates start teaching here and think they are still in University and that Korea is their campus playground. In a way it’s also Koreas fault – because they prefer fresh, young, just-got-out-of-university to use as teachers rather than mature-experienced-teachers.

  • baekgom84

    I think this is a surprisingly nuanced issue and one in which finger-pointing doesn’t do anyone any good. But there is no excuse for acting like a f**kwit. I don’t think the ‘Koreans shoudn’t hire teachers fresh out of college’ line is fair either: surely by the time someone has completed their degree, they are ready to be a bit more responsible for their behaviour? The MBC video was blatantly xenophobic and was rightly slammed, but honestly I find it hard to get worked up about it when just this Saturday night in Hongdae I saw one plastered foreign dude running around shouting at people and trying to stab them with a straw, and in another instance a bunch of white dudes screaming ‘Niggers!’ at anyone who was unfortunate enough to cross their path. I’m not trying to say that two wrongs make a right, but as long as these wankers remain so visible with their shitty behaviour, there’s going to be backlash against it. That’s just the way it is.

  • Hume’s Bastard

    And, why bother addressing hard issues, like pay, and other contract issues? Or, building bridges to other immigrant communities – such outreach is surely beneath the western, white community, right? But, let’s keep criticizing ourselves and talking about changing Korean behavior! The only way South Korea will attract the sort of people it wants – and it’s questionable if western and Korean interests are the same – is if Koreans follow best international practices, and expats can help Koreans by calling them every time they don’t.

  • asiapundits

    Mr. Smith also wrote a piece last week for Asia Pundits, which gives an interesting, honest and detailed account of his experience with Korean family life. Great stuff from a clearly talented and up and coming writer to the Korean scene. –

  • hooters

    But isn’t the Korean word for alien 외계인?

  • bulgasari

    I translated the and the articles about websites and books on dating Korean women (which misrepresented one of the videos) and foreign teachers and drugs. Good fun. Being an election year, I don’t think random drug testing is far off.

    Oh, and the subtitles “The Reality and Twisted Values of Some White Men” were only added to the articles Monday morning…

  • Bob Bobbs

    Who do you think built all the sul jips? English teachers?

  • babotaengi

    Just got my latest drug/HIV tests done. I wouldn’t mind so much if they simply took a blood and urine ample and sent me on my way, but they make you go through a complete friggin medical check for which they charge you top dollar (hospital told my wife the check is more expensive for foreigners because they are… Foreign – WTF?). Do away with the pretense and just openly accuse me of being an AIDS-infected junky, please.

  • Josh Perlstein

    I remember going over a certain other MH member’s apartment in Seoul and seeing “Making Out In Korean” on his table. Hahaha. Good times.

  • hoju_saram

    I actually kinda agree with your last statement. Guests should be held to higher standards of behaviour than locals, within reason.

  • hoju_saram

    Honest, but a little bit irritating: the guy can’t spend 2 hours with his wife’s family without being bored, and showing it. I went through pretty much the same thing as he did, and I think you’ve got to step up to the plate and show a bit more respect and appreciation for the in-laws: if my experience was typical, they probably treated him very, very well; cultural quirks come with the territory; get used to it!

  • babotaengi

    Sounds like a whinger and a tight-wad to me. Still, having an uncle expect you to pay for a family dinner is unheard of here. Must be the yangachi strain of the family.

  • Wedge

    Good posts. I found this funny: “In particular, information abounds which instills false stereotypes regarding Korean women such as the idea that you can make a girlfriend on your second day in the country or that in two years you can have sex with 20 women.” Yep, go on pretending that isn’t possible.
    Also, “Making Out in Japanese” was around in 1992 if I remember correctly (or there was a similar book). Korea should be proud that it has reached the level where it rates its own book in the series.

  • Liz

    It’s funny to think some of the shenanigans described above would amount to nothing more than frat party aftermath back home.

    These English teachers are harmless. They’re just in the wrong country.

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  • dogbertt

    He writes somewhat like our own resident chav, Keef.

  • gangpehmoderniste

    Mao Tzedong used to say “Hit 1, Teach 100″

    A broken rib here and a dislocated shoulder there goes a long way in making a multi-culti society work more harmoniously

  • babotaengi

    It is rather rambling and repetitious and displays a poor man’s high school level of grammar usage.

  • LazyassBruiser

    What really disgust me about this Christopher guy at Asianpundits and Western people in general is this constant blabberin’ about indipendence, blah blah blah when they come from societies where pretty much everyone receive handouts from the public coffers

  • Jeffery Hodges

    At least we’ll all share the culture of corporal punishment . . .
    Jeffery Hodges
    * * *

  • Jeffery Hodges

    Or as my uncle used to say, “A little violence never hurt anyone!”
    Jeffery Hodges
    * * *

  • Osning

    All? In many parts of Europe corporal punishment is seen as a criminal act, in family and in school. As teacher you will probably loose your job.

  • Jeffery Hodges

    I believe I was talking about South Korea, but perhaps I’m mistaken about what I meant.
    Jeffery Hodges
    * * *

  • hardyandtiny

    psychologically abnormal, no doubt about it.

  • Jmap

    No cut news could go after the far greater number of native indiscretions but then that would be defamation instead of news.

  • LaxyassBruiser

    The only people Korea (or any other country) needs are engineers and other technicians&scientists

  • Osning

    It is about South Korea too. If you are (a teacher) from Germany, and there are some for example in Korea, you should think twice if you would like to use corporal punishment.

  • F5Waeg

    Some expats seems to have a different take on the fallout from all the media attention

  • jk6411

    I think all people should behave responsibly, regardless of their race or which country they’re in.
    However, foreigners stick out from the crowd, so they should be extra careful.

    Growing up as a foreigner in the U.S., my parents always taught me to behave myself in public. Wouldn’t want to make fellow Koreans and Asians look bad.

  • Liz

    I enjoy reading the asiapundits blog, but it would be nice to get a diversity of perspectives. I agree with whoever said he does sound a bit whiny and self-centered. But maybe that’s because I am Korean and been raised to endure whatever the older generation throws at us — be it nagging, endless complaints, and yes, even boredom.

    And It would be nice if his wife contributed a piece offering a different perspective. I’d be curious to hear what *she* thinks of her in-laws!

  • PekingMan

    Two things: 1. It is annoying when Westerners constantly berate Asians for their lack of independent thought when most Westerners are just as sheep-like in their attitudes to social behavior and norms. 2. In reply to Liz et al. above, you rightly say that Koreans also often feel bored or annoyed by the ‘olds’ just as much as Westerners do. The difference is that when Koreans moan among themselves that is seen as natural ‘letting-off steam’, but when a Westerner moans to others about Korean in-laws he is some how classed as ‘culturally insensitive’.

  • DC Musicfreak

    Above all, the guy needs an editor to clean him up and rein him in.

  • Jeffery Hodges

    Teutoburg, I see from your unparseable second sentence that your English isn’t yet sufficiently nuanced to catch irony, but maybe you’ll catch on in time.
    Jeffery Hodges
    * * *

  • LazyassBruiser

    Sadly, the structure of Korea’s Western community probably doesn’t help. Between the English teachers and the GIs, you’re dealing with a lot of young men, the social constituency most likely to do stupid shit. This already troubled constituency is then hit by a double whammy—living overseas, the social pressures of their home societies no longer apply, and in Korea, the host society does not do a very good job of enforcing its social pressures on Western foreigners

    An excellent reason to ship ’em all back home…this will help both Korea job openings situation and America ‘s national budget

  • jk6411

    Actually.. I would like the US troops to stay.
    The miscreant English teachers can leave, though.

  • Liz

    Plenty of Koreans *do* complain about the generation gap, and I have nothing against a Westerner voicing a reasonable complaint for similar reasons. I would probably not call Smith culturally insensitive — not by a long shot — just, maybe, culturally oblivious.

    I guess maybe what some Westerners do not realize — is that Koreans are accustomed to this kind of relationship, where the boundaries between ‘You’ and ‘I’ are a bit blurred. While someone like Smith would like to overhaul the system entirely, Koreans, though they may complain a great deal, would be actually hard pressed to come up with an alternative form of relationship-building. So — you give a little on your end, thereby giving face to your elders or whoever taking note of this — and eventually you’ll be repaid in full for your loyalty, friendship, or just being a family member.

    It’s far from a perfect system, but it has mostly worked for Koreans, and it’s not going away any time soon.

  • madar

    If he can’t spend 2 hours with the in-laws without being bored then he should get off his lazy ass and learn some Korean. It was deadly dull for me at first with my in-laws, but now that I can talk with them, surprise, it is not so dull. And the more Korean I know the more it tends to help me in my personal and professional life in Korea. I know it’s a shock! The only thing stopping him from learning the language is laziness. It has a much steeper learning curve than European languages and it takes a lot of arduous, difficult work at first, but I have no sympathy for married ex-pats who complain about boring in-laws, but have put out no effort.

  • PekingMan

    One other thing to bear in mind is that this guy, his family situation and therefore his attitude towards what constitutes quality family time are certainly not representative of all Westerners.
    For example, just like his wife when they lived in Britain, I too phone my parents once a week on a Sunday afternoon their time, something I quite often find a bit annoying, purely because it means a lot to them and we are a close family.
    I am of the same 민족 as the author, btw.

  • Liz

    Although being British is technically not a Minjok. Minjok would be identification as a specific race of being. In your case, I’m guessing the options are: English/Irish/Scottish/Welsh/Hobbit/Elf/Fairy.


  • osning

    Yep,that is always a problem, as a native german speaker I often miss the irony in english comments.

  • Christopher Smith

    I thank everyone commenting here for mostly having fair crticisms on my article. Even though many of you have not agreed you haven’t stooped to trying to smear my character, which I’m afraid many have done, and you have mainly restricted your comments to the merits of the article. I need to stop reading comments.

  • Robert Koehler

    Even though many of you have not agreed you haven’t stooped to trying to smear my character, which I’m afraid many have done, and you have mainly restricted your comments to the merits of the article.

    The first time such a thing has been said about this comment gallery. I need to take a screen shot.

  • LazyassBruiser

    If a country is wrong for frat d-bags it’s the right place for me

  • LazyassBruiser

    For the time being, it is wiser for Korea to keep hosting American troops, over a medium term horizon me thinks the country is mature enough to meet its defense needs

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  • jk6411

    I didn’t mean all English teachers. Just the troublemakers.

  • jk6411

    Well, I don’t know about that.
    Unless China somehow became a free, democratic country and ceased being a bully..

  • Lukeh0383

    You’re quite right, Liz, I was defining the author and I as two Anglo Saxons; using the political entity of Britain is meaningless.

    Anyway…my main point is that it annoys me somewhat when Asians (this includes Indians, Pakistanis etc) somehow claim family loyalty and devotion as a uniquely Asian state of mind. Yes, there are many dysfunctional families in the West (just look at that Windsor household) but it is so often assumed that Westerners would all sell their Grandmothers for a beer.

    Example, upon telling a colleague that I’d be using all my annual leave to see my parents because they miss me he was stunned and said I had honestly just changed his mind about Westerners being callous towards their parents. Wow! What amazingly low standards he had for me.

    Btw, I say this attitude is held across other Asian communities, too, simply because I have had conversations in a similar vein with British Indians. I should also add that not all Asians uphold this stereotype, but it is surprisingly common, and from people who should know better.

  • Liz

    This is troubling, Robert. You should do something before we all start holding hands and sing Kumbaya.

  • bulgasari

    Aaaand NoCut News has 3 more articles in their “The Reality and Twisted Values of Some White Men” series:

    Part 5: ‘Unqualified foreign instructors’ can’t help but abound. [Translation]

    Part 6: “Charged with a crime, but whatever”… If they look white, it’s OK?[Translation]

    Part 7: A foreign English instructor “secretly recorded sex? That’s really disgusting.”[Korean, translation up tomorrow]

  • Justmy2centsKA

    As a KA I’ve noticed over the years (10 years or so) that there is an increasing resentment from Korean men towards their American cousins.  A lot of the complaints focus on KAs working/visiting Korea “taking” their women, enjoying the life in Korea has to offer while the Korean males have to serve two precious years of their lives in the compulsory military service, and finally taking choice jobs with major corporations….  Anyway, I think much of the source for the resentment is the uber competitive nature of the Korean society where even what seems to be a small advantage to Western eyes can be the make-it or break-it element for success whether it be marriage, job, etc.  Mind you this kind of thing is not new in the U.S. either when you hear some far Right ranting about how the illegal immigrants are taking jobs away from the native-born Americans.  I have yet to see non-immigrants working the farms/fields of California. 

  • Liz

    Either that or they’re watching this Reality Show on K-Town and wondering what’s with all the gangster-ese among LA gyopos:

  • SomeguyinKorea

     Around 1997 there was a TV show in which a Korean TV crew went to Japan.  They wanted to show how easy Japanese women were.  Of course, they failed miserably since Japanese aren’t the sluts they were out to portray them to be, nor are weird middle-aged Korean men irresistible to them.  When that clearly didn’t work out, they decided they would show that there are a lot of gays in Japan.  They went to a boardwalk by the beach and interviewed a white guy.  He told them that he enjoyed going to Japan, but instead they misrepresented what he said to make it seem as if he was cruising for men.  The show aired on Korean TV and, whoops, turns out the white guy was engaged to a Korean woman who watched the show regularly.  He sued the producers of the show and won close to 20 million won in court.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    As a linguist who researches motivation in language learning, I think that whatever gets you interested in learning a new language is all good.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    Mao is also the biggest mass murderer in recent history.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    NoCut news is tabloid BS. 

    How about a story on how you rarely see any Korean fathers playing outside with their kids?  I think I’m the only father in my apartment complex who does.

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