Saturday, August 07, 2004

more dumpola

Happy birthday, Justin! Welcome to the twilight years!

Andi's just about fucking had it with her school. She should come to Seoul and teach at EC. So far, my biggest worries have been lab coats (I still don't wear one) and the nightmarish nature of split shift work: up at 5AM, working until 11AM or noon, back to work at 5:30PM, finishing at 10PM, home by 10:30 or 11PM... repeat as necessary.

The Maximum Leader may have temporarily abandoned his own blog, but his Foreign Minister steps in and starts swinging his Righthammer. The equally well-armed Minister of Propaganda continues to fire back. I think the Air Marshal's take on Kerry is realistic: it's not right to fetishize Kerry as The Solution to All Our Problems. He won't be a perfect president. (Read Dave's quick take here.)

Me, I think Kerry will drop the ball on foreign policy, but I have a feeling he'd be better for us in terms of the economy, what with Bush spending us into oblivion. Ultimately, I think a switch from Bush to Kerry would signify a change from one unbelievably rich white guy to another unbelievably rich white guy. Kerry's regime will introduce its own corruptions.

And while we're (sort of) on the subject of race: Kevin at Incestuous Amplification offers us an exchange that exquisitely captures why so many black folks seem angry to white folks in America. When you live in an environment that feels relentlessly hostile, it can change you. My own experience of Korean racism has sensitized me greatly to the black situation in America, which is why I note this here. I used to be fairly dismissive: "Just get off your ass and achieve!" I said. But it's not that simple, as white (and other-colored) expats in Korea know only too well: achievement doesn't guarantee the end of racism against you. Successful white folks in Korea never escape their status as mere foreigner. Doesn't matter how proficient your Korean gets, nor how well you come to understand the culture.

During my interview with Todd Thacker of OhMyNews, Todd (who is, as the Marmot privately remarked, a truly nice individual) observed that my blog isn't very critical of Korea. If I recall correctly, I disagreed somewhat with this, because I've written critically about South Korea's major blind spot: its attitude toward North Korea. But in a sense, Todd's right that I don't lash out quite like Kevin at IA and others. Part of the reason is that I do see the culture at least somewhat through Korean eyes, having been raised in a half-Korean household. Part of the reason is also that I'm fairly good at adapting to adverse conditions, though sometimes I'll get pissed off enough to act out (viz. suing my boss in 1995 and agitating about the MIC over the past several weeks). Korea occasionally makes me want to leave it, it's true. But there's also a lot to love about the place, from the people to the land. The landscape will never have the eldritch charm that Switzerland has for me, but it's got its own rough, brush-painted beauty.

In defense of most Angry Expats, I'll repeat that our blogs don't necessarily provide the most accurate impression of our daily lives. We write to blow off steam, which naturally leaves readers with a skewed impression of our attitude. While I don't want to put words in IA Kevin's mouth, I'd venture to guess that he doesn't spend his days fingering an edged weapon in his pocket, just looking for a chance to gut some asshole on the street.

Anyway, South Korea's got it good, and I'm off to enjoy some of the perks of being in the 12th-richest nation in the world. Gonna finish my laundry, then go see a movie this evening. And maybe I'll get a haircut tomorrow at my favorite cuttery.


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