Friday, July 15, 2011

stupidity comes in many forms

Joel at the Marmot's Hole blogs about a woman who became enraged at the presence of a seeing-eye dog on a Seoul subway. From the article he quoted:

...on the same day on line number 4 bound for Danggogae at approximately 2 PM one young woman was sitting on the seats for the disabled and elderly when she noticed the seeing-eye dog of the blind woman sitting next to her and suddenly screamed, “Who brings a big dog like that on the subway? Are you crazy?”

Read Joel's post to see what lengths this woman went to in her efforts to get the dog and the dog's owner off the subway. Best punishment for such a person: put out her eyes and train her to use a seeing-eye dog to get around. Problem is, she sounds too stupid to learn her lesson.

I'm reminded of my favorite scene in the goofy, quasi-Zen film "Circle of Iron." David Carradine plays a priestly figure who acts as a guide for a young warrior named Cord. At one point during their travels, the men encounter a handsome, arrogant boy who makes his relatives miserable by ordering them around. Carradine's priest steps up to the boy and, having taken the measure of the youth's character, promptly breaks his nose. Cord is astonished at this show of violence, but as the priest explains, everyone around the boy was a slave to his beauty, and now the boy and his family have been liberated.

Being brought low is good medicine for those wise enough to profit from the experience.



Charles said...

Unbelieveable... and yet, at the same time, so believable.

Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

She's either crazy or mentally disabled, or both.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

SJHoneywell said...

As someone who cannot speak or read Korean, I'm unbelievably curious as to the translation of what this woman has been named by the outraged.

Kevin Kim said...


The phrase "무개념녀" probably translates as "clueless woman." The first syllable, "mu/무," comes from the Chinese character "無," which means "no" or "absent/absence." The next two syllables, "gae-nyeom/개념," come from the Chinese characters "槪念," and together mean "notion" or "concept" or even "idea." The last syllable, "녀/nyeo," comes from the Chinese character "女," which means "woman."

So: mu + gae-nyeom + nyeo

= no + idea/clue/concept + woman

i.e., a clueless woman

Charles and other, more fluent readers/speakers of Korean might be able to talk more about the negative valence of "nyeo," which I think can signify something more pejorative than the neutral label "woman" can. (I could be mistaken, though.)

[Pronunciation note: the sound designated by "eo" is somewhere on the spectrum between an "aw" and an "uh." Pronounce "nyeo" as "nyaw," and "nyeom" as "nyumm," rhyming with "rum."]

Charles said...

"Clueless woman" sounds spot on to me. As to the negative valence of 녀, I think you may be confusing this with 년, which is roughly the feminine equivalent of 놈 but sounds harsher. 녀 is just the feminine equivalent of 남 and is linguistically neutral. Take, for example, 미녀/미남. Those are both positive terms. So whatever negative valence there might be comes from what precedes 녀.

Now, socio-culturally speaking, it is possible that people are more likely to attach negative modifiers to 녀 than to 남 due to perceptions of women and gender role expectations (e.g., 된장녀, for which, as far as I am aware, there is no male equivalent), but I haven't really done enough research on the subject to say if that is actually the case. It's just a feeling I get. There are definitely negative -남 phrases as well, but it just seems like you hear more negative -녀 phrases.

Again, though, this is all conjecture.

Kevin Kim said...


I knew that "nyeo" was generally neutral (e.g., "hae-nyeo"); I should have been more precise in my comment to Steve. The latter part of your comment is where I was mentally heading:

" is possible that people are more likely to attach negative modifiers to 녀 than to 남 due to perceptions of women and gender role expectations..."

--and "dwaenjang-nyeo" was one of the terms I had in mind. But in rereading my comment, I see that it sounds as if I thought "nyeo" was exclusively pejorative.

Is "nyeon" a pure Korean particle, or does it come from Chinese? Is it a Koreanized bastardization of "nyeo"?

And a further comment: "clueless woman" sounds rather gentle, as Netizen epithets go.