Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Korean Dramas and Ghettorific Banyawol

Well, on Monday night I felt like I was back in good ol' PG county for a day. You see I was crawling into bed, finishing off the Anne Perry Victorian murder mystery by lamplight, and enjoying the crisp coolness the night air has taken on in the last two days when all of a sudden I hear a woman shouting in Korean and some loud fighting sounds.

What is happening?

I try to ignore it, since I can't understand a word of what's being said. The loudness continues and I get up to go peek outside. There was a 30-something woman shouting at an older man who had his cell phone out and was trying to get her to calm down. They were right outside Samantha's apartment! Oh no! I said a little prayer hoping she was still asleep (I found out later that she wasn't... eek).

I watched for a little bit (it was rather voyeuristic of me, I'll admit... but hey, I'm just really into other people's business--not gossiping, just knowing it), trying to figure out what happened. The woman seemed crazy. The man was very calm. She started hitting him. He pushed her off him. She threw something at him and started storming off down another street. A few seconds later she came back.

I contemplated shouting "Shut the fuck up" in English out the window, to see what would happen. I thought about dialing 119 (the police) and simply holding the receiver out the window. I thought about calling Gwen and asking her to have Samson call the police (if it had seemed more serious, I would have done so).

But the really scary thought dawned on me that in this particular situation, I was relatively useless to help. I don't understand the culture. I can't communicate in the language. I didn't even see how it began to know what was right and wrong (maybe he hit her first, how would I know?). Being unable to help out others and resolve a situation like that made me feel powerless and afraid.

That feeling subsided quickly into humor and amusement at the ridiculousness of the situation. I found out later that Samantha had called Gwen (after all, being a floor up and a block away is a much different vantage point than seeming to be in the midst of it all) and Simon (Samson's brother who lives a block or two over) came over and called the police.

Luckily for me, Simon also found out what really happened! Since I'm sure you want to know the juicy dirt, here's the story, as good as any Korean drama on TV, I'm sure: The old couple who lives on the second floor of Samantha's building have a son who no longer lives with them. This son once had a girlfriend who has since married another man. However the ex-girlfriend is still in love with the son. When she gets drunk, she comes looking for her old lover. His father told her that he didn't live there anymore and that she should go back to her husband. That's when she went crazy.

And apparently, in Korea, you don't fight drunk people, even if they are beating the crap out of you. It's sort of like what we would think about someone who hit a person in a wheelchair or a child. They're impaired, so it's not ok. Or something.


  1. That does have to make you feel pretty helpless. But I have to admit..the wheelchair comment made me laugh. Haha.

  2. I'm glad someone enjoys my attempt at wry wit ;-)

    The whole situation was ridiculous and laughable--though a little scary in the moment. Fortunately, South Korea is a country where I feel a very high sense of personal safety. The idea that I couldn't get help from the authorities if I needed it would be a lot more terrifying in a country where I might actually need it at some point...



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