Friday, December 5, 2008

Formula Pop with Predictable Melody: Koreans in Wudaokou, Sketches

Taxi driver:
Are you Korean?...Oh, Korean-American! Interesting. No, no, I just noticed it from the small accent you have. Not like most Koreans, but interesting. I pull around a lot of Korean kids in this neighborhood. I know, they're rather loud, aren't they?... Oh, I didn't realize Koreans took the bus around here. Do you like taking the bus in Beijing? Hey, I hope you don't mind me saying this, saying you're America and all, but I think the Korean students here - you know why they aren't welcomed by the Chinese here? --- their suzhi (素质) is just so low. All they do is skip class during the day, drink during the night, fool around with boy or girlfriends, throw up in my car... actually, I can't really tell Koreans apart from Chinese people, but I know when I have a Korean in my car -- they're just so damn loud, all drunk, you know what I'm saying? Suzhi is just so low in those kids - they come to China and go back to Korea without having studied our language well at all, all they do is hun rizi, loaf through their days. Their taking Wudaokou down into a drain. Oh, here's your stop. 18 kuai. I hope you didn't mind listening.

IUP classmate, while eating lunch:
I live in Huaqing Jiayuan. Lots of Koreans there. It's kind of hard to study when there are drunk Koreans throwing and falling outside my apartment door. I know Koreans are the Irish of Asia, but it's awfully annoying to hear Korean swear words (they yell the same words, and I don't have to study Korean to know that some dude is calling his ex-girlfriend a bitch) while trying to memorize characters. That was my initial impression - really drunk ethnicity. Then, my Chinese friend told me that most of the Koreans in China, in Wudaokou at least, are the students who couldn't get into college or succeed according to their parents' standards in South Korea, but too poor to study abroad in the States. The average joe student who drowns his parents' ambitions in beer and soju - I look at the drunk kid at my doorsteps, and he seems to fits the demographic.

Musicology student at the Beijing Conservatory of Music, over a beer:
I'll try to be as detached about this. No, I don't really have a clear opinion about Koreans - you don't even count to me as Korean because you're too American. I'm just saying you don't think like the typical Korean boy that I've met in China. I'll just talk about Koreans from a cultural perspective - I believe that most Chinese people are angry at Koreans for stealing bits of its culture. For example, the Duanwu festival is part of Chinese culture, but Koreans are now celebrating like it originated from the Korean peninsula. Every country is trying to protect its traditions and customs, but I think South Korea went too far by celebrating Duanwu (Festival). That's not to say I complete hate Koreans - it's like how I hate the Japanese government for its actions half a century ago, but not its people. I think that generally, Koreans seem to fit mold of beauty that appeals to more people around the world. I mean, think about it - why do you think Korean dramas are seen around the world more than Chinese and Japanese dramas? As much as you argue about how the acting quality is among the countries, I think it still comes down to looks.

Korean-Chinese (Chaoxian, 朝鲜族) hairstylist:
Most of my friends are Chaoxian - I don't hang without the actual Koreans. Our cultural backgrounds are just too different for any meaningful conversation. They do come in for haircuts every other week - it's much cheaper to get your hair cut in China than in Korea. Your hair is perfect for perming. 300 yuan. Come on, just try it. The latest Korean styles have to involve perming.

Note: The opinions in this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the author. The author did not get a perm.

share on: facebook


Kelly McLaughlin said...

This is really interesting! Oh, so much to say, but I think their words are provocative enough.

Steve said...

No perm? Shucks.

blogger templates 3 columns |