To end the week, we give you a piece written by RPG, a twenty-something Korean adoptee living in Seoul. It was originally posted on the writer’s Facebook page. The writer has given Land of Gazillion Adoptees permission to be able to share it with you, dear reader.
A few thoughts before the feature presentation:
As someone who once worked in the adoption industry, I’m fully aware of the fact that many adoptive parents frequently ask adoption agencies for resources to help them talk about issues of race with their children. I encourage adoptive parents to consider the idea that perhaps they’re searching for resources in the wrong places. Perhaps adoptive parents need to seek out resources from adult adoptees.
As someone who has been involved in the adoptee community for a while, I’m fully aware of how dismissive “older” adoptees (present company not excluded) can be of “younger” adoptees. Folks, we “older” adoptees need to encourage individuals like RPG to get their thoughts out there, rather than telling them, “Go take care of your shit first before you talk about the heavy stuff.” Clearly, as the following piece demonstrates, we can all learn from the thoughts and perspectives of our younger colleagues.
P.S. Land of Gazillion Adoptees will be on vacation next week. We’ll be back on Monday, October 10th.
Some of you may have seen the video that someone caught on their mobile phone of a black man threatening a Korean ajussi (old man) on one of the city buses here in Seoul recently. If you haven’t seen it, in the video a young black man is giving a harsh yelling at the ajussi and eventually starts to beat up on him.
In the video, you can notice how no Korean or person on the bus is doing a thing to stick up for this ajussi and everyone is just standing there. Even though the way the black man treats the ajussi is unwarrantedly brutal – because of course the ajussi is just not strong enough to fight back – the only person appearing to try to make the ruckus stop is the ajumma (old woman) who is sitting next to the ajussi and presumably his wife. The bus driver doesn’t even pull over to call for help.
Shortly after the video was released, I happened to see an event posted on Facebook held in Itaewon (the foreigners district in Seoul and also where the US base is located), sort of like a town-hall meeting, for foreigners and Koreans a like to discuss this incident. The event had stated that it was an outlet for people to discuss this incident because many people were appalled at this type of behavior happening. To be honest, I am not up to current events, but I had never seen anything organized like this before to discuss an incident related to foreigner behavior in Korea.
I couldn’t help but to think to myself WHY IS THIS MEETING TAKING PLACE NOW?
I live in Itaewon and every month I see incidents of appalling behavior from foreigners, mainly white US. Military and white English speaking foreigners (presumably English teachers), which means other people probably see this behavior, too. I admit that kyopos also cause some trouble, too – but just a few weeks ago I saw a Colonel from the US military so piss drunk he fell into the roof of an ajumma’s shop across the alley. He broke a lot of the ajummas stuff, including the roof. The ajumma said it would be okay if he gave her a little bit of money, but he refused. There was a language barrier but the Colonel was telling the ajumma very slowly and stupidly, “WE [Americans] HELP YOUR PEOPLE. WE GIVE YOU MONEY.” Then he was threatening her saying “I’LL GIVE YOU MONEY BUT YOUR FAMILY WILL HAVE TROUBLE.” When me and a friend (European adoptee) went outside to see what was going on, the soldier was already in a cop car – but of course nothing would happen to him and the ajumma would never receive and reimbursement because the Koreans turn the soldiers over to the US military for them to deal with (anyone remember the incident where the girls were hit by the tank a few years back?).
When we tried explaining to the Colonel that the ajumma had asked for a bit of money to repair the shop, he said, “DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM? I AM A COLONEL. I HELP YOUR COUNTRY.” Of course he didn’t know that I was American and my friend was European because we both are adopted and look Korean, but this is just an example of the type of ignorant, appalling behavior I have seen from foreigners around here.
So back to my point. I am not at all warranting the type of behavior that can be found in the video of the scene on the bus, but I couldn’t help but thinking WHY IS THIS MEETING HAPPENING NOW when I see incidents like this every month?
The only real reason I could think of was because the man in this video was black. I guess people would rather speak up about incidents like these when they see a black man perpetuating this type of ignorant, condescending foreigner behavior than a white man or a kyopo.
Although, again, I don’t defend the man in the video and I do believe in constructive and open dialogue, it made me sick to my stomach to see an event posted like this only after a black man was involved. I couldn’t help but think that this was a form of racism. Why are people waiting until they see a black man perpetuate this type of behavior when mainly whites and some kyopos are also acting like native Koreans are the lowest ranking people in this country?