This post would probably be more aptly named, “Everyone stares.”
In my time here, I’ve noticed people are always watching me. And I mean this in more than the CCTV cameras that inside and outside of every business.
People are just always watching me. At first I thought, “It’s no big deal. It’s just because I’m new and I stand out.”
South Korea is an extremely homogeneous culture so people from different ethnicities really stand out. Even a dark-haired, white skinned American.
Then I went out with a couple other Americans. Of course, everyone seemed to be staring–three tall Americans walking together. I didn’t say anything about it though because it didn’t seem to bother Brandon or Dan.
Then Dan said, “Does it bother you when people stare this much?”
Uhh…what? So this isn’t normal?
“A little,” I answered. Then we went about our day shopping in the outdoor market for fresh produce. Then an old man, probably 70 years old came up to us. He immediately took Brandon, Daniel and I by the hand and started babbling in Korean about something. He seemed very excited, but it was also frightening. I thought he was probably a crazy homeless person so I tried to just shake him off and walk away.
When I asked, Brandon said he was talking about the Olympics.
About half an hour later as we were walking down the street looking for a taxi two elderly women came up to us. They, too, appeared to be in their 70s. Very excitedly the woman on the right started talking to me. I politely smiled, greeted her than turned to leave. (I’m working on good-bye.)
Thankfully, we went to Dan’s apartment shortly after that.
But the staring didn’t stop. Later on my way home alone, I was stopped by two men. One who stared at my chest as he asked me where I was going. Not surprisingly, I lied. (By the way, this is the perviest experience I’ve had yet.)
The other asked if I was from America and seemed pleased when I said, “Yes.” Then went on his way.
All of this really upset me so I stayed in my house as much as possible.
Then I had to go to the bank to open an account. However I was going with Ray so I thought I would be left alone. At least more so than I had the past few times I’d gone out.
And I was. No one came up to me, no one grabbed my hand, no one said anything to me.
And then Ray said, “Why are people staring at you all the time?”
Great! So the Koreans freaked a fellow Korean out. I was hoping Ray could help me understand why everyone is staring at me all the time. But his only response was, “I don’t know. That’s really rude. They shouldn’t do that.”
So my plan is to start dressing as Korean-ish as possible and wearing my hair down. Hopefully, that at least keeps people from grabbing me.