Yesterday I was waiting to cross the street near Gireum Stn. A few high school girls were standing on either side of me waiting to cross the street, as well. I wasn't paying any attention to them, until I became aware that I was the butt of a joke. I looked- up just to see a girl nearly popping her eyes out at the girl standing on my left (the opposite of the slanty eyes thing), making a stupid face. It takes me a second to process these things sometimes because it is so beyond me that someone would make a joke of me, a professionally dressed, 36 year old woman. Who does that? It has never occurred to me to make fun of anyone for the way they look, esp. a woman 20 years my senior (admittedly, sometimes I have to ask myself why some people make the fashion choices they do....). To be fair, when I was an elementary school student, I laughed along with the other kids when someone else was an unlucky target (poor Crystal got it quite bit for her awkwardness). But never, ever, ever did I make fun of another person because of their racial features. I don't remember any of my classmates doing anything like that. And my hometown is 98% white.
I wish I had handled it differently. But I did nothing, as usual. If you play with shit, you'll get your hands dirty, right? I worry that if I go off on them, I will attract the (highly unwanted) attention of passerbys, and the girls will gain unwarranted sympathy (they are sweet, innocent 16 year olds, and who is this white ajumma? She must be crazy). But then, because I do nothing, I feel angry and victimized. How can I let someone disrespect me like that? If they do it once, they'll do it to another foreigner, I figure. Unfortunately, I was so upset, I could barely choke down my lunch. I was wishing I had confronted those girls and asked them why they were doing that. I wish I had demanded an apology. I thought of other things I could've done, as well, but I won't write them here. I worry that sometime I will do one of those things because I have been pushed too far. I've been here 9 years now, and 9 years of being the butt a joke takes a toll. I used to be so nice and worried about making a good impression as a foreigner. But now I don't care what people think: I'm indifferent now. This is unfortunate, but inevitable. You get worn down by the unkindness, disrespect, and hatred.
I started this blog because I need a place to vent- it saddens my husband too much to hear these stories; my friends don't want to discuss anything negative; and it's a taboo topic that people choose to avoid, in general. Maybe a blog can help me make sense of things and help deal with the realities of being a (sometimes) unwanted foreigner in a homogenous Asian country.