Thursday, October 8, 2009

I almost dongchimmed an ajusshi in the subway tonight . . .

I almost dongchimmed an ajusshi (middle-aged married man) in the subway tonight . . . let me explain.

The act of performing a "dongchim" (doesn't that sound so 'academic'? lol) is when a child puts their hands together (some say with their index and middle fingers extended and held together) and then they jab their fingers into another person's butt . . . lol. (Roboseyo has also blogged about this Korean cultural phenomenon before--see here for another spin.)

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately lol, youtube only has two videos that I could find to illustrate, ahem, what a dongchim is . . . just in case the statue picture didn't fully convey the meaning, lol.

The reason I felt the insane urge to donchim an ajusshi in the subway has to do with one of the things foreign English teachers have to adapt to when living and teaching in Korea: being stared at.

Dare I use Kim Jong Il as the 'quintessential' example of an ajusshi stare? Yep, damn right.

Being stared at is especially bad for foreign English teachers who are women, and if they have, ahem, a large bust.

Julianne is one of these women--hmmmm, large bust . . .

. . . sorry, had to say it, lol.

Anyways, when we travel through the subway system we have developed the anti-ajusshi-dead-fish-pyonte-stare-system (pyonte means "pervert").

NOTE: I am NOT saying all Korean men are perverts, and I am NOT saying that all ajusshi do this either. This is, however, a cultural phenomenon that many female foreign teachers experience while in Korea, and I do not think I am overgeneralizing.

Anyways . . .

Here are some of the methods.

1. I step in between Julianne and the mobile roving eye ajusshi with my back to him. This seems to have about a 40% success rate. The problem is that the other 60% simply pretend to want to change where they're standing and waiting for the subway to arrive; they walk to a new position with a clear line of sight on Julianne's .... yeah.

2. Walk to another of the many waiting spots to get on the subway. This works for about 90% of the ajusshi, but the remaining 10% seem to have some sort of foreign-women-large-bust magnetism that pulls them along after us. Oh yeah, the other problem with this strategy is . . . there are usually more ajusshi standing at each of the waiting spots on the subway platform--argh, lol!

There are some days when Julianne and I just have no patience and if we're tired and stressed out trying to find a free space where we don't feel the staring eyeballs becomes an exercise in futility with no actual hope of escaping the situation, but you just keep trying anyways . . . kind of like Sideshow Bob here.

3. Give them the all powerful 'teacher death stare of disapproval' and see if this shames them into quickly realizing that they need to be anywhere else but in close proximity to Julianne and I . . . this generally tends to work only for a short period of time. The ajusshi may or may not move to another location, and while they do stop staring for a little while the urge to "sneak another peek"--oh god, who am I kidding?! There's no covertness, or attempt at being inconspicuous when staring at Julianne's chest! The border guards at the DMZ are more 'subtle' with their staring then these guys are!

Anyways . . . those are some of the strategies that Julianne and I have tried and used with varying degrees of success.

Getting back to me being tempted to dongchim an ajusshi . . . Julianne and I were on our way back from me picking up new glasses at COEX Mall when Julianne's powerful charms were locked onto by a particularly determined ajusshi.

We ran through our anti-staring-ajusshi tactics but his counter-measures were powerful, and we couldn't shake him.

Getting on the train we changed cars--nope, didn't work. And the really weird thing is that he followed us onto the car where we sat down while he went into the next car . . . and then came back again to sit across from us and to my left.

I began giving him my best 'teacher look of death and disapproval' and it deterred him--for about 90 seconds.

Julianne and I then just did the only thing one can do after exhausting all the anti-stare tactics--pretend that he doesn't exist, and Julianne sits with her backpack on her lap.

After arriving at our destination stop we begin walking along the subway platform towards the stairs in the distance. And guess who is following along about 10 feet or so behind us--yep, Julianne's new biggest fan!

I suggest to Julianne that we slow down so he has to walk past us, and he does.

And then the idea hits me as we begin walking up the stairs with the ajusshi in front of us, and I say to Julianne, "What do you think would happen if I dongchimmed him?" We both began laughing hysterically, and I say, "Wow . . . I seriously don't think I could top that." (Meaning, I don't think there's anything I could do that would be more taboo than that to an ajusshi (at least and not go to jail for a VERY long time, lol.))

I guess my concluding thought would be that Julianne and I choose to teach and live in Korea, and that we just have to develop a 'Keflon' coating so that whenever something bothers us it just slides off like butter--like BUTTAH!



Mark Eaton said...

A good read...

Jason said...

Thanks Mark.

Miss Ashanty said...

a very good read. loved the pictures btw.

Anonymous said...

Nice one. Love that scene from The Simpsons with sideshow Bob. Makes me laugh everytime. Just wanted to thank you for having a link to my blog (wrangsdoesasia) on your page. Have had quite a few hits from your page, so cheers x

Jason said...

Miss Ashanty, I'm glad you liked the pics--I took quite a while thinking about what pics would help to illustrate my points and story. I was worried that I might come across as angry about this (cause I HATE the whole staring thing some days) and was really shooting for a more tongue-in-cheek tone....

Anonymous, glad you like it, and no problem.


Kristin said...

A strategically placed scarf helps a ton with this problem.

I'm pretty sure it the exposure of skin even around the nape of the neck that elicits the stare.

Jason said...

Hi Kristin,
Scarf yes . . . but, frankly speaking, a scarf really can't hide a woman's bust if she is well endowed . . . skin yes, bust no.

Julianne tries not to wear plunging necklines (DAMN I miss the days back in America where she'd wear what she wanted to!!!), and in general dresses conservatively most of the time when in public in order to avoid the 'special looks' she tends to get.

It might also not help that Julianne's hair is red, she's "very white" (according to the majority of Koreans, and I'd have to agree), and then add to all this her chest size and I don't know how much a scarf would help--oh yeah, and then there's the problem of finding a big enough

I'd be curious to see a discussion on a message board or facebook about this and see what the foreign female teacher population would suggest...

Kristin said...

It's true...the scarf can only do so much. But I found that while wearing a particularly oversized scarf last week, I vanished from the radar of every man on the metro. It was nice.

Some things really can't be helped. A busty foreigner support group just might be in order. One for the apple bottomed ladies might not be a bad idea either.

Bernal said...

Im my culture (Guatemala) we dont usually stare at people directly because they will confront you and you may get into a fight very easily. With this in mind... if I am in the same situation as you, I might yell at him or insult him expecting an answer so I have a firm reason to fuck him up... only if is my girlfried or little sister though... What happen if I cant control myself and confront them?