Korea Kwirks: Random flibbertigiblets

October 9, 2008

Just some random observations and anecdotes from when I first arrived in Korea.


Yesterday I heard a weird noise on the street as I walked to work, I turned around and a fucking TANK drove past me, three Korean soldiers hanging from it (including the wee drivers head popping out the front the way it does) looking surprised to see ME! Christ, I nearly shat……..

Today it was 3 truckloads of squaddies all sitting with rifles, again curiously checking me out. The kind of attention I’ve never really wanted. I’m thinking which one of these goomba, squaddie-grunt bastards is the screwball psycho of the platoon who wants to see if he can ‘accidentally’ discharge his weapon into the skull of a random western civvie and only get a slap on the wrist? Know what I mean?

There is an army base in Ganghwa that mainly functions as a large observation post to keep an eye on North Korea. It’s located in the north of the island, atop one of the highest hills. Often (and I continue to get a kick out of this) military helicopters will fly low over the town on their way to the base. Lots of army vehicles drive down the main roads of the town and occasionally the local authorities stage these emergency drills where the traffic has to stop and people have to clear the streets, not cross the road, etc.

Pain in the arse when I’m on my way to work.


Some quirky shit: I see a lot of old Korean folk zooming about on quad bikes. Its funny as fuck. I’m talking elderly folk cutting about on quads. They come zipping out of the markets with their grey hair blowing behind them (no helmets, of course) and their wives at their back. Wee old men with their implacable east-Asian features. It seems they have a highly practical view of transport here. If it’s cheap and it gets you from A to B then fuck it, go for it. Old folk on quads. I’m full of admiration for this and stand there thinking “yes! go on!” as they zoom past. I love it.

Demon Semen

I’m sitting in my Canadian chum’s apartment having a booze on a Makoli and Yakult cocktail invented by my colleague Dawn and named ‘Demon Semen’ by yours truly.


Happens to the best of us

Happens to the best of us

A lot of the clothing in Korea has English words and phrases printed on it. Occasionally, these words and phrases make sense. More often than not, they do not. Every now and then you get a t-shirt emblazoned with an English sentence or phrase that transcends mere amusement and, by virtue of it’s utter inappropriateness, achieves profound hilarity. I heard of one little boy who wore a tracksuit that had the words “Pure Fucking Maple Syrup” printed on it and there was a student at my school who wore a t-shirt that read “Fuck The Clock” in huge white letters. I often see kids wearing jeans made by a local clothing brand called “Fucking Freezing” and a very popular item at the moment are these long t-shirts for girls with huge black letters on the front that read “Fucking Designer T-Shirt Store”. One of my American chums saw a 14 year old (approx.) girl getting off a plane from Japan with a t-shirt showing a picture of Bambi from behind with the slogan “Head Down, Ass Up. Thats The Way I Like To Fuck.” Clearly some mischevious native speaker like myself  who has given it to her as a gift. My personal favourite thus far is not so profane, I saw a young man wearing a shirt that read “73 is my best haircut”.


Koreans, through some innocent misunderstanding apparently, think the English word “fighting” is a chant like “come-on”, “go team”, “go champs” etc. It could be that they think the verb ‘to fight’ is synonymous with the verb ‘to compete’. At both the 2002 and 2006 World Cup the Korean fans would all shout “Go Fighting Korea” occasionally in English, occasionally Hangulised (Korean). Schoolkids shorten this to just “fighting”. It sounds ace if you imitate a wee korean accent as you yelp it.


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