Friday, July 13, 2007

Shopping excursion!

Me hailing a cab, oops-in Korea it's TAXI, for our scavenger hunt

me, amelia, and rosie (my roommate!) sitting on these silver star seats for the Winter Sonata tourists in MyungDong

Today after our workshop my roommate, me, and two other girls went to MyungDong in downtown Chuncheon to walk around the shopping area. There's a huuuuuge underground shopping area and a giant mall and shijang (market) above ground, and also a bunch of streets lined with nicer shops and american brands, too. It was really interesting to walk around there. Winter Sonata (korean drama) was filmed partly there so there were all these touristy pictures of the actors and big metal stars and fake xmas trees lining one of the pedestrian streets. it was pretty cute.

It's really weird to see poor Korean ppl and especially poor OLD Korean ppl. I don't know how to react to that. This has been bothering me since I first got here. I guess what they say about getting outside your own reality helps to uncover your biases and all that. The first few times I saw Korean ppl doing menial tasks, it was really weird. Like not having Mexican busboys in restaurants, Korean janitors, Korean ppl at the airport collecting the empty carts, etc. I hadn't realized how accustomed I am to other "people of color," Hispanics and Blacks in America doing jobs like that. It's really really REALLY odd to see my "own" people doing these jobs that I thought were reserved for recent poor immigrants and other low SES people.

Another more common site now is old Korean ppl with carts, and sometimes flat cardboard pieces, along the street selling fruit, gum, candy, etc. I really don't know what to do. Honestly, it makes me feel really uncomfortable to be around Korean adults/senior citizens, who I've always been taught to respect and "insah" to, who are poor and basically pleading for ppl to buy their goods. I can't even meet their eyes and walk past really quickly because of how uncomfortable it makes me feel. I don't know how to reconcile this. I guess this is one of the manifestations of the problem of modern Korean families/children abandoning their parents rather than living with them and taking care of them. I don't know, I guess as a result of the whole Confucian tradition we don't have a good social security system or any other way to take care of our old ppl if their own kids don't. I don't know, i don't have any answers or anything, but this is something that really keeps bothering me and hurts me to see. I wish I could just go around and buy all the ppl's wares so they could go home with money for food and stuff. But there has to be a BETTER solution than that.

Oh, well. This was supposed to be a lighthearted entry about how I don't fit into Korean clothing which is mostly "free size" (one size fits all). Shirts are all crazy tight on me and a lot of shoes don't come in bigger sizes so they don't have my 7.5/8. Well, that's one thing that has been on my mind. =T

Good night. =)

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