Seouless Nights

[We were in Sth Korea mid-November 2001… Justina for a WENT workshop and I for the first Asia Internet Rights Conference and the 4th Labor Media Conference. The following is an extract from emails describing one evening in Seoul, one of those rare moments when pinkies like ourselves are subjected to discrimination.]

last night was a curious mix of flicker lights, rip-offs and a few unfriendly gestures. sometimes it’s useful to know how others are discriminated against, but it can be hard to deal with it up front.

at one point in the evening we had a bight to eat at a street vendor behind that huge shopping centre with the outdoor stage. we were charged 30,000 WON! no matter how we argued, the language problem and our “visitor” looks let us down. the stall holder literally removed 10,000 from my hand as justina handed over 20,000. i was furious. we had 1 pancake, 1 piece of fish, 1 serve of spicey chicken pieces and 1 bottle of soju.

shortly afterwards, i was looking at some coats in a shop and these guys started pushing into me. none would look at me. they just elbowed me out of the way. justina had a similar experience at the same shop with a girl who was quite upset at her.

later that night we tried to catch a cab. the first one drove off yelling “no, no english” at us, even when we showed him the card from sookmyung university with directions in Korean. i couldn’t help but slam the side of my fist into the car.

then i had someone come up to me while i was trying to video something, this tall guy in a long, black coat… tapped me on the shoulder. i looked round, he looked on me and shook his head and waved his finger at me and the camera. no video… very imposing.

oh well, it wasn’t so bad. i’m just sensitive to that kind of thing and it’s hard to shake off at the time. but now it all looks pretty hilarious. well, sort of. i don’t like getting ripped off… who does!