Saturday, 24 October 2009

Racism in Korea

Racism is never particularly pleasant and being a white boy, it's not something I'm particularly accustomed to experiencing. To be singled out by a stranger, to be insulted, and to be threatened, solely on the basis of your skin colour and appearance conjures feelings inside of me which I find extremely difficult to put words to. Those of you who are most unfortunately more accustomed to the experience may do the description far more justice.

These bad feels are difficult to shake, perhaps especially for a white boy who hasn't had to develop the hardness of skin to defend against them. Somehow, the racism affects your very core, for you've been attacked by something completely and utterly unchangeable about yourself, about who you are. Clothing can be changed, attitude and actions can be thought about and reversed, but your skin and race is with you permanently and forever.

The scariest part about racism is that I find it contagious in nature. The hurt afflicted by just a short exposure draws you into a very dark and scary place. The reality of the situation in Korea is that I've only been (definitely) subjected to negative racism twice, that's TWICE in eight months! Two middle aged men are hardly a census on the Korean people right? But in both instances after being subjected to racism I immediately felt overwhelming aggression and malice towards almost all other Koreans around me. Suddenly friendly faces and ordinary people are transformed into potential haters and aggressors, whispers between friends turn into comments about the white boy standing over there. Giggles between the guys nearby are clearly concerning you and your appearance. Suddenly, you want to punch somebody out, hide away from them all and return to your own people, never to deal with those arseholes again. Don't they realise they're just like you? Don't you realise the same... And then you blow off steam and you realise what just happened, how one person, one stupid person changed your entire perspective on a culture, and you wonder how the real victims of racism survive.

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