This morning, I took Kimchi out for a walk before work per usual. Having accidentally pushed the snooze button one too many times, we were constrained for time and forced to take a brisk twenty-minute jaunt around the block rather than strolling and lollygagging around the park for hours, playing with every puppy we meet, like we usually do in this beautiful spring weather.
As we walked past a bus stop at around the halfway point of our walk, an oldish Korean guy saw Kimchi and bent down to pet her, still per usual. He started jabbering at me in Korean, to which I shrugged and muttered in my broken Konglish “Aniyo… ugh, Englishi?” (Translation: “No… ugh, try English?”). As in I don’t understand a word of what you’re saying. This didn’t seem to deter him, however, and he kept right on yakking. Then he leaned in uncomfortably close, pointed at my face excitedly, and exclaimed “Ooooh Russian!”
Big deal, you may be thinking. Some Korean guy thinks you’re Russian, that all white people look the same. (Which is ironic considering white people think all Asian people look the same, right?) Take it as a complement and get over it….
But here’s the thing about Russian women in Korea. Kind of like all Americans in Korea are either teachers or military, all Russian women are prostitutes. Obviously. (Or so says rampant stereotyping.) So in essence, by “Ooooh Russian!,” what this creepy Korean guy really meant was “Ooooh prostitute!”
Awesome. Thank you for that.
Trying to politely mediate the situation, I replied “Aniyo, Miguk.” (Translation: "No, American.”) As in your last comment was rude and this conversation is quickly becoming sketchy.
Apparently not one for taking a hint, however, he continued blabbering at me. “Ooooh face Russian! Good Russian style!”
Maybe this is just me, but if I were to describe my wardrobe of GAP cardigans and jeans in 3 words, prostitute would not be one of my top choices. Also not death metal, biker gang, or grunge. Just, no.
After suffering maybe 20 seconds of increasingly uncomfortable semi-conversing with the Korean guy, I snatched Kimchi away, bid him “Annyeong” and booked it out of there. This was certainly not my first encounter with an awkward Korean guy, nor was it my first time being accused of being Russian, but for whatever reason this particular conversation left me especially offended. Being mistaken for a prostitute just puts a little damper in your day, doesn’t it? Kind of makes me want to grab a vodka and a babushka.
- Christine -