However the main entrance offered a bad presage, as is often the case in Korea. You see, doorways and other critical junctures are a Korean’s favorite place to loiter, either idly or confusedly, and always obliviously. The broad ajumma in front of me whom I was depending on to bulldoze a wide path suddenly stopped in the doorway, instantly causing a pileup among those seeking to get out, those seeking to get in, and those trapped in the vestibule between. The reason for her pause? She got a phone call from someone who needed to be chided on the spot.
— Via Korea, “Leisurely Sunday Shopping”

Behold, the experience of expats everywhere in Korea: The loitering and the bitching of ajummas. The last line cracks me up every time.

Even though he was talking about going shopping, this paragraph always brings the Dong Seoul bus terminal to mind, for it has exactly the same types of behavior. The relatively short journey from the Gangbyeon subway platform to the bus platform’s an occasion fraught with human traffic congestion. As if the slow walkers and phone zombies on the stairs weren’t enough, I have to chart a course around all the people standing around by the doors in front of the station doing nothing too.These young and old people don’t look like they’re going anywhere, yet they never look too comfortable where they are, either. They just stand there and smoke their cigarettes. Maybe they wonder why everyone’s moving about and they aren’t. Among them are the ajummas rambling on their phones about this or that domestic problem. Sometimes I wonder if they purposely conduct all their household nattering in public so they can feel important. Why else would they stop in front of a doorway and cause a human traffic jam? They can slam the brakes on the conversation with a “I gotta go, you know you shouldn’t call me when I’m out” and thus retain the upper hand for later.

And maybe I never saw it in the US, but ajummas (and many other people over here) love to make sudden stops in busy thoroughfares. One moment they’re walking along and the next they’re frozen in their tracks. Their stopping causes everyone else to divert from their paths and avoid hitting each other. The people stopping never seem to grasp that other people are around and that stopping may cause problems for people.

Though I haven’t posted much in the past few days, I should have some new stuff up soon. Doing the reblogs is fun, but it’s time to do more original stuff. Stay tuned…

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2 thoughts on “However the mai…

  1. Niall

    Right. It’s amazing how much of my time in Korea is spent being aware that others around me are completely unaware of who’s around them.

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Doorways | waeguk.in

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