Vices we love: Mobsters Inc.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Mobsters Inc.

There are two ways of doing things in Korea. The legal way and the Korean way.

We all know the legal way. After all, I am from America where the economy is based on selling drugs, buying houses and suing the people who sold us structurally unsound houses while they were on drugs. There are so many lawyers in America that if you do not know the legal way, someone will surely tell you. This is when you write polite letters, visit various government boards, consult with soothing lawyers and generally speaking spend your life taking part in Jon Stewart's equation. ("Small claims court. Where the pathetic sue the desperate over the mundane.")

Then, there is the Korean way. My job, and I call it a job with no small amount of hesitation, was arranged by a herpes-ridden lad of Australian-Korean extraction named Jeffrey. The gig sounded great. Work from 1 to 5 with small classes in a public elementary school. Decent kids, out in the nuevo rich suburbs, and generally a ticket out of the Dancing Monkey Show that is private language schools. All for 2 million won a month, which is a not too demeaning wage. Okay so we had 120 spots and only 49 students. So what? "You worry about teaching. You no worry about business" says Jeffrey in soothing Konglish. Like the idiot I am, I no worry.

Month one passes uneventfully. I'm a star. The principal of this fine school assures me, via the non-English speaking English teacher that "the more we see you, the more we like you." Though it is a bit shocking that I do not eat rice seperately from the rest of the meal or that I do not partake in kimchi.

Month two is pleasant. I am invited to school events, concerts, days at the beach, etc. The kids are getting a bit antsy though. The familiar jadedness that is at the heart of Korean language education starts to bubble to the surface. I think Koreans have this imaginary super-fun blonde blue-eyed big breasted puppet they keep longing for. And even she won't be good enough.

Month three is rockier. Enrollment picks up but not by enough. Invitations to social events cease. Teachers who were pleasant towards me now largely ignore me. Maybe my nose is too big. Maybe I'm fat. Maybe I'm hairy. 'Tis a mystery. Classes are rougher sledding as well. I appeal to Jeffrey for equipment (all I have is a whiteboard and some markers- with this I am commanded to make class "fun.") I send a lengthy email on the wonders of tape recorders, tv's, computers, props, posters, etc. They are promptly delivered- to Michelle's classroom. This is also a time when my salary takes a 10 percent dive. Can't have that.

Month four features full out rebellion. Michelle starts to spend more time in my classroom than hers- which is not saying much considering her fondness for showing up only sporadically. Her face, never particularly attractive, starts to look pinched. Small dark eyes cast hateful glances my way. Every sentence begins with "You know, asiatown, I am very busy but I keep have to..." (work, mark papers, masturbate, teach, snort cocaine off rice cakes etc.) My salary now declines by 25 percent. I am given perplexed looks when I ask for pay stubs. I find out the hard way that Jeffrey is not paying my health insurance.

Month five, featuring the decline of civilization. (Not that it was ever at a very high level to begin with.) Enquires regarding pension payments, tax payments, health insurance and wages are met with stony silence. My excommunication is complete. Nobody even goes through the bother of pretending to be friendly to score free English lessons/make fun of whitey time. Which really hurts. I'm so used to being exploited by them, I can't bear the thought of not being used. Must be the Seoul Syndrome.

So I talk this over with one of only a handful of Koreans I know who look at me as an actual human being and not as a somewhat amusing animal that can bark out English words on command. He tells me to use "the law." Sweet, precious boy, unsoiled by life. The law fails. Miserably. I go to the labor board which asks, in all innocence "Can you talk this over with your boss?"

Ummm.....so now we switch into Korean mode. Aforementioned sweet, precious lad gets a glint in his eye. "I want to talk to this guy." Which is how we wind up at a pay phone in the dead of night. Serious discussion takes place, or would be taking place, if Jeffrey wouldn't hang up. Seems out erstwhile engineering student mentioned (best as I could tell), the Korean mafia, of which he is a tangential member. I am not sure what he said exactly, but it worked quite well because I am 700 dollars richer this morning. The only trouble is that Jeffrey is the kind of guy who never learns from experience, so I assume another phone call will become necessary.

P.S.: I am leaving for China in 2 weeks.

10 Comments:

Blogger Adalmin said...

Somehow the Asian mafias seem so much cooler than the Italian ones.

Comparison:
ITALIAN
Do it or you'll be sleeping with the fishes.

ASIAN
Confucious say: You go to jail, bad boy!

11:49 AM  
Blogger Vicente Torres said...

I don't like the mafias.
Best wishes,

11:01 PM  
Blogger asiatown77 said...

I don't either Vicente. I also don't like beng taken advantage of, which is par for the course in Korea.

Adalmin-speaking fom personal experience?

1:53 AM  
Blogger Mistress Gita said...

Yea!!!!Crazy nomads unite...and as far as vices we love and mafias we tolerate...sign me up for both...

12:56 PM  
Blogger Adalmin said...

Nah. All we have in Singapore are gangsters. I'm talking about people who think 'Simple Plan' and 'Good Charlotte' are ECKSTREME RAWKERS.

10:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to give you some brotherly advice: Lose the sig on your eflcafe.com account, OK
Nobody likes it, its not funny, and it doesn't reflect well on you, either. Capice?

2:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But it's so true....

3:56 PM  
Blogger Dynamic korea said...

Korea.net kimchi soup
Contrary to a cool reception at home in the wake of a recent ruckus of its tarnished image, kimchi is gaining popularity with Americans and other places abroad following a spate of news reports to the effect that the traditional Korean dish has an inherent preventative effect on bird flu, the fear of which is now gripping the world.

It was last March that kimchi's curative effect on avian influenza began to be known well outside of the country, when the British public broadcaster BBC aired the results of a research team led by Seoul National University professor Kang Sa-wook.

Quoting the team's test results, BBC said of the 13 chickens stricken with the influenza, 11 had shown telling curative effects after being administered kimchi extracts.

Back in 2003, when the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) broke out in Asia, there was a ‘kimchi rage' in China and Southeast Asia on the strength of reports that the Korea-originated pickle was working in heading off the epidemic.

In recent weeks, the American media were into handling kimchi's efficacy in treating avian flu.

The ABC network, South Carolina's largest state newspaper, the Murtle Beach Sun News, Centre Daily Times of Pennsylvania, and some 100 media outlets across the United States reported kimchi's curative effects on the epidemic.

The ABC reported on Tuesday that with the interest in kimchi growing in America, sauerkraut, the U.S. version of kimchi, is also enjoying a boom. Sauerkraut, a pickle of German origin made from shredded cabbage fermented in brine, is normally inserted into hot dogs or sandwiches.

Journal Times, a publication from Racine, Wisconsin, reported scientists speculated that the bacteria which were detected in kimchi, help cure avian influenza, adding that the same strains were also discovered in sauerkraut.

Kim Jae-soo, the agricultural attaché to the Korean embassy in Washington, D.C., said that contrary to the perception of misgivings Koreans have at home, the American press has given an intense coverage of kimchi's curative effects on the poultry epidemic.
He noted that although the U.S. media had not paid significant attention to kimchi when it gained popularity as a curative to SARS in Southeast Asia, it is watching carefully this time around.

Meanwhile, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Korea Agro-Trade Corp. on Thursday (Nov. 10), despite the recent unsavory episode involving tainted kimchi, Korea's exports of the item amounted to 26,275 tons in the first 10 months of the year, up 81 tons from a year earlier.

In particular, shipments to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Malaysia have surged partly due to Hallyu, or the Korean cultural wave, prompted by Daejanggeum, a Korean TV drama aired in those countries. In the January-October period, exports to Taiwan totaled 561 tons, up 72 percent from a year before. Hong Kong and Malaysia saw their imports increase by 15 and 150 percent respectively.

Besides, prospects for suspended kimchi shipments to Japan to resume were bright as the Japanese authorities were about to end their investigation into the Korean products soon. About 93 percent of Korea's total exports of 34,827 tons last year went to Japan.

10:56 AM  
Blogger Dynamic korea said...

Korea.net kimchi refrigerator
Contrary to a cool reception at home in the wake of a recent ruckus of its tarnished image, kimchi is gaining popularity with Americans and other places abroad following a spate of news reports to the effect that the traditional Korean dish has an inherent preventative effect on bird flu, the fear of which is now gripping the world.

It was last March that kimchi's curative effect on avian influenza began to be known well outside of the country, when the British public broadcaster BBC aired the results of a research team led by Seoul National University professor Kang Sa-wook.

Quoting the team's test results, BBC said of the 13 chickens stricken with the influenza, 11 had shown telling curative effects after being administered kimchi extracts.

Back in 2003, when the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) broke out in Asia, there was a ‘kimchi rage' in China and Southeast Asia on the strength of reports that the Korea-originated pickle was working in heading off the epidemic.

In recent weeks, the American media were into handling kimchi's efficacy in treating avian flu.

The ABC network, South Carolina's largest state newspaper, the Murtle Beach Sun News, Centre Daily Times of Pennsylvania, and some 100 media outlets across the United States reported kimchi's curative effects on the epidemic.

The ABC reported on Tuesday that with the interest in kimchi growing in America, sauerkraut, the U.S. version of kimchi, is also enjoying a boom. Sauerkraut, a pickle of German origin made from shredded cabbage fermented in brine, is normally inserted into hot dogs or sandwiches.

Journal Times, a publication from Racine, Wisconsin, reported scientists speculated that the bacteria which were detected in kimchi, help cure avian influenza, adding that the same strains were also discovered in sauerkraut.

Kim Jae-soo, the agricultural attaché to the Korean embassy in Washington, D.C., said that contrary to the perception of misgivings Koreans have at home, the American press has given an intense coverage of kimchi's curative effects on the poultry epidemic.
He noted that although the U.S. media had not paid significant attention to kimchi when it gained popularity as a curative to SARS in Southeast Asia, it is watching carefully this time around.

Meanwhile, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Korea Agro-Trade Corp. on Thursday (Nov. 10), despite the recent unsavory episode involving tainted kimchi, Korea's exports of the item amounted to 26,275 tons in the first 10 months of the year, up 81 tons from a year earlier.

In particular, shipments to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Malaysia have surged partly due to Hallyu, or the Korean cultural wave, prompted by Daejanggeum, a Korean TV drama aired in those countries. In the January-October period, exports to Taiwan totaled 561 tons, up 72 percent from a year before. Hong Kong and Malaysia saw their imports increase by 15 and 150 percent respectively.

Besides, prospects for suspended kimchi shipments to Japan to resume were bright as the Japanese authorities were about to end their investigation into the Korean products soon. About 93 percent of Korea's total exports of 34,827 tons last year went to Japan.

1:55 AM  
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1:05 AM  

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