Monday, August 13, 2012


When I started writing about my experiences here there were only two other foreigners writing blogs in Busan as far as I'm aware and so it enjoyed a level of mild popularity by virtue of absence of choice. This led to a few invitations to appear on Korean TV and radio shows, and I was also asked to write, but always for airline magazines - perhaps their editors had correctly surmised that I work best with a captive audience.

I always turned these offers down - even though I was invariably assured it would 'help promote my blog' - on the sound logic that I actually didn't want to promote my blog, and I have a face for radio and a voice for writing. Yes, perhaps with enough plastic surgery I too could look like one of those K-pop boy band members which women who are into the whole non-threatening-male-look would like, but it would represent the modern-day equivalent of The Six Million Dollar Man project, and cost about the same.

The other reason for turning down 'a great chance to be on TV/radio/write for people trapped on a plane' is that the offers invariably came in from bizarre addresses at Korea's equivalent of Hotmail such as 'ilikegoats', 'bananaman', 'pussy80' and 'bkmhbdmukkk' with subject lines such as 'This is Arirang TV' to make sure you know it's authentic. So you end up in a situation where Bananaman invites you to some part of the city to appear on a TV or radio programme. You could run a background check on Bananaman but it's time consuming.

It was once explained to me - and it's entirely logical - that since most people here share about seven surnames and most of them are in fact called Kim - it's almost impossible to get anything resembling a sensible email address from your employer because someone's already taken it. The problem is though, I don't think they're even trying. Take the Korea Times for example. It can't have more than a few hundred staff so it shouldn't be anywhere near as difficult to choose an email address, but someone still elects to be 'foolsdie' at their domain name, and that means sooner or later they end up writing a piece about a plane crash where pilot error is suspected and signing it 'foolsdie' at the bottom.

But mostly, Koreans seem to use their personal email addresses for work purposes - and this blurring of the lines extends to phones now, and chat systems such as Kakao Talk. This provides whole new opportunities for sexual innuendo because you can now not only expose your quirky textual inner thoughts but give the Freudians something much more graphic and substantial to sink their teeth into - such as the image below - the Kakao Talk avatar of a male bank employee who contacted my wife to tell her that her new credit card was ready:

Bank Employee's Avatar


Anonymous said...

I have similar experiences in the context of academic publishing:,,,

I just gave up pointing this out.

(It's for instance the same with email addresses used by journalists)

Anonymous said...

I always picture you as Jason Statham.

Mike said...

:-) Same attitude. Fewer muscles. (Even fewer women).

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