Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Shhhh...Kimchi and Condoms

DISCLAIMER: If you are easily offended by jesus jokes or sexual references this post is NOT for you!                                                       A few weeks ago when our taxi adjeoshi wanted to get us to Yongsan station by avoiding the traffic, he took a short cut through Yongsan's red  ( more like hot pink ) light district. I'd seen depictions of a full on district at the Sex...excuse me "Erotica" park in Jeju, but I'd never seen it, full on. Scantily clad, disproporationate silicone induced Korean women( well some of them) making kissy faces and whining " 이리와 오 파" in 4 inch heels behind a wall of pink glass inviting men to come take a look at their wares. 
Now this was the first full on pink district I'd ever seen other than the erotica museum.
Korea is a very conservative place in many regards.  Or at least  it appears that way. Korea likes to put a conservative window dressing on society but in reality they are just as scandalous and perverted as anyone else. I can't tell you how many time Koreans smirk with hopeful eyes and ask Kate if she is from "러시아"? Russia ( in Korea)= WHORE. Not by my standard but by Koreans. Pretty Caucasin woman in a dress? Better ask if she "working"? Each time this question is posed she is less than impressed.
Moving on, I want to take minute and talk about the (C)overt brothels strewn about the city. I thought "man, there are a lot of barbers here in Korea". Not that many men need haircuts. As I did the research and looked into the "barber poles", read the signs above the doorways  and as I learn more Korean vocabulary I notice that it's not all cardigans and kimchi Jesus! For example there is one situated on the basement floor of my apartment buliding. I see many a man walk down those shady steps in the anticipation of a "haircut" and I shake my head as I make my way up the few flights to my apartment.
In a "conservative" country where DVD bong babies are a natural occurenence and the aboration rate sky rockets each year you'd think they'd put a little less funding into English and more into Sex Ed. It's crazy to me that Koreans think its strange and abhorent that we hand out free condoms. Tsk,tsk! I heard the a couple weeks ago was the annual "health class". This is an "educational time" where students can peruse aisles of a classroom gawking at old biology charts and archaic books. None of that is preparing them for the real world of sex, unplanned pregnancies, and STD's.
Okay, I admit we are more forth-coming with sexual exploitation in Western cultures. We are bombarded with it constantly, so we think nothing of seeing a half naked, hell ...a naked woman.
 It’s a bit more subtle here, but after a while you begin to recognize some telltale signs. But no worries as with all conservative societies, perversion is lurking right beneath the surface.
  One of the first things I noticed when I got here was the outlandish number of barber poles around the cities.  Nearly every building has one, if not several.  It wasn’t long before someone broke it down for me; One pole is suspect.  Two poles is really saying something.  A place with two poles which are spinning between the hours of midnight and 6am may as well just say “Vagina Sale!”.  There are several 노래 방 in my neighborhood which I’m sure are for another kind of duet. At this point every "business" I pass could conceivably be peddling flesh.  "아드레날린" (Adrenaline)  "coffee shop" I pass by frequently is covered in lights,with one door, no windows, and blacked out door panel and only open after 6pm.Coffee? Hmmmm? I never smell an java when I walk past. More like coffee flavored contraceptive and a happy ending!
But alas the sex trade and pseudo-conservatism are alive in well in South Korea.
If you're even tempted to visit one of these establishments for a "haircut" or better yet a "cup of coffee" after a long day on the job. Ask for a "물 티 수" first then inquire if you get the service Kimichi and condoms special!
Until next time...

Confucius say: beware of double barber poles spinning to and fro and hallogen hot pink lights. You may go for a "haircut" and end up spending the night!

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