Just When You Think You're Out... Now with alt-texty goodness!

So I figured I was done ranting about Korea, and I am after a manner of speaking. This is a rant in Korea's favor. I'm watching motherfucking Anthony Bourdain and I have to write this or punch out the TV and then go to the hospital to have my had stitched up compliments of Lutron, who has apparently not canceled my Blue Cross. Class act, those guys.

So I've noticed some common elements in every travel related article/show/blog about Korea. They are as follows.

1. Everything in Korea is wonderful.

2. Kimchi is the spiciest thing on the planet. It is so goddamn fucking spicy that anyone who eats it instantly goes blind. And then dies. From the fucking spiciness. Also everyone in Korea eats it all the time.

3. Seoul, the capital city and entirety of the country, is positioned on the southernmost tip of Korea. The only place to go from Seoul is north, to the DMZ, at which it is appropriate to act as though this is the first time you were ever made aware of the Korean War.

4. Soju is this wild, wonderful, delicious nectar! See: 1.
4. a)Also there is nothing else to drink yourself drunk on.

5. Korean restaurants are all as modern and plastic as a McDonald's.

6. Korean cuisine consists wholly of kimchi, bulgogi, fish-head soup, BBQ and one AND ONLY ONE other from this list: silkworm bugs, nasty chicken pieces, or bibimbap.

7. There are Norae-bangs, (Karaoke joints) and DVD-bangs, (DVD joints) all over the place. There are no other types of bangs. There are also many other things to do.

8. People drink a lot! Sometimes in these, like, tents.

There's nothing wrong with broadening horizons, and if you're only going to be there for a couple of weeks, Korea is a cool place to check out. But every one of the things you see in a show about Korea is bullshit, as detailed in the following point-by-point rebuttal.

1. This isn't a Korea thing, all travel shows act like this with all countries. No one would make a show about a place just to bitch about it, and no one would watch if they did, but am I the only one who hears condescension in the obsequiousness that get lavished on any place featured in a travel show? Everyplace is perfect, everyone is wonderful, etc. etc. I dunno about anyone else, but this is how I speak to children. Yea our culture is materialistic and shallow, but people are, on the average, the same anywhere you go. Half the places I've been in have had a homegrown "Dancing with the Stars" playing on the dive bar TV.  Every culture is extremely shitty in at least one way. (When in doubt: StatisWhat has two thumbs and is NOT the most racist thing on this page?   Me! For once.tically speaking, your culture's police force will probably truncheon the living shit out of you for making the above point.) Yet all travel writing acts as though every other culture in the world is populated entirely by impossibly generous, wonderful, hedonistic holy men/women. Find me one Lonely Planet article about a culture that does not contain three of the following words: (Hospitality, Spiritual, Generous, Ancient, Smiles, Magical, Lust-for-life, Laid-Back, Know-How-To-Party and if we've recently bombed the shit out of them: Hope-For-The-Future). People are the same in Korea as they are in America, Russia, Haiti, anywhere you could name. A little dopey, often douches, far from perfect, but on the balance ok. Yea Americans suck, and yea you'll meet cool people if you look. The same holds for everyone - it's called the human condition. I understand feeling like we need to apologize via fawning compliments to the rest of the world, becuase of colonialism and mercantilism and Cromwell and and slavery. But don't forget: that was WASPs, and everyone hates them anyway. Traveling is fun, but for god's sake, you should be allowed to comment on the fact that you can smell shit everywhere in Korea and not be a racist.

2. I read an article by Brooks or Friedman or Rich or some Op-Ed dick-at-large* about how Engrish would change the way "proper" English is spoken, because since more people worldwide speak it badly than speak it well, badly would become the new well (Those of us who taught English know it would become the new finethankyouandyou). I imagine an ideawhore like that was the first white guy to sit down to a plate of kimchi. "Very spicy" they told him. After a bite he thought "...Well, it certainly is seasoned, I guess that's what they mean, but who the hell am I to correct someone on the use of my own language?" And so the myth was born. And of course, since we must never, ever, ever, never ever, nerver, never imply a foreigner is incorrect (see #1), it has now become unassailable. Kimchi isn't bad, but no one has ever had to chase it with bleu cheese to get the burn out of their mouth.  And yea, Koreans eat Kimchi with everything, we eat bread with on or in almost everything.  It's the kind of boring fact you mention once and move on to the interesting stuff, which never happens because:

3. Fuck Seoul and every pampered, damp-assed, entitled wey-gook in it. Don't get me wrong, it's a wonderful town in the same way as New York is. And Seoul weygooks are all whiny, solipsistic posers in the same way lifelong Manhattanites are. Here's the thing about Seoul. It's not fucking Korea. Korea is getting pointed at in the streets like you're John Fucking Merrick. Korea is asking "uh-dee CGbuhwee" and getting "No English" back. Korea is eating the same 6 foods every day until dog becomes a viable alternative.This is what everyone in Seoul looks like to everyone who's not  Korea is fleeing to every nook and corner of the country on the weekend until the true nature of you confinement becomes despairingly clear. Korea is not arguing with a Nigerian over the price of a belt buckle. Korea is not not learning Korean "Because, like, everyone speaks English already, you know?" Korea is not never wondering if you've wandered into a mob bar and should wander back out again, nowish. Korea is not trying to decide between burritos, gyros, or Indian buffet.  And I'm not bitching about my experience.  Being a conspicuous, befuddled, completely alone foreigner for a year is how I managed to get through Russia sans getting stomped without knowing how to say even "hello" until I got off the plane.  It would be nice to show how the other half lives. (Literally, as 23 of 48 million live rural, or as it's known in Korea: lruulrlrlurl) And seriously, Yes-the-DMZ-is-the-main-attraction, Yes-the-Korean-War-was-horrible. But standing on the line, pinching your face up and saying "This really makes you think you know? Really drives it home." should be punishable by bludgeoning with a fucking history book.

4. Soju is Satan's taint-sweat. It's gasoline in a bottle. Scratch that, it's watered-down, sugared-down gasoline in a bottle. It's an oily rag from becoming a molotov cocktail, and firebombing something with it is much more responsible behavior than actually drinking it. Tony-B couldn't say enough good stuff about it when the cameras were rolling (#1 again), but the whole next day of shooting, until the evening, could not shut up about how hungover he was. He wears a thumb ring and is sarcastic and makes constant mention of his bad-boy status, so I suppose he's something of a bad-boy, which means the average viewer chalks his ass-dragging up to his incessantly referenced hard partying lifestyle, but those of us who've had it know. Drinking Soju doesn't so much get you drunk as give you a minor stroke, though it can be hard to tell the difference until the next morning
4. a) God-Dammnit someone drink Baekseju on camera! That shit is great, just as strong, and it's not made by going to CVS and rebottling the rubbing alcohol. Now I know the idea is to "educate" people, but is anyone really educated by talking about kimchi and soju? If they don't know about it already, fuck 'em. It's time to cut the Sarah Palin's of the world loose. If they want to know what were talking about let 'em read a fucking book for once.

5. The Korean restauratuer's superstition, somewhat like that of baseball players on a streak, is that renovation is bad luck. A traditional Korean restaurant is wooden, chairless, and inexplicably always empty. If the toilet isn't a hole in the ground in an unattached building out back, you aren't eating in a Korean restaurant.

6. See 4.a) Fuck's sake people, let's start assuming some accumulated knowledge on the part of our audience. Anyone who hasn't at least heard of Kimchi, Bibimbap and Korean barbecue is probably not going to be watching a food show about Korea in the first place, n'est-ce pas? Koreans do have some wierd cool food, I bitched about the sameness of the cuisine because the good stuff is about five times as expensive as the regular shit. There are restaurants dedicated to tofu, octopus, deep sea monster fish, hell, Makkali places! Twelve bucks gets food and rice wine enough to make me feel good about having come to Korea. The food is never the same, i.e. Kim's Kitchen for those of you who've been there, and is always crazy. Piles of spiced up tofu, whole fried fish, pancakes PANCAKES holy shit the pancakes I almost forgot! Korean pancakes are awesome, and I have yet to see anyone eat one on TV. They're all too busy explaining to the putative 3-year-old mongoloids who are the audience of all television what kimchi is and how spicy it is.

7. Ok. There are Norae Bangs. There are DVD bangs. If you teleport when you get drunk as I do, you might find yourself in a video arcade or holding a replica AK, mid burst, in a shooting gallery. You probably won't though, because there are three things to do in Korea. Sing in a norae bang, screw your girlfriend in a DVD bang, and waste your whole life in a PC bang. I would love to meet the cinematographer on this show because I have not seen the word "PC" in any "Yep, we're in Asia alrighty" shot of buildings covered in the Korean moon man letters. There is a PC bang for every man woman and child in Korea and they are always packed. If you're good at mental math you've already gotten the joke, I'll wait here while the rest of you go back. Of course, that's only a slight exaggeration. Koreans love PC bangs as much as they love Kimchi, if not more, but you will never see the inside of one on TV because ten grown men sitting silently and chain smoking while they play WOW next to eight hyperactive kids on the same computer screaming about who gets to play the mariocart ripoff next is the most depressing thing on the planet earth, and several other planets besides.

8. This has more to do with this article than the show but oooooooohhhhhh GANG! Am I getting sick of this kind of shit! This is not travel writing. This is jerking off about how well traveled you are and how many wild places you've checked off your big list without bothering to stay long enough to learn anything about the place. This cumdumpster rattles on and on about shit that anyone who's visited Korea has already seen about ten minutes after getting off the plane, interspersed with free advertising for his dickhole friends' blogs. In the New York Fucking Times! These ballbags only get away with it because essentially no one's ever been to Korea. The equivalent would be "My buddy at www.newyorkfelcherabouttown.com invited me down to New York City, or as they call it: 'New York.' Imagine my surpise when we stop to eat - right there in the street! My friend bought me a "dirty water dog" from a man on a cart! I'm so fucking well traveled! Do I win? Have I won yet? Do I have more cred than anyone else?" Jump in the Han and, if your skin doesn't melt off first, drown. Anyone who's spent a year in Korea could pull a more interesting, funny, insightful article out of their ass in about five minutes on any random hungover morning than what passes for travel writing. I could probably do it, if I bothered to edit and didn't express myself mostly through harangues.
Fun Fact, The Mustache is the face's
*This has nothing to do with the main topic, but I had to get it off my chest: can we round up all these people in some type of camp, or if that the word "camp" offends, jail? At what point do people lend you their credulity so that any sort of nonsense, ass-backward bullshit idea you come up with is taken as "outside the box thinking." These men are charlatans and assholes. Brooks simplifies everything to absurdity, Friedman makes up contrarian bullshit, and Rich is just an ass. Any "big" idea that attempts to lay out the forces shaping our world politically environmentally or economically in a simple enough format to become a bestseller and get your mustache on television is by definition pseudo-scientific middlebrow horseshit. The world isn't easy folks, and this half-wit doesn't have any answers.

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