I intervene in an altercation . . .
At about 5:30 on the subway home yesterday evening from teaching my final Friday class at Ewha, after I had changed trains at Wangsimni Station and had just passed Hoegi Station toward Jungnang Station on the Jungang Line, I heard a ruckus to my left . . . an ajeossi voice raised in command. But when I looked, I saw not a middle-aged man, but a harabeoji, a grandfather type who had been drinking, probably soju. The old fellow was trying to get a young African man to move to one side because he felt that the man was blocking people's passage from one set of exit doors to the other.
The African man was annoyed but trying hard to ignore the old man -- and in fact was listening to music on his earphones, so the old man removed them, poked the African man in his belly, and despite being much shorter tried to physically move the black man to one side, at which time, the latter pushed back, angering the old Korean man, who instantly expressed his upset emotions by further raising his voice.
I recognized the old man as an alcoholic who had two or three times accosted me, mumbling each time in Korean to ask me something that I couldn't comprehend, but I had always been polite, and he had each time relented, so I realized that I knew him well enough to intervene and therefore stepped between the two, taking the old Korean man gently by the shoulders and lightly restraining him while saying, "It's okay, it's okay . . ."
Remembering me, he settled down and complained less loudly, took my hand to shake it, and allowed himself to be mollified. A middle-aged Korean woman, an ajumma, then joined me, as did another Korean man, middle aged and therefore a real ajeossi, and among us, we calmed the old fellow down, though he pushed back a bit at them in his drunken state (but never pushed me).
When he was again stabilized and his attention directed elsewhere, I turned to the African, made the motion of downing a bottle, and received a nod in return, acknowledgement that he knew the man was drunk. I added, "He's spoken to me several times while drunk." The African man smiled and politely asked, "Has he?" I smiled in reply and nodded . . .
Mangu Station came a couple of stops later, whereupon, not seeing the Korean woman, I thanked only the other Korean man for his assistance and exited the train.
Not quite so exciting as that other altercation . . .