Saturday, October 20, 2012

I intervene in an altercation . . .

Seoul Subway Station Hoegi

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 . . .

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At 9:34 AM, Blogger Kevin Kim said...

Those damn drunken ajeossis...

At 10:06 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Except that he was a harabeoji . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 3:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Studies show that if a person gets aggressive after having too much to drink, it's not the alcohol to be blamed. Alcohol enhances whatever we're feeling and we're good at. Often aggressive people get more aggressive, happy - happier, friendly - friendlier etc. My godfather was so generous after a few drinks that I always returned home with cash to spend. My mother on the other hand became extremely aggressive, attacking physically my drunk father with whatever she had at hand. But the alcohol only enhanced what was already there.
My father as you remember was a die-hard alcoholic. Dependence on the spirits might be then in our genes. That's the first reason I avoid alcohol. Another is my tendency to challenge people, my wayward, unruly personality and boundless energy. I would probably end up being a gang member or at least a white-collar criminal if it were not for Jesus. Alcohol and secular viewpoint would make me a monster and I indeed did a couple of things I am not proud of back in Poland, before becoming a Christian.
People should avoid alcohol at all costs when it takes the worst out of them, thus they are responsible for any stupidity they do under the influence of alcohol - whether it's aggression on the public transport or DUI.
An American friend of mine, Christian, Korean mega-church elder and bible study leader, a middle-aged father of five got caught DUI by the Korean cops and they reported him to American Military Police. Instead of admitting wrongdoing and foolishness he excused himself with high tolerance to alcohol, blamed the MP's for taking his license and threatening him to kick him out of the organization. The Korean church knew that but didn't take any steps and turned the blind eye to this problem. He's my friend, but there's no place for immature, unwise cowards in the church.


At 6:30 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

My maternal grandfather never drank in the time that I knew him, but he knew about drunks and told me that some people got happy, some aggressive.

I'm the happy sort, but I don't like to get drunk and haven't been for seventeen years.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 4:11 AM, Blogger The Sanity Inspector said...

Kudos for being Peacemaker For A Day!

At 4:35 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I guess I was lucky . . . my timing was just right, the moment when they'd have to escalate to violence or back down on one side or the other and lose face -- but I provided a welcome distraction, a third way between the horns of a dilemma (though I could have gotten gored).

Jeffery Hodges

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