Brief Conversation with a Friendly Korean on the Jungang Line
Yesterday on the Jungang Subway Line as my train was just leaving Cheongnyangni Station, a Korean man approached me where I was standing engrossed in my newspaper, greeted me warmly, took my hand and shook it, and asked me if I speak English. When I had affirmed that, he smiled broadly and asked if I were American.
"Yes," I acknowledged, a bit cautious.
His smile grew, and he quietly but with emphatic certitude confided, "Koreans love Americans!"
At first, I was unsure how to respond, wondering if he were crazy or thought I was, but I finally replied, "Some do."
His smile faded, and he looked concerned as he insisted, "All Koreans love Americans. The Americans helped in 1950. Many died. Perhaps some of your uncles?"
I nodded. "Some fought," I revealed, "but lived."
"Koreans and Americans have a blood relationship," he told me, "so Koreans love Americans." But he seemed to reconsider, for he added, "Some Koreans don't. A few. They are 'Advanced.'" He looked at me to see if I understood.
"Progressive," I corrected, knowing that the Leftists in Korea call themselves that.
"Yes," he agreed. "Progressive. But they are traitors."
I didn't follow up on the possibility of a political discussion, but asked him what he does and found out that he teaches English linguistics in a university. He said that he likes Chomsky's linguistic theories.
I wondered what he thought of Chomsky's politics, but our conversations soon ended anyway as the man bade me farewell and exited the train at Hoegi Station.