Thursday, September 1, 2011

What the ... insult?!?!?!?!

My first month in Korea I got in trouble with a co-worker. In one of my classes the students were noisy. So, I asked one who had half decent English how I would say be quiet or please be quiet in Korean. He told me. I was new enough at the game that I took him at face value.

A few days later I was in the teachers room trying to talk with a co-worker. I say trying because Mrs. Cho who was beside us was so fucking loud that I could barely hear the person beside me. Well, I had learned how to say be quiet so I used it on her. That is when the shit hit the fan.

Mrs. Cho leaped out of her seat and proceeded to get in my face. "What did you just say to me?" At this point I really thought she was going to hit me. "How dare you tell me to shut up!" Yeah, the fucker taught me shut up not be quiet and I was stupid enough not to confirm it.

Once I could get a word in edgewise, which took a couple of minutes, I told her what I thought I said. She proceeded to lecture me on how shut up is the worst non-profane thing you can say in Korean. I should expect a fight if I ever say it to an adult and a phone call if I ever say it to a student. She didn't calm down until I told her the name of the student who misinformed me. He was her student too, and she left to take out her anger on him. He never did volunteer to tell me how to say anything in Korean after that.

According to what I was told by Mrs. Cho, and other Koreans when the topic came up, shut up is extremely rude in Korean. There is no playful way to use it. There is no polite way to use it. Any Korea would take extreme offence to being told to shut up. Mrs. Cho's reaction was considered normal for someone who had been so offended. Which is why I tended not to say it.

Reading many of the comments left on the YouTube video of the BusTard in action had me thinking of the shut up incident. Especially the following comment but some YouTard named StoryOfSoul.

fuckin nigger. i am not trying to mock all the black people, but his behavior makes me angry.
and i cannot understand how come he is an english teacher in korea? such a mother fucker. when you go to Rome, you obey their rules big ass. and fuckin leave? this country. i usually try not to mean to people. but GO BACK TO YOUR COUNTRY SHITTY MOTHER FUCKER

When in Rome eh? I can't tell you how many times some retard, be it an apologist, a netnazi, or just some mook, has used that line. It is as stupid now as it was then.

Up until the point the BusTard started getting physical with the old man and woman on the bus he reminded me of ... a Korean. I immediately thought of Mrs. Cho's reaction to being told to shut up. It had me wondering just how visceral a reaction a Korean would have given if they were told to shut up. Especially by someone younger than them. Or even worse, by a foreigner younger than them.

Even the threats of a beating from the BusTard reminded me of Koreans over reacting. Especially the taxi driver who cursed me out in Korean but wanted a fight because I flipped him the bird after his tirade. He was waving a fist around so much I had to put my hands in my pocket or I would have snapped him upside the head. Which of course is what he wanted so he could cry injury and try to get some blood money. But I digress.

When in Rome? Well, it was in Korea not Rome and up until the point of physical contact the BusTard acted like a Korean. Which doesn't make his over reaction right. It just makes him a BusTard who needs to be punished for attacking an old man and pushing a woman around.


  1. One thing that hasn't been mentioned in the commentary about the Bustard (at least in the comments I've read) is that the adjussi telling him to shut up because he's too noisy is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. When I was riding Korean buses, there was ALWAYS some mook screaming into his cell phone for everyone to hear. Whenever a Korean cell phone goes off, you're sure to hear it, because the volume is turned waaaaaaaaaaaay up high, and the mook always lets it go for as long as possible before answering. I guess he's proud of his choice of ringtone or something.

  2. Yeah that would irk me too. I remember one kid (university kid) listening to music on his phone loud enough that even with his ear buds in it sounded like he was beside me and not 5 seats ahead. A friend and I were talking, I didn't think loudly because the music was louder than us, and a woman told us to be quiet (in English). If she had told the guy to turn his music down I may have paid attention to her. (I pointed at him and said "Tell him.")She didn't. But I was impressed that she used English.

  3. lol, omg! I am so glad I read this. When I was in Japan, one of my South Korean friends taught me a few words in Korean. One of them was "dakcha"(sp?) which she said meant shut up. I used it playfully with 3 other Korean girls I knew. They gasped and said not to use it. I thought maybe the direct translation wasn't a simple "shut up", but more of a "shut the f-ing h3!! up". I wasn't completely convinced, though, and might have used it again playfully in Korea. Now I won't! ^__^V I do recall "shut up" being a super taboo word in my house growing up, though, along with "butt". I can understand. And there's plenty of things in Japanese that don't directly translate to anything profane but still offend people just as much.