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Travel Nightmares : Getting Arrested in South Korea

In september of 2012 I was arrested in Korea.  Like many others gone before, I became just another English teacher in South Korea  to be unjustly discriminated against by those in charge of justice in the country.

I’ve put off writing this for a long time now.  Almost a year in fact.  There are two reasons for this.  The first being that at the time of the event I was still in Korea and I hoped to remain there for the next few months.  Writing something that heavily criticised the legal system of the country may have had repercussions.  The second reason was that thinking about the situation sickened me to the stomach.

It all began on a wednesday evening in september.  Jessica and I had been for a cheap dinner where we ate chicken wings and supped a couple of beers casually, enjoying the summer feel of the evening.  The air was warm and the breeze was refreshing.  We chatted and hung out for about an hour before we headed towards the subway.

Heading down the escalators we were already late.  We had 4-5 minutes to make it down one very long escalator and a couple of staircases.  If we didn’t move quickly we would be waiting for 30 minutes until the final subway of the day.  We should of set off earlier but we didn’t.

As we moved down the escalator one Korean man refused to let us pass.  He was standing with a young boy aged perhaps 16.  The man was smiling and when we said “Excuse me”(in Korean) he turned to look at us before responding bluntly with a “No” in English.  We asked again as if he hadn’t heard.  This time the response was much more aggressive.

“Listen you son of bitch, can you read?”

“What are you talking about?” I replied

“The sign says no running on the stairs” he spat

“I’m not running…look, just let us past please we are trying to get to the subway”

“You son of bitch, fuck you, can you read fucking Korean?!”

This argument continued for a few minutes before we reached the bottom of the escalators. Jessica pulled me away from what was turning into a very volatile situation.  We walked away as he continued to shout at us.  We, at this point realised this guy had a screw loose.  Either that or he was trying to rile us up in order to get a reaction and then a pay out (which happens a lot in Korea).  More on that later on though…

We walked away from the man to the end of the subway line and waited for the next subway.  We were still on track for the subway somehow.  We joked how that guy was a mentalist.  We spoke too soon.  He came around the corner with the other boy trailing slowly and shyly behind.  The man, aged 40ish walked straight up to me and began to swear at us.

“You fucking son of bitch, you are lucky”

“Oh man… go away…I don’t want to speak to you”

“You are fucking lucky, if your girlfriend not here, I fucking kill you!”

At this point I was very close to smacking him straight through his yellow smoke stained teeth.

“Go away” Jessica screamed at him

He laughed and continued to get in my face

“Fuck you!, I fucking kill you” he spat in my face

“Go on then, do something you silly little man” I rasped

The subway couldn’t have arrived any sooner.  I stepped on as soon as the doors opened and turned around.  The man stepped in front of Jessica laughing.  She pushed him away and screamed “What’s your problem?!”

He rushed towards her with his right hand raised! He had rage reddening his eyes as he began to move.  Before he could hit Jessica in the back of the head, I stepped in.  I moved Jess quickly out of the way and with my left fist I struck him hard straight across his jaw.

He wheeled backwards and the spit that had built (from him foaming up) burst from his mouth like a mini volcano.  It was a cracking punch I thought.  A real haymaker of sorts.

He got up and began to scream.  He boarded the subway as the doors were closing.  People jumped up from their seats as he ran towards me, fists flailing creating a scene.  I deflected his punches and held his arms determined not to beat him up on a subway, fully aware of the repercussions.  Another man on the subway came across to help calm the situation.  The angry Korean man was held on the subway as we disembarked.  We were going to wait for another subway.

Instead of holding him on the subway however he was let off.  The subway took off as he exited.  Once again he ran towards us.  Jessica shouted for someone to come and help but other Koreans lowered their eyes and shuffled away.  Again, I refused to hit him and held his arms.  

Eventually one man came across to help.  As he approached however, something changed in the demeanour of the man who had been following us.

He reached toward his jaw and held it, he flinched around and looked all of a sudden like a feeble man.  He spoke in Korean to the man who had come to help us.  The man asked us “Why did you hit him?”

If his body actions weren’t enough of a giveaway, we now knew he was playing the victim.

Jessica said to me that he looked as though he had bitten the inside of his mouth.  Perhaps he did, perhaps not, but either way, there was blood dripping down his chin.

He took out his phone as a smile began to break on his face “Watch this, I call police….” He winced and pressed his cheekbone with a tissue.  We decided we would wait and stick it to this guy.  He’d been following us, abusing us and fully deserved the punch.  Furthermore he was trying to get something it seemed.  If this was a democracy, we would be heard fairly and this guy would get whats coming to him.  He had followed, aggravated, physically threatened and was now verbally abusing us, we were the victims.

Looking back we should of taken this as our cue to leave … fast.

The police showed up and the ‘injured’ man jumped in shouting fast in Korean and pointing at us.  Our story was not going to be heard first.  

The policeman addressed me like a piece of dirt on his shoe, curling his upper lip

“You punch?”

“Yes..” I began.

“Let’s go”

We headed towards the exit of the subway station annoyed that we were not going to tell our story here.  Amazingly, the police did not want to speak with the 16 year old boy who saw everything! He was told to go home!

Yep, they told the only other witness present to go home with no further questioning even though we stressed how important it was he stay.

 Exiting the subway station we were rushed into the back of a police car.  Strangely enough we sat three in the back.  Me, Jessica and the man I’d just hit.

We sat in the police station and both wrote out our stories at opposite sides of the room.  After about an hour to an hour and a half I was handed a piece of card in English.  It read ‘You are under arrest..You do not have to say anything’ etc  Then I was handed a piece of paper to sign to acknowledge I understood what was happening.

“Why am I under arrest?!  I am the victim here, not him!!” I said.

“No English” he responded before barking ‘sign!’

Reality began to set in.  I was being arrested in South Korea.  I was going to be made out to be a criminal.

getting arrested in south korea

Some time within the next hour we were moved to another police station via another backseat cramped journey with the man.  We entered the criminal investigations unit at Yeoido police station.  The man who was now clearly the victim gave his statement as he sat with a tissue against his jaw, still wincing/pretending with every word.

He sipped coffee and joked with the investigators before he was waved off by the policemen.

We on the other hand had to wait until a translator arrived.  This took another hour and a half.  The time was 2am before someone arrived to translate for us.

We gave our story and figured out he had a number of discrepancies on his statement.

The first was that he said I had hit him on the left side of his face.  This was impossible.  I am left handed and he was facing me.

The second was that he claimed we had been following him around the subway station before attacking him.  Again, clearly a lie.  

Both things could be checked on CCTV so we thought nothing more of it.

All of this was acknowledged by the police.  We felt like something was going to get sorted.  Before we left, the policeman handed us an ice cream each and we ate it with him as our spirits were lifted.  He told us they would check the CCTV and everything would be fine.  

“Don’t worry” he smiled at us before we headed home at around 4am.

The next day I had to inform my school including the Head-teacher and it wasn’t until a week later that the investigator got back in touch.

The investigator had no good news.  He basically told us to settle outside of court and the man who is now a victim wants 5,000,000 Korean won.  That is about £3,000 or $4,500.  Our initial predictions were confirmed.  The man wanted a payout and had probably been seeking foreigners to take advantage of in that subway station that very night.  For him it was the jackpot.

There was not a chance in hell I was handing over £3,000 to this guy.  The police had not looked into CCTV or paid any attention to the statement we had given! They didn’t care what happened and would rather believe it was another case of the brutal foreigner punches the innocent Korean.  

The truth however was that, they were failing to protect an innocent person focussing more on protecting someone from their own race and country.

That evening I got some legal advice and the lawyer informed me that I had a good standing point.  There were lies in the mans statement and if it goes to court, even though the judge will side with the Korean man because of his race, it will probably take over a year and by that time I’ll be home in the UK.

Wait…he will be sided with just because he is Korean?!  This is ridiculous.  Can you imagine in a modern democratic country a mans legal case is decided purely and solely because of his race.

Additionally, the lawyer will cost $1,500.

I spoke with friends who all seemed to have varied opinions on what I should do.  Either way, it was a lose-lose situation.  The last thing I wanted to do was hand out any money to anyone, especially for a situation in which I was not guilty.

Over the next two weeks my co-teacher helped me out enormously and spoke with the man, haggling over money.  This guy told her he had doctor bills to pay due to damages in his mouth as well as lawyer fees.  All lies.  He was trying to take us to the cleaners.

My co-teacher told me that if I chose the legal option and hired a lawyer then there is a chance my school will fire me.  Any legal proceedings regarding the native English teacher will mean a breach of contract and thus they will let me go.  My visa would be cancelled for getting arrested in South Korea and I would have to leave the country.

A sticky situation unravelled and over the duration of the month there was a lot of stress placed on both myself and Jessica.

under the table payout korea

The conclusion of being arrested in South Korea

We ended up paying the man 2,000,000 won, (£1,100, $1700).  The other situation was drag it out for a year, pay a lawyer and hope it doesn’t result in a firing from the school (which it probably would)  I literally had no leg to stand on.

Yet..still it was not over!

We had to meet him again and personally hand over the money at the station.  The investigators were joking around and everyone seemed happy as they all signed papers.  Everyone except me that is, the person who felt heavily victimised by a terrible system that seemed to be governed by under the table deals.  

The policeman asked “what would happen in your country?”

“Well…this certainly wouldn’t be happening right now.” I responded

The investigator told me afterwards that this is what happens and it’s the best way to handle such situations.  I was fuming.

A quick google search for English teachers in Korea being arrested will return a ton of similar stories. One popular scam involves taxi drivers.  They take you home (usually after you’ve been drinking) but charge you double.  Then when you complain, they try to physically fight you before taking you to the police station and requesting large payouts for damages inflicted on them and their car (even if there are none).  Within the past year I have at least three friends this has happened to.

Other stories where the foreigner is the victim but is treated as the offender are very common.  The stories differ but are always resolved in the same way.  Under the table payouts (the foreigner paying).  There are people taking advantage of this because they know how shallow, ethnocentric and spineless the Korean system, police and prosecutors really are in this country.

Where the rest of the country continues to develop and propel itself forward, the legal system has not.  

Furthermore, it puts every single foreigner in Korea in danger if something were to happen. (If it involves a Korean person.)

This entire event put a huge dark cloud over the final few months in Korea and when I left the country I did so with a very bitter taste in my mouth.

Korea times recently published an article discussing racism in Korea.  You can read the full thing here

What do you think? Any stories you have heard or thoughts on the matter?  Please like and share the story.

The more people that read, the more that are likely to do something about it!

Finally, thanks for reading!

110 Comments

  1. My blood started to boil as I read your post Simon. Although, I never experienced anything as bad as what you had to go through I can relate to be seriously mistreated in Korea. I was fired from a public school job in Incheon under similar circumstances; a crazy co-worker didn’t like me, bullied me and eventually had me sign a piece of paper – more or less -terminating my contract. It was financially debilitating at the time because I had to pay back an expensive one way flight to Korea and suddenly scramble to buy another one back home. More importantly though, it was beyond humiliating and to this day, whenever I think about it, I feel sick to my stomach.
    Samuel Jeffery recently posted..Europe on a Shoestring BudgetMy Profile

  2. That’s crazy!! Would have never thought a police department would act in such a way. I have friends that live in Korea but this is the first time I hear of this. Crazy!
    Robert recently posted..Child and his buffalo- Inle Lake, BurmaMy Profile

  3. Hi Simon. A really interesting read. Sorry to hear about your unfortunate events! I have to say it does dampen feelings I had towards going to South Korea but I guess it could happen anywhere. Thanks for sharing!

    Tom
    Tom Devereux recently posted..Foodporn Friday: “What A Momo!”…My Profile

  4. It’s sad to see such a terrible thing happen in what is supposed to be a modern, fair and democratic country. Scams happen everywhere, but when the legal system just lets it slide there’s really something terrible going on there. This makes me more sad and concerned for foreigners in Korea than angry.
    Scott recently posted..Budget Breakdown – San Diego Long Weekend 2013My Profile

  5. These are the kind of stories I see on locked up abroad that make traveling to asia and the middle east a little sketchy. but at least you weren’t smuggling drugs! haha

    A Golden State of Mind
    courtney recently posted..Catalina Island: Soaring Over CAMy Profile

    • lol yes you’re right. Nothing worse than the thought of being locked up in a Peruvian prison for 15 years..

    • Are you kidding me? At least im not harrased by police in korea like i am kn the US. Maybe they are spineless but that is better than abusing their power.

      That being said… if half of the old people (all the problem causing ones) suddenly dropped dead i would throw a party.

      It should also be said that this story shows why you should learn the local language. I hear about bad stories all the time, but speaking korean wuite fluently now after 4years of living here, I can talk my way around any difficult situation here. It is sad how close minded some people are here.

      However with more private english institutions per sq. kilometer than any where else in the world, you would expect at least 10% ofthe population would have a good command of English…. They don’t

  6. I can’t believe this happened to you. I’ve seen Koreans preference for their own race they’ve shown themselves to be seriously racist before, but I didn’t realize just how deep-seeded the problem was. Sadly, I just wrote a post about my privilege as a foreign, white girl and now that I think about it, it may not have gone the same way if you were female. This is probably a Western-male only problem. :(

    The best you can do is just tell people, see if the international news would pick up a story about it and internationally shame Korea into reforming their police system. That’s pretty much the only way social problems get addressed…
    Sally recently posted..White & Pretty in South KoreaMy Profile

    • The international news won’t. To many sofa agreements & treaties etc but maybe some famous bloggers (like eat my kimchee) or like this on Social media

      • It’s difficult for foreigners to get their stories of this sort of thing reported. Bloggers face retribution if they’re found out. One of my favorite blogs, Expat Hell, is repeatedly attacked by Korean netizens.

        Koreans are deeply sensitive about criticism of Korea coming from foreigners.

        There are laws against the blacklisting of foreigners, like ESL teachers for example, and further laws against retribution, but the justice system in Korea is, as others on this thread have put it, very lax.

        Before there was a treaty to resolve it, the US State Department prompted the US embassy in Seoul to put a warning on their website for American citizens to avoid working in South Korean hagwons.

        The abuses and oversights just go every which way. It can be a huge pain.

      • One last thing,

        When it comes to the Korean justice system, we’ve all heard stories about nasty hagwon owners or the ajjeoshi who provokes a physical altercation. The stories very rarely have happy endings.

        For Groove, I was doing background for a story on legal options for foreigners, specifically for foreign language teachers, thinking that there must be something out there that could shed light on helping foreigners attain actual legal recourse.

        Every avenue I went down for info all led to the same oft-repeated results. Even if we discard racism and corruption, the legal system still moves too slowly for anything reasonable to be done. And, as the author put it, legal proceedings would have been a violation of his contract (which is absurd).

        The best thing you could ever do is know how to handle a situation in the most immediate sense of it happening. Never hit a Korean and just get as far away as possible as quickly as you can. If it escalates to physical confrontation, just get out of the vicinity as soon as you can.

        There aren’t many happy endings for this sort of thing. Unfortunately.

    • http://maggiemoodoeskorea.blogspot.kr/2013/08/i-dont-always-fight-taxi-drivers.html

      Not just white male. I’ve had my share of racist and horrible incidents here in Korea as a biracial woman. Sorry that happened to you. Makes my blood boil just reading it.

    • It wouldn’t make a difference. I’m a female and I got shaken down by the police when a woman falsely claimed my dog bit her. She showed me the arm where it allegedly happened. There wasn’t even any broken skin but she went on about the pain and the medical bills. When really all that happened is I was walking my dog and my dog barked at her.

      They even went so far as to track me down at my apartment several hours after the incident occurred and I ended up having to pay her money or risk losing my dog.

  7. I’m really sorry for your experience. But you should understand that Korean culture self-defense is very different than in the west. In Korea, two people who are fighting are equally responsible, no matter who started the confrontation. In your case, the man who confronted you was obviously a screwball. But, when the police arrived, he was the one who was hit. I’ve heard about this several times. A foreign man would be pushed and he would punch the other man and claim self-defense. This works in western countries but not in Korea. You shouldn’t assume that the police officer was racist or anything like that. That’s just how it works in Korea. You should have left immediately, instead of continuing. That’s what a Korean would have done. Anyway, I’m really sorry for what happened to you. Just understand that there is a huge culture difference and don’t assume you were treated differently because you are a foreigner.

    • And the police didn’t check the CCTV, why?
      The lawyer said the Korean would win, why?

    • If they did not look at the CCTV then he was treated differently no?

    • Well said.

    • You forget that he TRIED to leave…twice. I don’t understand how you don’t expect him to draw the logical conclusion of punitive treatment because he was a foreigner when all the signs are there! Even if the cop was not racist, he most certainly defaulted to one party over the other on ethnic grounds, and that’s WRONG, no matter what type of cultural spin you try to apply.

      As a black woman who taught in Korea, it always amuses me to the nth degree when people assert that race doesn’t come into play regarding treatment there. I had a few white friends dismiss some of the experiences I’d explained, chalking it up to Korean culture and tendency. I had them spend a day with me, and each one changed their minds entirely.

      So, sorry, Eric, but no. This can’t be explained away. It’s inexcusable.

  8. yeah most of the “teachers” who come to Korea from english speaking countries
    are ppl who used to be drug addicts. Those who can’t socialize with a slightest bureacracy. That is why they end up being so pissed off with Korean “system”

    • You must be heavily disabled. I forgive you
      Simon Flood recently posted..Travel Nightmares : Getting Arrested in South KoreaMy Profile

    • All E-2 Visa must have a university education, pass a drug and STD test, and have a clean criminal record…so likely not as many drug addicts as you might think.

      Statistically E-2 immigrant are less likely to commit crimes than locals. Feel free to check Korea’s own records for the stats :)

    • Right, cause being addicted to drugs makes you want to go to a foreign country completely different from your own, away from friends, family (and the drug dealers) to spend long hours teaching kids that often do not have any interest in learning english but are simply forced to as part of the ridiculous educational philosophy here.

      그리고, 난 돌 아주 좋아해. 그러면 난 ㅂㅅ 인거야? 경험이 없는 거에대해서 어떻게 판단 하냐?Get off your highhorse and respond to that if you are so above these evil english teachers

    • It’s a bit rough calling us all drug addicts but I like the title of your post. I have found Korea to be mostly the opposite where foreigners get away with things Koreans couldn’t and also many play the I don’t speak Korean card.

  9. Sadly their scams against foreigners happen a lot. Living there…. U have to be careful esp if u aren’t a soldier to have the mp’s come to protect you. For some reason Koreans equate foreigners with $$!

    Their judicial system is corrupt and lax. Don’t show a lot of power nor opposition.
    I did loooove living there but some Koreans will try to take advantage of you. They so drunk soldiers all the time. I lived in DAEGU for 3 years.
    We want to go back in about 5 years to teach or for U.S gov as a teacher but this article scares me none the less.
    I was in an accident there. No Koreans would help till I we called the MP’s & I caused a stink! Finally in the end….I won & he wAs apologizing but before he wS yelling etc…..till my soldier husband came running. I’m black in Korea although Koreans had a hard time believing I was from U.S they thought I was from India. Another racism problem in itself in Korea.

    I admire your courage in writing your story.

  10. uuhh maybe the legal system treated you that way, not because of your race, but because you PUNCHED A GUY IN THE FACE.

    Perhaps if you were attacked first or never hit him, you’d have a reason to complain. But according to you own story you were the one who escalated a shouting match into physical violence.

    Typical mindset of someone convicted of a crime, blame anyone or anything (“the system”) instead of taking responsibility for you own action.

    • we walked away twice and he went to punch my girlfriend in the back of the head. Great escalation there you numpty.

      • Escalation aside, if he managed to punch her he’d be the one arrested and paying. But you are the one who punched, therefore you are the guilty one. Saying “he started it” may make you innocent where you (and I) come from, but clearly that’s not universal.

        But I guess that may be too difficult to understand, especially for someone who curses at his international readership in a local dialect.

        • Would you like a tissue for your snottiness? Are you suggesting I should of let me girlfriend get punched in the head?

          Is that what you’d of done Sean?

          • Of course I’d let that stupid cunt get punched in the head. That’s not my point though..

            Punchy-punchy equals pay money. No punchy-punchy equals no pay money. Not too quick are ya, mate?

          • haha what a little pecker you are!

            Let your girlfriend get whacked if it saves you a dollar. Stand up guy!

          • Good blog, sounds about right.

            The only thing you could of done is run away.

            Troll guy just wants to annoy you as it’s obvious from the story that you are defensive of those you care about.

          • I was not there, and I haven’t been in such a situation but a person once confronted me, and I didn’t hit the person. I made it clear he would have to start the altercation. You were the victims. I think racism is involved. The story doesn’t surprise me. I don’t hear of such things in my city, but Seoul seems to have lots of stuff like that.

        • ur annoying dude stfu.

      • Your girlfriend escalated it by pushing him. She moved first to physical aggression…then when he attempted to retaliate, YOU hit him. This is according to your own words. Perhaps you should edit your article if you want people to think the Korean guy escalated it.

        • That is exactly right, the escalation to violence came from the girl. And if this is his side of the story and it becomes blatantly obvious from his own account what happened then imagine if the whole story, both sides of it was known. The police in AU probably would break my neck lol if they came to a subway scene with a younger me and an older dude with blood dripping from his mouth.

  11. If it makes you feel any better, I never paid the fine and ended up spending 40+ days in jail and then getting deported because I was now obviously a criminal

    • Oh crap! How much was your fine? and how did it all transpire?

      • It would be easier to give you a link… dtz247.blogspot.com Go to the tab that says “Start Here”

  12. I haven’t been in the exact same situation, but I had to be ‘let go’ from my job. A parent came in and said I threw the tables at the students and beat her child so badly that she had to spend the night in the hospital. Although CCTV disproves all of this, she still went to the police and was prepared to have me arrested. Being fired was the only thing that kept her from doing so.

    • That sounds pretty bad as well! I don’t understand the logic or rationale in dealing with situations in Korea? Could you imagine this happening anywhere else? Someone accusing you of something so absurd which is proven to be false, then continuing to punish you for it. Insane!!

      • U are in Korea,in most situations the koreans will side their own!I am a fan of K-dramas and they even show u how koreans really behave.the innocent becomes the victim and the guilty one goes scott free!

  13. They might as well merge with N. Korea.

  14. I would say that thinking of Korea as a modern or fair country is a mistake to start with. My time there taught me that common decency (which I think marks a civilized society) is completely absent. We had a mom at our school who was angry her son was hanging out with another kid. She went to the kids school and beat him up. What was the solution for this bold act of child abuse? The kid who got beat up was told, “Maybe it is safer if you change schools.” Yay for justice.

    • Oh ye – typical of them. They cause a problem then someone else goes and fixes it for them.

    • My dear Goodness!

    • This.

  15. Had a similar situation, drunk dude yelling to stop speaking English and to speak Korean, started arguments, he got beat up, friends arrested. Law is dumb, but that’s just the reality, but I guess it’s more of your interpretation of how the law should be compared to someone else. I guess people are only really offended because you are a foreigner writing about their country. But the truth is, this law really needs to be changed in Korea. Being a Korean American living in Korea, I can only sympathize with the situation you had. I guess it’s just the reality you face when living somewhere else. Koreans just need to accept it instead of getting offended.

    • I would have called my embassy IMEDIATAMENTE! My dear lord…. I feel TERRIBLY sorry about this situation…

      • The embassy will do NOTHING to help you in this kind of situation.

  16. In Korea its all about who got hurt more..you forget this would be same case if a Korean against Korean..see you hit him first and he didnt hit you back. In Korea its all about who hit and keeps hitting.. does not matter first or what the reason it was for the fight how it started or why. Self defense is only a defense in Korea if its unfair or uneven fight. if he pushed your girlfriend or made any sexual touches when he pushed her then it would have been sexual assault….and you sue him and it would have been better but you did nothing and he knew the laws better than you, this is the fact of life if you dont know the laws and how it works. Not that i am saying i agree it just its the way it is.

  17. “Wait…he will be sided with just because he is Korean?! This is ridiculous. Can you imagine in a modern democratic country a mans legal case is decided purely and solely because of his race.”

    Let me say that I am truly sorry for what happened to you. That seems unfair in my western mind and I do believe men should always seek to protect women and children. But why are you surprised? Have we not heard about the biased nature of the legal system in the West? Men, women and children have been dealing with experiences in the West for centuries. It seemed like this was unheard of to you. That is the world we live in. ( At least Koreans are honest enough to say it like it is instead of pretending that their system is fair and equal). We should strive to tame our own prejudices rather than having them cloud or judgment.

  18. Sounds like you got what you deserved. Next time, don’t punch someone when you’re in a foreign country.

  19. I am really sorry to hear about what you went through. I remember a friend here telling me a story about the cops. And not to call them they will side with Koreans because “Blood and Money” run through the Police. She had been here for over ten years. At this time she also told me a story about, how her friend witnessed a mugged up in Seoul. Like any good civilian he tried to stop the guy, ended up getting in a fight with the robber. Next thing he punches him and apprehends the guy until the cops arrive. Sure as shit the foreigner was to blame! The victim and the robber were let go and the foreigner went to jail. It was a real eyeopener of a story to say the least. My friend also told me “as a foreigner” how to handle myself when Ajusshi’s think I am Russian because that to can lead into trouble.

  20. This is just such an awful situation. I’m very sorry you had that happen to you. Moral of the story, whenever there is an altercation with another person, it’s best to just leave. You hit them in the face and leave.
    Natalia | Always Trekking recently posted..Elbowing Through the Crowd at Huangshan – Anhui, ChinaMy Profile

  21. Reminds me a lot of the Scribblings of the Metropolitician story:

    http://metropolitician.blogs.com/scribblings_of_the_metrop/2007/11/i-got-arrested.html

    Fortunately, I haven’t been in a situation like this where things turned physical. The worst I’ve encountered in Korea is a very drunk or senile ajussi loudly blurting racial remarks on a bus to Busan, and the driver actually pulled over and told him to shut up or he’d throw him off the bus.

    In your situation, and the one linked above, and in pretty much anything serious abroad, RUN. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the right, it doesn’t matter how much physical evidence exists to back you up, RUN. Involving the police only makes things worse.
    Turner recently posted..Long Distance Buses in PeruMy Profile

  22. Simon, as a frequent traveller to Korea I had never heard such an unfair situation go down. It makes me think that nowadays we have to carry a camera and leave it on, stuck on our chest in order to get justice in so many situations. Sounds like a real doozy you had. I’m sure this will make a good bar story or story to tell your kids someday. There are many lessons to be learned, thanks for sharing.

  23. True to the core. Korea’s legal system is messed up. My boyfriend and I experienced it first hand. There were proofs everywhere but they looked the other way. F*#(#($I*#)

  24. What makes you think Korea is a democratic country? Research thoroughly before you decide to go and live abroad.

  25. You know, when I first read this article I was very distressed. I spoke to my girlfriend a bit about what we would do should that situation come up. Then I had to sit and think for a bit. First, Simon I MUST say sorry that you got put into this situation. Without knowledge of Korean laws and how to handle this situation it must have been one of the worst experiences of your life. I couldn’t even imagine what I would’ve done without prior knowledge in this situation. Second, Simon, I thank you. Thank you for writing this article and giving us people currently living here some insight as to how things work.

    Now if I were to just look at this article and say “wow the Korean justice system is broken etc etc” to be honest I think I would be just as bad as the people who only listened to this crazy guy’s side of the story. Having read through some of the comments here I started to get a better grasp as to what happened here.

    First the idea of “self defense”. I have come to the conclusion that this is a Western idea. Especially in America where your constitution gives you the right to carry a gun to defend your home and family. I look at what Eric said and everything kind of fits into place. If you get punched, he is liable, if you punch him you are liable. If you punch each other you’re both liable. We may not agree, or like it, but that is how it works here.

    That all being said, what would I have done differently now that I heard about this situation? I probably would’ve tried to get in the way of the punch. That way I take the punch and he may just go away at that point knowing that if he called the cops, they’d point the trigger at him.

    It is so easy to see something happen against us (as foreigners) and quickly shout “RACISM”. I think that when I first read this article and tbh shouted ‘RACISM’ I was too quick to judge.

    Again, I’m sorry you were put in this situation and THANK YOU for giving me the insight on what to do should I ever be put in this situation myself.

  26. Having lived abroad off and on for 6-7 years (mostly in Japan) before coming back to NA for grad school i actually side with uhh that posted on the 31st. He wasnt saying you should have let your girlfriend get punched. I think you missed their point. You reacted to the situation like a westerner has been socialized to do. That’s not bad of course, but if the Korean system is built around how a korean was expected to act in the situation and you didnt act in that way meaning you acted outside the confines of the law in that country than they are not being racist for dealing with you does not accept that reaction it is not “racist”.

    Now does that mean you should have just let your girl get hit? NO. But if you were korean you would have been socially conditioned to know what the “acceptable” way of dealing with they guy was. Maybe you would have been allowed to tackle him or jump in frunt of the punch and take it and then expect money from him when the police arrived etc… i dont know… im not korean.

    I am also confused as to why you think the police treated you badly? Im pretty sure same thing would happen here in Canada or the US to someone who didnt speak english. Im also pretty sure if you were korean and in the states you would not be getting a korean translator at midnight… if someone was pressing charges you might have had to stay the night.

    Except the beginning when they thought you had done something wrong, it seems from your story they were civil to you. Having dealt with cops Canada and the US (not even in a bad way) i think cops being a little dickish to people they think have done something bad is universal.

    Also, by the details of your situation it seems like you misread what was being said. When the person said the judge would probably have sided with the other guy because he was korean… it may not be because of his blood… but because you were not acting in a korean way… aka you responded to an attempted illigal action with an illigal action assuming that “self defense” would serve as a defence when it isnt in Korea. (it hasnt always been in NA either… ) On the other hand, the person could have meant race but could have been just trying to get you to settle. Being that the Korean law system is a modern one, whether its a civil code country or a common law one im pretty sure if the evidence is on your side and the law is on your side then they could not legally side against you. the problem ive stated above though is that if self defence is not a legal “defence” in the korean system like it is in the NA common law systems then though his statement was faulty, the evidence pointed to you hitting him and him not hitting you… aka if self defence is not a “legal defence” then you would be found guilty. Not via racism but via the law.
    Now, lets pretend that your korean, and if the law is that defence is not a “legal defence” then by punching the guy to protect your girl you would be accepting the ramifications of you doing what you thought was right like those who go to jail for civil disobedience…

    Lastly, don’t get me wrong. i think its shitty you had to go through that… but remember that shit like that happens to non westerner expats here all the time. Having gone through your situation you shouldnt hate the korean system… instead study it academically and then spread legal literacy so that other foreigners might learn what they “should” do in in a bad situation.. or also maybe try to help expats that come here.

  27. The first piece of advice I was given when i got to Korea was that if I ever got in an altercation with a Korean to run away because the police would not take my side no matter what. I appreciated the advice, but found it odd because I’m a black american and naturally assumed this. While the situation back home isn’t as extreme, the idea that police will view you as a victim is not at all something that can be counted on.

    • Wow, Brian. Powerful commentary.

  28. Did you try to press formal charges against the nutjob?
    Not just claiming self-defense, but going through the motions of making an independent case against him?

  29. A surprisingly similar thing happened with my boyfriend a couple months ago. But the difference is, he is Korean, I’m a foreigner. I wasn’t with him that night, but the story is, he was in a bar, NOT DRUNK, and this guy (also korean) came and started harassing him, ordering drinks on his name, pushing his friends, eating his food, etc. The guy was clearly trying to get in a fight, but he tried to sort things out and called the manager, who told the guy to back off. A few moments later, the guy came back and SLAPPED my boyfriends face, out of nowhere. That’s when he punched him. The guy was laying on the floor, fell asleep and started snoring. My boyfriend left his business card. A week later, he got a call saying that the guys jaw was broken, he needed surgery to repair it, and he was now entering a law suit agains him. The end? He asked for 7,500,000 under the table to shut the entire thing off. And my boyfriend paid in order not to get in a huge and long trial that would be exhaustive to us and his family. That’s how it goes here. it’s all about what can you do to take money from the first naive person you see. Most of the times, these people are foreigner, cause when you are the outsider, it makes you weaker and easier to play. It’s the sad truth. Korean justice system sucks, that’s a reality, it doesn’t matter where are you from. The difference is that if you are a foreigner, it’s easier to get you in the situation in the first place.

  30. I am sorry you had a bad experience here in Korea. Most Koreans are good people but there are still some asses (mostly older generation Koreans) who are prejudiced against outsiders.

    Also, no matter how an as*1!@# the guy is in Korea usually the guy who actually physically hits first is punished hard. I couldn’t understand this hen I first got here but this is how it works here. You can cuss, talk shit, threaten and so forth but eventually the first guy to actually hit or use any physical means is punished harder.

    Laws should be changed and some of them actually are. A few weeks back I heard that they started putting up tourism police in Seoul with cops that can speak foreign languages. They can help you out. Also, in case of communication issues you should always contact your embassy first thing. I believe there is a law in every country that allows you to contact the embassy for assistance with communication and a lawyer.

    Some Koreans are even prejudiced to Koreans who are born outside of Korea. I had some of these cases before myself but I learned that the best way is to avoid it at all costs and when that isn’t possible to call the police, a Korean friend and/or your embassy.

  31. You’re not from America, are you? Because when it’s a case of white vs non-white, the court of law will almost always side with the white man. And even if the white man is sentenced, it’s almost always more lenient than what a non-white person would get. What happened to you really sucks, but you’d be a fool to believe that Korea is the only country where law enforcement does squat to help the actual victims. Best not to hold onto this anger and let it go (does it anger you to hear someone tell you this? Imagine getting told this repeatedly by white people when you’re sharing your story with them and they just can’t relate).

  32. ..one of the comments above is very correct about Korea, fights and the self-defense rule. in Korea, by law it is the “who hit, or who punched first” rule…

    The incident started, engaged and finished with racist overtones but the actual justice and result would have been the same korean on korean. If the CCTV had showed a push and your punch was first you would have been “more” guilty..

    Just FYI… a bad system, but that is how it is.. you should have walked away , or ran away when you had the chance, they would not have followed up.

  33. Definitely don’t advocate violence but I agree with Simon 100%, if you are able to stop someone from hurting a loved one you stop them, simple as that no matter what the costs. Anger is a strong emotion and can be hard to control, especially when someone you love is involved. The guy obviously new how to get to you and provoke a reaction out of you. Wouldn’t be surprised if he has done it before. A lot of foreigners can learn from this story, thank you for sharing something so personal and painful. I hope you have found a better place and wish you happiness :)

  34. I suspect that you are American and the Korean man was older that you? While more and more Americans abroad are culturally sensitive and make an effort to learn about social protocols in the country they are visiting unfortunately many still strut around foreign public spaces thinking they are back home in Dallas/Kentucky/Memphis etc. If you had taken some time to learn and understand Korean culture none of this would have happened as the reaction you provoked on the escalator would have never taken place had you shown the standard respect and decorum to an older Korean. I have done business in Korea twice a year since 2005 using public transport all the time and have experienced nothing but polite kindness and due consideration from other commuters. Exiting a subway during a downpour I even had one Korean businessman in a smart suit insist we take his umbrella to keep dry on our walk to our apartment. If you want to live and work in a country take the time to find out how to ask for things in a polite respectful manner and you will not miss your train.

    • Seriously? I use the subway here every day and have never been on any public transit system in any other country where people have less etiquette.

    • Are you for real man? “If you had learned Korean culture none of this would have happened”? Seriously, fuck you. I’m fairly certain you’re some gyopo Korean scumbag fuck catfishing online to defend your glorious cesspool of a homeland, but just in case you are actually being serious… This isn’t a cultural misunderstanding, it’s a matter of basic human decency that almost all people in the world have a sense of… EXCEPT Korean ajosshi fucks – the most selfish, self-entitled, dishonest, backstabbing Kunts in the developed world.

      “Respect-uh my unique culture” – go fuck yourself. Learn how to act like a civilized human fucking being.. then maybe you’ll actually possess something that can properly be called “culture” and not “wallowing in peasantry”.

      • What an attitude! It amazes me that all you Americans come here and hate on Koreans lol, go home!

      • I just wanted to add that, yes in Korean culture older people and especially much older people are always in the right. It does make sense.. This soju brained old man with a worthless life, its like a picking a fight with a little kid and then hitting that little kid.. Really I think that the whole situation could of been avoided by just not starting shit in an arrogant migugican way with an old man??? of course they all look at me with death stares and shite and also I have been in situations where I am sitting on steps and some ajosshi orders me to move out of their way, I just move and smile at them :) they know what I do and what they are and what their life is :) In the richer areas where you hagwon dropkicks do not live, the older people are actually very nice, its only the poor drop kicked areas that you might have problems.. same as the US and AU the places where you people gravitate to are not where the winrars live..

        • I completely agree. I have practiced Korean martial arts since I was 3 years old, and the very tenets of respecting one’s elders are stressed so much that it is ingrained in my mind. the cultural differences between South Korea and America are immense, and the biggest problem I see is the ignorance of those who believe that their status as tourists will protect them.

          • Yep them martial arts have helped you become accustomed to Korean culture. Jesus christ, I think I might disable comments!

      • Calm down, you nerd. I know you feel like a bad ass behind the anonymity of the Internet, but raging at someone who presented his advice in a respectable manner isn’t going to get you any brownie points.

        Also, Cliff Smith isn’t a common Korean name so I doubt that he’s a gyopo. So let’s stop making assumptions because contrary to popular belief, you’re not as smart as you think you are.

        And in case you try to pull the race card on me too, I’m white. Let me tell you from one foreigner to another, you sound like a retard. I’ve never had any issues in Korea because unlike you and the article writer, I have tact and common sense.

      • Dude are you serious??? Do you even know how bigoted you sound right now? I’m a white guy from NZ and I have never ONCE had a problem that’s required me to punch some crazy dude in the face. The main problem here is the idiot who wrote this is making the biggest sob story BUT HE is the one who stood his ground on front of a crazy guy (let’s be honest here, would any of us do the same if we were in a rough neighbourhood back home???) instead of retreating or calling the cops, HE is the one that punched someone in the face. You know what they say and this article is full of it, ASSuming makes an ASS out of U and ME. He assumed he’d be alright, he assumed the law works the same as back home.

        What makes it worse is that nothing that bad happened to him, he had to spend the night talking about an assault which he committed. He had to pay $2k to keep his job and stay in the country. Big deal. No criminal record. No punishment. He had so many options at his disposal but instead of opting for a taxi, or another train, or walking away, or calling the police, or calling his embassy for help when shit hit the fan he PUNCHED a local.

        You know what? I’m not saying the american got what he deserved, but he sure as hell didn’t help himself. The truth of the matter is this white guy saw the small crazy Korean, thought “oh, he’s small, I can take him if I need to” and then afterwards, even in this article, he brags about how sweet a punch it was. Like it was a game to floor someone. And you’re getting all supremacist coz you’re white and the world doesn’t follow your rules or treat you like a god? Get off your imaginary high road and realise your own country is as racist if not more so than Korea. IDIOT. “wallowing in peasantry” if you knew anything about this countries history you know that was literally only 50 years ago, and that Korea is now First World, and that things and traditions and habits change slowly. Look at America, 100+ years on from Civil Rights and they still shoot innocent black people, take advantage of Asian people, and have serious sexism, bullying, patriarchy and rape culture issues.

        Grow up Violence is NEVER the answer in real life situations (if you’re a “Civilized” person) unless your life is being threatened for real which is obviously not the case here seeing as he could “hold him down” like some kind of grotesque bully. You wanna know why nobody helped? they were afraid the American was just as crazy as the guy he was fighting. AND I BET YOU JUST LIKE MY LAST COMMENT this one won’t get published either because God Forbid we could have some balance in the comments section like a “Real Democracy”.

        • Jesus! Reading your comment was hard work. The ramblings of an Australian mad man should be the title of your comment.

          • A little bit rambling but there is nothing in that comment that seems insane.
            Marks point of ” he brags about how sweet a punch it was. Like it was a game to floor someone.” Is something that I never thought of and sums this guys situation up 100%..

            Also I am from stralia, NZ is another country next door bro

        • Whoa calm down.

          You’re response has numerous assumptions in it (e.g. “his white guy saw the small crazy Korean, thought “oh, he’s small, I can take him if I need to””, and “You wanna know why nobody helped? they were afraid the American was just as crazy as the guy he was fighting”).

          You know what they say – ASSuming makes an ASS out of U and ME (in other words, take your own advice chief).

  35. Well, since you punched him, you made a major error in this country. As someone said, self-defense doesn’t exist in the same way in Korea. If you punch someone, and they hadn’t punched you, then you’re in trouble whether you’re Korean or a foreigner. Even if the person pushed you first. However, he probably thought you were more likely to hit him the way he wanted and was in bad need of money. Of course, I don’t agree with any of this behavior, but I’m explaining how it is over here.

  36. Not really a surprising story for “Sparkling” South Korea, with 21st century technology and 14th century peasant socialization. Someday soon China will get its shit together and Korea will be absolutely finished, with no economic leg to stand on – totally wiped out.

  37. Did the Korean stroke his Fu Manchu while he watched you from across the police station? “Yes… now you pay heap big money. Veddy good…”

  38. It is true that Korea is a country mired in racism. I have lived here for almost 3 years and I run into it almost every time I walk outside. I even encounter it in class from the ignorant remarks of children who have been exposed to it. Racism in Korea is not generally considered taboo because it is the norm. People generally have the same misconceptions about foreigners from various parts of the world. They also all seem to think that foreigners are incapable of understanding their rude comments, and make such comments freely in front of foreigners. I happen to speak Korean quite well and I not only understand their rude remarks, but I also let them know that I’m not going to put up with it. They say these things because they think they are candid, but they lose their bravado real quick when confronted.

  39. I can attest to a similar situation about how the legal/criminal justice system in Korea is flawed. I was on a passenger on a motorcycle at a stop light in the middle lane. The taxi next to us decided to make a turn from the left most lane to turn right and hit the bike climbing it and ran over the driver of the motorcycle’s foot. When the cops got there…the taxi driver said we hit him. How this is logistically possible is beyond me. They believed the taxi driver until a random person came over and understood both English and Korean and explained to the cops this guy was a fraud. Thank god for that random honest person… One of the many things I dislike about this country….

  40. I had a friend, who will remain nameless to protect her privacy, who had a similar situation to yours. When she was pulled into the police station and submitted her statement she refused to leave to police station until they viewed the CCTV tapes. Then threatened to go after (legally) everyone in the police station if they pursued the case. They pursued, she followed up, and they eventually dropped the charges.

    And another, who just didn’t put up with it. Never signed anything, went the legal route, and wound up leaving the country before ever having to pay anything, legal fees included.

    The moral of the story here is that you need to press the issue. Another reason why they get away with shit like this is because we eventually give up. We do. Don’t try to deny it. People everywhere have a limit to how much they’re willing to fight for things, and the person with the greater conviction always wins.

    Another thing too, this doesn’t happen ONLY to foreigners. People often go after foreigners because they think we have more money than them, thus they can get more, but the same thing does happen to Koreans every so often as well, and with similar results. It’s a bull shit system all around.

  41. First, you have to understand in general Koreans are not racists otherwise they should stay home instead of going abroad for study or travels. There are good and bad people everywhere and you just happened to meet the scumbags.

    The police in Korea, are therefore either racists or non-racists or non-commital. At least they are not bribed like mnay in the 3rd world. Lately, there have been many crimes against Koreans by American soldiers and they have gotten away with beating, vandalism, rape and even murder because of their advantages with the army base laws, sofa agreements etc. Anyway, many Koreans now have become hostile towards English speaking foreigners especialy those who were drug users or criminals in their homelands before coming here. To put in in a nutshell, English speaking foreigners are no longer treated like VIPS any longer. It is all about money, anyway. People come to Korea to make money even though they are racists against Asians etc.

    Self-defence dosn’t really work in the same way you think here as well as in the states or UK. If she was really threatened of being hurt or you were about to be attacked, then it might have worked. From the story, it seems he just smacked her head(not punched) just to provoke your anger towards as it was his original plan. Yes, you fell for his trap, unfortunately.

    The Court system-no one knows what the verdict will be. All depend on the the judge and the lawyers. The chances are you would walk away with a minimum penulty or compensation as you were provoked. So can’t really say the judge or the legal system is racist. The cops might be as you cna find many racist cops among LAPD for example. Perhpas, you should’ve gone on trial to see what the justice system says instead of settling down with a quick easy bail out way with money.

    The good news is that the guy’s record goes into the computer system and he does similar tricks on other people, he will be less likely credible for the next case.

    Sometimes, it is better to walk away when you have chance. It seems you had more than one chance to walk away from the scumbag instead of letting him follow you. If you just walk to the other direction or ask for help from English speaking Koreans, you could’ve saved a lot of trouble. I personally, had a simmilar situation with an Italian racist, I immediately changed my seat and asked other passengers and the driver for help in a small town in Italy. It would’ve been so messy cuz I could easlily kill him with my TKD chops and kicks. But I was smart not to get involved. ALways a lesson to learn in life. Cheers!!! Ben

  42. Your fault, there was no need to start trouble in a foreign country. He would not let you past so you should of just let it slide.

    • You beat up and bullied a lot as a kid,didn’tyou? And never stood up for yourself? I guess that strategy of “make yourself the world’s doormat” works for you, but it doesn’t work for everyone

      • I stand up for myself hehe.. I have been in a few fights in Korea even but not with Koreans.
        What this guy did, did not seem to work very well for him!

        If a youngish or 20-35yo Korean starts looking at me in the way they do or gives me shit, I really feel like fighting them but I look the other way, It can in no way help my life by punching people in Korea.. these old ajushis or teenage gangsters lol they would have to do something that really put me or someone else in unavoidable danger to make me hit them.

        The guy claims that the ajjushi went to hit his gf after his gf pushed him, I would of taken the guy down but not hit him, I would not have even let it escalate to anywhere near that stage.

  43. I’ve lived in Korean since 2004, and can relate to most of the foregoing comments, on both sides of the fence.

    The lack of a ‘self-defence’ rule is more about trying to deter fighting/violence, per se. Korean law is trying to send a signal to society that physical altercation should simply be avoided, period! Problem is, A-wipes (mostly older, or plain twisted scum) really ARE abusing this policy to leverage money out of stressed, vulnerable people. I think there’s enough CCTVs here to support an adjustment of this policy so that HARASSMENT, itself, is no longer accepted – problem is police resources and will power to implement this policy are lacking.

    On a separate note, RS (NOV 8) wrote a great piece there! I too speak/understand Korean well, and don’t tolerate a lot of trash-rude talk about foreigners in public. You step on a subway and as soon as locals notice you, talk all states building around the NEW topic “외국인”/”waegookin” this, that & everything, like it’s some bundled up race. Once that rubbishing starts, though, I’ll say – “What is 외국인?? Does that just mean EVERYONE IN THE WHOLE WORKD ACCEPT A KOREA??” Then, “I’ve heard Koreans in New Zealand referring to us as 외국인!!! Please explain…I’m opened minded!!”

    When I’m with friends, and I hear this trash start, I’ll starting using expressions like “These ASIANS this….these ASIANS that” in KOREAN within earshot of them. It’s amusing/refreshing to see the reactions. ^^

  44. I’m sorry to hear that you suffered such fraud and unfair situation in Korea…and I do hope you at least enjoyed other aspects of Korea! I’m a Korean-American person who studied abroad in Japan for a year, and I can totally feel/imagine the pain of being a foreigner in a relatively homogeneous country w/o even speaking the language fluently..
    I agree, the legal system, especially the Police system in Korea is pretty flawed and in many cases not done properly…mostly cuz the Korean cops are just being lazy and they don’t want to do the work necessary..
    But such payouts happen often, TOO OFTEN, perhaps, even to native Koreans… People looking for easy money will just invoke physical altercation, and then play the victim, and cops for some reason almost always seem to be on the side of the “injured” victim..

    But I don’t think flawed legal system it’s a problem that’s unique to South Korea, as similarly unfair situations happen pretty often even in California (at least in Los Angeles)…the LAPD is pretty notorious I think, for being rediculously mean, unfair, and presuming everyone to be guilty as murderers in every little situation… Hell, a fricken LAPD cop pulled me over and gave me a traffic ticket for “Failure to Yield to Pedestrians” when the pedestrian had already YIELDED, for me to go first… according to a lawyer, I wouldn’t be at fault for such situations, but the cop of course, wouldn’t listen, and he was looking at me like a piece of shit, like I had committed some kind of HEINOUS crime… Legal systems, and police system in particular, NEEDS to be amended and SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE DONE, both in Korea, and America, and i’m sure in many other countries… Sighs;;

  45. I really feel for you having read your story, what a complete nightmare. I suggest starting a Facebook page titled Korea unsafe for tourists. You will certainly put a lot of people off going there and it will hit them where it hurts, in their pocket. Who knows I’d it will change the system but worth a try I’d say. My best to you. Karim
    PS let me know I’d you do and I’ll post a link on my page.
    karim789(at)yahoo.com

  46. I’m gonna go ahead and say it. This guy is a complete idiot. Like a complete idiot. Probably one of those English Teachers who never bothered to tried to understand or even look at the Korean culture when he got here.

    Clearly this guy is in Itaewon. He’s going down Itaewon station to get to the subway. The way he describes the subway with the escalator and the fact that he encounters a bold english speaking Korean pretty much confirms this fact.

    1. If you bothered to look at any of the signs or watch any of those subway messages, they are no longer doing a pass on the left/stand on the right policy. So simply by asking to pass you are in the wrong. He was probably teaching his kid to follow this new policy because too many people are hurt from speeding down the escalator.

    2. If you are in Itaewon station and you have 4-5 minutes to get to the station you could walk at your slowest pace and stand still on the escalator you will still get there with a minute to spare. Not only this, Koreans are very aware of the subway proximity. You think you are the only one who doesn’t want to wait 30 minutes for the next train? Did you think hey, maybe there’s no reason to rush because this Korean guy, who clearly knows the culture is not needing to rush to catch the train. He clearly is not disabled or hobbled in any way so the only thing that prevents him moving forward is probably just him trying to relax with his boy.

    Anyways he had enough time to argue the entire way down the escalator, which I have no idea what he would need to say after he made the Korean angry, and still make it on to the subway, thus proving my point again that this writer has no sense.

    3. From here on out I have no idea what this guy is doing. You are in a foreign country getting into a fight with a national. WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?

    are you serious? REALLY?

    Clearly these two dumb foreigners escalated physically first. She pushed him (men’s rights anyone? no just kidding I hate them). And he felt threatened when the Korean was going to make a slightly threatening move. Many Korean 어저시 are just all talk. Even if they come at you like that, they’re not going to hit you. I’ve seen two drunk 어저시 get out of the train to fight, and nothing happened just a lot of swearing.

    So this guy probably wasn’t gonna hit the girl in front of his kid, just trying to spook them. As a foreigner, you should do what you can to avoid this kind of situation. If he’s there chasing you, keep walking. If you get cornered protect your girl, if need be. Intercept his punch, which he said he could do with ease in the article.

    Instead he stood his ground and actually punched the guy.

    And then I hate how proud he was that he actually punched him.

    4. Lastly this is why you don’t get into a fight with a national when you are a foreigner. They will try to fuck you in your ass. I’m surprised that he got away with only basically $2000. It could have been much worse than that. The cops gave him a break.

    When you go to a country learn the culture. Open your eyes and open your ears. This whole thing could have been prevented if he acted smarter. This writer claims he is a victim.

    Well I guess if you can be a victim of your own ignorance, I guess he is a victim.

  47. ^sorry I was trying to use the HTML code on my last post, just ignore that

    I’m gonna go ahead and say it. This guy is a complete idiot. Like a complete idiot. Probably one of those English Teachers who never bothered to tried to understand or even look at the Korean culture when he got here.
    Clearly this guy is in Itaewon. He’s going down Itaewon station to get to the subway. The way he describes the subway with the escalator and the fact that he encounters a bold english speaking Korean pretty much confirms this fact.
    1) If you bothered to look at any of the signs or watch any of those subway messages, they are no longer doing a pass on the left/stand on the right policy. So simply by asking to pass you are in the wrong. He was probably teaching his kid to follow this new policy because too many people are hurt from speeding down the escalator.
    2) If you are in Itaewon station and you have 4-5 minutes to get to the station you could walk at your slowest pace and stand still on the escalator you will still get there with a minute to spare. Not only this, Koreans are very aware of the subway proximity. You think you are the only one who doesn’t want to wait 30 minutes for the next train? Did you think hey, maybe there’s no reason to rush because this Korean guy, who clearly knows the culture is not needing to rush to catch the train. He clearly is not disabled or hobbled in any way so the only thing that prevents him moving forward is probably just him trying to relax with his boy.
    Anyways he had enough time to argue the entire way down the escalator, which I have no idea what he would need to say after he made the Korean angry, and still make it on to the subway, thus proving my point again that this writer has no sense.
    3) From here on out I have no idea what this guy is doing. You are in a foreign country getting into a fight with a national. WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?
    “Go on then, do something you silly little man” I rasped are you serious? REALLY?
    Clearly these two dumb foreigners escalated physically first. She pushed him (men’s rights anyone? no just kidding I hate them). And he felt threatened when the Korean was going to make a slightly threatening move. Many Korean 어저시 are just all talk. Even if they come at you like that, they’re not going to hit you. I’ve seen two drunk 어저시 get out of the train to fight, and nothing happened just a lot of swearing.
    So this guy probably wasn’t gonna hit the girl in front of his kid, just trying to spook them. As a foreigner, you should do what you can to avoid this kind of situation. If he’s there chasing you, keep walking. If you get cornered protect your girl, if need be. Intercept his punch, which he said he could do with ease in the article.
    Instead he stood his ground and actually punched the guy.
    And then I hate how proud he was that he actually punched him.
    It was a cracking punch I thought. A real haymaker of sorts.
    4) Lastly this is why you don’t get into a fight with a national when you are a foreigner. They will try to fuck you in your ass. I’m surprised that he got away with only basically $2000. It could have been much worse than that. The cops gave him a break.
    When you go to a country learn the culture. Open your eyes and open your ears. This whole thing could have been prevented if he acted smarter. This writer claims he is a victim.
    Well I guess if you can be a victim of your own ignorance, I guess he is a victim.

    • you are an idiot. a complete waste of semen.

  48. Although I do feel sorry that you experienced this, democratic countries are no better. The USA is democratic and yet their prisons are full of black and latino people.

    I don’t quite understand why you stuck around prior to the arrival of the police.

  49. Please stop playing the race card because this is not a case of racism. While it’s true that xenophobia is a problem in Korea, Simon is legally in the wrong here.

    Self-Defense in Korea is pretty much the same as the United States when it comes to usage. However, the main difference is the proportionality in the amount of force a person can use for self-defense. You cannot use an excessive amount of force in comparison the amount of force used by the perpetrator.

    However, self-defense isn’t even applicable to this case for two reasons:
    1. Jessica was the original person who broke the law when she pushed the man away. Even by US law, that counts as battery. If anything, the man retaliating with a raised hand was defending himself at that point.
    2. The punch to the jaw was not necessary nor defensive. Simon states with his own words that he “moved Jess quickly out of the way.” Jessica was out of harm’s way and you still clocked the Korean man (in front of his kid no less).

    I don’t condone what the Korean ajussi did. Yea, he’s a rude scheming Korean ajussi, but Simon isn’t a victim either. He resorted to physical force when none was needed. Both you and the ajussi are living up to your stereotypes. Congratulations.

  50. I feel really sorry for you. My blood boiled while reading this. Injustice is so infuriating. So sorry for you.

  51. O_o I had this happen to me, but with a woman. I was on the subway standing and a middle aged woman walked by and clearly elbowed me in the back. I turned to look at her, met her eye and she looked pissed, but I let it slide. She then turned around and walked by me again, this time elbowing me harder in my back. I immediately turned at her and shouted, “Ya! Ahh shhh!” and rolled my eyes. She then proceeded to stand on her side of the car and scream at me in Korean. I stayed for about 15 seconds of this abuse then changed cars. She obviously had a screw loose. After me I noticed all the other foreigners in that car quickly followed me into my car plus a few Koreans. When I went to make my transfer I could still hear her screaming at some innocent person in her car. I always wondered what would have happened if I had stayed and tried to yell back at her. Now I know. Good lord. :(
    Chelsea recently posted..When I started watching American Horror Story as a person who…My Profile

  52. welcome to the life of a brown person in america.
    however in the same token, i do sympathize , & not trying to victimizeyou in anyway.

  53. So let me sum up the hard facts:
    - Your girlfriend pushes the guy away (first act of physical force!)
    - You hit the guy in the face, in a public place.

    Sorry dude, but with that you will get a lawsuit in any country, as you started the physical violence.

    Of course the Korean guy was a total douchebag, but normally you just walk away. And I don’t see how striking a middle-aged man in the jaw constitutes as reasonable force AFTER you’ve already moved your girlfriend out of the way.

    “Go on then, do something you silly little man” I rasped. REALLY? Is that how you behave in a foreign country? Lowering yourselft to the same douchebag-idiot level than the crazy old guy and PUNCHING him in the face?? in public? IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY?

    Sorry, but you deserve what you got.

    Btw., your article is heavily discussed on reddit:
    Mike recently posted..yangachee on Getting Arrested in South Korea or “What not to do when an ajjoshi confronts you”My Profile

  54. Korea, lol

  55. Hey man, I’m not saying you deserved everything that happened to you, but in my country (New Zealand) the self defense law is rarely applied, even if you don’t hit first, so criminals can blatantly take advantage of this and do so. Here in Korea I have never been in this kind of situation and haven’t heard of anyone that has. There are some key things you could have done to avoid the situation entirely. Such as apologize to the crazy guy for upsetting him. Or when he followed you and started yelling abuse leaving the train station and jumping in a cab. Or maybe call the cops yourself. I’m sorry but if this was a rough neighbourhood back home you would probably have run away from the crazy man right? Especially if he was bigger than you. I’m sorry if this is harsh man, but if you were a little more street or travel smart none of this would have happened. Also what happened to calling your embassy when you are in trouble? That would have been my first call. I hate reading blogs like this they’re so naive. The world can be rough. In a city of 10mill you’re bound to run into someone that wants a piece. Stay on your toes, Seoul is a really safe place which is why the situation probably caught you off guard and that’s understandable, and the police did a shit job, but nobody reading this should be put off coming here, Korea is an amazing country and Seoul it lots of fun. The only thing I could warn you about is that the culture is different here and if you’re teaching there’s a possibility of being placed in a shit school. But that’s about it. Take it as it comes and stay open minded and alert.

    • Yeah Mark right,or even better. He should instead of your proposition just fall on the knees, then open his mouth and suck the dick of that dude right away, and after that had to thank him and offer his girflriend as a dessert. I’am sure that would erase any violence variations right from the start….
      I mean seriosly WTF are you telling him?
      Some crackhead starts swearing at you in front of your girlfriend,treat you and follow you!.And after his girflriend pushed away that dick because she was obviosly scared because of that freak, he wanted to punch his girlfriend. And all you dickheads say he should just suck the dick of that dude and appologise? For what?.
      I’am russian, and you know what would happen to that dude if I were there?. Well for sure the only way how he could call the police would be trought his brain waves, because I would break each of his fkn bones. Not because I am so violent, but because if somebody is threatening to your life or to the lifer of your beloved, there is no fucking way that I will let it happen. And you don’t know if that person is serios or not. If I see someone pointing a gun on me, I am not going to discuss with him whenever it is real or not, will he use it or not. I just break all his bones.Same applies for fights,you never know how far he is will go. So the only way to prevent your possible death, is to kick the shit of that person. And I don’t really give a fuck if he ends up being paralyzed or not, he made his choice when he choose to threat me.
      To the Author you acted as a man, and so how a man must act. The only mistake you made is to wait for police,rule number 1. If you are abroad and you fight someone, get the fuck out of that Area right away. Since you have no idea about who you just punched. And I am sure you are not willing to meet some nice dressed guys with stocks in front of your door in the morning.

  56. 1st off why the cops didn’t do anything is because, they are crooks and part of the sham. (They get their cut of the take)

    This a well -worn scam, that the G.I. ‘s know well

    One example I was involved in;

    One of my soldiers was out drinking with a friend who got attacked (yes he got attacked)
    My soldier & his friend had to go to the police station the next day to make their statements, as his First Sergeant I went with them.

    Now my soldier who was only a witness mind you, started making his statement,
    “He and his buddy had been drinking at a club, they got up to go stepping out the front door of the club when his buddy was blindsided with a beer bottle putting a major cut under his eye, he rolled around and punched the Korean in the face who hit him and I saw the Koreans tooth fly out, then “Magically three Korean cops appeared from nowhere and arrested them both (The G.I.’s not the Korean).”
    The cop taking the statement started say “No no, that’s not it”, but my guy said no that’s what happened, the cop said you don’t understand, your friend did not knock out the Koreans tooth, that was only a cap, he had his actual tooth knocked out the weeks prior assault on him, and it would be “better” for both of you to just give him 5 grand to make it go away. Now as I said my guy was not in any way physically involved in the fight he just witnessed it (along with multiple patrons of the bar (Koreans included) who were willing to state the Korean swung the beer bottle unprovoked) and the soldier had a cut that required stitches to prove it, but they expected them both to pay.
    Now I piped in, “now wait a minute; this guy (the Korean) was “Assaulted” the prior weekend? What is this his job? $5K a weekend to get one punch in the face, that not as good as Mike Tyson but not bad… To this the cop just smiled, and I could tell just by his look he was getting his cut of the take, and there isn’t anything you can do about it.

    How it ended up the Army wouldn’t help, they just said the same thing, just pay up and make go away, and the two did contact the US embassy they were not much better, but they were able to put some pressure to take it down to $3K, that G.I.’s paid.

    Now to all you above that say American cops are just as bad, I say B.S. it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to see a “Professional Victim” that you see so much that you are on a 1st name basis with (Yes it was obvious the cops were chumie-chumie with the guy joking and shaking his hand, as they were treating the soldiers like they were thugs)

    Ok, yes there a scams pulled everywhere no matter what country, and I don’t think racism really drives this, it is just foreigners are an easy “Mark” in Korea because of our attitude and the undercurrent of pure racism that is Korean culture that just backs up their end of the scams. And I understand that, but what really ticks me off is the “Oh well that’s just way it is” attitude of officials (both Korean and the U.S.), The cops at best are looking the other way to an obvious con-man, or more likely taking their part of the cut, and the Army /embassy so scared they might ruffle some feathers who will toss their countrymen under the bus. I even set in a briefing by the JAG once that outright said if you are in a car accident no matter the facts you will be at fault, just expect it, and pay up because that’s “just the way it is”; “anyhow that’s why you have insurance”

    Because I guess you are guilty of the offence of “Driving while a
    foreigner”

    Now, the trolls will come out and cry about all the “crime” perpetrated by G.I.’s on poor innocent Koreans, and I will give you we have had a few dumb***es and outright criminals, but any time you get that large number of individuals together there is going to be one or two scum, the only difference though you won’t see 24hour coverage for weeks about “Scum-bag Korean Criminals” when a American gets robbed, attacked or raped by a Korean, if it is even covered it is to spin it to it was the megooks fault.

    What to take away from this, and what used to brief all my soldier’s (I’m now retired); You are not in America, and no one’s got your back, even though it goes against everything you are and stand for no matter what “Walk Away”, you will be a fault,,,, Never be in the least bit aggressive, in response just ‘Walk Away”; let them hit you, curse you and spit on you but “Walk Away” if you respond you will at fault, it unfair and B.S. but,,,,,,That’s “Just the way it is”

  57. LOL from that dude here who posted the reddit link I seen this >> I call tripple fuktard on this idiot!

    I know the guy that wrote this, and there is no way he said that. I also know this was not the only person he punched while in Korea.
    I’m calling bullshit on at least 75% of this story.
    The old man was probably a douche, but Simon isn’t exactly the most calm person I’ve ever met, and if the guy was that small what the hell was he doing punching him?
    I think Simon got extremely lucky to have only got away with paying 2mil.
    Some old guy with his young son trying to get punched by a foreigner for some money? Ridiculous.

  58. I ve had similar experiences in my.six years living in South Korea. I was assualted by a drunk ajassi after he yelled ‘ hey weekgoogen come here i have to tell you something’ and then punched me in the eye. Seven stitches and he got off scott free. The police said I couldnt sue him because I was a foriegner. Another time my Korean girlfriend was knocked off of her bike by a car. The ajossi jumped out of the car and started screaming at us! Then he shoved me. I yelled and shoved him saying he needed to apologize . He screamed it was my gf fault and she was a dog baby ect. He then ran to the back of his vehicle and came at me with a long garden hoe. I grabbed it, snapped it on two and threw it into the field by the side of the road. The police came and.took us all to the station even though he was wrong and smelled of soju. In the station he and his wife continued to call us ge seki dirty foriegner and girl slut who likes foriegners ect . My wife lost her patience and told him he was a country ajossi . He then took off his shoe and ran at her trying to hit her with it. Even though the cops said ot was clearly his fault as he hit my gf on the side of her bike with the front of his car while she was in the middle of the street and he assualted he we both had to applogize to eachother and since we were younger we had to apologize first. I could go on and on about times my wife, who is Korean, and I have bore the brunt of verbal assualts. I can’t couny on my.toes and fingers how many times I ve heard Koreans talking about me in a negative manner on a subway or bus because they think I cant understand them. Anyone who claims racism, nationalism and xeniophobia doesnt run rampant here is either lying or clueless

  59. KOREANS ARE RACIST. I MAY NOT BE IN THAT KIND OF SITUATION. BUT I SEE FOREIGN WIVES THAT GOT KILLED OR ABUSE WITHOUT ANY JUSTICE HEARD.(LEGALLY
    WORKING IN KOREA FOR 7 YEARS NOW)

  60. Got a contract worker friend married in Korea abused by her alcoholic and crazy husband. He hit her many times and she called the police for few times now.She went to the human rights and ask for a restraining order. But the police won’t give her because they said hitting and getting her bruises from her husband is not enough to release a restraining order.
    No justice in this country.

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