Saturday, 3 September 2011


If you could send a message to aliens (of the extra-terrestrial kind), what would you say to them? I like the letter by Hank of the Vlogbrothers to aliens. He does a really good summary of the human species.


If you are living in a foreign country, like myself, then the term "alien" is applied to you. My identification card in Korea states "Alien Registration Card".

So recently a fellow alien was videotaped while he was shouting in a bus and beating up an old Korean man. The video has gone viral in Korean online video sites like Daum TV-pot and has also made its way onto YouTube. The man apparently misunderstood the Korean guy who was saying something along the lines of 내가 여기 앉아, meaning "you can sit here." 내가, which means "you" is pronounced "nega" which sounds a little like "nigga", i.e. "nigger." So the African-American guy apparently thought the old Korean man was calling him a nigger and went bonkers. This is an apparent case of cultural miscommunication.

But not so fast. The African-American dude shouts back at the old man in Korean 개새끼야, which is the equivalent to "fuck you!" So this guy took the time to learn very offensive Korean swear words, doing it with perfect pronunciation, but he cannot understand something simple like 내가 여기 앉아?! Let's assume that this is true, that he doesn't know what 내가 means, but knows what 개새끼야 means, what does that tell us about his character? For him it was more of a priority to learn to cuss in Korean that to learn the simple pronoun "you"?

Don't tell me its because black people experience racial discrimination in Korea and so that excuses his behaviour. Just two days ago I again experienced racial discrimination myself on the subway. I went to take a seat next to someone in the train and immediately this Korean person got up and went to sit in another seat. I've experienced this enough times to see it for what it is -- racism. Yes, some Koreans are racist and not only towards black people. Still, even though I felt offended by the woman's behaviour I didn't shout 개새끼야 at her. Why? Not because I didn't feel offended -- I do -- but because that is not the kind of person I am. Let's, for the sake of the argument, assume that the Korean old man did call this African-American guy nigger. Does that really warrant that kind of rage and violence? Seriously, this guy needs some Jesus-Love to heal his heart, for he must have experienced the worst kind of racism, oppression, hatred and torture for that word to trigger such a reaction.


In one easy swoop this "tough guy" has reinforced the stereotypes of foreigners in Korea being unmannered, disrespectful and uncivilised. His actions has strengthened the stereotype against black people as violent and barbaric, and he has made my life and the lives of all other foreigner teachers in Korea much more difficult. I'm ashamed on behalf of all foreign residence in Korea. I feel serious pity towards all black foreigners that this guy is representing in the eyes of Koreans. Not to mention another stereotype, that of Americans as arrogant and bombastic also strengthened by this loud and dirty-mouthed individual.

Onto another alien: Lady Gaga. She came out with a rather nice country music-influenced song, "Yoü And I". Did you see the music video? Disturbing and sexy in a mermaid-fetish / Frankenstein-fetish / necrophilia kind of way. Apart from a secret mermaid fantasy, not really my kind of thing. I like, however, the cover by Korean-American David Choi and Lisa Lavie. Not two voices that I would have imagined to go well together, but they pull it off pretty well.


The most beautiful part of the song is that line: "muscle cars drove a truck through my heart."

An all time favourite "alien song" is Sting's "Englishman in New York". "I'm an alien, I'm a legal alien, I'm an Englishman in New York." I sometimes choose this song when I'm singing in a noraebang (karaoke).


A random post on random thoughts about random aliens would probably be incomplete without a list of some of the aliens I find most attractive: Leeloo from Fifth Element; Neytiri from Avatar; Sil from Species; Seven-of-Nine / Borg from Star Trek; T-X from Terminator 3; Leela from Futurama; Alien from Alien; and Captain Jack Harkness from Doctor Who / Torchwood.

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