Cont. from THE Myth, Part I -- Before Korea: Sleeping with Asia men is hilarious.
Well, at least found some women. Or a few women. Or once every month or so, I would run into one.
Upon landing the ROK with my trusty best guy friend Mags by my side, I began to make the rounds at local foreigner watering holes. Here, I began to encounter the masses -- the masses of men. Some of whom were indeed very representative of what I had observed on Dave's, but one of whom was a lovely example of humanity (if a little comical), and who rounded out the trio nicely. I also quickly grabbed ahold of the first really lovely female to cross my path, a woman by the name of Gay For Best Results, who also happened to be a lesbian.
I started to feel really down on my luck. I had always gotten along well with men, but I had also always had a small, solid army of female companionship. Literally everyone in my life, suddenly, preferred the company of women. Even the coworker I was closest to was a man.
Needless to say, when I spotted another foreign woman out and about, I would make a certain amount of effort -- usually in the form of a fairly obvious beeline -- to get close to her. But before long, I began to notice a weird pattern emerging. Conversation with these women would be occurring for approximately two minutes, before these women would casually observe a Korean man in the nearby vicinity for a few seconds, and then turn to me and say something to the effect of.....
"Don't you just find them impossible?"
My heart would drop.
It's important to note that I didn't have any particular attachment to the idea of Korean men. I didn't have any particular attachment to the idea of any men, except those I regarded as my dear friends. I wasn't looking for a boyfriend. I was never looking for a boyfriend. And, as far as casual perusal went, I had searched and searched for the answer to that question I had begun to be asked so often, mostly by Koreans who didn't seem to make as many assumptions as Westerners, which was, "Do you prefer Western or Korean men?" But I couldn't find the answer. I thought it should be fairly obvious that it depended entirely on which Western and Korean man I was being asked to choose between.
Nonetheless, I found it extremely difficult to endure the conversations that would follow these presumptuous statements. I was often forced to sit and listen to a monologue-cum-tirade about how sexist Korean men were, how impossible the cultural differences were, how feminine and unattractive and gay Korean men were. I had only been in Korea for a very short time, and I thought it was possible these women had experienced something that I hadn't yet, but I had suspicions that there was something else at play.
As I looked around me, I found it hard to see what the other foreign women saw, on the surface level. Sure, I'd noticed the flower boys. But I had also noticed the other men. I was in Incheon, after all -- an area renowned the country over for its rough-and-tumble locals. As far as I could tell, Incheon seemed to be the source from which the entire Korean mafia issued forth. And that suited me just fine. I wasn't having any trouble at all spotting Korean men who weren't feminine, unattractive or gay.
I thought back to my time in the States just prior to my departure, and how embarrassed I'd felt sometimes when I'd tried to suggest that relations with Korean men weren't out of the question, and people had reacted the way that they had. I also looked around at the groups of Western men that surrounded these Western women. I began to put two and two together.
Another common thread seemed to run through these conversations, which was that they would often enough morph from sessions dissecting the implausibility of romance with Korean men into full-blown assessments of the entire country as a waste of time, at best. I would hear endless echoes of everything I had seen written on Dave's -- how Western men only wanted to date Korean women, how their time there had been entirely sexless and dateless, and how the whole situation, to put it lightly, sucked.
As would happen anytime I encountered a Western male who would launch into one of these themed speeches, I would always give it about ten minutes before making some kind of excuse to get as far away from the speech-maker as possible, hopefully to stay there for good. My time in Korea hadn't been all lollipops and roses, but I was completely shocked to hear these kinds of things coming out of anyone's mouth, and frankly a little afraid for the mental state of some of these women.
I later came to find that this particular disease seemed to be endemic to the female foreigner population relegated to the Incheon area. And, given my own experience, I could kind of see why that was. The foreign population in Incheon seemed to be almost entirely male, with very few women around to help balance out their perspectives. Other foreign women were hard to find. And the male Korean population were infamous for their philandering ways.
Still, I was enduring the same things that they were (more or less, presumably) and I hadn't found it necessary to begin despising all Korean men. Perhaps I was just lucky enough to be surrounded by Western men who weren't complete turd buckets. Although, that wasn't really luck, so much as a result of a careful selection process on my part. My guys would, of course, occasionally crack jokes about various things that we observed on the part of some Korean men. But they are good men, and they are not insecure men. Or at least, they're comfortable in their insecurities, and don't need to shovel them off onto other people. Or kinds of men. They never once condescended to me at the prospect of dating a Korean man. They would never condescend to me about anything at all.
That was all well and good. But fuck sake. Where were the women? I couldn't be the only one in the entire country who would even consider a Korean man. What the fuck was wrong with this place? I was so disappointed to see Western women be so dismissive of their own situations, and resign themselves to something they saw as fated or somehow beyond their control. They seemed to be kowtowing to the emotions of the men by whom they were surrounded, and refused to make any effort to explore or control their own situations. That last part was a judgment -- I had no way of knowing exactly what these women's true opinions were, or what their experiences had been. But I simply couldn't accept that things were all that bad, or that they had to be. The thing was, I couldn't entirely blame these other women. I wasn't exactly shouting back in anyone's face about these things. I was mostly being quiet and observing, which was the method I had always found to be most effective whenever I found myself in a situation I didn't understand. Me being me, however, that didn't exactly last long.
Lucky for me, I eventually figured out how to take the express bus to Seoul on the weekends, which led to greener female pastures. But not before I lost my best guy friend back to NYC, got my sea-feet about me out in Incheon, and decided to give the entire situation the middle finger myself.
Which led to inevitable confrontations with foreign men.