Look, I don't think it's any real secret that I'm a bit of a social.... uh.... selectivist? That's a new phrase I made up to explain that I'm kind of a snob. Only, I'm not really, because I don't base my so-called standards on anything superficial or "cool" or whatever. I'm just picky.
To illustrate, actually, just yesterday Busan and I were on the bus together. I was feeling a little ill and therefore in a sunshiny awesome mood, as you can imagine, and I was having some trouble coping with the people around me. After watching the final (I'm sure highly exaggerated) pained expression cross my face, he burst out laughing. I opened my eyes wide and just barely managed to squeak out: "I don't. Like. Other people."
He almost choked on a much bigger guffaw: "What did you say?!"
"I just don't. I really don't. I don't know why. I try to hide it. But it doesn't always work. You haven't noticed?"
"I uh.... I.... a bit?"
The sincerity of this confession had us both muffling giggles on the quiet bus, but I only just managed to mutter a, "It's funny....but I'm not joking...." in between. And he, an, "I know," in response.
I just really hate bad manners, is a big part of it. Or people acting with blatant disrespect without having any tangible beneficial qualities to back it up. It makes me imagine them to be quite stupid, and the worst kind of stupid -- stupid, but arrogant. So I do really understand what you're going through. I understand it probably more today than I did when I first arrived.
There's a reason I don't really go out of my way to meet new folks, and that's because it's really difficult to find people who are going to view being a foreigner in Korea in the same light as you do. I'm sure -- I actually know -- that we folk who take it somewhat seriously are very irritating to the extended spring breakers, as well. The other kind of group that tends to find me obnoxious are the ones who are really into becoming Buddhist and learning how to make every single side dish in the exactly authentic way, and who speak whatever Korean they know at top volume every chance they get, even if someone is actually speaking to them in English. They tend to think I don't take things seriously enough.
The other phenomenon that happens are the ones who start out in category two and then slowly transform into really obnoxiously racist and bitter people. To me, they're the worst kind to encounter, because it can take you a while to detect them. They'll start out talking about their Korean class and their lesson plans and their favorite restaurant, or whatever. All good. How they really love Korea, they've been here for a while and they can't really see themselves leaving anytime soon. Right. Excellent. And then suddenly, it all takes a bizarre turn: But like you know just saying there's no diversity here. And they really love Korea, but you know like we are just always going to be foreigners here! (Which is true.... because.... well, we are foreigners.) Or they love Korea, but it's just like really soul-crushing how pathetically docile Korean women are and what big liars Koreans are and how superficial Koreans are and how shit and boring the food is and how bland the culture is and how racist they all are and how conformist they all are and...........
And there goes your evening.
It's taken me a long time to be able to spot out people who may be right on my level with things, and an even longer time to actually find those people. It took a load of trial and error, a lot of tense conversations and a lot of nights out that left me fighting the urge toward physical violence. But once you find those people who "get it" in the same way you "get it" (whatever way that may be), it'll be worth the effort.
I don't know you, so I don't know where your people are likely to be found, but to be honest, almost every person I've met over the course of the past 3.5 years I've met in Korea and am still in contact with came through this (or the other) blog. Blogging, and corresponding with people through blogs, gives you an opportunity to thoroughly vet the opinions and views of others, and what they do or do not find acceptable, and as a result, I've hardly met anyone from the blogs who I haven't really jived with. Because I already knew how they handled their shit before we even agreed to have dinner (or coffee or drinks).
Other than that.... just hang in there. There are others like you (however you are) out there somewhere. Try to stay open minded, but also learn how to listen to your gut. These days, I barely get past the, "But Korea's just so homogenous, you know?" before I've realized I just remembered something, and I really have to be going.
Any suggestions for meeting people (non-idiots) in Korea? I'm new & having a hard time as I want to learn Korean & adapt but my Korean is almost nonexistent & the other foreigners at my school are disrespectful & think they're still in college.