Friday, September 9, 2011

To Misunderstand Someone

Sometimes a simple misunderstanding can cause a world of problems. A few weeks ago the netizens in Korea were abuzz following a YouTube video showing a black foreigner verbally and physically assaulting two Koreans on a bus in Seoul. The foreigner had been talking loudly on the bus, and an elderly Korean man asked him to quiet down, but the foreigner misheard what he said. The word 니가 (niga) is a pronoun that means "you," but misheard, could be understood as a derogatory term. This was how the foreigner misinterpreted it, and thus his temper overflowed. He started to verbally attack the older man, yelling obscenities and intimidating him. Another Korean, a younger woman, stood in the way, so he bumped her and yelled at her as well. The other Koreans on the bus watched the incident, some yelling to the bus driver to pull over and kick the foreigner off of the bus. Some called 119, and eventually the bus pulled over at a police station, where the foreigner was promptly arrested.

Since the incident, people all over the Internet have been commenting on the video and subsequent news stories and blog posts, offering their criticisms and opinions. There was another news story of a guy in Masan being refused entry onto a bus, most likely related to the earlier Seoul incident.  The effects of that one video are trickling down to other areas of Korea, and it remains to be seen how it will play out in the weeks and months to come.  With a large influx of foreigners expected to travel to Korea for in the next few years for the 2012 World Expo and the Winter Olympics in 2018, now is not the time for a bigger wedge to be driven between Koreans and foreigners.  There was even a commercial on television recently aimed at encouraging Koreans to speak to any foreigners they may encounter, rather than hiding from them.  How much could we guess that the video of the black man attacking Koreans on the bus had more social impact?

Here's both videos for you to compare.  I will tell you now, the first video is not to be taken lightly.  And the comments on it span the gamut of emotions, so read through them carefully.

1 comment:

  1. The first video made me really mad,sad, and fearful, all at the same time. Even if the Korean man had called him that, which I know he didn't, the black man was COMPLETELY out of line.
    The other video though made me laugh out loud because I was just talking to one of my Korean friends and she was telling me about how some Koreans avoid foreigners because they are afraid they won't understand us. hahaha!


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