Friday, April 09, 2010

한민족 한마음

Seeing groups of Koreans overseas is now a bit like seeing members of your family in public: simultaneously embarrassing and amusing, but always endearing. A group of Canadians could be from anywhere and could act in many diferent ways, but Koreans like to conform. After all, on my flight here to Osaka, I think I was the only one that abstained on the Boeing 737 when the flight attendant with the Mickey Mouse ears on a headband played a mass game of rock-scissor-paper.

So, here are the observations of the biggest gathering of koreans I have ever seen, from the immigration line at Kansai International Airport (KIX). Parenthetically, flights from KIX to ASH (Nashua, New Hampshire), ASC (Ascension, Bolivia) and ASK (Yamoussoukro, Cote D'Ivoire) are probably just as rare as the mythical Fukuoka-Sioux City, Iowa route.

  • stately ajuma setting down her darth vader visor to fill out an arrival card

  • flight attendant gently telling a man on the plane that he can't write in Korean because the Japanese can't understand it

  • faux-nerdy girl with dreadlock hat (think Bob Marley) and square glasses with huge, thick frames, and giant hoop earrings

  • a group of men carrying what looked like a large screen TV in a plastic bag from the duty-free

  • another ajumma scooting through a line of a few hundred passengers to go to the bathroom, crying out in pain each time she unceremoniously ducks under a cordon

  • quite possibly the fattest Korean I've ever seen, with manners as good as his expression was dour

  • four girls wearing minidresses, hoodies, and four-inch heels who fixed their makeup in line

  • young men reassuring girlfriends that they were only 100 (then 80, then 50, then 30) feet away

  • a girl wearing a shirt that read "Inevergetlosteveryone tells me wiere to go" (sic)

  • a posh woman wearing the same outfit as the baby she carried on her back

  • last, but certainly not least, an adorable middle-aged tour guide wearing a striped dress shirt with burgundy tie. if you saw her, you would understand the Korean expression 마음에 들다 (ma-eum-ae-deul-da; to enter the heart)

    I've been trained to think of airports as sterile, quasi-military facilities where the slightest deviation from the norm will result in deportation to Syria or parts unknown for enhanced interrogation. Koreans seem to treat them as just another place to have a family picnic. While it's somewhat unbecoming to move in large packs and disregard the order and sanctity of queues, it's certainly becoming to enjoy yourself no matter where you are.
  • 1 comment:

    Alex said...

    I think my favorite is the woman whose baby's outfit matched her own.