First of all, thanks for all the support. It really helps, and I do appreciate it immensely.
Second, to those who say this is just bellyaching about racism or that this account is surely exaggerated, you're calling me a liar. And I say – and there is documentary evidence to back up some of it, as well as witnesses from the coffee shop on, which is far more than most people telling any kind of story has – that everything happened as I said it did. No embellishments, no exaggerations, no rosy account of my own reactions. I was angry, and wanted to deck the guy. Sure. But I didn't. I didn't even curse at the guy. And I am told that were I a Korean person, very typically, even if I didn't hit him back, if he filed false charges against me, the person in my situation would have filed countercharges that he had in fact hit me as well.
Except, I don't lie. I don't accept bribes. I don't do certain things that would fundamentally change my impression of who I am, essentially. So, I didn't make false countercharges to the police officer, who himself seemed surprised when I said, "No, sir, he didn't hit me. He made a motion like he was going to, but he in fact never hit me." So say what you want about me "lying" or making exaggerations – there are none here, and since I am in the unusual position of having access to a couple witnesses from parts of the incident, as well as the tools to document them, I'll expect an apology from you. Surely, I won't get one, but we'll see who the more honorable man is by our actions, not mere words. And for me, I'll let the readers do the judging, along with as much evidence as I can present and not violate this man's legal right to privacy.
And on the racism thing – again, folks, the obvious fact that he is racist doesn't mean I'm complaining about being a victim of racism. I just vent about it and try to do something socially useful with it like blog it out and warn others who might end up in a similar situation – if I were a pussy "I'm a victim" type of guy, or couldn't stand the heat, I would have left the country, never to return, in 1994, the first time I came, when this kind of igg'nant was a lot more igg'nant. It's a blog, so I vent about it at times, I document and fight against it when it's expressed in media; if you think that makes me a liar or some other kind of bad person, I kindly ask you to not let the door hit your ass on the way to your Favorites menu. And in this case, talking about racism was only relevant to two things: the fact that my or the other American's testimony doesn't mean squat, and what this means regarding the motivations and character of the drunk, lying ajussi in question.
But get this straight, hatas: I'm complaining here about the fact that he was a DRUNK LIAR who gave false testimony about me that has me entangled in a legal mess, one that foreigners these days can ill afford.
The fact that he IS indeed an ignorant, racist, loser bum just adds more flavor to this interesting "character." It ANGERS me that his testimony is even taken at all, given the lack of witnesses to testify for him, his general belligerence manner towards me (they had to keep him separate from me initially and had to keep telling him to stop swearing at me), and the apparent psychological motivation behind his apparent anger at me in the first place (on and on about America this, Koreans that, I'm a lying, dirty "American Indian" – I didn't get that one on tape, but wish I did) – oh, on top of the fact that he was absolutely hammered beyond comprehension when the cops first came. He had sobered up quite a bit by the time our official testimonies were taken.
Oh, and what I didn't get on tape, since in the testimony room, the guy had asked me to turn off the recorder (although I did get it on for some, anyway) was that right after he gave his testimony, he started talking another tune. When the cop asked him, "What you have just told me is all true?" as he asked me after my own testimony, he starts mumbling about maybe this wasn't like this, and that wasn't like that, and the cop, who was irritated at having to be transcribing what was obviously utter bullshit for 20 minutes from this guy, asked in a very irritated tone, something about whether he was changing his story (I think), and what I do know he said was, "The only thing that is important here is whether you want to press charges. So decide – do you want him punished or not punished?" He was now suddenly contradicting himself, apparently. I wish I had recorded that, and it was a weird moment. I also didn't understand a lot of that brief exchange. That little moment of doubt on his part could have been very helpful to me.
And before the conversation gets going along about racism and my apparently "finding it under every rock," ask yourself the question of whether it's just me being paranoid, or there is a problem with drunk ajussis being given too much leverage in this society in general?
And as to the assaults this leads to, ask MissKoco, who will be leaving Korea this December, and who herself was attacked in the middle of the day by a male in his 20's, after he followed her and her sister across the street and was leering at them in a sexual way. He continued following them across the street, within arms length, since she pushed him away from her and said, "Leave us alone!" She weighs perhaps 105 pounds. She's 5'1". After he had followed them down and across the street, was clearly sexually harassing them (a story I hear all the time from foreign women, unfortunately), and made a frustrated attempt to get him off them, he pushed her to the ground and began kicking her. He then walked away.
No one did anything. No one helped. No one called the police.
It was high noon in the middle of Daehakno.
Or a Korean American female friend this last summer, who came here as a law intern, who was rushing to work in a not-so-filled street at around 7:30 in the morning, if I remember her story correctly, and who, upon coming close to a guy who she would later describe as being very weird (but it's a wide street, right? And broad daylight in Kwanghwamun) he attacked her, and she defended herself, but was then struck with a soju bottle (!) across her forehead, which split her right open. She was asking for that, right? Must have done something wrong, right?
Wrong. She later told me, much to my surprise yet satisfaction, that he got 1.5 years in the slammer. He had a previous record of assaulting women, which is the only thing that got him sent to the slammer for what I would sum up as an unprovoked, aggravated assault with what Korean courts consider a weapon – the soju bottle.
Or take the significant other of some I know, who saw a guy get onto a subway, started pelting the living daylights out of some random agassi who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and no one did a thing. He's a foreigner, yet a human being with a conscience, so he followed him off the train and made a police report as he did so. THE POLICE AT FIRST REFUSED TO COME. He spoke Korean and told them what he saw. But I guess they thought it was weird he was making this call. So he continues following him around and decides at this point – this is what really makes this story ridiculously sad – to get a Korean to call FOR him, since they apparently won't come when he called.
See, this makes sense now, since even the officer in my case pulled me aside when I asked why MissKoco's testimony wasn't needed, and straight told me that in Korea, even though it's not a great thing to say, her testimony was pretty much worthless. Nice.
When he did convince a Korean man to get the police to come, he had been following this man for an hour. When they arrived, they initially tried to arrest THE FOREIGNER WHO HAD BEEN TRYING TO CALL THIS IN. Good thing he had clearly not been involved, or had been involved in stopping the guy from hitting the girl – since the guy could've just said he hit him. And had this guy been as honest as I was in my testimony, he would have filed no countercharges. In the end, his testimony was worthless, since it was his word against a Korean's. A drunk man. They let him walk without even taking him to the station. Had that foreigner been a Korean, it would have been different.
Oh, and you think that's exaggerated? Trust me, I got more. Several more. And the truth in Korea, unfortunately, is far, far wilder than any fictional yarn I could spin. I don't need to exaggerate. As anyone who has lived here for a long time knows, Korea is potent enough straight, without sweetening up or embellishing, and is so strong that you do need a chaser of water to keep things straight.
If there's anything not needed here, it's the element of hyperbole. Because sitting in that station after playing good citizen was surreal enough.
Now, you know the next time I see a woman being slapped in the street? Or an ajussi start fucking with me? I'm going to turn on the trusty recorder without saying a word, since my word is worthless here anyway, without Korean corroboration (not guaranteed unless you happen to be with a friend) or recorded documentation.
So get your recorders, or learn how to use them on your mini digital cameras (many of them have a voice recorder function you didn't know about). Because you won't need it 99% of the time, but when you do, you're going to regret not having it.
It also helps that my recorder looks like a taser. In fact, when I pulled it out to start recording in the station, the cops all thought it WAS a taser. So the next time I get into a little altercation that I can't get out of (subway, which I can't avoid 100% of the time, or some other public space) I will pull it out and say, "I am letting you know that I am going to use this." And I'll flip the record switch.
Because even if I walk away – which, if you were paying attention, I DID and went into a place where there were many people and bright lights – he can still say I hit him. He can say anything he wants. But he'll have to argue that it was before I hit the record button, which will be harder to argue, and I'll be ridiculous and perhaps ask those around me whether I hit him, and while keeping my distance, tell him to stay the heck away from me.