Monday, August 14, 2006

Pardon me, Excuse me...leper coming through...

On Saturday we went to the Korean Festival here in Calgary. We braved the rain and the possibility that we might feel like unwanted foreign invaders all for a taste of galbi and dukbogi. Now, dukbogi is a street food and not one of the Korean foods I ever thought I would encounter again, but we relished every chewy cabbage-covered bite of it.

Koreans use the word waygook to describe, well, everyone who isn't Korean. American soldiers are waygooks, so are white people, and Chinese and Japanese and probably those of Korean descent who live in other countries. The Korean ability to categorize others so easily is a perfect example of their xenophobic and insular approach to the world. Here's a better example: they were still calling us waygooks here in Calgary! The festival, advertised in English, was obviously geared for Koreans since the entire festival was in Korean (and Chinese for some reason) and the signs were in hangul. This was another thing we encountered a lot of in Korea...a map or a pamphlet with an English title or introduction and then nothing else. I can't tell you how many times we picked up an English booklet only to find the inside entirely in Korean. What a pump-fake. Anyway, we got such a kick out of the fact that they were still referring to us as "foreigners" in our home country...I guess it's all a matter of perspective and some people's perspectives never change.

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