I Still Forget…

I still forget that sarcasm is basically nonexistent here. A normal person would have internalized the change within a week of arriving in Korea, but I’m struggling with it over 14 months later. Though I’m not nearly as sarcastic as I was on Day 1, I still find myself trying to dig my way out of awkward conversations during which snarky comments miss their mark. I continue to overestimate the average Korean’s ability to tell the difference in mild sarcasm and absolute mind-numbing stupidity.

Yesterday was a prime example. I had the following conversation with a random Korean guy in the subway station.

RKG: Hi. You are American?
Me: Yes, I’m American.
RKG: Where from in America?
Me: I’m from North Carolina.
RKG: Oh!!! Do you know Michael Jordan?
Me: Yep. He’s my cousin.
RKG: Really?…..No, I think he is brack.
(At this point, I’m pot-committed. If you’re gonna get wet, go swimming – right?)
Me: Yeah, he’s black. What’s your point?
RKG: But I think you are not brack.
Me: Why do you think that?
RKG: Hmmmm….I think I’m sure you are not brack.
Me: Wow, you’re good. How did you know?
RKG: ……because you do not look brack.

I’m starting to think I’ll never fit in here.

Until next time.


7 thoughts on “I Still Forget…

  1. Haha. I get your sarcasm, buddy. Half-korean person here. And yea my mom is Korean and I have to explain some things to her still after 20 years in an english-speaking country. One day they’ll get there.

    • wtl0715 says:

      Yeah, I’m sure the younger generation may begin to understand western humor more than their parents and grandparents. But most people have a long way to go. It makes me wonder how shows like Friends (which is packed with sarcasm) are so popular here…

      • Subtitles in korean must be doing the trick

      • wtl0715 says:

        I think you’re right. I’ve noticed recently that all subtitles aren’t created equal. Many times, they don’t accurately convey the meaning of the joke/sarasm. I guess the companies that produce popular shows must hire top-notch subtitle people.

  2. that’s hilarious there are some people in korea who can get it but I’ve only talked to one so far lol

    • wtl0715 says:

      Yeah, that’s true. One of my Korean friends is about 80% Americanized – despite having never lived in the States. He rarely misses sarcasm. But he is definitely the exception to the rule here.

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