In the latest new pages of the Just Seoul – Street Novel found posted up around the city, the story took a big twist as millions of North Korean refugees storm across the border and occupy the streets of Seoul.
You can see/read the latest instalment over at the Tumblr blog (which may or may not have been created by one of my readers/trolls PhatDog) dedicated to showing pictures of where these pages have been posted in the city, this time around the popular arts and theatre area of Hyehwa:
And as usual, I have written my own complimentary chapter of micro-stories (in the 2nd person) dealing with the current predicament described in those street novel-ing pages. Enjoy!
Just You – Part 4 – North Korea
You are all the people of Seoul who were on the street when those North Korean refugees ran into town. You were just on your way to the bus or subway to go home after work when these runners stampeded right through the central business district. You thought this horde of super skinny people trotting along were part of some kind of strange countryside marathon. They were dressed in ratty brown rags like those gross people who live out on those farms or whatever is outside of Seoul. No one told you what was happening on your phones, so you slid over to the side and started to cheer the runners on. Some of you were clapping and encouraging them to keep going, some were passing them cups of water you’d bought from the convenience stores, and some were even trying to reach out and high five them as they went by. When none of this effort was reciprocated, you started to get suspicious that all this running wasn’t what it seemed. A few days later there was still no explanation from the government and the marathoners were not only staying in town but also taking up residence on the actual streets. That’s when you knew for sure that something weird was going on. However, it was business as usual for you, life had to go on and all these North Koreans weren’t going to get in your way.
You are a street in downtown Seoul. You used to be filled with constant traffic, buses pushing through the congested car lanes inter-spliced with all these delivery people weaving around on scooters. That constant wear-and-tear created a culture of on-going shoddy repairs that were always hastily attempted during the daytime while the traffic was still thick. The feet of the people crossing at your intersections were no better on your psyche; the men in their hard stepping dress shoes and women with their piercing heels tapping you like water torture. However, there was nothing worse than garbage days, three times a week everyone from the shops and apartments on your long stretch would pile mountains of seeping, smelly, crinkly bags that made you feel more like a cheap 3rd world dirt road than a decorated stretch of futuristic prosperity. Then the North Koreans came and all that pain went away. There were millions of them and they had nowhere else to go apparently, so they just walked on you – a constant flow of soft, sandalled and shoeless feet dragging across your hide with massaging consistency. There was no room for cars, buses, construction or even the marching South Korean office army, so you were happy for a while there until the smell started to kick in and make the old garbage days seem like a fresh flower patch.
You are a blank expression. You had nothing to convey to the person looking at you. More information was required but you had nothing to give. The day changed to night and you were still blank. The North Korean who’s face you were on made no attempt to control you.
You are a pre-packaged, convenience store hamburger. You were a popular item with Koreans looking for a quick snack between meals or classes but were generally the second choice after your nemesis – seaweed-rice triangles. Those things just couldn’t be beaten until the North Koreans arrived. They didn’t want anything to do with rice for some reason and would vomit if they ate any. But the greasy, microwavable meat inside you was a delicacy to the indescribably abused North Korean palate. Stores couldn’t keep anything like you on the shelves, not that the North Koreans bothered to pay but then again no one stopped them from taking anything anyways. The North Koreans seemed to get away with whatever they wanted since there was just so many of them – what could the South Koreans do? Eventually, they just ignored them (if the North Koreans wanted the seaweed-rice triangles then maybe it would have been a different story). When your turn came, you were kind of frightened as you were put on a shelf and grabbed by a North Korean and brought over to a whole group of them. In the course of trying to divvy up how to eat you they just started to rip you apart. However, there was something grossly sensual in the way they dissected and savoured every one of your pieces, even the package you came in was licked clean by three of them and then balled up and swallowed by one lucky guy.
You are the new derogatory term “Korth” that is being used to describe the North Korean refugees in Seoul. Little kids started using you first to make fun of those dirty North Korean kids who looked so stupid trying to play video games at the old arcades and eating candy without even taking off the wrappers. While the South Korean kids really disliked those nerdy and lame Korths, their use of you was more of a manipulation by the government than actual impromptu slang. These kids had no idea that you had been focus grouped for weeks and implanted in them subconsciously by direct order of the South Korean President. Everything the President had accomplished with the All-English policy looked like it was all about to crumble because of the damn North Koreans. Then he got the brainstorm about how to use them in his plans: discriminate against those North Koreans as much and as harshly as possible in order to be cool. Americans always benefited from multiculturalism when learning how to effectively leverage prejudice to their advantage, and that was something you just couldn’t buy in Korea’s homogenised culture. The arrival of the irrational, ignorant, dumb, poor and unhealthy refugees was a gift. The President knew how reprehensible it was going to look to intentionally impose intolerance against an entire impoverished nationality but he felt justified that even a life of squalor and ridicule in Seoul was going to be better than any existence they’d had in the North. So after the kids warmed it up, “King Korea” (as he was sometimes known) officially announced that the term Korth could be used to negatively identify North Koreans, and since Korths didn’t speak English anyways, they weren’t going to know what was going on.