Seoul Street Novel – Part 2 (and) Just You – Part 2 – All English

The Street Novel-ing in Seoul continued with a second instalment over at PhatDog’s Just Seoul Tumblr Blog:

And so as promised here is another part of my own complimentary side-story:

Just You – Part 2 – All English

You are the King of Korea. Okay, you’re not really the “king” but you’re President and that’s good enough because you throw that power around like you are a king. The media gave you this nickname on the day you explained you intention to eliminate the Korean language from South Korea and adopt only English for all forms of communication. Although you were elected based on a platform of peaceful reunification with North Korea and putting an end to mandatory military service for all Korean men, you scrapped all that once you got into office and started to focus on this All-English policy. You were so charismatic and well loved that few people even complained when you held the press conference to announce the changeover to English, effectively outlawing the Korean language in Korea. In a country that is overwrought with daily protests on everything from agricultural taxes to religious freedoms, the streets were exceptionally quiet in the weeks following your kingly proclamation. You were going to save the country millions of dollars on all the redundant English language education anyways, so that was a good thing, plus you were a very fluent speaker of English and lots of people thought that looked really cool. The full transition took a year and during that time you shook a lot of hands and said all the right things, in Korean of course, or else no one would have understood you at all.


You are the first day of the All-English changeover in South Korea. At the moment when you came into law and the Korean language could no longer officially be used, an alarm was sounded nationwide. Purposely, the President asked for the same alarms to be used on this occasion that regularly tested the air raid sirens across the country. The people in Seoul were the most prepared and as soon as they heard the alarm they knew not to speak or write Korean ever again. However, a lot of people outside of Seoul thought that it was just a normal air raid test and thus continued to speak Korean. This made you a very active day outside of the capital as the new language police, who were conveniently placed in the most rural of areas, had to detain many ‘accidental’ violators. They filled up the detention centres, which was a great way to train many of their new guards and also scare the rest of the country with grim images. And while the prisons seemed like strict places full orders, drills and barred cells, you knew the President secretly made sure that the doors were never locked. He’d told the guards to let anyone go free if they opened a door and walked out. This didn’t happen to you, and the President was disappointed. You later asked your brothers on the second, third, and fourth days, but none of them experienced this either, and it wasn’t until Sunday when the President let everyone go. You were certain that those incarcerated people never forgot you and upon release definitely never spoke Korean again.


You are an old man in Seoul who is struggling to adapt to the All-English changeover in Korea. You were rambling and complaining in scratchy English to no one in particular while looking for the bar where you were supposed to meet your friend, until you spotted a young police officer who would have to help you. The police officer looked away, like he hoped you weren’t coming over to him, probably nervous about your poor grasp of the language. And when you struggled to ask your question he cringed knowing what he would have to do if you broke down into Korean like he expected. The officer told you to calm down and try to speak slowly but that only made you turn red and clench your teeth. Angrily, you blurted out a whole sentence in very formal and hierarchal Korean to demand that this younger boy tell you how to find the bar you needed to go to in this busy part of downtown Seoul. The officer pretended to check his watch and ignored you. So your gruff voice continued to get louder, persisting that the police boy could understand what you were saying. The officer tried to turn and walk away but you followed. Part of you was furious, confused by all this English nonsense, and another part of you looked at all the down-turned faces of the people walking by that were trying to tell you to keep your mouth shut. Ignoring all that you grabbed the officer by the arm and yelled in his face, “show me where the fuck I want to go you dog raping piece of cunt flesh” in musically fluent Korean.


You are the President of Korea’s regular prostitute. The man affectionately referred to as the ‘King of Korea’ by the media actually didn’t like you very much back then. You were sure that he found you attractive since you were young and pretty, of that there was no doubt, but the President fought so hard to abolish prostitution in the country and there seemed to be little he could do to change that specific aspect of the culture, so much so that he was even forced to have sex with you against his own will. The President’s wife even encouraged him to meet you a few times a week along with all the other politicians who visited girls at the nightclubs where you were called in to work. Actually, you could understand her, she’d been conditioned to accept this behaviour and believed that her husband maintained his vitality by fondling a young prostitute late at night. To your credit you were just a university student who ended up with this “job” by a very odd series of events that always confused even you. After the All-English changeover you’d hoped that you might be released from the contract you were tricked into signing because the ‘King of Korea’ had declared that he was going to eradicate prostitution the same way he did that old fashioned Korean language. Unfortunately, no matter how many pimps he paid off or brothels he raided, it just wouldn’t go away. At least you were able to meet the President and that was pretty cool, and even though he made you do all those awful and painful things, you knew it wasn’t his fault.


You are the ‘Sunny Days’ comic book store. In the weeks prior to the All-English changeover in Korea, you sold off all of your Korean language comic books. That was the best day of business you had ever done. The government declared that all comic book stores had to destroy their Korean language content but your owner opted to just sell everything for the price you used to charge for for a rental. Your customers took less than one hour fill sacks and shopping carts with all your stock. Although the comics still needed to be disposed of, that responsibility would be left to the new owners. You were free to be re-stocked by the government mandated American comics that were contrastingly colourful and magazine-sized compared to your old thick, black-and-white books. However, instead of importing the super-hero series, like the X-men, Spider-Man or Batman, your owner bought second-hand War, Western and Horror comics from the American 70s and 80s. Surprisingly, these comics turned out to be equally as popular as the stuff you used to sell, while the other shops were struggling to move the more traditional American comics. Your owner wrote a letter to one of the local newspapers explaining why he thought super-hero books weren’t selling in Korea, rejecting a popular theory that is was due to the ever-present threat of Japanese colonisation. Many readers reacted angrily to this letter and wrote back with irrational attacks on the man and pledged to burn you down in response. Luckily, he wrote the letter anonymously and you were safe, but just to be careful you started selling those super-hero comics and struggled like everyone else.


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