Saturday, 5 November 2011

Links here and there... and gross.

The discussion on sexism in the blogs was really interesting... I'll have more to say about it in another post -- I actually learned (or at least realized) some stuff from it.

Here are a few other links I've come by this week, and liked.

Once again, Stupid Ugly Foreigner has written a great post, this time about turning from a fresh-faced expat to a grizzled long-termer. How did I go so long before I found this blog?

The Diplomat on North Korea's Clumsy Assassins: They sure don't make Nork assassins like they used to.

Which is a great excuse to post this old propaganda video of North Korean army training. I've got to say, I love the clipped accents and cadences of North Koreans speaking English.

After Ms. Lee to Be's post about Konglish, and how English buzzwords get mangled into Korean business speak, because it sounds awesome sand, Yujin Is Huge has this post about the overdone bombast that is often the other way Korean self-important people (who might understand English, but don't understand how English is used) express themselves... in a way that uses our language, but into which we don't actually figure at all. Title: A world-class provider of world-leading pioneer technology that will remain competitive through fundamental adaptation to the paradigm shift.

And...  (warning: the following paragraphs contain opinion. If you are constitutionally opposed to the occasional gut reaction, do not read on. Look at this instead. Whoa.)

I went to Costco twice this week, once to get stuff, and once to return some of it... and I came across something that, honestly, grossed me out... as much as anything I've seen in my time in Korea.

As much as pigeons pecking at street pizza, as much as old men hocking loogies in the street... as much as middle-school girls hocking loogies in the street... I hadn't paid enough attention to notice it the last times I went to Costco, because I usually don't use the Costco restaurant, but on Monday I learned of the Costco Salad Bar.

What is the Costco Salad Bar?

Leave your dignity in your shopping cart.
Take a paper plate.
Go to the condiment table.
Grind the free onions into a small mountain in the middle of the plate.
Squirt a whole bunch of mustard on top of the onions.
Squirt between a little and a whole bunch of ketchup on there, too.
If you really feel fancy, squirt some of the sugar syrup meant for the coffee drinks on there, too.
If you ordered a hot dog, squeeze the pickle relish package in there, too.
Mix until it looks like chunky baby poop.
With fork, eat alongside whatever else you ordered.
Discard the uneaten 2/3, creating a disgusting mountain of wasted onions and mustard in the bottom of the compost can.
Ignore Costco employees watching you and performing facepalm after facepalm.
Leave dining area.
Collect dignity from shopping cart.
Resume ordinary life.

Image stolen from Zenkimchi.

Zenkimchi writes about it here: turns out this is not an isolated thing here in Korea. At the Costco I went to, about 30-55% of the tables had a Costco salad on one of the plates.

Normally, I just avoid the stuff I don't like or think is gross. I won't tell people not to eat this or that animal, or salad swimming in dressing, or the shredded cabbage/ketchup/mayonnaise gunk that was a side dish to the fantastic spit-roasted chicken at this place I used to go to. Avert the eyes, don't eat it, no sweat. but at least it was clear that's how you're supposed to eat the mayonnaise ketchup stuff, where Costco Salad reeks of "Hey! Free stuff!" (see also the equally classy Salad Bar Tower) -- both expressions of the same impulse that leads old ladies to bring ziplock bags to buffets, and stuff free plastic forks in their purse, and bend and twist the intended uses of things, just to maximize their exploitation of somebody's generosity in providing it for free.

Zenkimchi even posits an explanation, and manages to applaud the creativity -- fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, Koreans gotta have banchan, and will find a way, you know. Intellectually, I acknowledge this, but it was still just too much for me. Next time I need a Costco hotdog, I'm bringing a blindfold.

Maybe because it looked like the baby poo that's become a major part of my life rhythm? Anyway, I'm willing to look for the reason and sense behind most things, to seek out a perspective and a context. But this one just grossed me out, still does, and I'll be setting up a mental block instead. Yech.

1 comment:

Stacy said...

I find it peculiar as well.