Staring at strangers

I’m not sure if it’s really an Asian thing, being an Asian myself. Back home in the Philippines, I’d read news about men killing or getting killed because of staring. Lately, we’ve heard about the famous Korean actor Lee Dong Gun’s brother who was killed, apparently because he and a friend “looked down” at two Chinese guys.

Here in Korea, being stared is something you have to get used to as a foreigner or if you don’t look Korean. I’d read so many complaints by foreigners regarding this. My friends and I also talked about this several times. One time, my friends and I were in Myeongdong, in front of the now-closed Kosney, when about three girls came and stared at us from head to toe! We just stared back with our eyebrows raised. It is something that not a lot of Koreans can do. I know it sounds immature but sometimes you just have to look back.

My husband and I get a lot of stares whenever we go out. We just think of it as plain curiosity specially if the “stare” doesn’t seem malicious. After four and half years of living here, you just get used to it. And sometimes attribute it to having brown skin, a body needing Curvelle, or just being plain different.

19 thoughts on “Staring at strangers

  • March 26, 2008 at 10:36 pm
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    I have encountered that in the United States, as well, eventhough its called a bloody melting pot of races. But it is more likely to happen on the more homogenous parts.
    It happened when I was walking around Boston [a pedestrian city] one summer day and I decided to visit little Italy. I was the only brown skinned person at that day and everybody was sitting outside since they have these little cafes everywhere you look. Old people were looking at me as if I got lost or something. I guess I should have stuck around Chinatown, huh?
    Nice post, btw.

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  • March 27, 2008 at 11:01 am
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    this happened to me in baguio city, being stared at by 2 korean men. i was wondering why at first and just proceeded looking around the Korean grocery store. when they finally approached me, they asked me if i were korean or of korean descent and i said no but my mom is partly chinese and spanish while my dad is half filipino and half spanish that’s why i have yellowish-brownish-reddish skin, haha… and they also just laughed…

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  • March 27, 2008 at 11:41 am
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    my friends and i got stared at too when we were on vacation in the philippines, eventhough we’re full blooded filipinos…i guess we weren’t dressed up enough when we went to the mall hahah…i like reading your blogs, they’re really interesting :O) take care!

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  • March 27, 2008 at 8:55 pm
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    @Rmjonah >> i think the same thing happened to us in little italy in new york, but my sister and i really looked lost that time

    @jehan >> guess they were just curious

    @Maricel >> thanks for the kind words… i think in the philippines, you’ll get stared at if you dress differently… it’s safer to wear capri pants, t-shirt and sandals (pinoy uniform?)

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  • March 28, 2008 at 3:11 am
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    I think this can happen everywhere.. even in the Philippines.. Believe it or not after living in New York for many years (where the melting pot of the freaks, unique peeps, third sexes, and practically all different cultures) the whole “looking down” thing still happens here. I think no matter where you are, it’s the people that are judgmental. I feel sorry for the victims of these hatred crimes..

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  • March 31, 2008 at 1:19 pm
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    actually whenever i go the the malls i see an assortment of fashion sense. the current trend is: anything goes! i see the malls filled up with tourists and balikbayans and i do sometimes stare because i keep thinking “wow, that’s nice.. i wonder where she bought that”. anyway, i’m sure that “staring” isn’t the same as “looking down”. it’s definitely not the same thing i got when i went inside this Claim Jumper resto in Arizona last year and people just stopped eating and stared at me and my sis. well that was right after the Virginia Tech massacre so the whitey’s are all a bit uptight, you know.. i even have another story about how people are inside the malls but that would make this really long… but really, that was kinda stupid..

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  • March 31, 2008 at 8:07 pm
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    Wow, that is very interesting. Is it rare for a Korean to marry a Filipino?

    I have not experienced this much in NY. In fact, it feels like no one cares or stares. I do tend to stare at tourists, sometimes, when I can’t quite make out where they are from…
    …or when theyre hot… <_<

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    • January 4, 2010 at 2:55 pm
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      well my aunt married a korean and my neighbor’s husband is a korean.. I had a korean friend and I told her I want to marry a korean guy but she told me not to marry one because we have different culture and we may fight everyday

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      • January 6, 2010 at 1:43 am
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        my husband and I don’t fight every day… more like once a month and it’s almost always because of food!

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      • May 11, 2011 at 1:34 pm
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        hehehe. hindi naman laging ganun.. at saka normal lng sa magasawa magkaproblem..

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  • July 19, 2008 at 9:43 am
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    lol.. this topic was quite interesting.. i also enjoy reading your blogs.. personally i don’t like it when people stare at at lil old me.. bhahaha .. i feel like huh.. ?? is there something wrong me.. why are you staring so intensely?? so at times i avoid a person who’s staring intensely..and at times i would question the person because.. i get this consciousness feeling and i have to find out why there are doing.. that.. guess what.. sometimes a person would ignore me.. and walks off… o.O

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    • July 19, 2008 at 2:52 pm
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      hi lynn! thanks for your kind words… i sometimes go into a staring contest, pero minsan lang naman and i often win! LOL

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  • February 5, 2009 at 5:06 pm
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    to jehan:

    wow! jehan, you must be very pretty! hahaha!

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  • May 12, 2009 at 9:11 am
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    We all know that staring isn’t polite (or at least here in the Philippines). Like when you are caught staring at someone, your automatic reaction is to look away. But sometimes we just can’t help it when we see someone dressing a little bit over when in the mall. haha.

    Ate Betchay, you know Hwang Bo, diba? She’s often teased for her dark skin (it’s “dark” for a korean). And also because “she doesn’t look korean” they say she looked like south east asian. hahaha.

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    • May 13, 2009 at 12:29 pm
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      hi fragilegirl! ajummas staring at you is one of the things i had to get used to. it’s quite impolite to stare back but i couldn’t help myself. buti na lang i’m not onion skinned.

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  • July 12, 2009 at 11:38 pm
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    Hi! What are ajumnas? Why do they stare at pinoys?

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  • December 1, 2009 at 11:42 am
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    Hi, I just found your blog (while looking for what to wear in Korea during winter, of all things hahaha) and I really enjoyed reading your entries! I lived in Tokyo for one year but didn’t really get stared at but my “white” friends would always get stared, pointed at by kids, and nobody would sit next to them on trains if it’s not crowded!

    My friend and I are going to Seoul in December for vacation, for 6 days land but I bet we’re going to have fun running around with minimal Korean and being stared at hahaha. We both went to the beach recently so yes, we now have “dark” skin compared to Koreans. They seem to be obsessed with fair skin and that bothers me. (Well it’s no different from the whitening boom here in the Philippines but it’s like, on a different level.) I’m also meeting my boyfriend’s mom – who’s Korean – so I’m a bit nervous but I think I’m in for a funny situation.

    Reply
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