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The Foreigner Nod

It's not ground-breaking to report that Korea is an extremely homogeneous society. Very often I'll be the only foreigner on the subway, and people, especially old people, will just sit and flat-out stare at me. Every now and then an old person will try to talk to me as if I'm a representative of the entire ex-Korea world, and recently in Incheon, I had a long (albeit one-sided) conversation with a really drunk old Korean guy about what I presume to be the Korean War. He kept quoting MacArthur in broken English, but I didn't recognize the quote (am I a bad American?), so I just politely smiled and nodded as his wife tried to get him to stop talking, stop drinking soju, and eat some food.

In any case, the closed and homogeneous nature of the society here has engendered what I like to call the "foreigner nod". You know in Fight Club how everyone who's in a local Fight Club nods knowingly at Edward Norton? Same exact thing, except here the club is being a non-Korean. It's the strangest thing. I'll see a businessman, or an army guy, or a random European backpacker, and they'll all give me the foreigner nod. I don't know when or how this started, and I don't know what the appropriate response is, other than to nod back. I hope I'm not secretly assenting to anything by nodding.

In other news, I've started selling some really nice soap if anyone's interested. Best stuff around.

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