I Get The Pink Shirts

I get it, I do.

I was at Holy Family Hospital (성가병원) in Bucheon last week with my wife, getting a sonogram, and she was sent to have blood drawn.  The waiting room we wound up in was basically a caged chicken away from being the bus station in Damyang.  The people there looked like they’d been left on the deck of a boat overnight, the men red with years of drink and rough living, the women wizened old farm-grandmas.  It was a rough crowd.  It was straight-up old-school Korea, basically South-eastern Bucheon in a nutshell (excluding Beombak-dong).  There was a boy there being screamed at by a male phlebotomist.  ‘Give me your arm!  응?  What are you, a baby?! 응!?’  The boy flat out refused.  His mother came over.  She was from some other country, which I couldn’t tell until she spoke, because she had what the Koreans call a ‘square face’, very Korean. She spoke Korean strangely, to the point where I had to ask my wife if she was a foreigner or had a cleft palate.

‘응? 응? 엄마 떼려?  응?’ (‘Want mom to hit you?’)

And then she started wailing on him.  Most of the people there seemed pruriently interested.  Free show.

Then dad came.  I’ve heard all the stories about these international marriages where the husband beats the foreign wife, but there was no way that was the case here.  He looked scared to death of her, and she could totally take him.

The phlebotomist, the father and the mother went on for about thirty minutes trying to get this kid to give up his arm, and I had a thought.  ‘In America,’ I told Miyoung, ‘this would never happen.  Someone would grab the kid, his blood would be taken, and that would be it.  Because this is fear, and there’s no use reasoning with fear.  That’s the difference between there and here.  There, people will stop everything and spend a half hour trying to get a kid to express true remorse and apologize.  Here they’ll spend a half hour trying to get a kid to submit to authority.’

Then I looked around and noticed there was not a single pink shirt in sight.  this is a very rare occurrence in Korea, and warranted note.  I asked myself, where are the pinkies.  And then I realized.  The whole reason behind the pink shirts, the couple shirts, the effete and slightly feminine styles the boys of Korea like to wear is a rebellion against the aggressively gruff, dull rural roots that practically everyone comes from.

Many young guys who grew up in this world find that it’s just not them.  What recourse do they have but to declare loudly and pinkly to the world ‘I am not what my parents are.’  They’re showing people they’re young, they’re modern, they’re not dissolute drunken bums (and how would one know if not for their outfits?) and they’re urbane.  If my two choices of apparel are white pants, a pink shirt, and ‘wax’ in my hair or slippers, track pants, a motorcycle and a case of the soju rosies, then I have to say I would be right there with these preening young men foppin’ it up.

What would you do?


~ by Joshing on June 18, 2008.

8 Responses to “I Get The Pink Shirts”

  1. does the color really have to be pink though? can’t it be a warm peach?

  2. […] cows" on Mars.  At least there are not mad cows there. – I’m glad someone understands all the pink shirts in Korea.- It looks like America may not be the only place hit with a housing bubble crisis. – This is one […]

  3. You know, though, I recently saw some pink shirts in some American TV show or film… for the life of me, I can’t remember which one, but I stared in shock for a moment before asking myself, “Has it spread?”

    My students were going on and on “metrosexuality,” the other day, though, and I had to wonder how much of this trend is a retooling to Korean purposes. I mean, they even use the English word to describe it, don’t they? But like any trend there are hangers-on, like one very nice 21-year-old I know who happens to wear pink shirts and be a dissolute drunken bum.

    Anyway, nice linkage. And yeah, the waiting rooms at 성가병원 (which is the hospital I usually go to)… my fiancée did some time there during her internship, and man, I’m telling you, the people they get there are just as you described. It reminds me a lot of bus stations in small towns in Jeolla.

  4. Korean men styles (at the moment) remind me of the styles for U.S. men in the 80’s. When Prince, Michael Jackson, and other effeminate men became popular with the ladies, young men dressed and behaved like them. In the near future, some young man, in order to appear different, will do the opposite, and if he’s successful, other young men will jump on that bandwagon to attract young ladies.
    It’s what I think of as a fashion cycle – A style appears, if liked, others will wear it. Over time the style will be embellished upon, then exaggerated. Then, some young kid will come along wearing a different style, and the previous style dies out.
    I give the current men’s style in Korea 3 more years.

  5. By the way, again tangentially, I was asking my fiancée about the whole “struggling to get kids to submit to authority” thing since she’s worked in various hospitals and loved telling the “cute kid patient” stories.

    (Like the little boy who for some reason had a problem with his [apparently tender] 고시기 and, when being examined, urged her through tears and weeping, “살살! 살살!”)

    Anyway, she said that this kind of situation is handled differently in different hospitals. In the hospital where she did her studies, back in Jeonju, she said that after a few moments of resistance by kids, the doctors turn to the parents and say, “Could you please wait outside?” Once the parent leaves the room, usually the kid finally grasps that resistance is futile and falls silent and submits to the injection, blood sampling, or whatever.

    She says it’s a matter of different hospitals and how situations are handled in each.

  6. […] Seperti yang diungkapkan di The Joshing Gnome: […]

  7. […] may be that the oft-discussed pink shirts here, and the odd young man you meet who wears eyeliner or base, is working those codes, too. Very […]

  8. Thanks for sharing it cdakgacadgbe

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