Thursday, September 28, 2006

Morning Alarm

This morning, half-asleep, I heard an argument coming in through my window. Sometimes it's hard to figure out if it is indeed an argument I'm hearing. The local accent and the volume at which my neighbours speak it, makes it seem as if everyone might be arguing all the time. But they're not.

This morning, however, the voices got louder and more agitated. I could hear a man and a woman screaming at each other. I thought it was coming from the apartment below me, until I got up and looked off my balcony. Down in the parking lot, a white car was stopped diagonally, almost blocking traffic. Both doors were open, and standing beside the car were a man and a woman, the source of the yelling.

A steady flow of vehicles nudged their way past the white car. There were no less than 15 of them that passed by, and I was shocked that none of them stopped, as by this time the man was beating the woman. I came back inside, called my friend, and asked her to call the cops.

Back outside, the man chased this woman around the car, alternately kicking her and punching her in the head. A man on a cellphone stood a few meters away, but he didn't do anything. From up above, I was jumping out of my skin. Should I holler down? Should I go down there? Why did the woman keep bending down with tissue in her hands to clean her blood up from the asphalt? She screamed back at the man, but her voice was thick with anger, not tears.

The man stepped in and kicked her hard, sending her stumbling. He hurried after her and started to punch her in the face and head, shouting all the while. She clung to the lapels of his jacket. "Let go!" I pleaded to her inside my head. "Run!"

It was only when I noticed her head kept falling backwards sharply that I realized she was holding on so she wouldn't fall down. But then her knees buckled and she went limp. She let go, and the man let her hit the ground. I came back inside to call my friend. The police would be here in about ten minutes.

Downstairs, the woman came to and made it to the car, sitting down in the driver's seat. The man came around and punched her in the head a couple more times before stomping back up the little hill toward my building. He climbed in a van and peeled out of the parking lot, speeding dangerously down the big hill. The woman climbed out of the car, slammed the door, and weaved back to the building near mine. She listened outside an apartment door on the first floor, before she went inside.

I went downstairs to wait for the police. I walked over to the white car and saw a thick streak of blood down the window, and blood soaked Kleenex littered the front seats. As I walked back up the little hill, the man came speeding back in the van and I avoided his eyes. Tra-la-la, I always like to walk around in my pajamas outside. My imagination figured he'd gone down to the store to buy a big knife. I ducked back into the stairwell of my building.

The coast was all clear when the squad car arrived, and I quietly relayed what had happened as best I could. I pointed to the apartment where the lady had disappeared into. The cop asked me to come with them. No thank you. I didn't need to be identified as the cop calling lady.

Back upstairs, I watched as the angry man answered the door after the cops knocked. He came outside and they all talked awhile. Then the cops went away!


My co-workers and friend explained today that the police will often not interfere in cases of domestic violence. Indeed, from the Project Blue Sky website,
Traditionally, Koreans have considered domestic violence as a private matter which should be dealt with within the family. That is why Korean Police occasionally ignore or don't intervene when DV incidents are reported. Women are taught and forced to live under the myth, "Women should obey men," which is a common belief in Korean society. For example, there is an old Korean proverb: "Women should obey three men in their lives (so called SAMJONGJIDO): obey your father until your marriage, obey your husband until his death, and obey your son until your death." In addition to this, there is another saying, "Women and dried pollack should be beaten every three days." which even encourages the violence at home. Currently, equality between men and women is widely promoted in Korea, but the older generation still believes in male superiority.

I imagined the police at the apartment door, "Oh! That was your wife you were beating! Ahhhhh! Sorry to have disturbed you!"

From what I've gathered from reading articles online tonight, domestic violence isn't even part of the Criminal Code here. Back home, the police are obligated to press charges if they're called to a domestic dispute and there are signs of violence. This is regardless of whether the victim wants the perpretrator arrested or not.

I don't even know how to process this newly shed light on how things are here.
It took me so long this morning to stop shaking from all the adrenaline in my system. I feel calmer now, yet my head keeps involuntarily shaking back and forth.
For shame, Korea.


It's Me, Maven... said...

Amazing how in the 21st Century some women cling to those myths, even to their own detriment...

Dianne said...

Hi Jenn

Greetings from England! I got my blogging by mail package today. It is really fabulous, containing things I would have bought myself, if I was lucky enough to be in Korea

Thank you very much

Dianne x

baduk said...

You are mistaken about this. There is a sense of justice and respect for the institution of marriage in Korean system.
1) If the wife is beaten badly, she will file charges.
2) If no physical abuse, then there is no reason for police to interfere.
3) The couple is encouraged to solve their problems instead of involving other people.

Marriage is a solemn promise in Korea to live together till they die. The institution is much more respected and kept holy in Korean society.
A few blows and even blood will not separate the union between the man and the woman! Korean women are tough; they can take it. The institution of marriage is "till they die".

The woman did not die! She and the man may get back together and live happily for the next forty years.

This idea of "if this thing does not work out, I am going to split" is tearing western marriage apart. The "contract" is doomed from the start.

I like Korean system of non-interference. If the woman is physically hurt, then she can sue him and ask for divorce. However, till that happens, all third party should stay out of their marriage.

baduk said...

None of your bees wax.

baduk said...

In San Diego California, there are about ten deaths per year from domestic violence.

Not what you think! The men are the victims. The San Diego police is trigger-happy and, upon arriving at the scene the policemen tell the husbands to walk out calmly and surrender. The men, who are usually drunk or on drugs, usually run out while shouting. The policemen just shoot, killing them on the spot.

Nomad said...


Well, if the men are alcoholics, drug users and wife beaters, then the San Diego police department is doing the world a big favor by blowing them away.
As for this comment: "A few blows and even blood will not separate the union between the man and the woman! Korean women are tough; they can take it."

Are you seriously condoning phyical abuse? PLease tell me I'm misunderstanding you.

Anonymous said...

I have heard that the expression "A woman should be beaten every four days, or she will turn into a fox and run away" is a play on word with "beat meaning "pork."

El Kayakista said...

hey jenn

amazing story. there are some things that i would have to agree with baduk and some i don't. but ultimately i think it is wrong and there is certainly different ways than bashing one's face in.

i do like the fact that 3rd party doens't really step in until there's serious damage, but to make things public like that is the wrong place to have it as you will always have someone sympathetic and willing to help.

i still think it's wrong because i believe in "treat everyone the way you want to be treated". if you like beating on women or small children, then i'll be the next in line to put my shoe down his mouth.

g^2 said...


You have got to be kidding, right? I echo Nomad in that I sincerely hope I'm misunderstanding you about the physical abuse part.

No matter how you slice it and dice it, it's just wrong. Yes, I know the old tradition allows husband to treat his wife as a punching bag, but there is no place for such tradition in a modern society. And, there is no such thing as BOTH lived happily ever after in such a marriage.

William G said...

Jesus, I wish people would start ignoring Baduk and let him vanish under the crush of his idiocy like he's been working towards.

Anyway, disgusting story. Someone should have stomped this guy.

baduk said...

Korea is not Parkistan.

There are laws to protect battered women. Police would arrest a serious violators. And, there are civil courts to decide the divorce.

What I am against is this overdone sensitivity about violence in western society. If you see a sergeant beating up a lazy recruit while saying "shape up or ship out", would you interfere? In Korea, marriage is held to be more solemn promise than military service.

Yes, man and woman fight. Yes, they do throw punches to each other. Korean society is different from western society.

Who knows what she has done? She may have blown $100,000 on gambling that the husband has been saving for last ten years. She may have gotten pregnant while fooling around with several men.

The marriage is between the man and the women. All other parties just stand aside and let these two people solve their problem. That is what Koreans were doing.

baduk said...

Korea is not Parkistan.

There are laws to protect battered women. Police would arrest a serious violators. And, there are civil courts to decide the divorce.

What I am against is this overdone sensitivity about violence in western society. If you see a sergeant beating up a lazy recruit while saying "shape up or ship out", would you interfere? In Korea, marriage is held to be more solemn promise than military service.

Yes, man and woman fight. Yes, they do throw punches to each other. Korean society is different from western society.

Who knows what she has done? She may have blown $100,000 on gambling that the husband has been saving for last ten years. She may have gotten pregnant while fooling around with several men.

The marriage is between the man and the women. All other parties just stand aside and let these two people solve their problem. That is what Koreans were doing.

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lindsey starr said...

Holy smokes!!!
this is amazing!!

and baduk- that's just ridiculous to say that "who knows what she has done". doesn't really matter. Yeah, maybe he was mad if she blew his whole savings- doesn't mean she, or anyone for that matter, deserves to be beaten in such a violent way! nobody deserves to be treated like that. period.

and that the police did nothing. if baduk thinks that isn't bad, but Pakistan is.... what is the difference? really? does that mean there is a line that is crossed beyond what seems acceptable in Korea? yikes!!! the line should be that no one gets beaten. no blood. nobody should be scared to be around the person they live with, for fear of being physically abused!

on the other hand, I can't believe the woman went back inside her house!!!

Joshua said...

Terrible, sad, old story. My neighbor in Icheon-dong used to beat his wife. He'd come home late after drinking and they'd keep me awake half the night. I'd always call the cops, and the cops never, ever came. Hideous.

baduk said...

Korea is more advanced than the western society on marriage and how it should work.

The women beaten is not a child. She knows what is going on. She could run away, call her relatives, cops or file for divorce.

Yet, she had good reason to preserve her marriage!!!! She decided to endure. She must found him valuable enough to stay. I applaud this woman. Very different from western attitude of "something better turns up, I am gone".

Koreans are better in marriage because they learned to endure. Endure bad times and temporary difficulties.

I know several Korean couples who worked through marriage problems. They endure. Koreans are better in this subject.

Old Irish families in New York in last century have gone through similar problems. Those who endured produced wonderful children who succeeded in lifer. Those who did not left their children at orphanage.

These abusive husbands do make up and ask for forgiveness. They always do. That is why these women decide to stay. If outsiders interfere, it only makes the problem worse.

Let these folks solve their own marriage problems.

baduk said...

Many of these physical violence follow the same cycle.

1) Husband is facing hard times at his work/business.
2) He start drinking heavily to drown his sorrows.
3) Wife asks for money. He says he doesn't have any.
4) They argue. Man gets angry hits the wife.
5) The following day the man appologizes. The wife forgives. They make up.

These cycles can continue for decades. Yet, both the man and his wife know they are a pair for life. A couple to raise successful children. They (mostly wife) endure and the marriage continues for lifetime.

Korea is a strong country because this strong "marriage" ethics! Once married, both partners carry on their duty till one of them dies. It is a wonderful example of how marriage should work!

Jelly said...

It's hard for me to believe that you're for real.
According to Korean government statistics, the divorce rate in Korea is growing at an average rate of 0.5% per year. In the past ten years, the total number of divorces has increased by nearly three times. That is to say, out of every 1,000 couples, 2.8 of them will divorce, making Korea's divorce rate the third highest in the world after America and the UK.

Jelly said...

I'd appreciate it if you'd stop commenting on this post, since you're so full of shit I don't know where to start with you.
When I was watching the altercation happen, I had no idea I was looking at a husband and wife. In fact, I figured they were strangers. Would it have been so "ok" with you if it had been an angry man beating an unknown woman because she cut him off in the parking lot?
But because a woman is married to a man who beats her unconcious it ok? She should endure? For the sake of the children and the sanctity of marriage?
You're delusional.

humbleman said...

Korea should be ashamed of itself for letting such incidents happen without any legal consequences. Maybe the doggie man is from the 19th century Korea.
But I was surprised to find that even in the Western countries some women suffer domestic violences and continue to hang on to their partners because of their children or financial consequences for going alone.
But I think the situation in Korea at least seems to be getting better. Up until the 80’s the divorce was almost non-existent, but now it’s not a taboo subject any more and getting taken up far more often if the situation gets really bad. And the Korean women now produce less children than their Western counterparts and they have much more job opportunities than before with increasing income levels, which make it much easier for them to go alone if necessary.

sher said...

That was so alarming to read, so I can't imagine how terrible it was for you to witness. I'm glad you tried to help. There is that. It's all very sad

Anonymous said...

I will say what people are thinking. If she didn't (a) want it or (b) deserve it, she would leave.

I have seen many korean women get beat and I tried to stop it. You know what happenened? They both turned on me. The woman will get mad at you for stopping the fight.

Now I just sit back and laugh. Fuck her. I hope he knocks the shit out of her and she comes back asking for more.

Beat her like a fucking dog, and she will ask for more.

Kim Dong Woo

baduk said...

A Korean farm boy, Mr. Kim, went to a sightseeing trip to US. He and his buddies, who speak no English, went to 42nd street and got into a show.

A lady appeared in a dark room and she had a gigantic whip. She started to crack the whip against floor. A man was brought in. And it was obvious the woman will use the whip on the man!

Mr. Kim who had been beaten frequently by his mother was filled with "righteous anger". How can a human beat another human with a whip, like an animal?

Other people seem to enjoy what she is doing. So, Mr. Kim mustered the courage, got up, took the whip and severely beat the woman. He was saying it in Korean, "We don't beat even animals this bad"!

Mr. Kim was arrested and sent to jail. He could never forgive people who beat another human being with a whip.

Donquixote, with misunderstanding of language and culture. You can not take one scene out of movie and judge the movie. You have to see it from the beginning. And, you must understand the language.

Now, with your western superiority, you think you must "right" the wrong, you are mistaken. You are treating the woman as a child who needs protection.

The woman has her relatives, friends, legal help and court system to file. By interfering into a business you do not understand, you may make the problem worse.

Let her decide! She is not a child who needs your protection. And, Korea is a mature society with police and legal system, unless you try to equate with a backward society that you saw in a movie. I think at least a part of problem starts from there. Many of you want to be the "educator" of Korea, rather than a cog of a wheel.

Eventually, meddling someone else's business with your "moral superiority" can land you in jail like Mr. Kim or send you to a hospital. Then, you will curse the people as Mr. Kim is doing.

Learn the language well. Learn the culture. And, unless you know the whole enchilada, do not interfere. Obey the prime command of Starship Enterprise.

Anonymous said...

this kind of thing is very common there. i have heard a few big arguments in korea, one was actually where the wife had lost a lot of money like baduk said but the husband called the police not beat her.

i knew a guy in korea who stepped in to stop a girl getting beaten in public and got into a bit of a fight because of it and then got in trouble when the cops came for fighting because the girl was to scared to say anything.

regardless of what baduk says korea should be ashamed for its treatment of women, particuarly victims of domestic violence.

baduk said...

Korea is no more savage country than Canada or the US. A student armed with a rifle walks into a college in Toronto and shoot up people last week! A similar thing happened in Colorado this week. A man with a gun walks into a high school, takes a bunch of female students as hostages, rapes some and kills one.

This type of savage act will never happen in Korea. Nobody is allowed to own a gun, period. People throw punches but never shoot to kill.

Now, you tell me which country is backward and which is more advanced.

El Kayakista said...


in some parts i agree with you especially the part where the law should leave you alone (IN SOME ASPECTS), but not the part you're nearly beating someone to death especially a loved one.

i'm sure the female has family, friends, co-workers nearby that can help out. but will she ask for it? probably not because of IMAGE. it ultimately comes down to image where it is almost eqaully as bad as greed and money. would she want to get a divorce and tainted as damaged goods? HIGHLY DOUBTFUL. i know... because i've dated Korean girls and they tell me about being damaged goods. i get frustrated when i hear that...

as far korea being adavance... well... that's your opinion and you're entitled to it. me personally, i think ROK is behind the times of modern society. there's no individuality and the majority of people are like sheeps that jumps on the wagon or current rave.

guns in korea? well... fist, feet, knee, elbow is just as deadly as having a gun. come on man... don't you watch kung fu?

baduk... treat everyone you want to be treated... (example: if you open your door haphazordly and dent my car. then i'll makes sure to take a sledge hammer to your car if i find out it's you).

el kayakista

Galen Kim Davis said...

Wow. Baduk jumped on a big high horse there. I think he should watch because the horse is about to buck him off. Divorce rates in Korea are skyrocketing and the very nature of marriage is changing. Just like it did/is in the West.

Anyone know what the true rule of thumb is? In the past, in the US, if you beat your wife with something less thick than your thumb, than it wasn't abuse. Domestic abuse was rampant in the US for most of its history. Hell, the more progressive states put laws on the books better defining what was abuse -- open fist was generally okay. And women sticking up for the abusers? It's pretty common across all cultures.

As for marriage being taken more seriously in Korea, that is just a big load of horse shit (maybe Baduk is concentrating too much on staying on the horse and not noticing all the excrement). My mom, born in Korea, is the youngest of six. Number of divorces amongst these six: 4. My dad, born in Oklahoma, is the youngest of ten. Number of divorces amongst these ten: 1. And don't think this is a class thing. Relatively speaking, my mom is from a much higher class background than my dad. In fact, I would say that being of higher class and having more financial options enabled most of these divorces. Granted, this is a small, unscientific sample, but it seems the official statistics back up what I'm saying.

I don't know this for a fact, but I get the impression that worldwide, the best predictor of a low divorce rate is low female participation in the labor force and high levels of discrimination against women. Low divorce rates are also coupled with high levels of domestic abuse.

Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

This story about the origin of the expression "rule of thumb" has no real evidence.

In German, the expression is "Faustregel" -- i.e., "rule of fist" -- and I suppose some might argue that the Germans allowed clubs for beating wives, but that would also be nonsense.

Both expressions originated with pre-standardized measuring systems -- much as, even today, experts on horses refer to a horse being a certain number of "hands" high.

For that matter, in the English system of measurement, we still say "foot" and "feet."

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

JIMONG said...

There is much much much more law enforcement involvement than some of you may think. Police will arrest a husband and the court will give him order to keep away from his wife. Some of these husband will sent to Jail according to law. Almost same to western System? A Difference is that this domestic violence handles in civil court, I do not know much about American system, that law enforcement, Police and the civil court, will handle the case with a file charge from the victim side. Yet, Police would arrest a husband even if he didn't beat / physically abuse his wife if she files a charge on him. However most of time, Police do not involve domestic violence, Baduk is right on this point, if the scene does not involves any physical abuse. They would just say "clam down" to each party and will stay, most of time, until both of them consent on it. Domestic violence means, for the most of people, same to police officers, would be only the physical & sexual abuse. This incident, I assume, a policeman went to this apartment for questioning. And a police officer, presumably a soon-kyung, just went away as this guy, claimed husband, might just said "it's ok, it's over, It's resolved, the it's just a fight, sorry officer...". While the victim, claimed wife, in the back didn't ask for help or expressing "I am ok, it was just a fight on sudden thing. Sorry officer". Or just stayed in her room. If wife ran to police officer for help at the moment then police officer would just immediately keep her away from husband and he would be arrested. Then why she didn't run away? Or didn't do anything? She might be deep fear of further violence, because of kids, economic reason, or lack of confidence..That we can't just jump in the conclusion. But, Baduk, It was just wrong to say abused women must have done something to deserve to be beaten. Because, It's just come from the abuser’s desire for power and control.

I suppose most countries would be same with term of domestic violence. It could be all types of physical, sexual, psychological, emotional, or financial abuse. And do not think it's only a problem in Korea. Most country's law very well defines and states about it to protect victims. But problem is that most of people, including Korean police officers, neighborhoods, or by-standers, consider or treat domestic violence as a private matter. Once I heard a terrible screaming from one of neighborhoods and a man and a woman screaming at each other with loud voice with all types of curse languages. When I asked to my next door neighbor, a white male, what happened last nite in the complex and why not the police came to stop them? He said it was just one of those normal fight and domestic dispute b/w a spouse and a spouse. No one in the complex called police to stop them. May be it just happened in my neighbor but still there's things happen in marriage life. And nobody wants to interfere others on marriage life. And I think it would be same to all the country that domestic violence "was still grossly under communicated" even in emergency rooms. It is also known that women or victims are often reluctant to volunteers to doctors that they are victims of domestics abuse, and also doctors shy away from the subject.

Anybody watched the Korean movie "No Mercy for the Rude" by Park Chul-hee.?
In the movie, the silent hit man, Shin HaKyun, working to save money for surgery he wants. He kills the rude. Interesting scene of this movie is that One day hit-man kills an arrogant rude as this guy beaten up his disable wife in front for by standers on over pass. He decide to do a good thing, saved her life, kills the rude, happy for everybody, he thought. And it was first and only a kill, or a murder, he committed with his will. Next day, he found that this beaten wife suicide with a note saying that she couldn't imagines a life without this rude husband. Just another view on DV

Galen Kim Davis said...

I was wrong on the rule of thumb thing. It's apocryphal. Apparently, it has been illegal to beat your wife in most American states almost since the country's inception. However, this fact says nothing about how the law has been enforced.

mental99 said...

Even in the US, the police can't arrest the husband if the wife refuses to press charges or acknowledges what happened. And it happens quite a bit.
And in a Country like Korea where respect for family is so important,(i.e. we don’t throw old people away, forcing them to spend their last days staring blankly into a wall) Korean cops are more likely to approach the situation with a cautious approach rather than go in there guns-blazing, tearing families apart.
For shame Korea? Blaming all of Korea, for the acts of one depraved individual eh? So all Korean christians/buddhists/athiests alike beat their families eh? I've only read one of your posts but you sound like yet another silly canucklehead to me. Check your shoes, I'll bet they're missing the soles.