August 21, 2008
This is the kind of stuff we expected to see when we came to Bucheon. We thought that life would be normal here, but there would be little flare-ups of colorful and exuberant Asian culture, and that we would giggle to ourselves about how weird things are around here. It turns out that there isn’t as much shock value as we expected, that everything isn’t covered in stars and bright colors and anime; the women don’t all wear schoolgirl uniforms and giggle incessantly and the men don’t wear rocket packs. Life is just about normal here, contrary to what television has taught us. Only every once in a while do we see something silly, and its those moments that we cherish.
Last Saturday had one of those moments. We never mentioned this before, but in Korea (or Bucheon, at least) – in front of every major shopping center – traffic directors guide your car into the parking lot. What’s weird about these traffic directors is that they are very well dressed, and that they bow at the cars that pass them by. There are teams of directors at times as well, with a man directing the traffic and bowing and a woman – also unusually well-dressed – in a glass booth and wearing a microphone piece. What she’s saying to the now-directed cars we can’t say, because we don’t understand Korean yet, but we’re guessing it has something to do with thanking you for coming to the store, that your service is well appreciated, and other such stuff.
Now, we can imagine that this job would become very boring very fast, and so it’s understandable that these traffic directors have to find ways of keeping themselves entertained. One of these ways is by dancing out your directions. We happened to catch this on camera. Mind you that this dancing was at a very busy section, with everyone there to watch. Yet the traffic director feels no shame, and dances like no one is watching.
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