Now I want to preface this by saying that I knooooow that I stand out in Korea but come on people, what’s with the blatant staring?! I realize that looking at people is completely normal (practically) anywhere in the world…but the thing that takes some adjusting to is the absolute lack of discretion in the staring that goes down in Korea. I have to give a special shout out to the 아줌마들 (ajumma- middle-aged Korean lady) for having the level of discretion of say, an ADHD 2 year old with Tourettes. They can hands down win a stare off with anyone/anything that dare challenge them( I’ve tried on many occasions) and couldn’t care less if you notice them giving you the dagger-eyed once over. The thing that gets to me is that you can NEVER seem to be able to tell whether they are looking for so long out of disgust or appreciation. It’s just so …blank. So needless to say I go ahead and assume the worst : something on my face? they think I’m a prostitute? etc. I would also like to add that this “staring problem” is in my top 2 reasons I hate taking the subway in Seoul, with lights so bright and unflattering what choice do subway riders have BUT to stare? This is right up there with an overly excessive amount of staircases/escalators one must tackle in order to FINALLY reach the platform. Anyways, I digress. Now all this being said…one of the few things that can actually make my week is when one of these hardcore staring 아줌마들 actually says something NICE. This happened to me the other week when I was taking the subway against my better judgement in order to avoid bus traffic during rush hour. I was just waiting for the subway, wearing my winter staple disco pant and something else borderline weird, when a couple of 아줌마들 walk by me together, eyes glued to my pants, when out of the blue one looks up, face changes to a big smile and while pointing out my overall look utters the word..”예뻐” (yepo- pretty). Of course I was extremely flattered and giggly like a school girl that she broke through her hard ajumma shell to compliment me, but then I started to create a story about her in my head, something my grandfather is infamous for in my family. ( Upon seeing a man getting out of his truck wearing a camouflage jacket he concluded “ I bet he just went hunting, and he caught 2 rabbits”). I pictured this ajumma being super cool back in the day wearing a beehive and cigarette pants while dancing around to rock n’ roll, even though her parents disapproved. Now the likelihood of this is slim, but a girl can dream. Staring whether good or bad, the old ladies get the free pass, as they so often do in Korea, but if you are about my age and want to challenge me to a glare off …I accept! In fact I might call you out on it as well, but it’s just my version of the Care Bear Stare…it might be awkward but its out of love…right?!

P.S. Check out the definition of “ Care Bear Stare” as found on Urban Dictionary… HILARIOUS and in fact sounds quite similar to the stares that I get from 아저씨들( ajeoshi- middle-aged Korean man)