Westerner expats, particularly those in Asia, have become caricatures. The bitter, jaded, unshaven figure hunched over a bar, drinking to numb the pain of knowing he picked the wrong horse… alcoholic, prematurely aged, and for the modern age, active online in bitch fest forums populated by other expats who are similarly miserable and stuck.
We’re an enviable bunch.
But what is “the worst kind of expat”? Hmm? Of all the unhappy stereotypes to choose from, which is the bottom of the barrel? I’d say it has to be a archetype that other expats generally despise… so let’s look at a few:
This motherfucker is one of the loudest voices in the room. He’ll blindly and ardently defend the infallibility and honor of his adopted home with the verve of an evangelical Christian defending creationism, despite overwhelming evidence of its failures. The Apologist cannot sit idly by while other expats disparage Klown, its culture or its people. Common counterarguments leveled by The Apologist are things like, “You haven’t taken the time to understand their unique culture!” or “If you don’t like it you should leave!”. Well Mr. Apologist, it doesn’t take much to understand Klown kulture in terms of basic human decency, cleanliness or the kind of etiquette most 4 year olds have mastered, so fuck you. As for the latter, we’re all here for one reason or another, but near none of us because we love Korean culture and want to play defenders of the Han faith… that means we’re allowed to be here AND not like things that are offensive or just plain filthy, so fuck you.
Ironically, The Apologist doesn’t seem to have any problems bashing the west. A lot of the most vocal apologists are also the most vocal anti-American types. So the country that gave you your freedoms, privileges, education (or freedom to be educated in that manner if you aren’t American), security and cache as an international traveler is open season meat, but the country that despises you, treats you like a criminal, steals from your nation’s innovators and lives in a perpetual state of hate-filled war-readiness is something that you need to defend, let alone find defensible?
The Apologist is often a complete social failure in his home country. Anger at being an outcast as a youth back home, coupled with the necessity to deny the glaring problems in his new home to maintain sanity create the beast. The Apologist may also mistake the stares, pointing and insincere personal compliments (you is handsome!) with Klowns actually expressing warmth and acceptance. Behind the apologists back the envy-driven loathing continues. At least back home, the loathing was up front and honest. Apologists usually end up teaching kindergarten until they are too old to be marketable (40), then reach out to their Klown “friends” (who no longer talk about how handsome he is) to find that they no longer have any use for the novelty foreigner. The Apologist may jump off a building, eke out a meager existence in Klown or return home to work at Best Buy.
Worse than The Apologist is the upgraded version, The Sycophant. This guy was beaten up so badly and so often, and remained a virgin for so long, back in his home country that he has wholeheartedly thrown his lot in with the Klowns. The Sycophant wants nothing more than a pat on the head by some ajosshi and some very small degree of local fame (think the weather girl on a late night broadcast on a fourth-tier network in a small Midwestern state). The Sycophant often speaks Korean fluently – he studied it full time for a year or so and spends all his time practicing with Klowns – and is a popular party favor at Klown functions (“Look at the western monkey speak our language! Surely our culture must be famousuh and powerful. Surely we must have the biggest, most swingingest penises in the whole world! Let us throw some pocket change at the monkey and tell him he is a good boy!”). The Sycophant works at a university as a “professor” (with a bachelors degree and perhaps a meaningless Klown-issued masters in cum guzzling) or on different radio/TV shows (for very little money), trying to be “famousuh”. Sam Hammington – undisputed master of self-humiliation and pride allergies – is a good example of The Sycophant achetype.
The Delusional is the expat who doesn’t want to accept his fate. This individual tells people he is “a business consultant” or “hired to develop corporate education systems” or “a curriculum management specialist” when he’s getting 50 bucks an hour to teach basic English to a few bored, hung over ajosshi suits – he may or may not have been able to choose his own book. Some might tell you they are “entrepreneurs” when they resell stuff on Craigslist that they picked up out of the trash or inherited from other expats who finally did escape Klown.
The Delusional is not always full of shit about how he earns his money. It could be that he claims to bed a different supermodel-level beauty each week when he’s actually pounding wrinkled granny poon. Perhaps he’ll talk about how influential he is, how he’s on the board of some useless ATEK-like agency, how he has so-and-so’s phone number on speed dial; in reality he might have spoken at some sparsely-attended conference hosted by Seoul Global Center on “How Much the World Loves Sparkling Korea”.
In any event, he’s just an Engrishee teacher at the end of the day, or working some pissed-upon desk job in some office that nobody else in the world wanted to work at (by the way, JPMorgan is hiring for an office in Seoul, and apparently, at the meeting in London, not a single person wanted to move to Korea… who can blame them?). The Delusional usually ends up seeking to impress a progressively lower demographic standard of people until he is bragging about how he once taught ESL at LG Electronics to a well-past-her-prime, one-legged hooker at some dive bar on the Hill in Itaewon. You can find The Delusional nursing a cheap drink at some Itaewon hotspot, chatting with other Delusionals and trying his best to swagger.
The Internet ‘Winner’
A common theme among these candidates for “worst type of expat” is that, deep down in their heart or hearts, they all KNOW they fucked up and chose a cesspool of humanity for an adopted home. The crushing weight of the self-hatred and despair is expressed in many ways, but perhaps none more annoying than The Internet Winner.
The Internet Winner has an account – nay, multiple accounts and socks – at every forum, message board and Facebook group related to expat life. The sole source of joy in The Internet Winner’s otherwise sorrowful and suicide-worthy life is getting the last word in on online arguments pertaining to Klown. Often The Apologist and The Internet Winner are one and the same, but not necessarily. The Internet Winner is not exclusive to expat life, however… as expats we are all in roughly the same boat – minority pariahs in a world of shit – and shouldn’t resort to attacking one another when there are so many other worthy targets around us. However, as the rest of us speak the same language, we shall remain constantly subjected to his bullshit.
Sometimes The Internet Winner is also “The Troll”. And honestly, what lower form of humanity is there than the internet troll? This asshole elects to spend whatever free time he has online trying to upset and aggravate others for no other motivation other than that he can do it safely from behind his keyboard without getting his teeth knocked down his throat like a pack of Tic Tacs. The Troll may not be “the worst kind of expat” but is instead “the worst kind of human”. Trolls exist to serve absolutely no purpose in life and should immediately kill themselves. To think that someone wakes up in the morning with the goal – the actual goal – of exploiting some random stranger’s stress and anger in order to create more stress and anger as a form of “fun” makes me want to help them kill themselves. In the expat world, an expat-on-expat troll deserves to have his face caved in with the butt end of a wine bottle, Pan’s Labyrinth style.
This expat often owns a business, or property, and is known as a “success story” in the expat world… only he didn’t earn any of it. This guy was given his business or property by his in-laws. Why? One can only assume because he did the family a favor by marrying what may have been an otherwise unmarketable daughter… or because he agreed to move to The Human Centipede so that his wife could be closer to the toilet bowl society she hoped to escape by marrying a foreigner from an actually developed country.
The Dependent is actually a tolerable sort if he keeps his fucking mouth shut and has a humble attitude toward his success. Unfortunately, too many examples of The Dependent need to mouth off about how successful they are, how great their business acumen is and how far above other expats they are. Buddy, you married into money, or at least a family willing to give you whatever money they have. It’s not a skill, particularly not in Klown where intellect is about as common as unicorns. Shut the fuck up. I might work at a public school teaching middle schoolers, drive a worthless beater and live in a studio apartment, but whatever I have, I earned. If I was given a million dollars of seed money or assets to work with, you’d best believe I’d have it doubled in 5-10 years. if you haven’t, you’re not a success, you’re a failure.
I include myself in this category. This poor fuck has snapped and no longer possesses the desire or capability of disguising his hate for Klown in the interest of political correctness and public decorum. The Venter is full of poison and can no longer contain the voluminous venom inside himself. You can find the Venter posting on blogs like this. The Venter is trapped in Klown and hates himself for it. The Venter either goes to prison, ends up a shell of a man or becomes heavily chemically dependent.
The Smiling Idiot
A great deal of my fellow E-2 visa holders fall into this category. They come from Small Town, USA or UK or whatever. They’re all gulps and “golly”s over the flashing lights of Seoul. So weak is their cerebral puissance that these flashing lights hypnotize them in the same way shiny vintage hubcaps do chickens on a farm. The Smiling Idiot can be found in Hongdae, drinking Soju (one of the most foul ways to get drunk) and Hite (horse piss branded as beer). The Smiling Idiot knows, and loves to perform, the horsey dance from Gangnam Style. The Smiling Idiot works as a teacher and gets paid less than almost everyone he knows. Many smiling idiots are actually female. The Smiling Idiot sleeps on a third-hand mattress on the floor and has a bag of Emart brand kimchi in his refrigerator next to a half-empty 2L bottle of Klown beer. Often The Smiling Idiot authors a blog that contains many pictures of food, links to k-pop videos and asinine descriptions of their mundane adventures told as if taking the bus to the fish market was anything of note to anyone.
Fuck this guy pisses me off. The Escapee actually got out of Klown and has some stability in actual civilization. The Escapee constantly, constantly reminds the rest of us prisoners how great life is outside of Klown. He will send pictures of pristine beaches, garbage cans on public sidewalks that are vomit and trash-free, nubile young blonds in bikinis, cars parked in straight lines and even cops doing (gasp!) their jobs. The Escapee writes back to us and tells us, “Hey, you should leave Klown!” in a way that assumes that it is easy to do that without an actual plan and means of supporting oneself.
So who have I forgotten? Which type of expat is truly the worst?