“Gee I really love you
And we’re gonna get married
Goin’ to the chapel of love (yeah-yeah-yeah)”
Ever been to Vegas?
Fake pyramids, plastic monuments… the whole place itself a monument to vice, depravity and inauthenticity. But Vegas doesn’t pretend to be anything else. Vegas knows what it is – a shallow, soulless place void of ethics, tradition or culture. It is a place where morbidly obese tourists gorge themselves on ten dollar lobster buffets, drink complimentary highballs until they feel ill, and gamble away their children’s college tuition without a thought toward such trivial annoyances as odds, responsibilities or consequences.
It is perhaps the most selfish, most narcissistic, least genuine, most insincere place in America. A place where cards advertising prostitutes are passed out and thrown on the ground where kids walk with their parents, the whole Podunk litter of them dazzled by the flashing lights. A place where these flashing lights and plastic facades are meant to distract you from the gaping pit of human misery underlying them. A place where the only thing you can trust in is that you can’t trust anyone, as they are all out to fuck you over. A place where the men are alcoholic loudmouth scumbags and the women are plastic surgery whores with a sub-par IQ. A place where love and marriage are reduced to a 10 minute McWedding at the local “Chapel O’ Love”.
Korea is pretty much Vegas, only Vegas is cleaner, more fun and easier to stomach.
Oh yeah, and Vegas doesn’t masquerade as anything but Vegas. You don’t see commercials for Vegas as a wholesome family spot or as a place for people to experience true American history or for them to visit the ‘real’ Eiffel Tower. Klown, on the other hand, is a gigantic lie – both from within and to the rest of the world. Everything that Klown tells itself and others that it is, it is actually the exact opposite. From “traditional 5,000 year old cultural paradise” to “feudal serf level peasant social backwater of filth”. From “collectivist Confucian stronghold of purity” to “most selfish and abusive people in the modern world”. From “innovative technological marvel” to “unapologetically stole every single idea from elsewhere and claimed it as our own”.
I knew when I first visited Vegas what I was in for. I never felt deceived in the way I have in Klown, despite how much I believed the games might have been rigged. I never felt – in a city built upon the premise of tricking people out of their money with the promise of the possibility of striking it rich – as tricked and lied to as I did when I exited the Incheon airport and found out all too quickly what Klown was all about.
Klown Kulture is meaningless, empty and plastic, and this is exemplified by their most sacred of ceremonies…
I was talking with a kid in one of my weekend classes the other day. As usual, I warmed up with the innocuous opener of, “How was your week? What was the most interesting thing that happened?”
Jimmy: I went to a wedding with my dad.
Me: Oh yeah? Whose wedding was it?
Jimmy: I don’t know.
Me: You went to a wedding and don’t know who got married?
Jimmy: My dad told me that we should just go in, eat and then leave.
Me: What about the ceremony?
Jimmy: We didn’t see the ceremony.
Me: Did you meet the bride and groom?
Jimmy: No. We ate and then left.
Now I wish I could say this was unusual or exceptional, but I can’t, because that would be a lie.
I’ve been here 8 years, and many people I have met in my time here have gotten married. I’ve been to more than a few Klown weddings, and without exception they have all been exactly the same.
- Arrive at a building where multiple weddings are being held simultaneously.
- Follow signs to wedding hall H
- Shake hands with people you really aren’t sure are relatives. Hope you are at the right wedding as the ones to the left and right are in every way identical.
- Show up and pay money. Not a meaningful, personal gift (there is no space for those even if you did bring one, and even if there were you would be frowned upon for not giving cash)
- Jostle for a seat in a hall with plastic everything. Not a single aspect is organic. A convention room at a third-tier, midwest Howard Johnson would be more natural.
- Clap for the bride and groom who enter at a quick pace under some shitty disco lighting and techno music across an aisle made of underlit white plastic.
- Stoic-looking, artificially-positioned in-laws are bowed to in the floor-licking subservient way the signifies how progressive and modern Klown culture is.
- A 5-minute ceremony by a bored, 85-year-old…. preacher? who repeats the exact same shit every 20 minutes. Everyone is bored shitless, even the bride and groom. Any expectation of sincerity or deeper meaning has now been long abandoned
- Some shitty candle is lit by two barbeque-length extendo-Bic lighters (then is quickly blown out to be reused 20 minutes later)
- Some friend of the couple comes up to sing some off-key, spleen-shattering “balla-duh” (as apparently every fucking Klown ever born thinks the world wants to hear their talentless fucking renditions of popular songs that weren’t sung with any talent when they were recorded to begin with)
- We’re 15 minutes in and everyone claps politely. Those near the back have already made their way to the buffet tables.
- Eat in a room with 100 tables. You don’t know where you are supposed to sit since there are people from half a dozen different weddings scattered about in different stages of their meals. There are bottles of soju and klassy paper cups on every table to reflect just how valuable and special the day is.
- Watch as the Klowns devour the slops like the pigs they are, splattering food from bow to stern of the place and making noises that a diseased sow would be ashamed of.
- Get your parking validated and prepare for the inevitable gut-rot splatter-shits that will follow the “wedding feast”
- Never contact your “friends” again out of resentment for having to have traveled out of your way for, and paid for, the “privilege” of being subjected to that horrid half hour.
Now a wedding in Italy is like a two day affair. It is full of love, drama, music and family. It is authentic. It is heartfelt. It is sometimes too dramatic, but each emotion is genuine. At the end of it, each person feels the release and peace of having laid it all on the line in the name of love and hope.
Then there is Klown. I can’t think of any other place in the world, outside of Las Vegas, where the process of uniting two people in matrimony is treated with such disrespect and what seems like sarcastic parody. For all Klown’s bullshit smack talk about family and the importance of marriage and blah blah fucking blah bullshit bullshit bullshit “values” bullshit “culture”… their weddings have a decidedly inauthentic vibe, to put it mildly.
First off, there isn’t anything traditionally Korean about a tuxedo (ill-fitting as it is used 10 times a day by various grooms), white dress (often restrictively tight and stinking of the sweat of the 3 brides who wore the same thing previously in the day) and Elvis (seriously, fucking Elvis?), okay? But every aspect of a Korean wedding smacks of the Vegas Chapel O’ Love Drive-Thru, where the flowers are imitation silk and the preacher was ordained online in under ten minutes. Shit, even the guests of a Klown wedding don’t give a shit about it. It’s a pre-packaged, processed cheese-slice nightmare ceremony that takes the idea of love and familial commitment and spits a hawrked-back wad of phlegm in its face. Then ashes out a cigarette in it.
What’s the takeaway one is supposed to get? What are we supposed to learn from a Klown wedding? What social values can we discern?
That one of the most important, most (according to their own advertisement of their own cultural values) sacred events in life is basically worthless. It is paid token respect… if it’s lucky.
But that’s Klown. A place where the kultural buzzword is “respect” but in which the only respect ever paid is token respect. From ferry captains to Pagoda CEOs to professors to Emart workers to school principals – it’s all a load of steaming, almond brown, soft-to-the-touch, corn-peppered horse shit.
Klown kulture and stated values are as sincere as Klown wedding ceremonies.
A land of plastic respect, plastic love and plastic humanity.
If only Klown would just be honest with itself and accept itself. If only Klown were more like Vegas… then the people getting off the planes in Incheon would be like those getting off the planes in McCarran, perhaps self-deluded but not Ponzi-schemed into thinking Klown is going to be anything other than the filthy, amoral, narcissistic, shouting, indebted mess that it is.
Klown: Where Dreams Go to Die
Klown: The Unwashed Taint of the ‘Developed’ World (Now Featuring HPV!)
Klown: The Tragic End of The Fly Waiting to Happen
Klown: A Hunka Hunka Burning
Love Feces in a Paper Bag