Khapel O’ Love

“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


31 thoughts on “Khapel O’ Love

  1. Upon reading this my ovaries seemed to take on a life of their own and began loudly weeping out of intense yearning be implanted with your seed. I’m not joking.

  2. I found your last sentence interesting ( with reference to the article ), ‘…thinking klown is going to be anything other than… etc.’.
    Regardless of what we are expecting from a situation (this or any other), for some reason we are not granted the freedom to express ourselves or to express anything other than positive appraisal. The information (prior to arrival) pertaining to the state of this prune of a country, is therfore sadly missing or lacking.
    It seems to me that when an individual has his/her ‘awakening’ here, and begins to question things, we are often told that we are being ‘negative’ – “hey, its not that bad” “we should be grateful” “Its just cultural differences”. This is usually by members of our own communtiy too, who if it is in the form of a forum or facebook page etc., will often directly attack or censor you. We then begin to doubt our own judgement – something that has gotten us through life, usually unharmed for quite a long time – and now were being told “Youre completely wrong”. What kind of a sick trick is that to play on a persons ego and intelligence?
    Then we go somewhere online to discuss what we see because we dont want to be bar room complainers and find someone out there who agrees (surley I cant be wrong – I mean that gyopo guy on youtube said it terrible that we behave like that…) – and get banned for saying how something is.
    Has it really come to that, that we can be censored for commenting on the true state of things? It is my reality, as much as the sun is out or my shoes are red. Perhaps it may be a little below people in converstaion to hear, ‘I was almost killed by a bus today’, but it is an honest, pragmatic answer – Im not whining, Im talking about my day.
    How have so many people become so willfully ignorant of how Korea really is? Why is it such a shame on ourselves to speak of what we observe? Do we really have to be so grateful to our hosts that we must only thank them and ignore the slights, offences.?
    I have to become like a ferral, clandestine version of myself and sneak off to ‘Klownisms’ to read about what my life is truely like and hear it summarised with brutal honesty.
    This blog has become my freind. It is the only person I can listen to and chuckle with without any fear of riposte. This blog is the only place that is (refreshingly) honest. It shouldnt be like that.
    Im sick and tired of telling people, especially koreans, that I like it here when they ask me the same fucking boring, loaded questions. Im just adding to their delusions about how great it is here and dishonouring myself by knowingly lying – my mum told me I should never lie. I don’t want to go to hell when I die, i already had to live in it for part of my adult life.
    Please author, start a revolution! Tell peole they dont have to lie any more – to themselves, to their freinds but least of all, to the fucking klowns!
    Tell, them to go to the nearest window, open the insect screen and shout ‘Im not going to take it! I dont like it here! Im here for the money not the unique culture! Im not ashamed of that!’.
    I live in hope that one day, I will wake up to this sound echoing across the dull, grey, streets…
    rant over 🙂
    (foot note – on a serious note, I have made a pact with myself that if anyone asks from now on, Im not going to lie to them and will tell them I dont like it here – koreans included. My honesty is all i have left of my integrity).

  3. One wedding among the many I’ve attended here stands out in my mind. The American groom and Korean bride chose a venue at which they ran out of food for the wedding guests. As is apparently customary, they began giving out money to the wedding guests who hadn’t been fed so those guests could go and eat elsewhere. No less than four of the male foreign guests at the wedding lined up – not once, but as many as four times each – to get quick cash. One in particular left the wedding laughing and bragging about how he’d made eighty thousand won. That guy was a single American teacher in his early thirties. That’s something I’ve never forgotten. Disgusting.

    • Not saying that isn’t reprehensible behavior, because it is. But I imagine it is also the concept of reflective formality at work. If the Klowns don’t give a shit about their own wedding, and treat it like some McDonalds Happy Meal toy, why should anybody else treat it with reverence and respect? Why, when disrespect and insincerity is the model, would one expect anything else in return?

      Still a Shitty thing to do

      • I agree with you about reflective formality at work, and not only in terms of weddings. With rare exception, most of my encounters in Klown are characterized by Klown Kommerce.
        Happy fucking fourth of July weekend, homey.

  4. absolutely everything in klown is FAKE and a LIE, E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.
    i recently bought an expensive leather wallet “made in Italy” from a mono brand flagship store in Kangnam.
    i mean, with all the fakes bags sported around in seoul, you’d think that going to that specific brand’s “official” flagship store in Klown you’d at least get the real, though overpriced, original product.
    wrong: the item i bought there turned out to be a counterfeit. i don’t really know where else that can happen on this planet.

    • Man, that’s hilarious~ I was told by a Korean friend NEVER to buy luxury goods in Korea as they’re most likely fakes!! Apparently, the head ajosshi of whatever company gets MASSIVE kickbacks from Chinese/Korean gangsters to sell their shit, instead of the real thing!!
      How scary is that!

  5. Spot on.
    I’ve been to three weddings here in Korea. Two were straight up Korean affairs, the other was an American friend marrying his Korean girlfriend. I don’t know who’s idea it was, but my buddy’s wedding actually felt more like the real deal. Only their friends and family were in the room, they booked it for a couple of hours, and the food was in the back of the hall, not in some big buffet room. It was a stark contrast to the previous two which were exactly as you describe in the article.
    My first time at a wedding the bride and groom walked down the aisle under a row of Koreans dressed up like nutcrackers and forming an arch with plastic swords. After they said ‘I do’ bubbles came out of no where and the floor lit up like scene out of Saturday Night Fever. I was both stunned and appalled in equal measure. When my boss told me that the hundreds of people milling around the room (all talking and ignoring the ceremony) were not their guests but people waiting for the next wedding or the one after that, I was offended. So much of this country is…Insane.

  6. Klowns suffer from an untreatable bunker mentality, due to centuries of pigging together, snorting, burping and farting perpetually in order to vent the stress of Klownship. Klownesk life is a tall order, something which ‘the peoples’ outside Klown seem unwilling to acknowledge. Other ‘peoples’ just lack the imagination to realize that being a Klown is like being totally dedicated to a sect-like religion: every day you are forced to live it, as you force others to live it. Klown equals perfect totalitarianism, at home, in the street, at work, in the world at large. Non-Klowns wanting to marry into this (if they have any brain capacity left by that time) should think twice, as they are about to board a Sewol ferry. Jump while you still can!

  7. I’ve been here nearly 2 years. Love the language, love the food. Can’t stand the people or the culture. Many people will often rag on foreigners who complain about Korea, however you’ve said nothing that isn’t true. Koreans suck. Period. I’ve met one Korean here that doesn’t suck and it’s my boss. However, at the end of the day, she’s still Korean and will align herself with them.
    So much about their culture and manner of being is just garbage, plain and simple. I’m American and I don’t give a fuck who doesn’t like that. Say some true shit about the US and I’m going to back you up. Say some true shit about the filth of Korea and peoples head go spinning off. Koreans see this shit everyday. Despite being “rich” they are decades DECADES behind the US in terms of social progress. It’s truly mind shattering. Your average Korean believes that because they live in better housing, full of a bunch of overprices cheap shit, drive the exact same brand of car, and get off on paying 50 dollars for a casual t-shirt this puts them on par with people from western countries. They try to look the part. However their minds are still so far behind its ridiculous.
    A perfect anecdote to illustrate this is the apartment system in Korea. Everyone lives in one. They all look exactly the same. Yet some are cheap, and some are outrageously expensive. I used to have a Korean “friend” who lived in Jamsil. Guess it’s a pretty rich area. You know when you’re in a rich area in the US shit get fancy as fuck? Houses are massive, gated and beautiful. Grass perfectly mowed. All kinds of privately owned little shops that look like they were ripped from a magazine. Even common stores like gas stations look fancier in nice neighborhoods in the US. Anyway, I met her at Jamsil once. Saw the building she lived in. Apparently her parents house was in the millions of USD but looked just like a 300k one next to my apt. One thing that really stood out to me.
    Despite living in this rich building. Having parents that made a fortune, the outside of that multi-million dollar apartment building was a 7-eleven, fliers all over the ground, of course vomit. Trash all over the alley ways. I often see ritzy ass building with a view of slums outside the windows. Who the fuck pays that kind of money to look at the poor from their windows? “But this is a FAMOUS building” they say. Koreans truly believe that people in higher ranking nations live their lives this way, and this is how they now command the respect they do. “The fact that we buy expensive sunglasses at Costco means were on the road to superpowerdom”.
    Koreans are so full of shit. Their whole society is. Everything is a mask here. You don’t have to be able to speak English. You don’t have to be able to do anything. They don’t care if you can actually do anything as a person here. You just have appear to be good at doing it. I think that your average Korean really believes that if they appear to be X then the world will see them as such.They sit around demanding respect yet what has Korea ever done in this world to be worthy as the respect they want? Nothing. “Korea is best” they say. Best at what? What has Korea done to impact this motherfucking world? I’d like to know what they have done that should be revered and looked up to by other nations. The saying: “I you have to say you are, you aren’t” is so lost on them.
    Keep up the blog. Don’t let the harassing emails you probably get slow you down.

    • One of my friends has a relative who lives in a super expensive part of Gangnam. We’re talking $3,000 a month in rent, $100,000 key money, the kind of place you’d stay if you didn’t want to live in Samsung Towers. And surprise, the apartment is actually really nice! It’s the product of good zoning laws, where residential stays residential and the filthy street-pizza-strewn shitty galbi joints are a few blocks up the street.
      Think about that for a minute. To have a modicum of proper Western housing, you have to pay out the nose. Welcome to Klownland.
      And klownisms, 8 fucking years here? Hope you’re taking plenty of vacations out of this hellhole to keep your sanity intact or have an exit plan. There have got to be greater callings in life out there than 2 and some change in a hagwon or PS. Just the other day my former co-teacher called me and during the conversation told me her NET wanted to stay in Korea forever. What the fuck?

  8. You missed the fake thowing of flowers.
    Great read though, been to more than enough wedding here to see the sham behind it all. At lest my wedding was in a garden and not like any Korean wedding I’ve been to here.

    • Also, the bird chirping noises at the closing of the ceremony-5 minutes after it began. Love how the ushers have to tell the bride and groom where to stand right in front of the audience too! Almost as classy as having the guy sit at the door opening money envelopes to write down how much money each person has given!
      Sick thing is, that Koreans follow the exact same wedding practice once they move to Los Angeles! They could have their wedding anywhere-on the beach, in a beautiful church-but no, they choose some rhinestone studded wedding hall to continue their ‘ancient’ traditions!

      • So much I forgot to include… How could I forget the money counting?

        Rhinestones. Perfect.

        What a fucking nightmare.

      • I mean, do they realize how empty and plastic it is? Are they unable to see a real wedding in tv and then look at their own and say ‘hmm, something isn’t right here’?
        I don’t know, but I think you’re right-they don’t want to change, they love their ways! Allowing the thought process that possibly something isn’t quite right could lead to the possibility of criticism of their own ways-a big no, no! The Korea-number one!! Hwiting!!

  9. You forgot to add that a Korean wedding, despite being cheap and plastic, costs nearly six figures in US dollars terms, because the Klowns have to show everyone how “rich” they are by trying to outspend each other on plastic weddings. They pay double, triple, or quadruple what other OECD countries do for wedding, and they literally get a tiny fraction of the value and time. A Korean wedding is actually a kind of metaphor for life in Korea, in general. Flushing money down the toilet seems to be the national past time.

    • I made a profit when I married my K-bride. Money isn’t ‘personal’ but it’s useful.
      But yeah, K-wedding centers….. 😦

  10. 15 minutes “ceremony” and 45 minutes of “pictures”.
    Ultimate Korean habit, spend 3 times longer taking photos of something you did but make sure theyre almost exactly the same.
    What about the pre-wedding photo shoots that are all the same too. American friend of mine was rejecting all these fruity and femme poses that photog wanted him to do at studio shoot. Cross his legs and fold hands onto his lap and gaze upward into the eyes of his beloved. Friend says, “Ive never sat or have I ever seen a straight man sit in such an awkward position.”
    Ive been to the private, inner circle family, Korean traditions part of the wedding while everyone else is shoveling food into their gobs. At least it looks somewhat meaningful and representative of eastern or Korean culture but I can imaging its probably ripped off from China: groom’s mother throws chestnuts and acorns onto brides dress to see how many kids they have, groom carries wife around the table, and so on.

    • The whole concept of spending three times longer taking pictures than actually doing the thing you came to do applies to food as well; 30 minutes taking pictures and selfies with your food, 10 minutes eating it seems to be the norm.

  11. God I hate Korea, worst country I’ve ever been to, and that’s because the people are absolute total shit – rude, uncultured, loud, xenophobic look-a-likes. Would kill myself if I ever married into that culture.

  12. Been to two weddings so far, both in the boondocks, but no real difference. For one we actually had a rehearsal the day before… It’s funny how Koreans are always extremely busy (they are, in their point of view) while all they do is wasting time. Once I mentioned that Korea is top N1 in working hours in the OECD countries but by productivity is placed 18th – I was snubbed for the rest of the evening. Work hard, work fast, finish quickly and enjoy the beer in the afternoon – I was labeled lazy and drunkard. Start drinking soju at 7 AM at the workplace, do nothing all day long and go home late in the evening – that’s hardworking for you. In the end I was lucky – found the exception to the rule, people who have Linux on PCs, don’t send kids to school, don’t drive fancy cars (even if they can afford them)… unbelievable but true,places like this DO exist in Korea. But you have to look hard for them.

  13. I sort of wonder about your mental health. This is a lot to hold. I’m not saying it’s wrong. I guess this blog offers some outlet. Scathing criticism is fine for some sort of release? The only concern I have is that you and I are also utterly conditioned by our cultures and experiences wherever we go. We’re all totally influenced, the entire world. It’s very hard for people to see this.

    • My mental health? I worry about my physical health. I am threatened daily with some fairly serious communicable and infectious diseases. The pollution is…. not conducive to breathing.. and is lied about to make it seem safe. I am almost killed in traffic each and every fucking day.

      It’s either I write about Klown here or I go all “Falling Down”

      There is a difference, by the way, between cultural nuance and subtle differences and the social fucking leper pig farm that is Klown. that’s not hard to see. It’s pretty fucking easy to see when the spitwad is quivering in front of you or the ajosshi is screaming in the seat next to you for no fucking reason other than he is a Klown and thus a 4th-world, socially-retarded peasant who should have been left back in the 1800s where he belongs.

      Let’s just call a spade a spade where and when we can, hmm?

    • He’s not holding it, that’s the thing. He’s processing it and helping others to process it too. I would be much more concerned about people living here who DON’T vent properly, whether through a blog or writing satirical graphic novels or regurgitating the pain through psychodrama therapy, or the other things I and probably others have tried to deal with the powerfully negative feelings that go with living in Korea. This blog is healthy. It is the product of a healthy mind with the sane desire to reflect, understand, make light, and give respect to the very powerful emotion of anger in a non-violent way. At least that’s how I see it. (But also I may be biased because I have a major cyber-crush on him.) Peace, kids!!!

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