After living in Korea for one year, I thought I had seen it all. My shock factor measuring stick has been recalibrated to totally accept things once considered strange. Things like common littering (in daylight!) and old women pushing ox-carts of recycled cardboard on major highways went from strange in America to “Oh just another day in Korea.” No toilet paper on the roll? In America–a travesty!! I’ll wait right here until someone can bring me some. In Korea? You better start bouncing dry or you’ll be waiting until the North and South reunify.
But. I just got back from Lotte Mart with Whit. And something showed up on my shock-factor measuring stick as a red alert.
As we paid for our groceries, we learned that they could not accept our 100 dollar money order (long story) so Whit had to run to the ATM while I waited as collateral for our groceries. As I waited, the cashier went ahead and rang in the next customers–a group of two mothers and four kids.
I was standing to the side, waiting patiently for Whit,when I looked down to see a bare butt. A five-year-old bare butt. Double take! The kid was peeing into a plastic bag his mother was holding.
I stared incredulously. Sure I have seen a lot of public urination in Korea, especially old men and children. I’ve seen cars pull over to let kids pee along the street. But this?!? In the line at Lotte Mart, one of the largest stores in the country?!?
The kid finished his business in about 10 seconds flat. (So surely he could have held it for one minute while they walked to a proper bathroom just down the corridor.)
Then the mother took the plastic bag now filled with neon yellow liquid and tied it at the top, let some air in, and stuffed it in her back pocket.
The woman had pee in her back pocket!!!
Well. I’ll tell you. There’s never a boring trip to the grocery store around here. And this is totally going to re-recalibrate my shock stick. Good Lord. Who knows what won’t shock me next. It’s scary.