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hedgehog

BUSTED BY THE KOREAN KOMEDY KOPS

So Steve and I endured two and a half hours of questioning down at the City Hall Metropolitan Police headquarters. When we entered the building, we were ushered to the 14th floor, where they took us into a big office labeled "International Crimes Division." Ah. The day has arrived. I never thought that I would be an "international" criminal. How far I've come since the good 'ol days of just being a local hood.

They separated us (sort of, we were within earshot of each other) and, with an interpreter by my side, the cop proceeded to ask me a litany of questions and enter the answers into a computer.

"What was your job in America?"
"What does 'Roundface Theater' mean?"
"Do you know that it is illegal to do a performance without permission?"
"Are you aware that Korea has FOUR distinct seasons?"

They informed us that we were busted on two counts:

First, (according to them) we had violated our visas by engaging in activities other than teaching. I informed them that we were only a drama club, that this was just a hobby, since no money was being made after expenses. I asked them if all "hobbies" were considered violations of visas. Must I give up my stamp collection for fear of deportation?

Second, they said that we were breaking the law by staging a performance without permission from the government. I still never got an answer out of them whether this "law" pertains only to foreigners, or must all Koreans get permission before any performance. I asked the main cop, the undercover woman who actually came to the show, whether I needed permission to play one song on the guitar, or to read a poem in front of a group. To this she replied, "yes." I told the investigators that in the West we have a tradition of comedy and satire, but this was lost on our poor interrogators, as satire is rather hard to describe to your average irony-free Korean. What I did say is that coming from other developed nations, we had just assumed that, like the rest of the free world, Korea respected freedom of speech. That seemed to raise their hackles a bit, but the truth had to be told. Why else would they be hauling in scores of English teachers for two hour interrogations about our little weekend amateur play? The fact is that there IS no free speech here, despite the fact that the locals pat themselves on the back and congratulate each other that no longer are they under the iron fist of Park Chung Hee.

I will say that the investigators were quite polite and never attempted to overtly intimidate us. They were just collecting information, though asking some ludicrous questions.

Finally, at the end of the interview, the question of drug use came up. Some piece of shit, some douchebag, some complete tit has been spreading rumors around town there were drugs being done and sold at the show. This is a rank pile of horseshit. These rumors are utterly baseless and completely ridiculous, and WHOEVER THE SHITBAG WORM IS THAT IS SPREADING THEM SHOULD MAKE YOURSELF KNOWN RIGHT NOW and THEN the cops will have a real reason to question me after I boot your fucking head in. So the cops told Steve and I that we were under suspicion for drug use. I vehemently denied any such thing, but in the end we agreed to on-the-spot piss tests just to get them off our backs. We were both negative, of course, and hopefully the cops will stop barking up that tree, as in this country, there is no difference between POSESSION of drugs and a POSITIVE drug test result. And testing positive will land you in jail for weeks or months as you await deportation. I have a great gig over here and don't want to jeopardize that over a hit of weed.

After the pee test we were fingerprinted and let go. They tried to get names of everyone else involved in the production, and told us the information we gave will be given to the prosecutor who will decide on further action. I have a hunch that Steve and I will be hit with stiff fines.

What became painfully clear to me during all of this was that the cops were coming after us because of the content of the show. The breaking of the other laws is just a pretext to hassle us for having the nuts to make fun of Korean people in positions of authority, people like themselves. But we went after everyone, no one more so than ourselves, but in this country that takes itself way too seriously, a country without irony or satire, this is a dangerous thing to stir up, especially if you are a foreigner.

When they asked me why we did the show, I told them that we just wanted to make people laugh, that we wanted to have FUN. I told them we were sorry if some of the material went to far, but in our culture, this is just cause for a shake of the head and a sigh, not a trip to the police station.

I'll be contacting the US Embassy tomorrow, not that I expect any assistance, but they should know that this is going on. They're notoriously useless for supporting citizens abroad, unless your daddy's one of Bushies big donors.

Go ahead and fine me. I'll be like Sting in "Quadrophenia" and pay it on the spot. Then I'll mount the ticket and frame it, placing it in a prominent spot above my desk.

Comments

What kinda food do they serve in jail?
I'm sure you could answer that question much better than I.

(Anonymous)

breakfast - kimchee chigae, rice+barley
lunch - kimchee, rice+barley
dinner - kimchee, rice+barley

Nope, I ain't kidding...
Slightly scary, but ultimately Fan-Fucking-Tastic!

I complain about our Country sometimes, but this does make things seem a little nicer here. At least we do get to say what we want...most of the time.
Yeah, I wear it with some pride, but the fact is I'm not in America and should never expect equal treatment. You're right though, Joe, free speech does really exist in America. It's checked by corporate measures, but the fact is that you can say whatever you want onstage without fear of what I went through today.

The fucking bitches.
I saw this coming when I read your initial post mentioning a comedy show coming up that would poke fun at Korea. It was worth all the hassle, though, right?
They're such little bitches here. I was just in Japan. What a breath of fresh air.
For real. Same goes for Korea once you're in Japan long enough, though. There's something to be said for straightforwardness, even if it comes from bitches.
Was it worth the hassle? That's the 64 million Won question. I think so, since it has made us notorious and reaffirmed my belief in art that pisses people off, something I've been dedicated too for most of my life. But I think that the Korean media is just about to get ahold of this, and that's when things will really get fucked up, because they will invariably twist it out of our favor.
oh man, this post is giving me "midnight express" heartbeats and chills.

i am glad it was all it was and hopefully you don't end up having to give them your salary for a year.
i am glad you did it though and that you told them about freedom of speech.

maybe you should h ave called your theatre roundsteak theatre ?

:)
You could have really gone for the punch and named yourselves "Lound Face Theatel"
Ah, darlin', I just looked at your "no pants" avatar and laughed as if it were the first time. It's fucking ridiculous.

(Anonymous)

you constantly bash the good ol USA and now your cryin' because they wont come to your aid?

That's really rich, maybe now you will appreciate "freedom of speech" more. If not, stay over there and quit your pissing and moaning.

Or how about you strap on some boots and man a weapon so that you may EARN the freedom of speech you love from the country you so loathe.

you are a self absorbed ex meth head. ha ha ha ha
Eat my runny shit, you anonymous joker. I don't hate America, I just hate that it's inhabited by so many morons such as yourself, sir.