Sunday 7 December 2008

Korean trauma: Beware of hair-raising public baths

Previously in this column, I described how I went jogging in my Goldlion boxer shorts and accidentally exposed myself.

This week, the sequel.

Afraid of retribution for my inadvertent public indecency, I decided to lay low and leave the country until things cool down.

Since my sister was studying in Seoul, that was enough of an excuse for me to go to Korea on a packaged tour with my family.

And things cooled down immediately as Korea was winter-cold. So we were wearing a dozen pieces of clothing each just to keep from freezing to death. No danger of me accidentally exposing myself there.

On the itinerary was a place called Aqua World, located in a resort at Danyang. It was a huge indoor water park complex that included heated pools and public baths.

The tour guide informed us that to get to the main pool, we had to go through the changing area and public baths which were segregated by sex.

So my wife and daughter went to the female side while my son and I went to the male side. We would meet later at the main pool.

After changing into our swimwear, my son and I made our way to the main pool and walked past the public baths.

Although we were forewarned by the tour guide, nothing could've prepared us for the all-out male nudity suddenly in front of us.

Hair - lots of disgusting hair. On every part of the body that could grow hair.

Even my 11-year-old son, who was accustomed to all manner of psychological abuse simply by being my son, was traumatised by the horrific sight.

We quickly escaped the public baths and eventually reached the main pool area, where we met my wife and daughter who looked similarly culture-shocked.

"There was so much hair!" my wife wailed inconsolably. "And sagging!"

This created the unfortunate image in my mind of naked old saggy-breasted hairy Korean women lounging around the baths, which was even more gruesome than anything I had actually witnessed earlier.

Enough was enough.

That was when I shook my fist at Fate and said:

"I get it! You're punishing me for indecently exposing myself in Choa Chu Kang by indecently exposing Korea to me. I accept that.

"But when you mess with my family, you're crossing the line!"

My family looked around frightened and confused, wondering who I was talking to.

Next week in this column, the climatic conclusion to the Indecent trilogy, The Return Of The Boxers.

Or you can wait for the extended cut on DVD.

- Published in The New Paper, 7 December 2008