Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What Happened Next

A couple of weeks ago, I gave you the tale of alien abductions. Where I was the alien, being a foreigner in South Korea. But I didn't tell you the whole story, what happened after I returned to my apartment. What happened next. Here we go...

So it was about 2:30 in the morning and I was outside my apartment in Chŏnju, South Korea. I had been abducted from a night club, beaten, and robbed. I was also somewhat inebriated, and all I wanted to do was go to bed and get some rest. But, dear readers, my evening was not over yet.

Lori and a buddy, Russ, convinced me that I should report this incident to the police. I was skeptical because I doubted that the police could or would want to help.

So we went to the local police centre—a box, really—and we found three officers on duty: fast asleep. I walked into the centre of the reception area, where two officers are snoring on sofas and the desk sergent was in front of me, and I said in my loudest voice, "AANNYONG HASEYO!! SHILYE HABNIDA!!!" (Hello!! Excuse me!!!)

The officers came to life: at first, shocked, then perturbed that their sleep had been interrupted. In my broken Korean, I tried to explain what had happened to me. That I had been taken out of a night club, thrown in a car... you know the rest.

After some animated, charade-like explaining, the desk sergeant conveyed that his officers would take me to Headquarters, where I would get better help.

As luck would have it, there was an officer on duty who spoke perfect English. He was a young man, presently serving his mandatory service (in Korea, men must serve either three years with the military or two years with the riot police). This particular riot police officer had spent his high-school years in the United States. However, he wouldn't in charge of my investigation; he would merely act as the translator. With him was his supervisor, who asked all the questions.

His first question for me was, understandably, "Are you drunk?"

"Yes," I said, "a little."

Then I was asked, "Are you Korean?"

I shook my head, thinking I must have been more than a little drunk. "Excuse me?"

"Are you Korean?" the question was repeated.

I looked at the riot police officer, then at his superior, and then said, "Maybe I should be asking you if you're drunk!"

The ridiculous questions didn't end there. Throughout my interrogation, I was asked things like "How old is your wife?"; "When your contract ends, will you renew it?"; "How long have you been married?"

The questions kept coming, and not one of them was relevant to the investigation. And I let them know, in increasingly loud reminders, that THIS WAS NONE OF YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS! At one point, I even wagged a finger at the investigating officer, and said, "You are USELESS!" and told our translator to tell his superior what I just said. He shook his head, embarrassed, and said, "I won't."

Frustrated, I finally asked for a notepad and pen, and said I would give them a written statement. I said that perhaps it might be a good idea to get a description of my assailants, a description of the car, or perhaps even (and I was no police officer, so I wasn't sure that this would be helpful) the licence plate number—I had made out about half of it after it dawned on me to take it, before the car turned a corner and was gone.

I wrote out my statement. The riot officer read it and then translated it for his supervisor.

The supervisor absorbed the information and then said something to his officer, who in turn asked me, "How do you know the car was a Hyundai Elantra?"

"Because I may be drunk but I'm not a moron," was my reply. "I know cars."

"Are you sure?" was the next question. "There are many different models of Elantra. Are you sure it couldn't have been another type of car?"

Absolutely ridiculous, I thought to myself. And finally, I lost my temper. I grabbed the investigator by the arm (I'm surprised he didn't charge me with assault) and walked him out of the building. I then proceeded to point out all of the Elantras in the parking lot. In fact, all of the police cruisers in the Chŏnju force were Elantras. I was even able to picked out one that fit my assailants' car description to a T (except for the licence, of course); because the taillight section read Elantra across it in big letters.

Yeah, I was sure.

It took a long time for the investigating officer to digest my report, but finally I was told that my complaint would be looked into. Lori and I were offered a drive back to our apartment and by the time we got home, it was after five in the morning.

At around 7:30, our poor translator phoned us and wanted to ask one last question: "When you return to Canada, will your wife be going with you?" I hung up on him, but not before answering in a very sleepy and irritated voice, "What could that possibly have to do with your investigation? Call me when you have something intelligent to ask!"

On the following Monday, my police translator and his supervisor picked me up at work and took me back to Pappy's, the night club where my abduction took place. The manager met with us, along with the person who had served my friends and me, and the doorman (who attended the top of the elevator). The server recognized me and the doorman remembered a group of foreigners arriving, but he didn't specifically remember me leave—only the group of waeguks.

The manager assured me that his club had nothing to do with my abduction and said that if I ever returned with my friends, our food and drinks would be on the house. And with that, the police and I left, and outside Pappy's we parted ways.

I never returned to Pappy's and never heard from the police again.

Was that it? Apparently, yes. Here's what I think happened: perhaps Pappy's was involved in my abduction. Perhaps they didn't want foreigners coming to their club and making nuisances of themselves. Perhaps the description of the car led the police to someone from the club; by bringing me before the manager and getting his offer to treat me and my friends, the police were helping the club save face. Case closed.

For me, it was just another adventure to write home about.

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