On a hot summer’s eve in Busan, I was enjoying a few drinks on Haeundae Beach among my South Korean friends when all of a sudden a lonely stranger of South Asian appearance approached me and said, “Brother, life is tough here. Can I join?”
Cue awkward silence.
On a 12-hour flight from Seoul to Amsterdam, I sat next to a seemingly wealthy Angolese student who was studying towards his Master’s degree in South Korea. He was wearing diamond-studded earrings, thick gold rings, immaculate leather shoes, and a Fendi belt. It looked as though he had not met another foreigner in months, so happy was he to talk to me. “Korea. A strange country, don’t you think?” I did not understand what he meant. “Adapting, it’s not so easy. I’ve learned the language, but still don’t have many Korean friends”, he continued.