From Korea with Love

"I carry your heart with me… always."

Why Drunk Ajossis Scare Me


My husband always tells me not to get involved in other people’s business, especially among Koreans. Most of the time, those who meddle in someone else’s affair or play hero here find themselves in big trouble. This is the reason why some Koreans never interfere when others are quarreling. Instead of trying to stop the fracas, they choose to ignore it or “watch” as if they were watching an action movie or K-drama.

Just last month, right after Chuseok, my husband and I witnessed two women getting beaten by an inebriated young man who happens to be their relative. I didn’t expect my husband to get involved, but he did… and I am proud of him for stepping in. He tried to stop the beating, but it angered the drunk man more. Other neighbors heard the commotion, but no one, except my husband, thought of calling the police.

When I came to Korea for the first time, I was taken aback when I saw two drunk ajossis fighting in the street. No one dared to get in the way, and somehow I understood why. Everyone was afraid of them.

What if you were minding your own business and all of a sudden, someone you don’t even know comes to you and provokes you? This is what happened to one of my neighbors a few days ago. He was at the parking lot, waiting for his wife, and this intoxicated ajossi spotted him and decided he would make a good sparring partner, so he began swearing and picked a fight with him. My neighbor knew better than to mind an irrational drunk man, so he tried to shun him. When ignoring didn’t work, he asked him to leave him alone, but instead of doing that, the drunk ajossi hit him in the face. He hit him back. The fight escalated. The drunk ajossi fell to the ground, but my neighbor was hurt, too. He was complaining of headache. When his wife came, he told her to call the police. Dizzy, he lied down while waiting for the police to arrive. Curious passers-by had gathered, watching the “drama”. I was watching through the bedroom window. I didn’t actually witness the whole squabble, but I was awakened by two men shouting and then I heard a loud thud. When I opened the window, I saw a man (drunk ajossi) lying on the ground and another man standing in front of him. At first, I thought that it was my neighbor who started the fight, because he was very angry and kept saying the F-word in Korean, but the whole story unfolded when the police came. A few minutes before the police arrived, the drunk ajossi woke up, moaning. He was too intoxicated that they could not interrogate him. What I could not understand is that they just left him there. They didn’t take him to the police station. On the other hand, my neighbor was taken to the hospital. They asked the drunk ajossi to go to the hospital, too, but he refused. He sat down and kept grumbling.


I had an unnerving encounter with a drunk ajossi before. Thank God, nothing serious happened, but since that incident (which I wrote about in a previous post), I have developed a fear of drunk strangers. I still think South Korea is a safe place, but not when I see drunk ajossis around. I avoid them as much as I can, and I would never ever get in their way (unless someone defenseless is getting hurt), but they are everywhere, even in my neighborhood! Some of them are harmless even if they like to make a scene and are extremely loud, but some are inconsiderate and uncouth and should not be tolerated.

16 thoughts on “Why Drunk Ajossis Scare Me

  1. This reminds me of a short video I watched in youtube about diffusion of responsibility…


  2. Hi, Chino. ^^ Hindi ko naman napapansin pag ginagabi ako sa Seoul station. Ang mga nakikita ko iilang matatanda na nag-co-collect ng boxes na ibebenta nila.


  3. Correct! Scream, run, call the police. ^^ Ms. Chris i sent you a message at Facebook.


  4. hello!
    naka punta na din ako ng korea sa seoul. may tanong lang po ako kung ano ang ginagawa ng mga matatandang babae sa seoul station tuwing gabi. parang nagtatawag ng hada. ano ba ang pakay nila dun?

    nice to read your blog. i love to go back to korea again.


  5. Thanks, Kang Ju Won. Take care, too. ^^


  6. Yes, that’s exactly what I’m thinking of doing. Thanks, Roboseyo. ^^


  7. Good thing someone was there to stop him. Most probably that person is his family. My husband told me to avoid boisterous drunkards even when they are not bothering me. If someone is badgering or harassing me, he said I should run away or call 112. I hope it doesn’t come to that point when I have to call the police.


  8. Some of them are, so it’s best to avoid them.


  9. Are they really that assertive when they are drunk? Scary indeed


  10. *were in my bag


  11. I also had a scary experience with a drunk 아주씨 a week after I arrived in Seoul. I was walking alone along an alley when suddenly an 아주씨 forcibly grabbed my bag and started to rant wildly. I was so shocked that I just stood there dumbfounded. But as all my travel documents where in my bag, my instinct was just to clench my bag on my chest as tightly as I could.

    I thought the freaking 아주씨 was trying to rob me until another younger man hurriedly came and stopped him. The young man looked embarrassed and reprimanded the 아주씨 like they were family. It was only then that I realized that the 아주씨 was drunk and the younger man must had been his son chasing him. The younger man apologized and guided his old man away, to my relief.

    Two months here in Seoul, I’ve seen drunk men who were left flat on corners of anywhere unimaginable. They just lay on pavements, near garbage bins, on top of subway benches. I don’t mind the eyesore at all but somehow I also get scared about another encounter with a drunk 아주씨. When I mentioned those to my Korean husband, he was quick to admit that the “drinking culture” here in Korea has always been a “social problem.” My husband sounded apologetic while reminding me of my what-to-dos in case a similar incident happens again.


  12. Two kinds people in Korea that I’m really scared of: drunken ajussis and middle aged ajummas :p


  13. Keep your cameraphone ready, and get it out if someone starts bugging you. Some people will simmer down if they see their actions are being taken as evidence. Some won’t… but then you have evidence.

    Good article.


  14. Damn, sorry to hear about the incidents. Stay safe! I wish more people (including myself) would intervene or at least try to ask what’s going on.


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