Korean Democracy: violently loud and seriously pissing me off

I wish everyone reading this could hear what I’m hearing now. It’s the sound of insanity, my insanity.

Just outside my window, about 150 meters away, I can see them. They’re all dressed in their colored militant garb, dancing and waving with their white gloves in unison. There’s that one guy again, dressed up in traditional Korean clothes, bowing and waving, bowing and waving, bowing and waving. And there on the stage, that’s the asshole, the motherfucker I who won’t shut the fuck up. He yells like Hitler through the narrow-bandwidth PA system, tuned perfectly to those frequencies meant specifically to annoy, to beat you aurally into submission until you say “OK, OK, I’ve had enough! Make it stop and I’ll vote for you for fuck’s sake just make it stop!!”


It’s voting season. I don’t know quite what they’re voting for, but I think it’s the equivalent of senator. I live in a neighborhood that’s participating. It also gets a lot of what in the States would be suburban traffic. My corner happens to be where these goddamned politicians have set up camp.

There are a lot of people who love to cite examples of how Koreans, when you get right down to it, are certifiably insane. This is my example. There’s no other explanation.

First, all these people waving, bowing and dancing are not supporters. They’re paid to do this and everyone knows it. Second, it’s a freaking show. Yes, the guy yells some words now and then, but mostly it’s horrible music, repetitive bowing, and a few pretty lights. Finally, lord save me, there is the amplitude, the sheer decibel level. It’s staggering. It echoes throughout this concrete forest of a neighborhood at incredible volume levels.

Even with all of this, people are out there, standing around like a bunch of third-world hotel geckos frozen to the wall when the light comes on. They stand there, immobile, stone-faced, watching it all. Do they expect something to happen? Is this a party? No one seems very happy. But they stand there and take it all in.

Meanwhile, I’m up here doing my damnedest to shelter myself from it all. I’m sitting in my apartment, doors and windows sealed shut, trying to close out the madness. But it doesn’t work. The volume is overwhelming. I’m surprised glass isn’t shattering. And that song… fuck me, that insidious song. It keeps going and going and going. They fire it up at 7:30 every morning and go for hours. Am I dreaming that song again? No, it’s real. Reach over, put in the earplugs, try to go back to sleep. Then again for an hour or so during lunch. And now, I’ll get this for the next four hours until the commute is done. “da. da. da. DA-DA! da. da. da. DA-DAAA!” This pattern has been going on for days, for weeks.

Why is no one calling the police? Why is no one putting an end to this? See, this is one of those moments when I think that we’re not quite the same species, Americans and Koreans. There must be different biology. How can any human being tolerate this mad repetition of ear-splitting noise day in and day out? Is everyone else sitting in their apartment tuning this out? Does it fall below their threshold of what a westerner would without question constitute as noise? And the big question: Does it work? Does this kind of dog and pony show make people vote for this madman? Does it take aural rape to get a Korean’s vote? What’s that, you’re yelling in my fucking ear? OK, sure, I’ll vote for you. What does that say?

Obviously I’m extremely upset about all this. I’ve had enough. It stopped being curious a long time ago. It stopped being annoying about a week ago. It’s beginning to push the boundaries of sanity. Thank god it ends tomorrow.

I have learned one thing through all this. It’s my final bit of evidence that Koreans really do see the microphone as an agent of power. You see it all the time. Whenever someone has a microphone and an amplification system, others stop dead in their tracks and watch and listen. The talent coming through the speakers could be utter crap (it usually is); and it could be the most tinny, piercing, overmodulated sound you’ve ever experienced, and yet people will stop and watch. An American would cover his ears and yell “Shut the fuck up!” And that’s exactly what I want to do right now. But no one would hear me. Even if they could, no one would listen.

I’m supposed to be a sound academic. I should probably write a paper about this or something. Right now, I just want to throw punches.

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One Response to “Korean Democracy: violently loud and seriously pissing me off”

  1. Sound for the sound man.

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