The scariest moment of my life happened 2 weeks ago. My youngest daughter and I headed toward Insadong to do some shopping. We we walked along, a man (maybe in his 50’s, neatly dressed in slacks and a sweater) came up behind us and started touching her hair. This is a very common occurrence for us here. Koreans are almost always interested in our little blondies. We generally just get a lot of attention when we go out. We’ve had people get up from their seat at a restaurant to go buy candy for our children. We’ve seen two people fall because they were staring at our children instead of where their feet were going. We’ve had people miss their bus and their subway because they were too busy watching our kids. The kids are constantly being given treats, balloons, and even cash. This was different. This man came from behind us, was jabbering loudly in Korean. He got in front of us and tried to pick up my daughter. It felt like he was trying to get her out of my grasp. An ajuma was there and when I started yelling, “no,” she started yelling at him in Korean. He released his hold and picked her up and got out of there as fast as I could. He ran in the opposite direction, stopping part way down the street to yell something at us.
I’ve always believed Korea to be a safe place and I still do. I really felt like this man was not in his right mind. There is certainly mental illness in every country, including my own. I did want it known, however, and felt like the incident needed to be reported. I went to the police station and told the story. They took me to the area where it happened and asked businesses for their cctv footage. The restaurant in this week’s photo is where I was able to see some of that footage. Seeing it confirmed in my mind that I wasn’t overreacting, that this wasn’t some sort of cultural miscommunication. The mental and physical relief I felt was huge. The knot in my stomach released.
The detective told me that they would call if they needed anything else. I honestly didn’t think I would hear anything. This is a pretty big town. How would they ever find him? I felt affirmed and did not think there was more of a threat.
I got the call today. They found him. They told me they thought that he was “a little bit insane.” I went down to the police station and confirmed for them that it was, indeed, the same man. I had to retell the story one more time and sign. They asked me if I wanted compensation. I said, “no.” They asked me if I wanted him to be punished. I told them I wanted him to know that what he had done was wrong. I told them I thought what he needed was help. I told them I didn’t think he needed to go to jail. I didn’t think he was a further threat. The man wanted to come apologize in person. I declined since my daughter was in the room and I didn’t know how she would react even if he was only there to apologize, but I told them I accepted the apology. I hope the message was understood and relayed. Forgiveness and understanding are more important to me here.
Thank you to the police officers of Jungno-gu. I appreciate the time effort you put into this more than I can say. Thank you for bringing closure to this.
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.