Seoul Station, South Korea: The Midnight Train
It was midnight when the train pulled up at Seoul Station. I quickly joined the masses to the main taxi stand. The enormous crowd was barely moving on the cold winter’s night so I made my way to the back of the station to another taxi stand with only a few people. That was my mistake, it was no place for a young female blonde ‘waeguk’ like me.
Before I had even reached the line a man came over and started yelling. Aggressively yelling. Ignoring him as much as possible I kept moving, but he followed. Another man came over, he was tall and with a big build, later I would learn that he had once played baseball professionally. Standing between me and the other guy, he spoke in Korean imploring him to quit the abuse. But that only incensed the aggressor even more. My protector changed strategy and we were off with our luggage walking down the street trying to hail a taxi. The other man followed. We crossed the street. We crossed back. We kept walking. All the while, the aggressor following with his incessant yelling.
After 10 minutes or so, my protector instructed me to “keep walking and don’t look back”. He made me promise. Seconds later I heard the sounds I was expecting – punches. If there was more than that I’ll never know. I kept walking; I was scared. A couple minutes passed before my protector ran up behind me, he was shaking. He hailed a cab and we got out of there.
On our way to my location there was some small talk. He told me about the baseball and living in Busan. I managed to get out of him that the other guy had been calling me a ‘Russian Dancer’, and I supposed that meant he thought I was a “whore”. I have never understood his reaction. I couldn’t get much else out of the guy. He was still shaking and saying he didn’t like what he had done but there had been no option. He asked why I had been alone, why my friends hadn’t met me at the station, and if they could meet us downstairs from their apartment. That was the last time I saw him.
I don’t know what would have happened that night if my protector hadn’t stepped in to help. It was a reminder to be safe even in a safe country.