Springsteen + Monsoon = Culture Shock

Culture shock doesn’t go away. I’ve been in Korea over two years, and every so often something special sets off a substantial moment of realization and reflection. The most recent trigger was “The Boss” Bruce Springsteen at the most opportune time.

Walking to work the other day I popped in the local Mini Stop for a bag of Nachos (the red/orange bag similar to Nacho Cheese Doritos) to eat for lunch with my Gringos Burrito. While I was inside, it started to rain. Not just any rain, but summer time Korean monsoon rain.

And it got me thinking … monsoons are so Asian.

How’s that for an ignorant statement?

I’m from the land that made grey skies and drizzle cool. Watch episodes of Portlandia online and put a bird on it if you don’t know what I mean. My home may get the occasional downpour, and the wind storms are impressive, but it’s nothing compared to this Asian rain.

I spent two years in Arizona and enjoyed the North American desert monsoon as it pushed north from Mexico. But the big attraction there is the dust storms that yellow out the sky for days at a time.

Monsoons in this part of the world — it’s something else entirely.

Asian rain is relentless. This is my third soggy jangma in Korea and last summer my girl and I spent two weeks in the Philippines in the middle of the wet season. It comes down in sheets with little warning. I walk to work with my pants rolled up to my knees, in vans with no socks or flip flops, literally hugging an umbrella to keep my bag and my body dry. Toss in dodging Koreans with umbrellas on a busy sidewalk — there’s nothing quite like the monsoon here.

As I stepped outside the Mini Stop and contemplated whether to continue my walk in the downpour, or wait for the weather to ease up, I realized I was standing underneath a speaker blasting an American classic. The song was “Born In The USA” by Bruce Springsteen.

Such a reminder of where I came from smack in the midst of a weather phenomenon that I equate to being so foreign. Heavy stuff.

Then there’s the lyrics. How do the words go?

Sent me off to a foreign land
To go and kill a yellow man

It’s enough to make your head explode.

Here’s to the rainy season in Korea, enjoy it while you can.

~ by ripcitytoseoul on July 11, 2011.

2 Responses to “Springsteen + Monsoon = Culture Shock”

  1. I think I speak for all the editors at “The New Korea Files” when I say we’d like to have you submit this for our book (perhaps a bit of extension and less Bruce?).


    I’m sure I’ve already emailed you and probably have three submissions and a bit of a bribe back…

    I get confused these days. ^^



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