from the Korean Army to being published

the blog of an "ex-patriot" writer in Korea

Entry #26: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Unless It Can Get You Out of the Army, Part I

with 6 comments

[This entry not for the prude or overly-sensitive.]

Dreading fifteen hours of United economy seating on the trip back to Korea (they don’t have individual multimedia screens, they do have an awful movie selection I can only assume is tailored to disenfranchised women who were outcasts in high school), I picked up a couple of free magazines and local newspapers at the Bellevue Regional Library on the morning before my flight. The cover of the Seattle Weekly for December 22-28 had a full-page image of two sailors entangled in an amorous, throaty kiss in commemoration of the repealing of DADT, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

It’s another question I’m frequently asked by foreigners concerning the Korean Army, whether I was sexually abused during my two years. Before I was inducted, Erica gave me a card in which her one piece of advice was “Don’t drop the soap.” Indeed, on more than a few occasions, I compared my two years of conscription with a prison sentence, and I guess the two images go hand-in-hand (no word play with the expression here out of consideration of impressionable minds).

Psychologist: “Now, we’re going to do a simple word-association test. Tell me the first word that comes to mind when I say a word. Do you understand?”
Average person: “Sure.”
Psychologist: “Prison.”
Average person: “Ass-rape.”

I was never sexually harassed and never witnessed anything of the sort, but then maybe I’m just not physically attractive to men. Or maybe I’m too old. In Shawshank Redemption, it wasn’t Morgan Freeman but a younger Tim Robbins that was targeted by “The Sisters.” I never had a run-in in the shower room but then I didn’t take regular showers either, so that might explain it, which is a good thing when there is a corporal in your company with the nickname Wang Jaji*. The one concrete fact is that the one benefit of being stationed at Army headquarters was that strict regulations which curtailed physical violence also stymied homosexual hanky-panky.

Not that it doesn’t happen in the Korean Army. My friend, Hole, forwarded me an article a while back about an officer who forced his driver (a conscript) to give him head on several occasions. A co-worker recommended a Korean movie, Unforgiven, which was rife with homosexual undertones. But this isn’t homosexuality, per se. It is the result of sexual privation, muff-deprivation, a prolonged case of “not getting some.” I can’t say with any certainty, but I assume this is why sheep and other animals get violated.

Kumar: “Are all the guards in Guantanamo Bay gay?”
Big Bob: “Fuck no! There ain’t nothin’ gay about getting your dick sucked! You’re the ones that’re gay for sucking my dick!”
Kumar: “What?”
Big Bob: “In fact, it creeps me out just bein’ around you fags! Alright, get down on your knees and open your mouths.”
Harold: “Why don’t you kick our asses instead?”
Big Bob: “Get on your fuckin’ knees now!”
Big Bob: “Hope you boys like extra mayo.”

– Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, 2008

I know this is a rather superfluous and facetious segue into the topic of gays in the military, but this is what most people think of when on the topic of gays in the military in the context of the Korean Army. This is partly because Korean society is largely unaware or in denial when it comes to differences in sexual orientation. When I first came to Korea, there were some who asserted that there were no homosexual Koreans. However, having some very liberal- and activism-minded friends, I’ve met several gay and lesbian Koreans and have suspicions of more that are still in the closet, the first of which I met in the military: PFC Ballerino.

* The term basically means “king-sized dick.” I refer to him as King Richard in the manuscript.

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6 Responses

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  1. Is there a story that accompanies PFC Ballerino?

    If so, I never had you pegged for a tease.

    I thought you were all business.

    Joel

    January 14, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    • A tease I am not. To be continued in Part II. I was too burnt out to finish it.

      holdenbeck

      January 14, 2011 at 8:39 pm

      • I can’t read. I missed the Part I

        January 17, 2011 at 4:16 pm

      • No problem. It wasn’t an entry that could stand on its own. These intensives are kicking my ass.

        holdenbeck

        January 17, 2011 at 7:01 pm

  2. sign me up

    kyle

    January 16, 2011 at 1:13 pm

  3. I’ve been allowing a lot of spam comments these days. The previous two were because of their ridiculous e-mail addresses, but this one wins on two counts: e-mail address (drdre2001@*****.com) and the comment itself. Obviously this guy is comfortable enough to come out of the closet on a stranger’s blog without any kind of clarifying remarks. Good luck with that, kyle.

    holdenbeck

    January 17, 2011 at 7:04 pm


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