Too Close For Comfort: A True Story

by d. daly on June 19, 2009

First-Hand Experience On The Cultural Differences Regarding Personal Space In Korea


So I go to the the gym today straight from work. It is common for gyms in S. Korea to issue clothing to patrons to work out. Very convenient for those that stop by the gym on the go. I normally go home first. Eat something, relax, perhaps squeeze one out, then I hit the iron. Today I switched it up.

I go in for a good work out. Mainly cosmetic. ‘Cause ,the weekend is here and that increases my chances of being naked in front of  someone by 4%. So, that means there is a 97% chance that I will get naked in front of someone else on any given weekend.

A cosmetic workout is defined, by me, as one that targets the main areas that women pay attention to when observing a nude man – aside from the obvious groinial region. If that isn’t right by now, no amount of gym time will help. But enough gym time can make a woman forgive your shortcomings. I’m talkin about the abs, chest, and arms. I know each lady has her own special preference, but these seem to be the key areas. I’m lookin’ to give the arms and chest that “pump” and the abs that “cut”. I’m no super model, but I work with what I got and keep it moving.

I finish my workout. It was good. Go to the locker room to take a shower. Everyone takes showers in the locker rooms in Korea. Everyone. If you don’t, you seem odd to the locals. Well, normally I jog my odd ass to and from the gym, so I usually don’t take a shower at my gym. This makes me come across as a bit insecure. But trust me, I have nothing to me insecure about in this locker room. I once was asked why I don’t take showers. I gave the reason that I just mentioned. I keep it moving.

This day was my first time taking a shower at this gym. Which meant, that this day was the first time getting completely naked in this locker room.  Not a big deal to me. I’ve showered in a gym before, moonlighted as a stripper, and participated in a few orgies in my heyday. Being naked in around others is no big deal.

well, not quite. Every one stares. Maybe it’s my brands, that happen to be all over my body. And by brands I mean; marks on my body left behind by glowing red iron being seared into my flesh for eternal, fraternal, pride and glory. I have fourteen total. Even back in the States those get a stare or two. At any rate I’m not sure why they are staring. Some even walk by the showers, repeatedly to catch a glance. I just figure it’s for the same reasons as the people on the street. I’m new and exciting. Go ahead. Look, but please, don’t touch.

Then all of a sudden, once I am out of the shower, before I get a change to get dressed, a dude that has spoken to me before in the gym, about weight training, supplements and related subjects,  approaches me. He stops and stares me up and down. Literally. Mind you, I’m still naked. I greet him in Hangul (Korean) and he greets me back. I smile and nod. He continues to stares, and eventually says, “your body, uh…(trying to find the right words) …very good.”

First: Allow me to explain something here. People in S. Korea, and Busan in particular (were this took place) are very direct. And there is also a language barrier, so things may not always come out as they are intended. I’m an international man of mystery, so I understand these subtle cultural differences. No harm, no foul.

Back in the locker room: My response, “I know.” by that I meant, I know I work out so my body looks decent. He continues to stare. “Wow! Very very good,” he continues. “I agree,” I think to myself.

Now, he’s not a little guy himself. Works out often. Drinks protein shakes. Takes creatine and other supplements. I figure that he’s just paying a compliment, and I take it as such. But then, with out any warning, without hint, or preview, or any permission, for that matter, the not-so gentleman touches… me. He starts squeezing my arms and proceeds to feel up my chest.

Second: Koreans in general are very touchy… physically. Men walk in the street holding hands, or with arms locked. Women also do the same, but that’s also common in the states.

When I first observed this behavior the first few time I thought that this place was like another amsterdam; open and accepted homosexuality. Didn’t bother me one bit. When in Rome… do you.

But I soon realized that people were just very close here, and touching or holding didn’t necessarily mean anything sexual.  So his actions did not necessarily constitute anything homosexual.

But, I can’t say that I wanted  to be touched in that manner, in that particular setting, by another man. If I were a woman I would feel violated. As a man, I was not quite sure how to feel. Now let me say; I do enjoy a warm cup of tea every now and again, but that’s just not my cup of tea. Ever. But, hey… no harm, no foul. Right?

Back in the locker room: “very strong.”, says the dude. “Thank you”, I replied, growing a bit tired of this now.  I proceed to take my clothes out of the locker. Then, as he sees the final moments of my nakedness coming to a close, he calls over to his friend around the corner, and tells him to come cop a feel as well.

Ok, this is getting out of hand! I start ignoring these guys and begin to get dressed. Yes, this whole time I was ass-naked. Another friend, apparently enthusiastically, agreeing in korean, (he points to arms), “very big…” Ok, that’s cool. (Points to schlong), “…and very very big”.

Hmm…  see, that’s not cool

Flagrant foul!

Get outta here

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Me June 24, 2009 at 11:02 am

creative inserts (play,pause, stop……eject (no pun intended lol….ok, let me stop.) but clever writing. take care ttyl 🙂

– msg

caitlin June 26, 2009 at 6:14 pm

well at my gym the trainers told me that i was fat and needed to work on my “thigh area” and had to do at least 300 crunches a day. haha ugh

Clay June 28, 2009 at 6:10 am

Dic that was mad funny, love the insertions placed so well, it was like reading a script….I really could use this laughter, thanks mate

dickdaly June 29, 2009 at 11:31 am

why, thank you. seemed fitting to put those in there.

dickdaly June 29, 2009 at 11:34 am

wow! busan people have such charm.

dickdaly June 29, 2009 at 11:34 am

thanks lil bro.

Dhane July 7, 2009 at 6:41 am

sounds like you barely averted going for it. you gave them too many chances so me thinks that next time you get caught slipping in the gym they will finish the job. Kung Pow! LMAO

drew July 19, 2009 at 4:49 am

That shit was hilarious!

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