Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Trouble in Korea

Editors Note: {This is Ashley's second submission to Alone at Night. Do all you non-submitters feel lazy? Good. You should. Keep the submissions coming and we'll keep posting them! Stay safe!}

I actually submitted a story to this blog years ago, but something recently happened to me that made me think of it again.

I'm American, but I live in Korea and have for four years. Generally, I feel safe here and don't worry much when it comes to getting around or walking home alone at night. But after this happened, it made me more aware of my surroundings when I do. 
I live outside of Seoul (45 min or so), and three or four times during the week will take the subway up to go swing dancing, which I started doing about six months ago. Generally, I leave at around 11 to catch the train home, which means, with transfers, getting home around 12 or 12:15

My friend and I take different lines, so we separate early and take our respective trains. One night, I had just walked to the transfer train and was waiting when I felt someone's gaze on me. I looked up and there was an old man about twenty feel away. He was staring and swaying slightly. It was obvious he was drunk. At first, I just looked down and ignored him because, as a foreigner in Korea, you do generally get stared at a TON, so it becomes second nature to just shrug it off and continue on your way. But this time, when I looked up again, the man just had this expression on his's hard to describe, but I knew I didn't want to be near him. 

So I got up as the train approached and moved to a new car, where the ride home was normal. I didn't see the man again on the train, so I assumed my uneasiness was solved for now, and settled in for the ride. My stop came, and I got out and started the walk home, which only took a few minutes. When I got into my apartment, I locked the door and turned on the lights. Maybe 10 minutes later, there's a banging at my door, and mumbled, slurred Korean coming from the other side of the door. 

For whatever reason, I don't have a peephole. So I can't look out and see who this guy is. But of course, as soon as the banging started, I knew it was the old guy. I knew he'd followed me and was trying to get inside my apartment. My blood went absolutely cold. How long could my door hold? Would he try to get in another way? 
 But the old guy started to get loud, and suddenly I heard a neighbor open their door and asked what all the noise was about so late. The old guy tried to say he lived there, but the neighbor knew me and said that, no, a foreign woman lives there. I took that as my cue to shout 'Go away' through the door, and my neighbor said the same. 

I heard his footsteps going down, so I went to my window to duck down and look...and he was there, walking away, though he kept looking back, straight at my apartment. 

I'm still terrified that he'll come back.

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