Flashing Lights and Prison Breaks: Five Surprisingly Popular Western Imports

August 13, 2008

So in Korea, near the more popular subway stations, there are always these underground markets that sell clothes, sunglasses, cell phones, cutey charmy thingies etc. I live next to one of the larger underground markets, Bupyeong Market. It pretty much is the land of the 5,000 won t-shirt. Of course there is adorable Konglish shirts, some with drawings of stumbled over zebras with captions that say “white trash,” some wth circular slogans like “a lucky man is one who is considered to have good luck,” and some made of sheer awesomeness, like Jan’s shirt that says, “ONE SHOT ONE KILL.” And of course, there is the ironic vintage tee market, with old school Captain Crunch and Optimus Prime designs (though I wonder, is it it still an ironic t-shirt, if the person wearing it isn’t in on the joke?). Anyway, in my experience looking through this sartorial milieu (hey, I teach elementary school things about colors all day, let me use my big words when I can, alright?), I have found some Western imports that seem to be more popular here than back home (like David Hasselhoff’s popularity in Germany).

1. Neon Sportswear

Actually, I don’t know if this counts, because I think the American-American Apparel wearing hipster set also enjoys this particular color palette, but Koreans are really really into it. Particularly men’s fashion. I guess it’s handy for blending into the nighttime scenery.

Also, where there is neon sportswear, there is inevitably…

2. Kanye West Glasses

Okay, maybe not so contained to South Korea also. But yeah, I’ve seen a lot of them. Some without glass, so you can finally on have that prison bar tan on your eyelids.

And speaking of prisons…

3. Prison Break

Yeah, that crappy tv show on Fox where they somehow find themselves stuck in prisons to uh, break from every single season. THEY LOVE IT HERE. When I was on vacation in Busan, there was a full on marathon. And commercials and yeah… must be that shaved head/intense stare combination. And oh yes, there are t-shirts and other merchandise-y goodness.

And speaking of merchandise-y goodness…

4. Le Petit Prince

Now, this I don’t mind or am as perplexed by as much, but yeah, they love the book here. At Henley’s (which is an Urban Outfitters wannabe) there are tons of merchandise, little business card holders, notebooks, pencils, stationery, all manners of cute and adorable things. Last week, I actually bought a Korean/English version of Le Petit Prince with silver page lining and all that in Itaewon. Pretty sweet.

And speaking of books…

5. A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian

Which is a novel, that I’ve seen numerous copies of at What the Book? the English bookstore in Itaewon. And for some reason, it struck me, because I knew I had seen that title before… and then I remembered:

I had seen the cover on many many t-shirts in the Bupyeong Underground. In every color. For no explicable reason.

Anyway, so I bought it.

Yes, I wrote a whole post just to talk about my new t-shirt.

I also might have to pick up the book too since my shirt says that it’s “extromely funny.”


One comment

  1. April, YOU’RE extromely funny. Hi! Your blog is great!

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