Koreans must be king of the road. That doesn’t mean they must travel a lot. It means they must get there first. It means that they have a tendency to want to control everything, and some Koreans are really bad about wanting to control what is happening on the road. If you don’t drive how they want you to, you really hear about it! The things they do on the road have shocked me, but I have learned to cope with them and learned to stay out of the path of anger for the most part.
The first time a Korean had road rage against me, I was really scared. I was living outside of Seoul and driving to work. I was going the speed limit. I don’t like to break the speed limit. I was on a several lane high way. I decided to change lanes, and then I changed my mind and got back on the other lane. I didn’t realize it, but there was a Korean in the other lane who was speeding. He was in such a big hurry that he went crazy and got mad when I changed lanes because I slowed him down. He was so angry he ran into the guard rail. I had no idea he had run into the guard rail.
As I went down the road, I noticed a car was following me and trying to keep close to me. When we stopped at the stop light. a young guy from the other car got out of his car, He came toward my car and was screaming. I locked my car door. He scared me. He walked in front of my car and beat on the front of my car continuing to scream. When the light changed, he happened not to be in front of my car, but beside me, so I just took off. I had already taken my cell phone out and called my boss while sitting at the stop light. I wanted her to call the police because I was scared, but she didn’t. She told me to just ignore him and come on to work, and I did.
A few days later, a policeman showed up at my school. The guy had made a complaint to the police because he was so angry. He had been standing in the police station for three days screaming, and the police didn’t know what to do with him. According to the police, he had been in the wrong and when he hit the guard rail it was his own fault because he was speeding and angry, but he wouldn’t go away. He wanted me to pay for the damage on his car. The police told me that, legally, I didn’t have to pay for the damage on his car, but if I didn’t, they had no idea what to do with this screaming guy. The police man asked a favor of me. He asked me to let them charge the damage on this guy’s car to my insurance company. I hadn’t used insurance before because I don’t normally have accidents, and I really didn’t understand how it worked. They said the insurance company would pay for it, not me, so I let them do it. It was a mistake because it became a blot on my insurance record. It solved the problem of the guy screaming at the police station, but it gave me a problem that followed me.
Another time, I was driving over by the mall. A bus driver decided he didn’t want me in the road, or maybe he didn’t see me. He wanted to change lanes and almost pushed me off the road. I had to change lanes not to be hit. I am always afraid of Korean buses because of this kind of stuff. I had to be in the lane I was originally or I would get lost, so I sped up and changed back to the lane where I was in front of the bus. That made the bus driver angry! He began trying to actually knock me off the road. When we stopped at the stop light, he got out. I was where I could take an exit even if I didn’t know where it would go, so I took off on the exit road. He got caught at the stop light and couldn’t follow me. By the time he got back in his bus, I was gone, and he had no idea where I was. Buses are on a schedule, and they don’t always see the cars beside them, so I am extra careful to try not to travel close to them.
This week, there was someone else with road rage. I was driving along toward E-Mart to go grocery shopping. All of a sudden, a taxi came out of nowhere and decided to get in front of me. He hadn’t signaled or anything, and if I hadn’t swerved, I would have hit him. There was no car in the other lane, so it was okay that I quickly signaled and swerved and went half way into the other lane letting the taxi have room so there wouldn’t be an accident, and then I pulled immediately back into the lane behind the taxi. There was a car further back in the lane where I had had to swerve. The driver decided they didn’t like me swerving. Evidently, they didn’t realize I had just prevented an accident. They honked their horn at me. They sped up. They honked again, and I could tell they were following me. We came to a stop light. I was scared they would get out of their car and cause trouble. I hadn’t planned on turning, but I quickly got in the right lane and turned right leaving the other car sitting at the stoplight. I drove into the neighborhood where I hadn’t planned on going and the car who was bothered by me couldn’t find me. It was finished. No one has come after me, and it has been a few days.
It isn’t easy to drive where they all think they should be the only one on road. I know no one wants you to change lanes here in Korea, so I do it as little as possible. I am glad that I am the person who likes to go the speed limit, but at times, I have learned that going the speed limit can cause trouble. I still drive the speed limit, though. I now drive a car that looks like everyone else’s car and the windows are tinted so they can’t see a foreigner is inside. Seeing a foreign face would make these people with road rage even worse. I know the roads better than I used to, and turning off to get away from crazy people isn’t quite as much of a problem. I learned that my boss wasn’t going to help me if someone bothered me, so I never call that lady anymore if I have a problem. Driving is different in every country. I have heard of road rage in America, but never experienced someone with road rage until I came to Korea.