I’m a Canadian expat living and working in Seoul, South Korea. I was invited out to meet friends for a drink in Gangnam to celebrate a birthday. I missed the dinner, so by the time I got to the bar at 10pm my friends had already had a few drinks. After a beer and a shooter, I was chatting at the bar with my back to the dartboard area and I felt someone come up behind me, reach around and give me a long, creepy caress across my breasts. I was so shocked I did nothing, and my friend who was facing me calmly removed the hand from my body. I turned around to see a middle-aged man going back to his table of friends who were all laughing raucously. I decided to do nothing because it’s usually safer not to confront drunk men.
Maybe ten minutes later, I was standing in the same spot chatting with the same friend again and I felt a sharp stab up my butt. I turned around and saw the same man, holding darts, pretending he hadn’t just done that and acting like he was focusing on the game. Another friend from across the bar later said she saw him beeline to me before taking his turn at the darts game. Something inside me snapped. I stepped in between him and the dartboard, snatched the darts from his hand and threw them at his feet. We had a quiet stare down and then his friends came and separated us.
This bar is owned and operated by mostly women, so they saw what happened, shut the bar down and called the police. At this point I was crying and humiliated and did not want to deal with a police report, but I could hear the man from across the bar, swearing and shouting in Korean. F—k this and f—k her and f—k this bar, shouting about how unfair it all was. Since he was making a scene I decided to stay and speak with the police. I am so glad I did. They took my initial report very seriously. Nobody asked what I had to drink or commented on what I was wearing. I came back later in the week and they had hired an English translator to take down a painstakingly detailed account of what happened. I signed the case away to a free lawyer and the man is now going to court for sexual assault.
I am still really shaken up by what happened, but I feel really good about having spoken to the police that night. I was so close to walking away, but I am grateful to my friends, the bartenders and owner of the bar, and everyone who encouraged me to make the report.