LIFE&STYLE

Masan bus driver refuses black passenger

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  • Published : Sept 6, 2011 - 19:04
  • Updated : Sept 7, 2011 - 10:56
An American English teacher says he was not allowed on a bus in Masan because he is black.

When Sintah Khalid tried to board the 110 bus on Sept. 2 at around 10:30 p.m. in Jungni, Masan, the bus driver demanded to know where he was from, before ordering him off the bus.

“He begins shooing me with his hands in anger and says ‘get off’ in Korean (‘naga’) and I hear people chuckle,” explained Khalid. “Then I step off and he shuts the door and drives off.”

He said a Korean acquaintance saw the incident and was shocked by it.

“I don’t even feel like I can get on the bus sometimes. I really feel like these things should be addressed,” Khalid said.

“I want some action to be taken against him because he is working for the public. He shouldn’t even be asking where people are from.”

Khalid suggested the refusal might have been connected to an incident on a bus last week in which a black man verbally and physically attacked a Korean man who had offended him.

Khalid has been teaching in Korea for three years, the first two in Yeoju, Gyeonggi Province. He said that he had experienced racism in Yeoju but that it was much worse in Masan.

“I even had a woman spit on me once,” he said. “People cover their mouths up because they think I smell bad. I get called factory trash.”

He said he was leaving in a month because his contract was finished, and that he wouldn’t return because of the racism he has faced here, adding that many of his black friends had also received abuse.

Changwon City Hall, which monitors the buses in the area, said it had registered a complaint about a matching incident, but that the person in charge was away on business. Khalid has not yet reported the incident.

The city hall representative said it would investigate the incident and discipline the driver if he was found to have acted improperly, but would not speculate on what that punishment might be.

By Paul Kerry (paulkerry@heraldcorp.com)