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There are a lot of situations in life where you just think “well, there’s nothing I can do.” Well this week, I finally did something about one of them. It took remarkably little effort, and made me feel like Batman. Here is the story.

I don’t often get angry about things. There are so many other people out there who get emotional over any given situation, that I can just go along assume they exhume enough anger for the both of us. But there’s one thing that has gotten under my skin for years, only because I couldn’t get anyone else upset about it.

There’s this cell phone store in Seomyeon, South Korea. I’ve passed by it many times over the multiple years I’ve lived in Korea. Like other cell phone stores in the area, they’re very pushy about getting people into their store. But this store goes further. When attractive young women walk by, a group of about five or six men will physically grab her, and drag her literally kicking and screaming into the shop. They laugh maniacally, the girls’ friends will try to pull her back.

Each time I see it, I intervene and say in English “No, man. No. Don’t be a dick, man.” They don’t understand, but since I’m about 2 feet taller than them, they let her go and apologize profusely. But since I was only ever in Seomyeon a few times in a year, they would go right back to it.

I’ve tried to explain this to other people. Tried to get people to come to Seomyeon to translate for me. But without them seeing the genuine fear in each girls’ eyes, it just sounds like pushy salesmen. But this isn’t about selling phones, there’s no way one of those girls is going to buy a phone. It’s about a large group of men trying to feel tough by physically intimidating and restraining someone they perceive to be smaller and weaker than them. It’s an assault.

I couldn’t explain my concerns myself, no one would translate, and it was so regular that the managers must have already known about it. “There’s nothing I can do,” I thought.

But now, I live one neighborhood away from Seomyeon. I pass by that shop all the time. And last week, I saw it again. Once again, I jumped in, just as I always did. I passed by the same shop later, one of them saw me, and even though he wasn’t doing it, said “sorry, sorry!” simply out of habit.

I turned to my girlfriend and said “haha, he think’s I’m checking up on him.”

He did think I was checking up on him. And I decided to keep it that way. I had a plan.

Day 1: I stood a few stores down, inside a bus shelter. It was open enough that they could find me, but that they could reasonably assume I had been there longer than I had been. I stood perfectly still with a neutral expression on my face. They noticed me and nervously stopped bothering customers for a while. When they weren’t looking, I used the underground shopping center to go underneath their store and pop up the other side. I leaned against a post. They had just gotten back into their groove after noticing I was gone, when one looked the other way, and saw me there. Once again, I didn’t react. This took a total of two minutes. I then ate lunch and did the same thing on my way home.

Day 2: I went at a totally different time of day. This time, I was on the opposite side of the street. I stood in a pretty obvious spot, just to make sure they would find me. But I kept the same motionless pose and neutral expression. Once they noticed me, a large bus passed by with the perfect timing so that I could disappear behind the bus like in a movie. I’m sure from their end it looked really slick and ninja-like, but really and just involved running really fast into a noodle restaurant and hiding for a few seconds.

Day 3: Just before their closing time, I poked my head into a coffee shop, on the 3rd floor across the street, pretending to look at the menu. I stopped and stood in the window for a bit. I don’t think they saw me, butI could tell that they weren’t looking for customers anymore. They were looking for me. I walked very slowly out the door when I left so that they would catch me coming out. They did, and hopefully assumed I was concluding a long stake out. Like I was always somewhere, watching. (instead of the super dorky reality, which is that I was on my way to the arcade to play Mario Kart and sing Sir Mixalot in the karaoke booth.)

Day 4: On the way to dinner, I found a spot where they genuinely couldn’t see me and watched for a bit. They didn’t harass one woman the entire time. I walked by just so that they would see me. I made eye contact with the same neutral expression as I passed. Each one reacted, even one guy I’d never seen before. He must have been told about me. There are legends about me.

It’s been days since I’ve seen them harass a woman. And all it took was a few icy glares in a place where I was going to walk anyway. I’ll keep an eye on them. And I’ll remember from now on... even if it seems like there’s nothing you can do..... there probably is.
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78 comments
 
Nice one, Ryan.

P.S.: If you're ever in Bombay again, don't try this. Or Delhi, for that matter.
 
What a great way to handle this problem! And hats off to you for caring enough!
 
Thanks, Ryan...I appreciate your actions all the way from Washington State!
 
OMG this is awesome.. it brings "neighbourhood watch" to a whole new level. :D
 
Thanks on behalf of the harassed women and keep up the good work. sometimes to be a a real life superhero you need to take charge and act.
 
Excellent story! I am almost seeing the trailer with dark shots, dramatic music and deep voiceover.. even with a detail on a noodle restaurant :) "The Gazer - Coming soon!" :)
 
you rock. thanks on behalf of all women.
 
If you had seen me sitting in the karaoke booth by myself singing Lion King songs in Timon and Pumbaa voices immediately after this you would see that I am far from a badass.
 
awesome batman is so cool
 
i wish i was it be cool but im a goth
 
your area is really lucky as they hv got their hero... that's really awesome!!
 
Dude. Pimp.

If I come to Korea can I be your Robin?
 
You're Rorschach. And you're awesome.
 
2 feet?! How short are those guys!
 
Walt Kowalski would've approved.
 
In a city of new cellphones and broken dreams, human life and human dignity has no value. You can be grabbed, dragged, forced and raped on every step you take and there is nothing you can do. Until now...

"Where the hell is he?"
"There, on the bus stop.. he's gone!"

He could be anywhere. He could walk out of nowhere. He could disappear at will. There is only one thing you can be sure about - he is watching you.

"Oh my God, there he is!"
"No! Not the neutral expression!"

He will watch your cellphone shop. Stare at the back of your head. Look into your eyes. Even peer into depths of your own soul. The Gazer.

"This is my street!"
(storm at the background)

Coming soon. Watching you now. The Gazer.
 
This is truly one of the best stories ever.
 
Brilliant! Good on ya, Ryan! Love that you took action and stood up for something.
 
Pretty cool to see everyday Heroes on G+.. Thank you for the smile this morning... the world could use a few more "good guys" like you +Ryan Estrada aka Batman.. ;)
 
Nice to know there are still people who care to "get involved" even when it offers not direct benefit. It is ONLY because most don't anymore, that this was able to happen so blatantly. Good for you! Also, you were lucky enough to be born w/stature which allows you more chance to intimidate and have an effect - not all of us were so blessed, and so most of the time, when we try to assert, we are not taken seriously.
 
You mentioned you were around two feet taller than 'em... Don't you think it was intimaditing for them to see a veritable giant sizing them up... They wouldn't have done so if you were the same size as them! Also you're not of their own nationality, and well... xenophobia's real, okay? (guys don't badger me out on this) but everyone doesn't want to get into a fight with some unknown from an unknown land!

That said - I love what you did, and from now on I solemnly proclaim you to be Batman. (*straight face* *pats on the back*)
 
“Come back here baby!”
“You know you want some of this.”
“No! Get off me! I don’t want a cellphone!”
“Hahaha! Nothing you can do about it.”

Dun dun dun

Gazer: “If you value your lives, you’ll let your hands off her.”

(fight scene)

They took his wife.

“I swear I JUST saw him!”

They took his child.

“I think he’s there!”

But they can NEVER. TAKE. HIS. FREEDOM.

(Gazer looking down from above)

(jumps inbetween all and fights)

Gazer: “I dedicated my life to preventing this, to preventing rape. But what can I do against this?”

From Academy-Award Winning Director Hubert Schurdinger

Romantic Interest: "I love you."

Comes a story about stepping up

Jim Basille: “You can’t win Gazer.”

When no one else can.

Gazer: “Just watch me… WATCH YOU!”

(Huge explosions)

Paramount Pictures

THE GAZER
 
If anything it makes you more bad ass ;)
ETA: I'm talking about the Lion King Karaoke.
 
Gazer: “Just watch me… WATCH YOU!”

That cracked me up!
 
+Valerie Lemon Haha, yeah I screwed that up. Thought I ninja-'ditted it before anyone saw though :-P
 
The Gazer.. keeping an eye on you :))
Wanda J
 
Very, very interesting +Ryan Estrada !! And a very (noble? chivalrous? gallant?) On behalf of women everywhere who still appreciate a man with manners, I salute you!!
 
This story keeps getting better and better :)))
 
HAHA!
Glad to know there are still people like you.
 
Your ninja skills are superb!
 
That you weren't and played video games and sang geeky karaoke afterward makes this even more awesome. Thank you for this!
 
I was horrified by what this store was doing. Thank you so much for doing what you did to stop it!
 
+Davis Centis hehehe...I'm just messin w/u... thank goodness for G+ offering of EDIT... it seems for me, that there are many more times than not, that I read a comment again after I have clicked POST, and invariably find a typo I have to go back in and EDIT to correct...its a rule of the cosmos I think..LOL! Anyway, I loved your imaginative mini!
 
Sometimes we all forget that even the littlest things we do can have a big effect on someone's life. Good job!
 
This is the best story ever. You're awesome!
 
Rock on, dude. Seriously, you are my hero. And you didn't even need a super suit. Bad. Ass.
 
very sweet of you. But perhaps you could write a flyer and have a friend translate it, so you can hand it to them/the store. That kind of behavior is very frightening.
 
Great job - but it does occur to me that this has to be unique to their culture. If you tried to check up on a group of thugs in North America you're likely to get yourself beat down. I am really curious as to their initial apologies when you walked by. Why would they feel it necessary to apologise to a stranger if they obviously felt it was ok to assault these random girls?
 
I love this story. There really is something someone can do about wrongdoing if they take the time to plan a little and just do it. Good for you. You have no doubt kept a lot of girls from being terrorized. Kudos!
 
+Ryan Estrada With a good script writer, sure this could be developed into a movie........all the best!
 
Super cool. It also says something about being physically imposing (Sadly, I have been assaulted for interfering in people's fun and games :( But I'm sure if I looked bigger, the situation would never have escalated to getting physical).
 
Yeah, the fact that I am a mysterious large foreigner had everything to do with the way this worked. My point wasn’t that this exact technique will work in any given situation, it was that there was A solution. It was a super weird one in this situation, but that won’t necessarily always be the case.
 
Yup, and the point is you took action, you did "something". Kudos!
 
Ryan Estrada, you are my hero.
 
Dude,you're awesome. I aspire to this awesome heroism.
 
This is incredible! :)
 
Carry pepper spray just in case. Lol! Great story. Thanks for caring.
 
Batman..true you are looking like Batman..imagination can do every thing..right?
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