Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Proposals, Police, and Penalties

During my time here in Korea so far, I have realized one thing: Koreans LOVE talking to me. We could be standing/sitting in a group of 20 people and the Koreans ALWAYS come up to talk to me. Why? I have no idea. Maybe it's my Midwestern charm that oozes from my pores. Maybe I just look friendlier than those I'm with. Not sure, but this has certainly brought along with it some interesting situations. Like Friday night for example...

So Friday I met up with about 8 other people at Chungmuro Station and we went out to eat at this delicious BBQ place that a few of the group had been to a couple of days earlier. The food, drinks, and company were absolutely wonderful! Afterwards, we headed to another restaurant/bar to meet up with some Korean people that some of the group had met earlier. We are sitting outside of the restaurant, just enjoying each other's company and having a good time when this random Korean guy comes up and starts talking guessed it...ME!

We had about a 15 minute conversation, which was made a bit more difficult by all of the extra noise and clamor of the busy street, but we eventually came to a bit of an understanding. He continuously said the phrase "sing congratulations song...sing congratulations song." Then he mentioned his girlfriend, while pointing down a dark alley way and mentioning his girlfriend. My first idea was that he wanted me to go with him to a Norae Bang (Korean kareokee joint) to sing the congratulations song to his girlfriend. This was not correct and so we continued to try to understand each other for another 5 minutes or so. Some how the idea of proposing came up. I even acted it out! Yes, I got down on one knee, acted like I had a ring, and asked if this was what he was talking about. His face lit up and he was like "YES! YES! YES! YES!"

I thought that I had finally figured out what he wanted: me to go with him to help him propose to his girlfriend and then sing the congratulations song afterwards. He showed me that his girlfriend was only a table or two away and asked me to go with him. I agreed and went over to sit with him and his girlfriend. His girlfriend and I awkwardly said hello to each other and then he montioned for me to start singing to her. Still having no idea what the congratulations song was, I made something up on the spot. It went as follows (imagine this sung in a horrible, off-key tone)...

"Congratulationssssss...He's going to propose to youuuuuu...Congratulationssssss!" (Yeah it was pretty classic)

Well I'm not really sure if either of them understood what was going on, but the girlfriend then proceeded to pour me a shot of Souju for both myself and her. After taking that, she then took a piece of the egg dish that they were eating with her chopsticks, dipped it in some soy sauce, and then FED IT TO ME! Yeah...needless to say I was a little freaked out at this point and decided to head back to the comfort of my own friends just a table away. I retold them what had happened, receiving many rounds of laughs and jeers, along with many renditions of my song. It turns out that he wanted us to sing his girlfriend Happy Birthday, which we eventually did sing to her, turning her about as red as is humanly possible for Koreans to achieve. Let's just say that this is one night that I will never forget.

On Saturday, I headed to the DMZ (DeMilitarized Zone) on a tour put together by Adventure Korea. My friend Steve and some other people from orientation also joined in. It was a really nice tour, but there was a lot of down time at each of the sites, which kind of drained us all of our energy. It was really neat to see the area and learn a lot about the conflict between North and South Korea. Below are some pictures from the trip:

There are still active mines all near the DMZ area

North Korea...this is the closest that anyone could get a picture of the country

The final train station in South Korea...the train tracks actually run into North Korea, but no trains go there
Sunday, I went to an FC Seoul soccer game at the World Cup Soccer Stadium. As I left my apartment (literally 10 feet outside of the front door), I was stopped by a cop car driving by. The following conversation ensued:

Korean Cop: (after saying some incoherent things in either English or Korean) Can I see some identificiation please?
Me: Of course (I hand him my Alien Registration Card)
Korean Cop: What are you doing here in Korea?
Me: I am teaching English at a high school
Korean Cop: Is this your first time in Korea?
Me: Yes it is.
Korean Cop: What is your occupation?
Me: I'm a teacher (I JUST TOLD YOU THIS, REMEMBER?) (I didn't actually say this...just thought it in my head)
Korean Cop: So what do you think of Seoul so far?
Me: Oh, it's awesome! I really like and am glad that I'm here.
Korean Cop: Glad to hear that. (hands me back my ARC) Have a great day! (Drives away)

Needless to say, I was a bit frightened at first. I honestly have no idea why they stopped me (apparently the "Koreans always talk to me" rule also applies to cops in cars). I'm going to say that they were taking surveys of random foreigners on the street. Lucky me!

World Cup Soccer Stadium

The crowd celebrating the winning goal!
The soccer game ended up being a lot of fun! It was my first live soccer game EVER and FC Seoul ended up winning, 2-1! They scored the winning goal off of a penalty kick in the final minute! Super exciting! The game was an absolute blast and I'm looking forward to attending another game on Saturday! Hopefully the ending is just as exciting and positive!