Thursday, September 07, 2006

I'm Here

In kind of a funny way to confirm I wasn't just dreaming about how things are here, my first class of tiny boys who don't know any English was interrupted by screams from the street below. I watched, along with the rest of the neighbourhood, as a harrabogi (grandpa) and halmoni (grandma) went at it down on the sidewalk. They yelled back and forth, with the man threatening to beat the woman with his umbrella or fist every once in awhile. She shrinked back everytime it seemed a blow was coming at her, but resumed screaming when she realized she still could. I didn't intervene. I was up in a second floor window, and my students were taking turns climbing on my back. Finally, the man forcibly dragged the woman down the street and into a buiding.

After work, I was called over from across the street by the owner of my favourite restaurant. He was drinking soju with a bunch of men and women, and they had a frypan fired up, grilling hunks of samgyepsal outside a butcher's shop. He doesn't speak English. When I first met him, he'd greet me with a handshake that included one of those discreet palm scratches from one of his fingers. I'd always extricate my hand and slap his arm, admonishing him for being bad. Lately he's graduated to generous bear hugs when he meets me. Sometimes he sits at my table at his restaurnt and attempts to recall every English phrase he's ever heard.

Today, fuelled by soju, he landed his face in my chest and made some "bublubluuubaaaah" sound as he nestled his head back and forth before I could manage to land my hand on his forehead and shove him away. His drinking companions thought it was a riot.

Often, I'm a clown here, poised to unwittingly entertain.

I noticed a bus coming up the street, and begged off, saying I had to go, and ran up and jumped on. A dollar fare was worth getting away.

A few short minutes later I jumped off to visit my friends at their restaurant on the other side of my little town. As I waited to cross the road, I watched a fast svelte mid-sized dog with a badly broken back leg run right down the middle of the street, until he turned off on a side road behind me. In truth, I could be anywhere, if one were to guess by tonight's events. But yet, I'm here- watching things unfold around me.

And the moon, looking bright and full, watched it all with me.

More Canada posts to come shortly.


Anonymous said...

Life is strange, no?

An eight year old boy tried shoving his fingers in my personal holiest of holes today. Wasn't quite sure how to handle that........let him buy me a drink first?


Jelly said...

Ah! Dongchimee! (Which means "shit needle.") I've had that tried on me a couple of times as well.
Welcome to Korea, Christopher!

baduk said...

You got to be careful about ajussis, specially drinking kind. See you are a foreigner, a doll who looks different, and these men like to play with you.

Just avoid them. I am a KoreanAmerican and I avoid them. I can recognize dangerous ones right away by words they use. In any case, I stay away from heavy drinkers. They turn against you like a rabid dog.

baduk said...


Just shout at them "Stop" with an angry face. Slap them in hands or buttocks if they continue. It is allowed.

If you don't, he will continue. You must establish "upper hand". Koreans understand and respect "angry face, angry shout and physical pain". Do use them.

baduk said...


Try applying to English schools in Seoul area. Jobs are probably better paying and people are more civilized.

You will have more places to go and enjoy. Stuck at small Korean city will be difficult even for me. I am a KoreanAmerican male.

If there is big city nearby, think about living there and commute to the small city where you work.

lindsey starr said...

okay, well you don't have to worry about any of that with me.... I'm your BBM partner, and have a yummy package to send out to you- filled with treats from the other side of the ocean....
will you please email me, as I have a question before I send it out (and yes, it will have some pink lemonade crystal light in it!)