Sunday, April 26, 2009

And now you find yourself in eighty-two...

...the disco hot-spots hold no charm for you.

Yesterday I went to a language exchange I found online. I ended up being partnered with a very eloquent Korean fellow who spoke with a British accent and who had studied music in college in the US. At first it was a bit awkward, since there was no English I could really teach him, but then we got on the subject of numbers and how I had found them confusing in Rosetta Stone, so we worked on that. Korean has two sets of cardinal numbers, one that's basically Chinese with a Korean pronunciation, and one that's actually Korean, and whichever one you use for what you're counting is just totally random. With money, you use the Chinese set, but with years and age, you use the Korean set. He (and all of the Koreans) kept on going on about how hard Korean is to learn.

"Well, it's really different, but you guys have an alphabet. That's one up on Chinese," I pointed out. They laughed and agreed on that point.

We also talked about religion, traveling, living abroad, being a citizen of the world, North Korea, classical music, and the West's perception of South Korea. It was nice to finally talk to a Korean with really, really good English—I could use sarcasm and everything.

Then the leaders of the exchange announced that we'd be going to dinner if anyone wanted to. Since by now it was six o'clock, I was pretty hungry, and also eager to meet some people who weren't my coworkers. We schlepped over to a Korean barbecue, which seems to be the de facto type of place you go for "nice" food, though good Western-style restaurants still exist. Since there was only bibimbap (and not dolsot bibimbap, an important distinction!) I had pork, rice, and some kind of egg souffle/cakey omelette thing in a small dolsot. And probably half a bottle of soju.

When talking with my language exchange partner, he mentioned that one way of describing Korea is "the Ireland of the East." I agreed that it's a pretty apt description, both in terms of history and also, at least partially, culture. And by culture, I mean "drinking culture." There's an undercurrent of borderline alcoholism in both countries. Any meal at a nice restaurant would be incomplete with multiple rounds of soju for everyone. Koreans drink often and drink enthusiastically—it's very reminiscent of college, actually. Tidbit: you never pour your own drink in Korea. Which occasionally makes refilling your glass a bit tricky.

Also, during dinner, I ended up sitting next to a girl from freakin' Coopersburg. After we both made a mess in our pants over sharing the same stomping grounds, we talked a bit about Lehigh Valley traditions (Musikfest, the New Year's Peep drop, Royal Noise Brigade, etc). It was very therapeutic.

Once dinner was over, we continued drinking, dancing, and bar-hopping for the rest of the night. I caught a cab back to Uijeongbu and got to my apartment at about six in the morning(!).

So overall, good times. I don't think I'll need a night out like that for a while, though.


  1. coopersburg ---- that's outrageous

  2. I didn't know you had this blog.