Friday, August 6, 2010

A little taste of culture

It was Friday night. I had been talking about going to a Norae Bong (Karaoke but in a private room with only your friends) for half the week and - I hear this happens a lot - all the morning teachers went out to dinner together and then to a norae bong without inviting the afternoon teachers. And I being new and having no phone or numbers, didn't know how to go meet up with them. I was sad but figured it wouldn't be so bad doing something else.

Tyler and I went to this Italian place near school called Basilico and met up with Shelly and Stephanie from school. We had dinner, and Stephanie texted the other group and found out where we could all meet up. I was excited.

We had a little time to kill so Stephanie and Shelly went to Home Plus to get some supplies and Tyler and I went to some batting cages a couple blocks from school. I'd never been to a batting cage, so it was pretty fun hitting 15 or so balls at a time for 500 won. There was a group of Korean guys there, goofing around, hitting the punching machine that measures your power level (I have yet to hit OVER 9000!!!), and batting. We started trading off the cage with them, and they start making fun as Tyler hits balls, yelling out "Strike!" and "Foul!" and "AHHH!" all with heavy Korean accents. They all gave him high fives and pats on the back when he came out.

We were about finished, when they handed Tyler another 500 won coin and motioned for him to bat again. He did, and then they handed me a coin and start talking excitedly. One of the guys comes up behind me and starts massaging my shoulders, as the whole group, in unison, starts singing the rocky theme song music. No word of a lie. I bat and do horribly, so one of the Korean guys gets up to do it and says "I immitate" and does this goobery little version of me hitting balls.

Soju commercial - hilarious

One of the guys with them spoke enough English to get by with us, and asked where we were going next. We told them, and they invited us to come out with them instead and get drinks. How could we refuse?

They took us to a little place where they ordered a couple plates of appetizers (a fruit plate and a plate with warm kimchi and tofu, then some shoestring french fries or "French potatoes" as one of the guys said, trying to explan) and seven bottles of Soju by the end of it. Soju is a Korean alcoholic drink that is almost as cheap as water, .

All the guys we went out with were a range of ages from 24-32 Korean age (You turn 1 when you're born, then age another year at the new year. Your actual birthdate doesn't factor into Korean age). I wish I knew all their names but I only remember Ji Hoo because he's the only one who made a big deal out of us learning it.

We learned a bit about Korean drinking customs, for instance when you pour you should put your free hand to your chest just below the shoulder joint, almost in your arm pit, and you should always serve from eldest to youngest in descending order out of respect. And you never pour your own drink. Some of the guys would put a finger in another person's shot glass (you drink soju shots, though not always all in one gulp) to see if there was any liquid left in the bottom, I assumed because if there is, it is a sign that they do not want to continue drinking.

We basically had a roudy good time, trying to communicate and pantomiming everything we couldn't get across in language. They all want to go out to Hongdae, a district in Seoul, and also want to play basketball, and one guy wants to spar with me in Judo.

After drinks, we all went to a norae bong so I could experience it for the first time. These guys had work the next day, and stayed out with us till almost 2 am (one guy passed out at the table at the soju place and everybody put him in a cab and sent him home, and another couple were passing out on couches at the norae bong). They didn't have a lot of conventional western songs at the norae bong, but they did have things that you would NEVER find in the states, like Avantasia and, most importantly, FULL MOON BY SONATA ARCTICA!

I sang my little heart out on that song. I haven't tried speaking this morning but I imagine it won't work out so well. We parted with them amidst numerous promises to e-mail and call as soon as we get phones. I hope we hang out with them again. That is how I'll have good opportunity to practice Korean.


  1. Fantastic commercial. Hearts coming out of nerd's eyes and everyone hungover on the bus, both classic. Sounds like a great night. Did hearts come out of your eyes?

  2. Hearts from the eyes is a sign of weak constitution over here, so I kept it in