Thursday, May 15, 2008

The South Korea.

(picture taken at a noraebang that had tambourines, wigs, and...a chicken mask?)
Last post on Korea.

I frequently find myself in the middle of a convergence, and the trip to Korea was no different. It wasn't just that Korea has so much in common with the rest of the world I've seen (admittedly limited). It was that things went out of their way to answer my quiet questions. Things...facts, really.

I came into Seoul to see a friend get married, along with his college buddies. Two guys who grew up in The South and had more "Casian" and "Seoul food" jokes than I thought were mathematically possible. [My favorite neolo-pun though, was "getting Han jobs." But be careful who you say that to. One Korean dude thought we were serious and told us where we could get two minute rim jobs.]

Concurrently, this guy left an entry for my Dry T-Shirt Contest #2, which encouraged readers to come up with a new tourist slogan for Korea. His entry:

Korea: The South Will Rise Again!
(confederate soldier holding a Korean flag)

Moving on...

One thing I've heard from countless American women going abroad, and specifically, to Asia, is how frustrating it is to try on clothes. You leave New York a size 4 and end up in Seoul a size XXL. For my part, I'd already actually gained a chunk of weight this year, so I was prepared not to take the size discrepancies too much to heart. But I suppose it's especially heartbreaking for Asian-American women like myself, to have to keep up with the same exorbitant eating habits as the rest of the locals, share the same DNA, and yet, keep getting chunkier...something older women will say is "your body getting ready to have kids!" [Anne puts head in hand.]

So I came to the wedding mantra-lizing something about inner beauty, and left it at that. Mere moments after arriving at the wedding hall, a mentally retarded guest showed up. He immediately took to me and the other Americans. He kept trying to give me his handkerchief, asking that I promise to give it back to him at the end of the night. He kept apologizing for creeping me out. He kept taking my camera, then other people's cameras, to take my picture. I can't say I did the right thing (endear him), but I eventually took a picture of him.
Inner beauty y'all.

Concurrently, a woman seated at my table said through her bilingual boyfriend, totally unprovoked, "Anne, you are a perfect beauty. Your face is perfect." She said this almost as if apologizing for my insecurities. And she said it in a tone somewhere between the expectation of my reciprocating into small talk and likeminded inner defeat. But seriously. How do you respond to that? You don't.

All that to say I gave off major psychic vibes and they were all answered across oceans and across tables, across words and images.

Lastly, my favorite convergence:The look on the Korean man eating his ice cream is priceless, made more so by the fact that we American tourists later replicated it eating silk worm larvae.

1 comment:

Deborah said...

Hi Anne,

I loved your Korean posts. And I'm in a good mood because Vertical actually paid me for my first book before I sent in the second one. Anyway, the "mentally challenged" man at the wedding. I've noticed here in Japanland that people who are difficult to deal with (usually because of a biological predelection) either glom onto me (the white lady) FOREVER or ignore me like the plague. It's never anything in between. In my 30s, there was a man in the neighborhood going on 70 who stopped by frequently for a chat, and referred to me as "Auntie." As for the Latino man in NY, all I can say is welcome to my world.But it's still funny. OK, I'm heading out for a bowl cut.