DVD room

After living in Korea for over a year, last night I finally got around to going to a DVD room.  I went with my friend Vanessa to Jongno, a very sparkly and drinky part of central Seoul where DVD rooms abound.  The first one we went to seemed to have a skim movie selection, so we went to another one with an only slightly better selection but with a copy of the Chinese film Hero that we could both agree on.  We handed the DVD to the counter-person, along with 13,000 won (about $12), and after a bit of a wait he showed us to our own personal movie-watching-room.  It was quite small, probably only big enough for two people, and it had a big-screen TV and a couch/bed with pillows and blankets.  They started our film from some magic movie-starting-place, and we watched it — complete with surround sound and (thankfully) English subtitles.  It was quite fun, and a much better place to watch movies than from my relatively tiny computer screen and bedroom.

Apparently, the prevalence of these DVD rooms in Korea has much to do with the fact that most Koreans live with their parents until they get married, and thus need a cheap place to "make happy" with their girlfriend/boyfriend.  I’m not sure if they’d succeed in the States, and I don’t think that we’ll ever find out as I think that they’re a huge copyright violation.  Nobody cares about copyright violation in Korea. . . yet. 

Beyond last night, my weekend was uneventful and slightly congested.  I have, more or less, accepted the fact that I’m going to remain moderately ill for the duration of the winter in Korea.  I’m not nearly as bad as I was last year, and I am thankfully going to America in less than three weeks and will thus avoid the brunt of the season.

a woman wiping

Today I saw a woman wiping her poodle’s ass after it took a crap on the side of the road.  I don’t recall ever having seen anything like that in America, or anywhere in the world for that matter, and I’m pretty sure I would have remembered it if I had. 

Once, in a back alley in Bangkok, I did see two dogs who appeared to be sexually attached — ass-to-ass.  I only caught a brief glimpse, so I don’t know how exactly it worked, but the image has lingered in my subconscious ever since. 

(this is good news)

Won-Dollar Rate Nosedives to 1065

(this is good news)

future-looking-scope

I found something out tonight that has emotionally derailed me. 

Sometimes I wish I had a telescope through which I could see my future and thus prepare myself emotionally for what’s going to happen.  Logistically and conceptually it wouldn’t work at all, and the implications of such a device are troubling, but it sure would be helpful at a time like this.  I could look through the future-looking-scope and see that things are actually going to work out the way I would like them to, albeit with a few small stylistic differences, and just relax.  Or, I could look through the future-looking-scope and see that things aren’t going to work out the way I want them to, and quickly turn into an emotional train wreck.  After recovering from the wreck, I would quickly set about in a desperate attempt to change the future — kinda like Back to the Future, but with a future-looking-scope instead of a DeLorean.

I have no future-looking-scope, however.  Just hope.  Hope and worry. 

karaoke party pooper

My friend Patrick had a birthday party earlier tonight.  I attended, and it was fun, although not as fun as some of Patrick’s previous parties.  Something was missing, some particular exciting or interesting or unique element… who knows what makes a party work or not work.  I spent time watching television, which is something I only do at very uninspiring parties.  The "Ultimate Fighting Championship," I was told, which entailed two men beating each other until one of them could no longer walk — live from Lousiana!

Much later, what remained of the party decided to head to Hongdae to go to a singing room (noraebang), which we did.  Maybe it was the fact that this particular noraebang was alcohol-free, or maybe I just wasn’t in the mood, but I couldn’t shake this feeling that I really don’t like being in these private singing room things.  If I’m going to do karaoke, give me a bar full of strangers to perform for, not a room full of mostly-strange party guests.  I don’t want to do karaoke to show off my singing skills, I want to do karaoke to be funny and twisted — to poke fun at the whole idea of it, and thus to separate myself from the concept.  This works best with complete strangers or with good friends, usually a combination of the two… but not with a room full of mostly relative-strangers.  What I find usually happens in these private singing rooms is that the people (usually women) who think that they have good voices spend most of the time singing (usually songs by Abba or Madonna), while the rest of the group sits idly by feigning amusement.  This is precisely what happened tonight, but to the extreme.  I was glad when our hour was up.

I realize that I may sound like a karaoke party pooper.  Perhaps, yes.  The thing is, I’ve had some great times doing the karaoke thing, but only when I was either very drunk or with very good friends — usually a combination of the two.  Tonight there was neither, just semi and semi. 

"Nothing much."

Tonight one my recruiters took me out to dinner.  This particular recruiter has a history of driving me to the brink of madness — once by getting us hopelessly lost en route to an important job interview, and repeatedly by laughing in response to her inability to understand a word that I say and by oft sending me rambling series of text messages.  I try very hard to be understanding, but sometimes she makes my ears bleed.

I have been a very good teacher for her — all of the schools that she has me working at are apparently very happy — so she insisted on  taking me to dinner to thank me.  I foresaw an awkward affair of uncomfortable silence, but I do enjoy free food. 

We went to the Outback Steakhouse in Itaewon, and it was indeed largely an awkward affair of uncomfortable silence, albeit with delicious steaks to chew on.  Delicious steaks that tasted like America.  The frustrating thing was that she actually speaks fairly good English, but she has absolutely no confidence in herself, so she convinced herself that she couldn’t communicate with me.  I prodded her with questions:  "What do you like to do in your free time?" 

"Nothing much."

"What will you do this weekend?"

"Nothing much."

I returned to my delicious steak.  She continued poking haphazardly at her steak and staring off into space.  I suggested alcohol, but I think she said that she can’t drink for some reason.  Sigh.

After we had both finished our dinner and our plates had been cleared, we spent a good twenty minutes sitting mostly silently at the table — I looking at her for signs of life, she staring blankly at the table.  Finally, she spoke up to say that she was very happy that I had come to dinner, and that she will bring her brother next time because he speaks fluent English.  Good, that will help. 

Wild Babies

Here is a funny sign from my trip to a Korean amusement park a few months ago:

Sign

Earlier today the husband of the boss who I slow danced with a coupla weeks ago gave me a ride from his wife’s hagwon to my next job.  Who knew?  I sure didn’t, and now that I do I have some serious questions about the nature of their relationship.  I’ll never ask them, and not only because they don’t speak English and I don’t speak Korean.  Some things are best left alone, I reckon. 

It was an awkward car ride, however, and not only because he doesn’t speak English and I don’t speak Korean.  It was raining, the windows were all fogged up, and all I understood from the radio was "Arafat," "Israel," and "Bush."  Very dramatic, or something.

things-interesting

Some things-interesting I learned from one of my adult students today:

In the Korean language, the word for friend (chingu) is only used when referring to friends of the same age (born in the same year).  If you are friends with someone who is younger or older than you, you refer to them as ‘older/younger brother’ or ‘older/younger sister.’  This is apparenly all part of a larger Korean language phenomenon wherein everyone is considered part of the large Korean ‘family,’ and so they communicate with each other as such.

My student also briefly explained that there is no essential structure to the Korean language — object and subject are indicated by suffixes.  So, the Engish sentence ‘The monkey attacked the tourist.’ could be written in Korean as ‘The tourist the monkey attacked.’ or ‘Attacked the tourist the monkey.’ without any difference in meaning.