It was a very eventful day for a dark-skinned foreigner in Seoul. Well, for me, at least. I dont know why, but Korea really wanted to entertain me today. The following situations all occurred today within a 8 hour period.
During Korean class, my teacher was talking about how Koreans think that physical appearance is very important and all the negative things that come with that. Well, at one point, she used a word I didn’t know, so I looked it up on the Naver English Dictionary website. It ended up meaning, “discrimination” but one of the examples provided was, well, something else..Just take a look-sie at the first example. I think Naver needs to update it’s English vocabulary. It’s not the 1960s anymore. Even so, where would they get the notion that using the word “colored” is normal and acceptable these days?
In other, lighter, news, my friend and I were walking back to our dorm after Korean class when we saw these two really cool looking guys with flashing red sunglasses; they were passing out some sort of energy drink called “Burn!”. Well, I personally rarely get handed anything being passed on the streets. Perhaps because the people think they’ll have to speak to me in English, oh well. Well, these guys looked really cool so I really wanted something. My wish came true!! It’s quite funny though, one of the guys pulled out all of the stops and used what I think is the full extent of his English vocabulary: “Yo! Hello! (hands me the drink) Free! Oppan Gangnam Style! (does the dance) Picture! (takes a picture of my friend in I with the drink in hand) Thank you! Bye bye!” Impressive, sir. Impressive. It was cute.
Then, about an hour later, my little group of friends and went to get kalbi (Korean beef spareribs that you cook at your table…SO GOOD) at a restaurant near campus. It was cute, sit on the floor style eating. We got free mushrooms, apparently (that’s what the ajumma told us) and she did most of the cooking for us. When the first batch of meat was done(ish), she took a piece of lettuce, stuck in a piece of beef, dabbed some sauce on it, and stuck it up to my face. I wasn’t sure if I should grab it or just open wide..I had a mini panic attack for about 2 seconds in my head. So as I did a little dance where I opened my mouth and trying grabbing it at the same time, she just shoved it in my mouth and asked if it was delicious. Why yes, it was. We all thought that that was pretty funny and laughed about it for awhile. She came back to cook some more, and cut up our nice, free mushrooms and then fed that to me. Well, dang. This woman loves me. Ajummas in general really love me; I’m not quite sure why. I wonder if the rule of the evening is that the girl with the darkest skin is the one who gets fed. Or if she was trying to teach me the proper method of eating Korean barbecue. In which case, I have PLENTY of experience. Oh well, it was fun.
And then there was Myeongdong, a famous shopping area flooded with Chinese and Japanese people. It’s awesome and the shopping is great. (I finally got a winter coat, yay!) Well, we were making our way towards Forever 21 when we spotted a very well built Spiderman with wonderfully fake biceps. He saw me, said “Wow!” and then took something out of his pocket. Candy. He put some into my friend’s hand and mine, and said that they were very tasty and that we should eat them. They’re not drugs, he said. He walked away and my friend ate them. So…I ate them. Isn’t that something you learn when you’re younger? Don’t take candy from strangers? Oops.
Don’t take candy from strangers, kids.
PS: The candy was fine…I’m still alive…for now.