Monday, April 11, 2005

Kevin: filthy foreigner

Walking up Namsan this afternoon, I passed a group of old Korean guys on their way down the mountain. One of them was obviously in mid-rant about something, and the others were listening. Then the guy went quiet as we passed. When he started up again, the word "wae-guk saram" (one of several ways to say foreigner[s]) was suddenly a part of his tirade.

Gotta love cowards who can't speak to you face-to-face.

Earlier in the day, Korea University provided a welcome contrast: I blogged some this morning, then hit lunch at a cheap restaurant near campus where they serve a delicious dol-sot bibim-bap (rice and veggies and egg mixed with spicy red pepper paste, served in a hot stone bowl) for only W3000. The restaurant's patrons included a group of Koreans speaking to each other in fluent Spanish (one girl in particular sounded like a native; if she wasn't, I'll shave and smoke my pubic hair), and another table at which two Chinese students sat, speaking to each other in distinctly British English.

It's a strange variation on a common theme found in large Western cities: instead of various languages being spoken by various ethnicities, a limited number of ethnicities was showing off its varied linguistic background. I thoroughly enjoyed being awash in Spanish and British English and Korean.

After my time at KU and Namsan, I got on the subway and decided to head back to my place.

While I'm enjoying the daily workout that the walk up Namsan provides, the unfortunate byproduct of this work is that I smell pretty ripe, from my feet on up. I feel sorry for the Koreans who sit next to me on the subway; I'm confirming every stereotype they have about filthy, smelly Americans. Maybe, when I reach the top of Namsan, I should strip down and shower right there on the mountaintop plaza using those nifty water fountains. You don't think the Japanese tourists would mind, do you?


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