Korea Day 2: Changwon House and Drinking with a Korean

I’m slowly getting used to Korea. It’s been an adjustment to be sure. But even the sounds are different. There are these giant bugs in the trees that slowly rise into an ear-splitting crescendo together. (I know they’re cicadas but I’ve never heard them so loud!) There is a man who chants, “Ohhhhhhhhh— hhhoooooooooo—” every morning at 6 am. There is a weird sound that I can’t place. It could be a bull frog or it could be a machine. Even the dogs howl and whimper slightly different in Korea.

In other news, I went to Changwon House (창원의집) today. I took about a million pictures but none really do it justice. When I got back to the apartment, Se Na (세나) was home alone and  we went out and ate 팟빙수 (patbingsu: a shaved ice and sweet red bean dessert). Se Na explained to me that her husband, Hee Jun (희준) is considered a Gyeongsangnam-do man. He doesn’t express his feelings well and doesn’t talk a lot. She said that he wanted to talk to me but wasn’t confident in his English skills. …ironic foreshadowing…

Back at the ranch apartment, Se Na’s children were as goofy as ever. The younger girl, Se-Eun (세은) decided that she wanted to touch my boobs. Let me tell you, there’s nothing quite as uncomfortable as a stranger’s 4-year-old grabbing your chest and then thinking it’s hilarious as you insist she should stop.

I was invited to dinner with the family. The older girl, Cho-Eun (초은), was the first person to feed me a Korean BBQ lettuce wrap. It may not seem like much to some people, but to me it’s quite endearing. After dinner, Hee Jun decided that I should drink with him. He poured me a beer and began talking with me. He used mostly Korean sprinkled with some English words. Se Na translated a few times when we started a new topic. When Se Na went to bed, it was sink or swim time. It was the first time I have ever had an extended Korean conversation with a non-English learner. It was awesome. Hee Jun talked about his family, how he felt about life, and about Korean pride. It was hard to believe that Hee Jun was a Geongsangnam-do man. Over three hours of chatting over Hite and homemade plum wine made me feel like I can actually live here. And not just as a foreigner with other foreigner English-speaking friends. But as a person who can enjoy everything that Korea has to offer.

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