Travel story

A Stint to South Korea

6 day trip to South Korea was sponsored by Energy Up 6 which kept me alive every day and Korean Soju which nearly killed me each night with its 27% alcohol level. I didn’t sleep at all for the last 3 nights except for one or two occasional hours on a bus or train, but we were beyond mere exhaustion and nearing a sleep deprived dementia. At one point, Akemihiro and i were on the train and he took out his cigarettes and almost started to smoke, until i reminded him we were on a train! at least it wasn’t the airplane.

In Myeong Dong we ate a pizza with blueberry crust which was much better than it sounds and then we went to the Lotte Duty Free shop in Myeong Dong. When we arrived at the 10th floor Akemi said, “I’m a local here, only you are a foreigner.” and he was right. everyone here was Japanese, all the staff spoke fluent Japanese, even all announcements were in Japanese. Though Akemi informed me that there were some grammar mistakes in the announcements, which was extremely unacceptable for Japanese as this was a very high class place so every detail should be perfect. Yeah, Japanese really love their obsession with perfection. Akemi bought a Duppont lighter there for about 900 USD. I can’t imagine making a purchase like that, i’m more practical, and don’t have that kind of money, I also don’t smoke. A girl we met later showed us her 20 cent bic lighter. Akemi informed her it was cute but he could buy 5000 of those.
Later that night we met a friend of Akemi’s, Kay and some of her friends. Though Akemi told me how much Korean girls love Japanase guys, I didn’t realize how obvious that would eventually be. We drank at a restaurant late at night with Kay and her friend. I tried to talk with everyone and enjoy the evening with a few drinking games and casual conversation. But Kay’s friend kept talking to Akemi about Japanese relationships, actors, and Japanese porn. And that’s fine, she kept asking him these questions because he’s japanese, but I’ve been living in Japan for over a year, so i also have some input in these topics too. and so finally, she asks Akemi, “what’s your name?”

and..reluctantly, she then turns to me and asks the same question, but it sounded more like, “oh do you have a name or somethin’?”

We had mostly a lot of fun interactions in Korea though. Late one morning at a bar, a girl who couldn’t speak much English, dialed a number and gave me her phone. Expecting someone korean with barely any English ability, i answered with “what’s up dawg?” (Just for fun Akemi and i had been referring to everyone in korea as Dawg, bro, and dude) and to my surprise it was actually an american korean guy, who told me that “yeah, i am from the America.” She then dialed another number and said “chinese” so i started talking to this other guy in Chinese for a minute before passing the phone to Akemi, who asked, “how old are you?” “are you a university student?” I then informed him, “hey that’s her dad.”

She chewed noisily and spat in front of us. A breach of manners we would never see in Japan. To discuss this fact without anyone understanding us, we spoke Chinese.

Akemi: ???????
me: ??????????

and it’s easy to see how a girl’s lack of manners can seem so unattractive in Japan. I considered the idea that there’s possibly some american guys who appreciate a girl who can be rude and break social norms out of bad habit or just for fun. But Japanese usually can’t appreciate things like that.

Another breach of etiquette i hadn’t noticed but Akemi pointed out to me was that in Japan, a girl only looks in a mirror, checking and fixing up her hair in the presence of boys if she isn’t interested in them so it was quite rude from a Japanese perspective when we noticed that in Korea a lot.