Attacked!! ...in a good way
I've been attacked 3 times in 3 days. But it's all in a good way. Maybe with the weather change, people are also becoming bold.
My interaction with random strangers pretty much just includes angry ajummas and drunk old guys. But this past weekend, I was reminded of a time when I was studying abroad in Mexico. An entire Mexican family rolled up on me snapping pictures and handing me their children. It was so surreal, both frightening and exciting. Margot and I returned to Samcheong-dong because I just had to see more! But I wasn't prepared for the swarm of university students who stopped us dead in our tracks shouting to take a picture with us. I actually did a double-take to see who they were yelling at. It was pandemonium and we interrupted the flow of traffic for a minute. Cars couldn't really barrel down the road since our new posse was blocking half of it. They were such cool kids though and I tried to find out why they wanted pictures with US in particular. One girl just showed me the back of her sweatshirt with the name of her school on it - some artistic college. I mused that maybe it was a special kind of "Where's Waldo?" assignment. Or even more specific, "Find a Negro". Which leads me to another interesting phenomenon that is happening to me out here....
When I see Black folks, I stare. In much the same way that Koreans stare at me. What's that all about? It really, really annoys me that I feel this way. And I don't have a rational explanation for it. It's just so RARE to see a person of color outside of Itaewon that it's as if I momentarily go into shock, mouth open and wide-eyed. I look at my fellow brothers and sisters like aliens and I can barely muster up a hello when passing. Like the cat stole my tongue, ran off with it, chopped it up, and buried it under some obscure rock in the middle of Eternity. If they don't speak to me first, I feel awkward saying anything at all. And then I kick myself for being a complete moron. Back home, there'd be no question. It's what WE do. It's an innate bond, the head nod, the dap, the whatever-it-is-we-do-to-acknowledge-each-other greeting. So then, in theory, out here where Blacks are few and far between, I should be 1000 times more vocal about speaking up and saying hello, right? But I'm suddenly shy...and feel that I would somehow be burdening them by assuming they'd even want to talk to me. This could be the same punkass gene that permits me to stalk hot guys in bookstores. When I'm with my group of friends, I feel okay talking to people, but for some inexplicable reason, I can't do that when I'm by myself.
So, I can partly understand why Koreans may stare at me because it is like seeing a ghost. A black one. And it's a genuine curiosity on their part. But I am not "curious" about Black people for Christ's sake. That's not the right word. I am...pleasantly intrigued when I spot one of my own. Truthfully, I don't really speak to foreigners at all anymore- Black, White, whatever. Unless I'm at a bar or something (which is NEVER), I don't feel the need to. I'm very friendly, believe me. If someone starts chatting me up, I'm always going to respond and be super nice. But I just don't initiate contact. When I do make eye contact, the message is simple and always understood - "Hey...look at that, another foreigner...yup I'm here teaching English...no we don't have to make a big thing out of it" And I keep it moving. I love gathering friends wherever I go, but it really pisses me off that I only have 3 Korean friends after being here for 6.5 months and 2 of them are my co-workers!! Anywho...
I also got "attacked" at the gym on Friday night. I was doing my reverse crunches and I was ipod-less (a rarity indeed). The guy who helped me open my membership, Sean, was the ringleader. Sean has a godawful cough which is annoying after 30 seconds but I deal with it. So, he strolled over to me with his trainer friend, Justin (whose name tag really says Justine but I don't have the heart to tell him he's got a chick name), and just started yapping away. Their English was very minimal, but we still managed to yuck it up for 45 mins!! Workout shot to hell. Then they called over another guy, Jay, who works in membership as well. We talked and laughed about everything from movies to music to sports. Mostly sports since I'm still a tomboy to my core. I will admit that this was quite an attractive group of guys so I assumed they were all married or had girlfriends. But when I asked, they almost went apoplectic on me, insisting they were as free as could be. I told them I was too but they didn't believe it. They're all in their mid-20's although Justin looks about 16. I'll need to see some ID from him. We even chatted with the girl who works the front desk, Jiny. She was embarrassed beyond recognition though, covering her mouth and laughing coyly. Oh, and she's gorgeous. Here I am in my dirty hat, smelly breath, and sweat-stained clothes standing next to the Korean version of Heidi Klum. Yeah, talk about inadequacy. But they're all really cool. I think my Korean friend tally is now at 7 thankyouverymuch!! *pats self on back*
My third "attack" happened as I was leaving the hair shop place in Itaewon. Two university girls stopped Margot and me again, wanting to take our pictures. But it was a little different because we weren't allowed to smile. That's like telling me I can't travel. Why would you tell me that?! And honestly, when I'm not smiling, I look kinda mean. But I went with it. Of course they were from some art university. So, be on the lookout yall...I may turn up on the cover of some Korean fashion magazine!! Or I could just be one of those foreigners with a "HOT ASS MESS" caption under it. Either way, I'M GONNA BE FAMOUS!!! *evil laughter* My fashion has semi-morphed into the Korean style though - sweatshirt, military jacket, black pants, and Chucks. It's really mindless dressing. As Jeff told me the other day, I look like a Korean girl from the neck down. Hahaha...and it's true. I've been mistaken for a Korean before when some guy started yapping to me about the bus. Then when I turned around, he nearly had a heart attack. Love doing that.....
Ok, here are more random pics from my travels around Samcheong...ENJOY!!!!! :)
** me and my Sprite can, cherry blossom park, and YAY TENNIS COURTS!!!!**