Koreans build work relationships by having everyone go out after work and get smashed together. These occasions are known as “meetings.” Korean work society is a fairly uptight Confucian culture and so alcohol is like a license to get a little crazy.
Some of the male teachers at my school seemed a little aloof when I first arrived. Then we had a “meeting” together and now we’re all good pals. Round One of a meeting is dinner and soju and then it moves to Round Two which is a bar and more soju and Round Three if you survive that far is usually karaoke at a noraebang (“music room”) with whiskey and soju and whatever else you can get to drink.
I was never that into karaoke but sometimes on these machines I’ll find a Ramones tune or something I can sink my teeth into. In this video I’m singing a Sex Pistols song while trying to film the accompanying video which featured some stellar moments in Korean drama such as two women slapping each other across the face on a beach (sadly I missed recording that part). This whole meeting was worth it just to hear my co-workers singing along phonetically to the word “anarchist.”
After my performance you can hear the beginning of the ubiquitous “Sk8ter Boi” by Canada’s number one musical export, Avril Lavigne.
At this meeting I also learned that Korean dudes love Queen.
Korea’s playing World Cup soccer against Uruguay tonight and I’m sure all the downtown bars will be full of people getting their hof on. I’ve been given about four different definitions of the word hof, so I can’t really tell you exactly what it means, but I think the spirit of hof is adequately conveyed by this sign from Adonis Bar in Sinjeju.
By any logic “Adonis Bar” should be the name of a gay bar but homosexuality is non-existent in Korea by government decree. At any rate I didn’t see too many dudes making out in the place when I stopped in last week to watch Korea lose 4-1 to Argentina.
Here’s a video of dejected Korean soccer fans spilling onto the sidewalk after the game. Ooh yeah, those glowing red devil horns… remind me to get a pair of those.
I shot this video and then I ran like hell to get home before the streets and sidewalks started filling up with drunk drivers.
I live in a building called Martian House in Sinjeju. Sinjeju means “New Jeju” and I think the building might only be a few years old. My apartment is a small soulless shoebox of a room and it suits me OK.
Lots of people pronounce it “Marian House” and I don’t know how they get “Marian” out of “Marchen,” maybe I should be asking how they get “Marchen” out of “메르헨,” but anyway you can all blow me because I live in Martian House.
Check it out:
Look at those glittering spires, that gorgeous vision of a utopian future. Isn’t this what you pictured your life on Mars would be like?
Except I don’t know where that picture was taken, but it was nowhere near this neighbourhood.
This is what Martian House actually looks like:
They don’t seem to be too fussy about naming streets in Korea so I have gone ahead and christened the street that I live on as “Martian Road.” Here is my view of Martian Road at 8am every single fucking morning of my wretched English-teaching life while I wait to catch the 502 bus to take me to school. Check out the dude running across the sidewalk to avoid getting a parking ticket.
The first time I heard this woman addressing the crowd I was completely smitten. I could stand and watch and listen to her for hours. Meow meow, meow meow meow.
The lady is wearing a wireless headset mic. The speakers are way up on concrete pillars under the eaves of the building and the strange reverberant qualities make her voice less intelligible but more musical. She has this detached, robotic, melodic voice that sounds a lot like an analogue synthesizer. It’s scary how perfect it is.
I ate butter chicken at an Indian restaurant called Raj Mahal. Then we stood in the doorway and watched the rain. Just a little taste of the Asian rainy season, which is going to keep us good and damp for the next month or so.
A woman at the sunglasses store put her lilies out on the sidewalk to get them a little drunk. I decided to make an art video.
We crashed a foreigner birthday party at Island Stone downtown in City Hall. I was thinking “Not bad for a Friday night… but what this place really needs is some lazers.” When all of a sudden… PEW PEW PEW. And fire-breathing too. That’s how we party on Jeju Island.
A drunk blonde came up to me and said “What’s your name.”
“Philip,” I said.
“Philip,” she said. “Philip. How about Phil. Is it all right if I call you Phil?”
“Phil…or how about… Peter? …Phil, Peter or Eric. Which of those names do you want me to call you?”
And that was the end of that conversation.
I got a new pocket videocamera and took a stroll down Jeju Cultural Street looking for something to point it at. I don’t know street names in Jeju and usually I just make up my own, but Jeju Cultural Street is the actual name for the pedestrian strip in Sinjeju and I know this because it has a sign at the top in both Korean and English.
That ajosshi who sat down beside me and tried to light a cigarette was still there 20 minutes later when I walked by again, slumped over but not quite unconscious. I did see my share of conked-out Korean dudes on the street on my way home though. Including one guy who was parked beside the sidewalk passed out at the wheel of his car with the engine running.
Watch this video all the way through to get to the dirty parts.
This is not really much different from the dude who used to drive around North End Halifax yelling at the whole neighbourhood to come and buy some fresh fish out of the back of his pickup truck.