The QiRanger Adventures

A great little night…

with 4 comments

Last night I had the opportunity to finally meet someone I had wanted to for a long time. You see, when I first found out I where I was going to be living in Korea, I decided to do a quick Google search for any blogs about the region. What I found was Jason’s blog about Dongtan.

i was instantly captivated by the blog, since unlike so many others I have read, he was not bitching and complaining about Korea, his school, and life in general. It was quite refreshing, especially since the blog I stumbled upon right before his was from a guy from Perth, Australia who came to teach English… and two days later was already planning his “escape.”

One of the other things I really enjoyed about Jason’s blog is that it focuses on photography. Coming from that background, I really have enjoyed seeing his work progress. Plus, in the time leading up to my return, it helped me get excited about seeing some of the great sights once more. In fact, this weekend, I’m planning on retracing my walking tour steps, but this time making sure the video camera heads are cleaned!

So where am I going with is???

Over the past few months, Jason and I had started exchanging posts on blogs and emails. Furthermore, since the ex-pat community is quite small in Dongtan, I quickly realized that we also have a number of friends in common (small world, eh?). Originally we had planned on getting together for dinner last week… but something came up (like dental work – you can read all about it on his blog), so we canceled and pushed things back to this week.

Over the course of an hour, we ate a huge plate of the Frypan’s fried chicken, potato chips, and a couple of 700cc beers. It was really nice to connect with him in person after reading so much about his life here in Dongtan. While, he’s only here for two more months before heading back to the US, I hope we’ll continue to build on this friendship and see each other a few more times.

Following dinner, I made my way upstairs to the Cafe where my old friend Kim See In used to work. He had called to let me know that he was in town with a few friends that I had to meet. What I was greeted with was not what I expected.

It was an upper management from one of the local semiconductor plants that spoke almost flawless English. Usually when I’m invited to such gatherings a little English is passed back and forth and See In translates for both parties. This time different, the guest did the translating. It was quite refreshing, since on this occasion, I learned why See In has taken such a liking to me: it’s the fact that he’s never seen a westerner come to Korea with such a desire to not only explore the history of the land, but research and understand the culture. I never thought my attitude was all that special, but it appears to have really made an impact, and for that, I am glad. Truth be told, I’ve missed hanging out with See In since he’s moved away. It was always nice to meet up with him for a drink or two and trade languages back and forth. Plus, the singing was always a lot of fun.

That brings me to the point of the latter part of this entry: Karaoke. It’s no secret that karaoke was invented in the Philippines and that the Japanese really perfected the art of building machines to play music so that people could sing along with it. But what I didn’t learn until last night (and still haven’t been able to confirm) is that the social aspect of singing in front of friends has its roots deep within Korean culture. Hundreds of years ago, it was tradition to have a great big meal as a gathering of family and friends. Then, following the meal, instruments would be brought into the room and those attending would take turns providing the musical entertainment.

After the Japanese conquered Korea at the start of the 20th century, they took that notion and combined it with the Philippine invention to come up with what we refer to as singing rooms and noraebangs (노래방). And as great as those inventions are (hell even the North American style isn’t all that bad), there is something a lot more enjoyable when you are singing with a band behind you. That is the defining difference between the social element in Korean singing lounges and the noraebangs: the live band. If you ever get a chance to visit a live cafe in Korea – do it! They are and awesome way to down a few beers, shoot back some whiskey, and have an all around great time!

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4 Responses

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  1. I enjoyed myself as well. It was nice to put a face with a blog. I still got a few more questions for you about your other experiences. The Fry Pan has made my list of top chicken restaurants and the homemade potato chips were awesome. Next time we gotta get some Samgyupsal and soju. There is a cool little place near my apartment that Jaeyoun and always visit. They serve Samgyupsal with a twist.

    jason

    September 3, 2009 at 9:58 pm

  2. Glad you’re meeting great new friends!
    I hope you get to capture some of those good times on video. It would be cool to see and hear.

    Jo

    September 4, 2009 at 5:07 am

    • Maybe next time. This time was just a little get together.

      Steve

      September 4, 2009 at 9:05 am


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