The QiRanger Adventures

Rounding out the year!

with 4 comments

NOT Korean

It’s finally here. The last week of 2009. Just think, in just a few days we’ll be starting a new era- 2010! I’m really looking forward to seeing what the new year will bring Jo and I.

This also marks the third full week of Jo being here and the end of my winter vacation. Jo and I have been busy enjoying the local sights and exploring Seoul’s mass transit system. Since she’s been here, we’ve been taking more and more buses, since we’re both ecstatic to have such a great system to use. It’s also meant that we’ve been going to Gangnam quite often for a wide variety of things… and “forced” to have lunch or dinner at Dos Tacos.

Oh darn.

But let’s talk about Jo.

It’s widely known that Korea is largely a homogeneous country and that there isn’t much diversity. As Korea continues to expand in business and grow, that’s changing at a rapid pace and causing some problems, as many people are not used to seeing foreigners. In some cases, Koreans harbor more negative feelings towards other Asians than they do toward those of European descent. It was an area of concern when we were planning on coming out here for a foreseeable future, since a close family friend is Korean and he gets harassed when he visits his family here.

But what we’ve experienced is really odd.

Everyone we meet think Jo is Korean. Even when we tell them that she isn’t, they insist that we’re wrong. Many times we’ll be out and a random person will come up and start speaking to her in Korean, and she’ll tell them that she doesn’t understand Korean and that she’s American. I’ll repeat the statement in Korean for her… but they just ignore me and continue to try to communicate with her.

When we’re out shopping, I’ll pay for our goods, and the cashier will bypass me and look at Jo and ask, “Point Card?” I’ll respond that we don’t have one (in Korean), but the employee’s gaze never returns to me.

I have to say that I’m very pleased that she is accepted so easily here, since I was concerned for her.

But Jo does love things here in Korea. During our vacation, we stopped by the new Jjimjilbang for a lazy afternoon. It was heaven. We both enjoyed the spas and dry saunas, not to mention the scrub. Jo is really sold on the experience and we’ll be returning soon.

The one thing that was comical about the jjimjilbang visit was how the front desk staff treated us. I walked up to the counter and said, “안녕하세오. 두 명 찜질방. (Hello. Two for the jjimjilbang.)” Again, they bypassed speaking to me and tried speaking to Jo. I countered with, “여자가 미국. 한글 멊어요. (The woman is American. No Korean Language.)” The staff then broke out into some very broken English sentences for our benefit and giggled the entire time. We both found exchange quite humorous. In fact, as I’m typing this recount, I can hear them laughing and it brings a smile to my face.


Written by Steve Miller

December 26, 2009 at 9:24 am

4 Responses

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  1. YES Korean!!!

    Jo is Korean. It had been a long journey from generation to generation, and she is finally here. 😉


    두장 주세요. = Two tickets, please.
    두명 찜질방 sounds a bit embarrassing.

    미국사람입니다. (미국인이에요) = (S) is American.
    한국말 못합니다. (한국말 몰라요) = (S) can not speak Korean.

    Have wonderful holidays and happy new year!


    December 26, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    • LOL – She gets a kick out of it and all the comments. We were at Yonjusa today and the folks at the Temple Stay couldn’t believe she wasn’t Korean either.

      Thanks for the help on my Korean. My vocabulary is very limited at the moment… but it gets me by… for now.



      December 26, 2009 at 5:34 pm

  2. I can’t believe it’s almost 2010 already! Time just seems to go faster and faster as I get older, I guess cause I’m busier and have more going on! Now I know how older people feel when they say time flies, it does.


    December 27, 2009 at 3:34 am

    • Time certainly does fly! I think that the busier we are…we lose focus on the smaller things and just get into a routine. I know that I can’t believe that I’m over half-way through this teaching contract. It seems like I just started teaching here.


      December 27, 2009 at 7:35 am

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