Saturday, September 26, 2009

Episode 18: In Which DFM Tap Dances On Korean Television, And Almost Gets Hit By A Car While Walking On The Sidewalk (Again!)

Last week I mentioned I was planning on meeting Hyeun A this weekend, but she was too busy, so I changed plans and asked out Kyu-rhang - a friend I met at Summit Climbing Centre during my last visit.

We decided to meet at Hongik University. In the past I've always heard this area referred to as Hongdae, but never knew why. It has only been recently that I've made the obvious connection that Hongik University's Korean name is "Hong-dae-ip-gu."

When I went to the designated meeting spot I found that every Korean in the area seemed to have chosen this point for meeting a friend as well. Since I couldn't actually remember exactly what Kyu-rhang looked like, I decided to walk around and try to look as "foreign" as possible. My planned worked, as it did not take but a few seconds before Kyu-rhang tapped my shoulder.

Kyu-rhang asked me where I wanted to eat. I had been thinking about this on my way over, and I figured that Hongik University (an area noted for its many foreigners, dance clubs and University students) would not likely have a plethora of traditional Korean restaurants. I noticed a Quizno's down one side street and thought it would be neat to compare how a Koreanized toasted submarine sandwich with the Canadian version.

To keep my experiment as scientific as possible I ordered the same size of Mesquite Chicken toasted sub I usually order in Canada. I'm happy to say that the ingredients looked more or less the same, and despite my worst fears there was no coleslaw in the sandwich (unlike my burrito with Hyeun-A). That said, the chicken was not as thick or seasoned as the chicken used in Canada, and the bun was made with a different kind of bread and was a little dry.

After lunch, Kyu-rhang and I went for a walk. During my last stay I noticed that my friend Woojin would sometimes wear a shirt that featured a Lego man on the front. I figured it was something he had picked up when he studied English in England. However, since then I have seen many other Koreans wearing similar shirts. When I researched the brand BANC, I found out it was actually a Korean clothing brand. On this walk I told Kyu-rhang about how I really wanted to save up my money and buy a bunch of the shirts with different designs, but that I could never find a BANC clothing store. She had just finished telling me that she had never heard of this brand (ironically most of my Korean friends have never heard about this brand), when we walked right past a BANC clothing store. I couldn't see any of the prices on the clothes through the window, but the staff person looked snobbish and disinterested, so I can only imagine that the shirts are overpriced. I'm not concerned about that though, as I've already started a secret stash of money consisting of any budget surplus I can produce each week, and before I go back to Canada I'm going to buy out the store.

We continued to walk around Hongdae some more, until we came across an old man and two women tap dancing. I mentioned to Kyu-rhang that I liked tap dancing and that one day I wanted to try it. At that moment, a man with a video camera who seemed directly involved with the show asked me if I wanted to come up on stage and try to tap dance with the man. Being a good sport, I said I'd give it a try.

The instructor showed me a few basic steps, and after a couple of minutes of dancing while I was video taped, the instructor said I was a good dancer and the cameraman/director interviewed me. He told me that the instructor was 70 years old, and wanted to know what I felt about a 70 year old man tap dancing. I told him what I had told Kyu-rhang: that in Canada people who are 70 do not do many active things, and that seeing this man dancing gave me hope that when I am 70 I can enjoy my life like him too. The director seemed pleased with my response, but I think he was just more happy to have captured "foreigner dancing with Korean grandpa" on tape than anything. Kyu-rhang later told me that the dancing was part of a special television show for Chuseok (a Korean national holiday in which families get together to honour deceased relatives).

After my dancing, we went for some more walking. However, it wasn't long before some crazy driver in a van tried to drive up and park on the sidewalk, almost trapping us between a building and the side of the van in the process. This is the second time I've seen a car driving on the sidewalk, and I figured that it was a sign that it was time to leave.

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