My week may have been uneventful, but the weekend made up for it.
For starters, the latest Sasuke episode came out. This is a big event for me, because unlike the UFC which puts out about two big shows a month, Sasuke (my favourite sports event) is only run twice a year. During Sasuke 22 (the last episode), someone made it to the final stage for the first time since Nagano Makato achieved Total Victory in Sasuke 17.
This year was extra exciting, as 16 people cleared the first stage (I've never seen more than five since the producers completely redesigned the course for Sasuke 18). Also, three of the four original Sasuke All-Stars still competing made it to the third stage; the first time this has happened in about four years. What's better yet, the producers released the first Kunoichi (Women's competition) since 2007. I'm currently waiting for my download of it to finish, and then the fun will begin again.
Later that evening, Hyeun-A made the trip across town from near Itaewon to have dinner with me. Being the lady's man I am, I hadn't actually bothered to figure out where any good places to eat were, so the first fifteen minutes of our date were spent trying to find a suitable restaurant (in my defence I only had two weeks to prepare). Eventually Hyeun-A spotted a tiny kalguksu restaurant though, and we were able to eat.
Kalguksu apparently describes any soup that has heavy, thick noodles in it. Hyeun-A tried to translate the menu for me, but somehow something was lost in the translation, and I ended up with patkalguksu (red bean noodle soup) that was kind of bland, while she had the kalguksu that didn't look like diarrhea.
After dinner I took Hyeun-A for a walk along the stream near my house. I have wanted to walk or run down the paths next to this stream since I first saw them, but had not found that magic combination of time and specific inclination until this. I can say it was a big disappointment. I thought on a Saturday night the paths would be peaceful and quiet. Instead, it seemed like everyone with a bike or set of running shoes was out on the trails in traditional Korean fashion - neither riding/walking on the left or right, but rather scattered randomly across the width of the trail, making for a stressful night of constantly having to move back and forth.
What's more, where I live, I'm used to using the bike trails as a medium for easy, traffic light-/stop sign free-transportation to somewhere important, by way of some place beautiful. However, bike paths in Seoul are always built along the dirty streams and rivers, and right next to the noisy, busy roads, and never seem to go anywhere particularly useful. People just travel to one end of a straight path, turn around, and then head back the other way.
On Sunday I went back to Namhee's church. Like last time, Namhee's friend In-hye wanted to pick me up from the subway station. I sprinted up the stairs to our meeting point and noticed a small white car, just like In-hye's, parked in the same spot as last time. I got in the back seat and said "hello." I had noticed that In-hye had a different friend this week but didn't think much of it. However, when the woman kept saying "no, no" in Korean and pointing up ahead, I noticed that "In-hye" appeared to look about twenty years older this week. When I looked ahead where she was pointing I noticed the real In-hye trying to wave me down about three cars ahead in another small, white car. This event of course produced a hilarious story that would later be told and retold, by In-hye, to anyone who would listen at church.
Namhee's church's service is entirely conducted in Korean, so I didn't understand much of anything that was said. However, the songs are quite catchy, and the church kindly put the words on the overhead screen in large print giving me an opportunity to practice my karaoke (I believe I mentioned this last time).
Additionally, since I recently bought a Korean-English Bible, I use the sermon time to read ahead on whatever scripture is the topic for that day. Today's topic was about two sisters who are so desperate to have children that they get their father drunk and rape him, thus producing two sons who go on to father a great line of The Lord's People. I wonder how Rush Limbaugh justifies that one?
After the service, In-hye invited me to a youth session. There were dozens of University aged Koreans there, and surprisingly they all seemed to speak English to some extent (and many to a great extent). Never-the-less, I was called to the front by the pastor and I introduced myself in Korean to the gathering. As usual, this went over quite well, and made me somewhat of a minor celebrity. It also helps that I've learned how to say "I am Namhee's friend" in Korean.
After this meeting, and another "smaller group" meeting, an even smaller group of just the smaller group leaders went out for barbecued pork, and invited me along. I have to say this is the first time I have been out eating with a group of Koreans and I was the oldest person at the table. It was a little weird.
Most Koreans think that it is hard for me to use honorific verb and adjective endings in the presence of elders, but since I'm always in the presence of elders I've become quite proficient at it. Ironically (for Koreans), I have the most trouble using the "non-polite" verb endings, because I never get to practice them. (In Korean, the same sentence must be said in three or four different ways depending on the age and/or status of the person to whom you are speaking.)
(My new friends [left to right]: Su-min, Su-ji, Won-jae, In-hye, and Min-seon. Min-seon actually studied English in New Zealand. Consequently, she peaks with a slight New Zealand accent, which is really weird to hear coming from a Korean. A good "weird" though.)
The meal consisted of some part of a pig which I was unable to ascertain, as well as the skin of the same pig presumably, barbecued in the typical Korean fashion - at our table. The meal was delicious, and the meat seemed to keep on coming, and I must have ate through two servings myself. Everyone was impressed with my chop-sticks skills, and I of course told them how much I loved eating Korean food. I made a big deal about how much more I like Korean food than Canadian food, but when we went to pay the bill though, the stores owner told us the pork had actually come from Canada. Oh well, at least In-hye will have another funny story to tell.