His name is "Mr. Bear" and he's terrifying. I would put his picture here but there is absolutely no way I'll willingly get close enough to take one. Mr. Bear is in his forties, he is of large stature, sports tattoos, and he's described by a few college students in town as "mental low class."
The sad thing is it wasn't always this way. We used to be friends. He used to force feed me lettuce raps filled with pig intestines, a sure sign of affection.
Then one hot summer day I was walking down the street with a friend, admiring my freshly purchased ice cream cone. Across the road I noticed a car, slamming on its brakes. Traffic came to a halt, and out came a man who started walking towards me with purpose.
I recognized him, and said to my startled friend: "It's ok this guy is cool. His name is Mr. Bear. You'll like him."
My friend didn't like him. Here is the play by play of the events which followed.
Erik: "Mr. Bear! Annyeonghaseyo."
Mr. Bear: Says nothing. Stares at me inches from my face.
Erik: Takes a bite of ice cream.
Mr. Bear: Steals the ice cream, takes an obnoxiously selfish bite that I'm getting angry about while typing this. Puts the cone back in my hand.
Erik: Too astonished to me angry. Too hungry to not be angry. Tries to introduce friend in broken Korean but says something about flowers instead.
Mr. Bear: Not amused, still mute. Steals the cone again and eats another bite, then decides to keep the cone altogether.
Erik: Calculates that over 60% of the ice cream is now gone.
Mr. Bear: Breaks his silence by telling me I'm fat and that I don't need ice cream. Forces me to leave without the cone.
Erik: Laughs outside, cries inside, walks away.
All of this took place while Mr. Bear's car was running in the middle of traffic, on the busiest street in town.
By the end of the day, I somehow shook it off and was recovering to maybe 7th grade levels of self-esteem. A full recovery never took place though, because five hours later while walking home on the other side of town, I heard a man screaming my name.
It's Mr. Bear and he's approaching me with a handful of baked goods.
He started shouting something about drinking soju together. I was pretty fed up at this point, so just played dumb and ignored him while walking past, hoping Mr. Bear would simply leave me alone. He was pretty fed up too, and started shouting louder and walking faster, trying to physically keep me from leaving. I managed to round the corner just in time to get away...for now.
Mr. Bear has legitimately affected my life. I had to alter my walking route to and from the bus station in order to avoid his restaurant, for fear of confrontation. There is now a square block of Uljin I will probably never see again. I want to teach him English just so he can read this: Mr. Bear you are mean.
Fortunately not everyone in Uljin is as cruel as Mr. Bear. Take "Bum" for example.
I'm pretty sure he's a magician though because Bum is somehow everywhere at once. He is on street benches, around building corners, or hanging out of windows calling my name.
I was walking in the park one night at around midnight without a soul in sight. I heard a soft voice:
"A-dik". "Aaaaaaa-dik". There was a pause while I looked around in the darkness, unable to see anything but trees.
Seconds later the voice returned. "Aaaaaa-dik....Bum."
I never actually saw him that night but I know he was there. I see Bum on 20% of my days intentionally, and about 60% of them unintentionally. This is a good thing because he helps show me new sides of Korea, and frequently breaks into unannounced renditions of Gangnam Style, which I'm assuming is now famous outside of Korea. If you've never seen this video I promise watching it is the most important and least important thing you will do today. Unless you're from the future, then you might hate it by now.
And I said sure, I would love a box of ramyon that I can set on fire and leave outside of Mr. Bear's restaurant.