"Golf Man", "Kim Chi Lady", "Village Guy", and "Evan."
I crossed paths with this man while exploring a windy road near my new apartment. After about 30 minutes of walking, I found myself in a village with more stray animals than people.
"Village Guy" was the first man I saw, and he forced me to sit down in an office chair while he went inside his hut to grab something. While sitting and waiting, two halmonis appeared. One told me to leave, the other one tried to give me a bottle of soju she pulled from a pile of trash. I was still deciding which halmoni to listen to when Village Guy returned with a stack of pictures. I quickly browsed through the photos while using my peripheral vision to avoid hand slaps from the halmoni that wanted me to leave.
Village Guy's disheveled appearance contradicted his picture collection. He showed me images of himself from every corner of the Earth, usually posing with a different foreigner at each location. My wizened friend next pulled out world map from the 80's to show me exactly where he'd been, but the halmoni slaps were increasing in strength so I literally ran away.
About a week later I returned, first scouting the area from a distance to make sure the angry halmoni wasn't there.
Village Guy was alone, so I approached. Sometimes you can tell by looking at someone they're just begging for a photo shoot, so we snapped a few photos and exchanged stories. Well we didn't exactly exchange stories, because he can't exactly, well, he can't talk guys.
After our "conversation" I returned home, ordered a few prints, and brought them back to him a month or so after. He seemed appreciative of the now updated picture collection, and I appreciated his willingness to charade with a stranger. If he's single, I've found just the right fit for him in Kim Chi Lady. But, they might have a hard time communicating.
If there are two things I can count on seeing en route to school, it's a black goat and Kim Chi Lady. Our unlikely friendship has evolved despite the language barrier, and by that I mean she can't hear. It's a change of pace from Village Guy who can't speak. Kim Chi Lady that is. The goat's hearing is perfect.
I only know four things about her: she has cute puppies, she makes delicious kim chi, she can't hear, and she's camera shy (hence the distanced stalker photo).
Golf Man is the owner of a screen-golf business (Sa-Ka-Reen Gol-Puh), and while screen golf is generally expensive he kindly lets me use the practice area for free. Fostering a bond with this man has paid off, but the problem is I rarely actually golf. Instead I end up in strange but friendly social rings listening to jokes that make me realize I need to work on my courtesy laugh. The last time I went to hit balls, I wound up sitting in a room with four Korean men and a dog. One of the men was "Golf Man," and the dog was their dinner.
Whether I'm able to practice or not, it's still nice to be around golf, which aside from Zak Metzger I miss more than anything. Golf man's English is ok enough to carry on Konglish conversations, but he's no Evan.
Although Korean, Evan has lived in many English speaking countries as the product of missionaries. He's new at school, and after being surprised by his conversational ability on his first day, I decided to test Evan a bit against his peers. So we played a simple game. Basically, teams take turns writing sentences, with longer sentences being awarded more points.
Most students struggled to write things like "I like Dads" or "Mothers are OK." Evan wrote something like "Last weekend my sister and I were shopping and she came across a pair of nice shoes, but to be honest they really weren't her style, so I convinced her not to purchase them and to instead save her money, which we then spent on a bootlegged version of the overrated movie Toy Story 2." Evan's team won.
In some ways things are more difficult since his arrival because it's impossible to design a class that will simultaneously benefit Evan and his peers. He feels like more of a translator than a student. The other day Evan came up to me before class and whispered in my ear "Mr. Erik, if you want them to be quiet just get really angry at them." For hopefully the last time in my life, I took the advice of an 11 year old. I'll swallow my pride to control the nightmarish 4th graders. Its nice having Evan around.
It's quite nice having all my new friends around in fact. I think they should meet each other. I'm a bit afraid to introduce Golf Man to Kim-Chi Lady's puppies, but my goal is to get all these characters together as some sort of anti-Mr.Bear gang. Mostly just so I can watch Village Guy and Kim Chi Lady try to interact.