Okay, so I tried typing this post just with stories that referenced the title, but I found I had to backtrack a lot. Bare with me while I instead start from the beginning. Some day last week I was walking to work and I heard people yelling out “Whitey! Whitey!” (In case you don’t know, my skin is about as white as it gets – and that is why I’ve been piling the sunblock on before my weekend outings recently) I look over and there’s a group of other white (foreigner) people sitting nearby waving… Okay…I have to say… I waved back but I was a tiny bit offended.

I actually haven’t felt terribly out of place here in Korea. Sometimes I get looks, but mostly its from kids and it doesn’t bother me. But then again Saturday, there was another foreign incident. This one was funnier though. To fully understand the situation, let me tell the story of this day.

This weekend, Alyssa, one of the training peeps, is visiting Seoul. She’s been in Busan for 5 months so Quinn and I decided to meet with her, Karen (from Bucheon), Richard (from Pyeontaek), Sarah and Andrew (from Mok-dong) in the Hongdae area. Alyssa really wanted to go to the Bau House in Hongdae and then go to Gangnam for Doctor Fish. We ended up just staying in Hongdae, which is fine because it seems like I’m always in Gangnam.

Quinn and I arrived in Hongdae and it was raining… And Quinn didn’t have an umbrella so we huddled under my very tiny one. Something was happening in Hongdae, which is home to Hongik University. I know Kyung-hee University in Yeongtong was having a celebration for graduating students so maybe the festivities in Hongdae were similar but… they didn’t look like graduation stuff. Quinn and I were wondering through tents selling arts and crafts stuff when we stumbled on a protest pavilion. As we were leaving, we found two discarded roses from a graduation gift (maybe they were graduation festivities) and we took them.

Then we met Andrew and Sarah at the Bau Haus (Cap’n Jack was back!). Their chocolate milkshakes = crazy delicious. We actually hung out there for a really long time and afterwards we kind of wandered around Hongdae before ducking into a quaint coffee shop. It was still raining and we didn’t want to do to much wandering. Hongdae comes up most in conversations, it seems, for their clubs but the area also has some really nice, eclectic areas. It’s a college neighborhood so it’s no surprise.

After that, we got dinner at Dos Tacos (a Mexican place is the one thing that Yeongtong REALLY needs, in my opinion). Sarah and Andrew left to go to this language exchange that happens  at a bar in the area. Quinn and I decided not to go since we’re both still beginners at Korean and would basically just sit there in silence… But maybe soon! Next term, we’re going to really start studying Korean, for serious!

We kind of had to kill time after that since Karen and Alyssa finally arrived but they needed to eat dinner. We wandered around the bar area of Hongdae looking for this Alice in Wonderland themed bar but that was a no-go. Then we found a piercing place called Crow. And we walked in. And by the way, IT WAS STILL RAINING, six hours later.

Before, I get into the Crow part of this story, let me stop and finish explaining the title. So Quinn and I are wandering around the streets of Hongdae in the rain, huddled under my umbrella. I vaguely notice as two other foreigners (they were obviously foreigners because they were both blonde) pass. Then Quinn starts kind of chuckling and poking me. I hadn’t heard what the other foreigners said as they passed so I asked ‘What?’. He told me that they said ‘Look, a wae-guk with a Korean guy. You’re the wae-guk.’  And despite being in Korea for six months now, I asked ‘What’s a wae-guk?” Wae-guk, or 왜국 in hangul, means foreigner. I laughed but still wanted to turn around and yell ‘He’s a wae-guk, too!’. By the way, I probably haven’t mentioned, Quinn is of Korean ancestry.

And then about two minutes later my mind paused… wait a minute… we’re walking alone in a clubbing area of Seoul, walking really close because we have to share an umbrella and I was tired of leaning out and getting my arm wet, Quinn’s holding the umbrella over me, I’ve got roses in my hands and because, despite the rain, it was still warm out I’m wearing a tank-top (being a wae-guk, I can get away with that in conservative Korea). Which is when I realized they meant  ‘a wae-guk with a Korean guy’, not ‘a wae-guk and a Korean guy’, if the bold letters can help convey the different connotations.

Korea is a really couples-oriented place, a fact that comes up a lot in conversation between us jaded Western wae-guks. You always see couples walking around in matching outfits- hence the item on the Seoul Century list. In fact, earlier that day, Sarah, Andrew, Quinn and I had to pass up several coffee houses because they were too couple-y and, despite being two guys and two girls, we are not organized into couples. Quinn actually mentioned that when he hangs out with other Western girls, like Sarah, he always gets weird looks from people, mostly older people. They don’t really like the idea of (what they think is) a nice Korean boy dating a Western girl.

And back to Crow, the piercing studio. Quinn has been going on about wanting to get some kind of ear piercing for a few weeks but he’s a little, shall we say, indecisive at times. He was looking at the studs to put in the arch of his ear but he was still not committing to it, even though he obviously wanted it. So I told him that if he gets the earring than I would get something that I’ve been talking about getting – Unfortunately I can’t get it(or maybe them!) until next weekend at the earliest and I’m not saying what it (or they!)  is (or are!) until then! It’ll just have to be a surprise.

And he got the earring. It was a small, black cone-shaped stud (and it occurs to me I should have filmed it or at least taken a picture, but I didn’t…). Which in turn convinced Alyssa to get another earring but… there was an issue. She’s had her ears pierced all up and down before and this time she wanted to get something a little more extravagant. Unfortunately, her ear wouldn’t stop bleeding. Quinn and Karen both freaked out from the blood and honestly I was starting to get a little queezy from it. It was a lot of blood. The women do the piercings had her propped up with pillows and were fanning her and running her to the bathroom. But in the end, she was okay.

At that point, it was getting pretty late. As much as we would have liked to wait for Alyssa to finish getting the piercing, we had to leave and head back to Suwon. That’s the one bad thing about living outside of Seoul. Unless you want to spend the night, your night must end early…

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