NOTE: I just arrived in Korea for my second visit yesterday evening. I attended an event for 325Kamra and then went to sleep. Today is my first full day in Korea.
I had lunch with Han Mu today (see Buckle Up, Skippy, You're Going to Get a Guided Tour of My Descent into Imaginary Hell). Like everything else that involves Han Mu, of course it wasn't fucking easy. As I was taking the train to meet him, I was repeating the words of wisdom that the Sane One imparted to me minutes before I left. "Don't try to fix anything, just approach it like he's a friend and you're meeting for lunch." Now there are probably two things that need to be pointed out here. Point one: I DON'T FUCKING LIVE HERE. Point two: I have not learned any more words of Korean than I previously had. Han Mu has no idea where anything is in Seoul. He asked what I wanted for breakfast/lunch, and I thought, "Let's not be high maintenance and just pick something easy." I talk into the papago translator, "noodles." I might as well have said I wanted a chateaubriand for nine. Off we go on an epic hour-long walkabout -- roaming streets, looping back, doing switchbacks for no apparent reason. I point out several noodle places, but apparently the yelp reviews are too low for his preference. I finally get fed up and walk into a hotel lobby and ask where the closest noodle shop is. Voila! Three minutes later we are sitting in a noodle restuarant.
Han Mu is sitting there jabbering away in Korean, apparently having forgotten that this is a terrible way to communicate with me. He has a translator app and a dictionary, but he insists on just saying shit in Korean. I am starting to get really creative on my English-Korean translation side. I literally showed him the following translations: "I do not understand Korean," "Nothing you say makes any sense," "Please, stop talking in Korean," and "Only English." Apparently translation apps are fucking worthless or Han Mu might be a contender for the World's Most Stubborn Korean. Actually, it might be that translation apps are worthless, because at one point, he shows me his screen, and it says; "Your pictures show that I have gotten more handsome." I look up sharply, and he has this gold rimmed toothy looking grin on his face. I'm thinking, "Buddy, you're about as handsome as full blown AIDS, but you do you, boo." I just nod and give him the universal gesture of two thumbs up. This seems to make him even more pleased.
It's gift time. So I whip out the two presents I have for him. He opens up the small one first, which is a portable battery charger. He looks at it and isn't impressed. Well, it's basically a stocking stuffer, so I'm not too worried about it. The second gift is the better one. He doesn't want to open it. I guess the gorgeously wrapped plastic world market shopping bag that it came in wasn't exactly a screaming endorsement for the awesomeness of the gift, but you would think he would be curious, right? Not so much. Finally I insist he open it up, and he reluctantly does. It's a FCB Barcelona jacket. He askes me if it is rugby. I tell him that Barcelona is one of the greatest soccer teams in the world. And possibly one of the most famous. Maybe Han Mu is a North Korean spy, because apparently he doesn't know shit about the team. Well, just great. But there is an even better reason why I'm giving him this jacket. I lived in Barcelona, so it's kind of a connection to his son. That's totally awesome, right? Han Mu responds with "What's your email address?" so obviously this means nothing to him. The jacket he is wearing looks like it came from the Goodwill box outside the Seongnam community center, so this is a huge upgrade, but Han Mu just puts it back in the bag and says nothing. He then tells me that the battery charger is not a gift that he needs or wants, so he returns it. I shrug my shoulders at this point and make sure that from that point I don't use the translator anymore and just talk to him in English like he's talking to me in Korean.
No thanks for the presents, no thanks for lunch, and no interest in looking at pictures of his grandchildren (my biological brother's kids), lunch pretty much sucked chunks. I can't wait to spend four hours with this beacon of charm and pleasantry tomorrow. If he didn't like his presents today, he's going to absolutely love his gifts tomorrow. I'm going to make it competitive and see how bad of a gift I can give him. Top contenders so far are a pile of used tampons and a swift kick in the dick. I might even learn the Korean phrase for "You're very welcome!" if I give him those.
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