When my now-husband and I were both in the army, we both were stationed in South Korea in 2002, although he was based in the northern part of South Korea and I was based in a more central location (we were only dating then). When our days off coincided, we would each catch the correct train and meet in Seoul, which is the capital of South Korea. I would catch the northbound train, he would catch a southbound train, you get the picture.
We used to have the most amazing time in Korea – it’s a beautiful country, Seoul is very modern while also still having a large number of historical things – you’d walk by the most amazing modern architecture, turn the corner and be at a very old Buddhist Temple. Just great! We tried very hard to be polite, understand the culture, and not just do the typical “let’s drink ourselves into stupidity every time we have time off and act like big dumb Cletus The American” soldier thing that a tour of duty in Korea frequently involves. I like to think that we did a good job of being good guests while we were there for the year, at least we certainly tried!
For the most part, the local Korean people were pleasant and very tolerant of our poor attempts to communicate where we could in the local language, would point things out to us as we wandered around, and were very helpful on trains and restaurants when we looked like we were clueless.
One day, we were in a very large park that had a lot of hills. There was this wide, sweeping staircase that went all the way up the hill – at least five or six hundred feet of stairs. There were quite a few people around, and we just got into the shuffle and headed up all these stairs to see the view at the top. We are walking up, and about ten steps “above” us there is a man walking down. We didn’t notice him at all until he starts shouting very loudly, in clear English – “Ha! I bet you thought I was Korean, didn’t you!!! Well guess what, American retards! I’m Chinese and I’m from Canada!”
And….everybody stares. The guy just goes on down the stairs laughing loudly like it was just the funniest thing ever. At the time we were just shocked, but whatever. We still laugh about it now. 0204-13
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