ArtDesignCulture

Walkin’ the streets of Daegu

In Asia, Travel on August 5, 2010 at 8:49 am

The reaction I get from Koreans on the street is different than what I expected. I thought it would be something like in New York: focus on a spot in the distance or stare everyone down as you walk.

Both methods are acceptable and feel normal to me.

It’s a real mixed bag here. Some just go about their business. Some look at me with a “Who are you and what are you doing here?” look, even though Western teachers are relatively common in Daegu. Some people say “Hello” in either Korean or English, which is very welcome and friendly. Some kids like to practice their English by running up and saying “Hello” after which they quickly run away because they’ve run out of words.

Today, I got an extra special treat. While walking down the alley-like street where I’m staying, a van pulled up next to me. Not a large, scary, white, rape van. But a cute little gold one. The man inside proceeded to ask me if I was American and if I would be interested in helping him with his English.

Of course the conversation was not as smooth as I’m describing here. He forgot the word for coffee I believe so just was making this guttural white noise, maybe to mimic an espresso machine? There was also a car waiting behind him so after taking his number to be polite and attempting to explain that I don’t have a phone, I quickly walked away, chuckling.

A short time later, I was waiting for a light to change. Jaywalking doesn’t happen here: the police yell and cars and scooters don’t brake for people. There are no animals to speak of around town, probably because they couldn’t survive the streets.

As I was waiting for this light to change, I heard the familiar slurring of Ke$ha, which has followed me all the way to Korea. I looked around for the source and saw it was an Audi. Though he had a green light, the car was stopped. Then he rolled down the window a little, saw me looking at him, rolled down a little more, saw me look away, rolled it up. This electric window dance went on for a good ten seconds, and I finally realized I was being mistaken for a prostitute.

Rude, I thought to myself.

Then I realized my skirt was tucked up under my shoulder bag. No wonder. And good grief.

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