Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Band and other Notes

I almost forgot~ On Sunday, I went to the 홍대 (Hongdae) area of Seoul to meet with a band who posted an ad looking for a female vocalist. There were supposed to be two of us girls, but the other one didn't show up. The band consists of two American guys and two Canadian guys. All of them teach English here (I believe). Dave and Nick are American, and Ryan and Matt are Canadian. Their style is a combination of reggae, rock, and slightly folk, with a lot of energy. They were really excited that I can play piano, too, so I had them send me files of the music they've recorded so I can try to write some keyboard parts this week. I have just today and tomorrow.... and I'm lazy today, so I guess I'll head to the piano tomorrow.

This was my first time meeting other foreigners in Seoul. With the five of us walking down the street speaking English and being caucasian, we got a lot of stares. I met three of them at the subway station, and Matt met us at the studio/practice room place. The practice room had a drumset, some amps, a pretty nice keyboard (all options written in English), and three microphones. The door to the room was glass and had a clouded window decal on it for privacy. Said decal was Winnie-the-Pooh themed. Everything in South Korea is a little bit gay by American standards, I think. More on that in a minute.

I found it fascinating that out of the four of them, only one guy was making any effort to learn Korean (I think... he was looking through a flower catalog in Korean). All three of the guys I met at the station ordered in English at a Quizzno's (to be fair, they said they didn't eat American food often). Earlier, I had mentioned that ordering at restaurants is really difficult for me, and they said, "why not just point at things?" Make what you will of that. I see the other kind of American now: instead of integrating, they choose to live a transitory surface life, just making money and hanging out. I'm not saying it's necessarily bad, just that it's the complete opposite of me.

Some interesting side notes:
In Korea, women often wash small articles of clothing in the shower, like socks and underwear. I did that for the first time yesterday. It's not as odd as I thought it would be.
In Korea, instead of having one cell phone battery and charging your phone, you get two cell phone batteries and charge the battery, then just switch them out.
In Korea, when people of different ages go out together, the oldest always pays.
In Korea, the size of your face is important. Small faces are beautiful. As are big eyes and light skin. So, Koreans think I'm very beautiful.
In Korea, women usually care more about a man's height than about his face.
In Korea, instead of having waiters come around intermittently, you press a button on the table when you want service and a doorbell sound rings, calling the waiter.
In Korea, people talk to themselves a lot, especialy old men.
In Korea, people often ask you to compare attributes. For instance, "who is more handsome, him or me?"
In Korea, or maybe just in my area, they think that if you flush toilet paper in the toilet, "there will be a disaster."
In Korea, women judge the character of men in many small ways. One of them is that a good man walks between the woman and the street. Another is that a good boyfriend buys earrings for his girlfriend. Also, the 100-day anniversary is extremely important, so a good man never forgets to do something great on that day.

Anyway, about the gay thing: Korean culture is, by American definition, gay. Men wearing pink and purple, and brightly colored pants, is definitely not strange here. Men often carry handbags. When men speak English, their "s" is often soft and gentle. Sometimes I can't tell the difference between men and women because the hair and clothing styles can be so similar. Men love cute things almost as much as women do, and are not afraid to admit that they love dramas and romantic comedies. Many men walk and assume stances that would be stereotypically gay in America. Men walk around with their arms around each others' shoulders or place their hands on their male friends' backs. None of this is gay in Korea. Koreans are actually quite homophobic in general.

Ah, I also almost forgot a person~
현석 (Hyunseok): He's older than me, of course, and quite tall and slender. I met him quite a while ago, now. He has midterms now so I haven't seen him in a while. He studied American literature and wants to be a financial specialist, if I remember right. I went to dinner in 강남 (Kangnam) with him and then his friend came to meet us and the three of us went shopping. Yes, two men and a girl shopping, and the girl is the one tagging along. See what I mean about Korean culture being American gay? Anyway it was fun and they are both very kind and funny. I hope to see them again relatively soon.


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  2. I am glad to see that things are coming along in Korea. I love hearing about the cultural stuff, I find it interesting, and although I'm sure no matter how much you tell me it will never be quite like going to Korea but for now I'll have to get by on that. I also just wanted to let you know that people are reading it so don't give up on writing it. Finally congrats on getting some piano students, that sounds like it is a very big step in the process of getting life started in Korea, because you'll be making some money that is.

    Alex Nelson

  3. Hm, I'm not sure if that's a better or a worse situation than here. It's shitty that guys can't do that stuff in America, but at least most people here (at least at college) are cool with people actually being gay.