Monday, April 25, 2011

Family Trip to Korea - Soju boys

Our tour to Korea was mostly filled with visiting interesting historic places, places from Korean Dramas and shopping. Quite honestly, a lot of "girl" activities, outside of eating. Our tour had 23 people total, and not including Dad, P'Neung, P'Nut and myself, there were three other boys on the whole trip.

We decided to take the boys out for a midnight snack and to introduce them to the "green bottles" that they had surely heard of and seen advertised everywhere, soju. We didn't want to go to a "bar" or a "club", the boys wanted to go somewhere laid back, relaxing and something where a normal Korean person would go after work or on the weekend for some food and drink.We took them to Hongik intersection, a night spot with a little shopping and lots of bars, clubs and food. This place is in between four universities, so it's always full of people. We found a tiny kamjatang joint (potato and pork bone stew)down one of the alleys and sat by a small window on the 1 and 1/2th floor, however you say that! We ordered spicy potato and pork bone stew and one tiny bottle of soju. Soju is your basic rice wine type drink, similar I guess to a Sake or vodka maybe...not sure what vodka is made of. Soju is also made of other grains as alternatives, there are many different types of soju. I do know that it isn't good for you and you probably shouldn't drink it, for many reasons (health, religious, social, etc.) The average Korean adult drinks about 100 bottles of soju per year!! I remember, as a missionary in Korea, giving up alcohol and paying tithing were the two most difficult commitments for new members or investigators to make and keep.As we sat, waiting for our stew to cook, I taught the boys how to ask for another bottle of soju or beer or coke in Korean. Basically taught them the grammar and sentence construction and let them insert their choice of beverage. The Ajuma (middle age lady, auntie), who we started off calling Nuna (big sister), insisted that we call her Imo (aunt), and thought it was cute that we chose to call her big sister because we didn't want to hurt her feelings by calling her Ajuma. Similar meaning to Imo, just a softer feeling I guess.

Well, the potato stew got ate, and several bottles of beer and soju got drank. Many trips to the nasty downstairs toilet later, and we were the only ones left in the little stew joint. They close at 5AM, so Imo told us that we could basically stay all night.P'Nut decided to sit straddling the window, half in, half out, hollering "Ahnyoung" to passers by, never fazed by the terrifying 9 foot fall to the cold concrete below, haha.

Yeah, so eventually we left, leaving a trail of empties behind, some tired Imos and an emptier and quieter Hongik intersection than when we first arrived. Before leaving the hotel, knowing the effect soju has on first timers, we got a bunch of business cards from the front desk to show to a taxi driver if unable to get home on our own...you know, language differences, in case we got separated, right?Well, the boys had a hard time staying on two feet. Long story short, and not to glorify the evening too much, we got help from a couple Korean students stuffing them into a taxi, and got to the hotel safely. We pulled them out of the taxi and P'Nut was able to make it to the room. P'Neung on the other hand had to be dragged, by me, by his feet to the lobby, into the elevator, and to his room.Now, I have pictures of this, but they were deemed a little too graphic to show, with his pants around his thighs and tighty whities flashing everyone to see. The funniest thing was that I got him about two feet into his room and just left him there on the floor to sleep. P'Nut eventually passed out on the floor as well. We found them both in the exact same spots the next morning, about ten minutes before the bus was supposed to depart for Gyeongbokgung.They remembered very little, they laugh at the pictures we took of them, and I'm sure they now have respect for soju, if not a legitimate fear of the green bottle! Same intersection 19 years ago I had a run in with soju, I woke up naked in a local YMCA, remembering nothing but drinking lemonade all night. Turns out we were drinking "kettles" so called because they are fruity drinks mixed with a bottle of soju in a kettle, the type whistles when you boil water in it. Luckily I made it back to base the same day via train and back out to our mountain top "resort" for ops on time. Seriously, watch out for soju, it's a sneaky little mutha.The picture above is me making fun of them the next day at Cheungyecheon. Haha!

This night ended up being less of a drinking exercise (though the photos would suggest otherwise) and more a couple hours to sit together and talk, share a little Korea that doesn't come with the tour, and just relax and enjoy each other's company as brothers and sister. For the brothers, a Korea 2011 highlight that they'll remember very little of. Better that way, twenty years from now they'll be able to tell embellished versions of the night, and probably still won't hit the mark! The dudes were hilarious, classic, legend!

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