The floors, the walls, the tables were covered in grime. A cockroach climbed up the side of the toilet bowl the other day, when I was peeing at Suwon Station, but it didn't compare to this.
I had passed the restaurant a hundred times on my way to and from work and never once considered eating there. I guess when I told Chung I wanted a cheap meal, this restaurant came to mind!
It was too late to flee when we saw the prices on the wall. Our table was already spread with water, fish, vegetable dishes and Soju by the time we saw 30-35,000 WON for a platter. Yikes. Not the modest cost range we were after.
The place was sticky hot and filled with people, ash dropping off the end of cigarettes, babies bounced on their father's knees after midnight. Two of Chung's friends joined us later on but it was initially just us. His friends don't speak a word of English. I gestured with my hands and enunciated well!
Although I doubt I'll ever connect to Chung the way I do to my friends in Canada, we're comfortable around each other. I feel like I can ask him anything, which is important when you're on the other side of the world, burning with questions.
The Korean sense of humor is different. Chung told me a typical Korean joke as I ate raw white fish so chewy it wouldn't dissolve in my mouth. There was a fish tank about a foot from us and we were told our fish was pulled from it only a couple of hours earlier.
As you know, Koreans have black eyes. This is the joke: Korean men are sparring. One motions like he has a straw between his lips and is going to poke the other's eyes to drink his INK. ...... He was nearly on the floor laughing.
We made plans to go to Suwon's amusement park (more like a fair, I think) before it gets too cold. And in the summer, we're going to take Chung's car to a nearby beach.
Chung likes to talk about politics and war, which is great for me. He spent his last two years in the army and saw so much horror that it's an inescapable fascination. He doesn't like to think his friends died for nothing.
On another note, I know Koreans consider their 9 months in the womb to be a year but I didn't realize everybody turns one year older on New Years! No wonder the Korean New Years celebration is so big! It's Birthday & New Years all in one! In Korea, Christian or not, New Years seems to get more emphasis than Christmas.
On New Years, Chung's family, and most, travel to visit grandparents and other extended family. Christmas, youth generally get together with friends and drink but unless they're romantically involved with someone it's not a big deal.
Banner design by Helena, portrait by Eva