Korean class was even better yesterday. I’m feeling a lot more confident. I got off the bus one station too early and booked it to class. I got there just on time. A few in our group were later than me.

I sat in the front of the class so I could be the class nerd. Chris W. did the same but against the wall. Holly asked if she could have a piece of paper. I ripped one out of my free KFC notebook and asked her why. She said that Sean had forgotten his Korean notebook. I gave him my Korean notebook from Tuesday.

When class started, the teacher asked us to get out our notebooks. She asked why I didn’t have a Korean notebook.

I pointed, “Son Babo-ssi!”

She gave me another notebook. Chris P. showed up. He was late because he had to feed his kids breakfast. He sat in the front next to me, and we competed on who could be the biggest teacher’s pet.

Early on, she was correcting Chris W. and his use of banmal. He fixed himself quickly. It looked like she started to take a liking to him, treating him like he was a little puppy. She made fun of his weight (“Eat little amounts of rice”), which is considered jovial in Korean, even though it’s rude in our culture. Chris took it in stride.

She had us work on the Korean alphabet. We all knew how to read and write in Korean, but I tend to like reviews like this. She concentrated on correcting our strokes and bad habits as well as teaching us alphabetical order, which I had never bothered to learn. We came up to the board, one by one, to demonstrate and then return to our seats to write the letters over and over. For homework, we have to fill up five pages.

Holly was the bad student and highly resistant. She refused to go up to the board after the first time. The teacher kept showing her how to write, and Holly stubbornly refused to change her style. She later said that so many teachers have taught her different methods that she thought it was bullshit.

As for me, this is the third time I’ve had to change my style. But as Yoda said, “You must unlearn what you have learned.”

During break, we talked more to the Chinese girls. The one who spoke English spoke to me a lot this time. We talked about how long we had been in Korea and why I haven’t learned Korean quickly enough in my four years. She then said, “I have a doctor for two months.”

I didn’t know how to respond to that.

“A doctor?”


“For two months?”


“Wow… that’s cool.”

I found out later that “doctor” was “daughter.” She had just given birth two months ago. DOH!

With a few minutes left in class, the teacher was hunting for something to fill out the rest of the time. We had all these consonant-vowel single syllable combinations on the board, so she asked us what words we could make out of them. One of the words was “gogi” (“meat”). She pointed out “so” (“cow”), and we did “sogogi” (“beef”). She was trying to think of other forms of meat we could do. Holly said, “Gaegogi (‘dog meat’).”

The teacher mockingly cried and showed us a picture of her “baby,” her dog, on her cell phone.

After class we took a detour to the English bookstore and had brunch at Paris Baguette Cafe. I was fretting over what to do for Valentine’s Day. In the past, I have done something a little over-the-top. Last year was the chocolate covered strawberries, made in the brief time between my return home from work and Eun Jeong’s.

She always told me not to do special stuff on those manufactured holidays. Except this year, she changed. “What are you preparing for me this year?”

“You told me you didn’t want me to do anything.”

“No, I didn’t. You’ve changed.”

At work, I figured out what to do. Eun Jeong made a rare call to me at work and talked to me for a long time. I think she was really getting into the holiday. It was obviously she had bought me something (a first). We were trying to figure out dinner. We concluded that it was too cold to go to a restaurant. We then decided on just ordering in some chicken from the new chicken place we like.

I ran out and got a few plants in a heart-shaped pot. She hates flowers, but she likes plants. I also got an ice cream cake from Natuur and put it in the office freezer.

After classes (no emergencies that day), I gathered my stuff and took the bus back. At the E-Mart stop, I bought some champagne. So then I had three gifts for her. Maybe one would stick.

When I got there, she had already ordered the chicken and took out two wrapped gifts for me. One was shoe insoles, and the other was a couple of tall beer glasses. Good thing I bought myself some beer for the chicken.

The chicken arrived soon after that, and Eun Jeong had also cooked up some spaghetti. Ironic because my Korea Herald article that day was about making Valentine’s spaghetti–the same spaghetti that I wooed Eun Jeong with.

She was thrilled with the champagne and wanted to drink it right away. I must point out that she never drinks. But she loves fruity champagne–served in one of the new beer glasses.

We sat down and ate while watching Ratatouille dubbed in Korean. I must say that they did a great dubbing job on it. Not only did the lips move very closely to the words, but the voices were very close to the original English language actors.

My only disappointment was the ice cream cake. It was chocolate and shaped like a heart. But there was no cake in the ice cream cake. It was just ice cream covered in a chocolate shell.

Nonetheless, I think I did well this year.

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