Saturday, January 17, 2009

Mark's Two Cents

Kim writes the majority of the posts on this blog so she asked me to write one sharing my thoughts on our time here in Korea so far.  After 14 days, I can honestly say that I have enjoyed every minute here in Seoul.  Even though I have incurred a few bumps along the way, the experience has been great. 

First of all, the driving habits of Koreans are crazy.   I understand that larger cities are more densely populated which causes heavier traffic and the people tend to drive more aggressively, but South Koreans take it to a whole other level.  Based on what I have witnessed so far, Mr. Kim seems to be like an average Korean driver and his driving scares me.  Some highlights of his driving include flagrant running of red lights, playing chicken with busses and switching lanes by threatening to sideswipe the adjacent car unless they break or speed up.  None of this compares to the driving atrocity I witnessed this past Saturday on our trip to Mokpo. 

 Even though Mr. Kim has purchased a shiny new GPS system for his car, he continues to get lost by missing turns or even going the wrong direction then what is shown on the display.   On Saturday, as we were on our way to visit the gravesite of the Kim’s grandparents Mr. Kim missed the exit.  Once SangKwun pointed out his mistake, Mr. Kim brought the car to a complete stop in the middle of the highway.  Confused and a little alarmed, I looked out the back window to see the lights of oncoming traffic.  This did not seem to deter Mr. Kim.  He turned on his hazards and threw the car in reverse.  I don’t really consider myself a conservative driver, but these rash actions made my heart stop.  Luckily, SangKwun spoke some words of wisdom urging him to just get off at the next exit as recommended by that previously mentioned GPS.  Experiences like these have really made me appreciate the wonderful Seoul subway system. 

On a serious note, it has truly been a unique experience watching the relationship between Kim and her birth family develop.  Every time SangKwun looks at Kim, he gets a huge smile on his face.  His English continues to improve with every conversation.  Mr. Kim has completely taken care of the two of us.  Every morning he has a full breakfast ready for Kim and I and then he usually takes us out to dinner in the evening.  I think his favorite time of day is in the evenings when he can help us with our Korean homework/studying.  You cannot especially see his face light up when sits down with Kim and practices vocabulary words with her.  

There have been a few funny instances that Kim has found hilarious.  They mainly have to due with myself and Korean's reactions to me.  One such story actually happen this morning, while Kim and I were on our way to the mall.  We were standing in line waiting for the subway to arrive when a public service announcement played on the TV in the terminal.  It was about terrorism on the subway and how people need to be aware of what's going on around them.  While I could not understand what was being said, the story was fairly easy to follow.  A man comes on the subway with a package and then leaves without it.  A father and daughter notice it and report it to the authorities.  It ends up being a bomb.  The guy that played the terrorist was white, and because of this I had about 9 or 10 of the people surrounding me shoot a few stairs in my direction and mumble something in Korean to whomever they're with.  

I will keep you updated if anything else of this nature happens again.  


Julia said...

Is this REALLY Mark, though, or is it Kim pretending to be Mark again? :)

Love your $0.02, whoever you are. I imagine it's pretty special to see Kim interact with her birth family. And I'm so glad Kim has a supportive husband that is willing to go on this journey with her, despite the fact that he is practically a terrorist over there. I love when Koreans are afraid of Mark. Love it!

Mom said...

Loved your description of Mr. Kim's driving, Mark!! Despite that it sounds like your week-end in Mokpo was lots of fun as well as interesting. Would love to see Mr. Kim trying to teach our daughter her native language! This time to-gether with her birth-father and SanKwun must be like a dream come true for all of them. So glad you are there to share it with Kim.