People keep asking me how many people live in Seattle. Well, I looked it up and Seattle has just over half a million people, while Anyang has about 100,000 more. But the Seattle metro population is about 3.26 million, and I believe Vancouver is almost double that.
It’s funny how we forget figures and invent our own fictions. I always felt Seattle was smaller, but had thought I’d read somewhere that it was larger. Maybe I was thinking of the metro area figures instead of the city. So for some reason I told the language exchange guy who asked me that it was about twice as big as Anyang. And then he told me “really? Anyang’s not a small city.” He thought Anyang had a million in it. Okay. So I’ve sent a couple of people away with the wrong info, and he sent me away with the wrong info as well.
The guy didn’t understand why I wanted to go to the market. He thought it was old fashioned, told me I wouldn’t see any younger people there (he was wrong) and that nobody went to them anymore. When we got there, he WAS surprised at how big this one was. Instead of being amused by the gyopo waygook oohing and ahhing and asking, what’s this? what’s that? he was just bored by my enthusiasm.
I asked him if he’d ever met an adoptee before, and he said no. I explained how the younger adoptees were mostly given up at birth and how growing up as a minority race is hard. But then I explained how the older adoptees were mostly given up due to social and economic problems, and that many of us were old enough to speak and remember Korea as children. And that even though I can’t remember, I could speak, and that I feel drawn to the market because it IS part of the culture of my childhood that is locked up inside of me. Even after this, the dolt asked me why I didn’t just go shopping at a supermarket. I explained how generic Emart was and how sad it was to have the entire world’s cultures erased by these kinds of stores. “But they are so convenient – you only have to go to one place.” I argued about what a treasure the market is, and he told me that the government was trying to preserve them.
We only went through two arcades, because he was so visibly NOT enjoying himself. I was hungry so suggested eating lunch. I wanted to find that alley of restaurants, but he pressed for one of the eating places we were passing, which I was not happy about because they were not traditional floor seating places, and I could tell they didn’t serve side dishes. But I wanted him to stop being so grumpy, so I agreed. They had all the usual things I can order by myself anywhere, and I tried to talk him into a place where groups eat, because this is the only type of restaurant and food I can eat by myself, so whenever there is another person it is a good opportunity to try different food. He insisted that this was the only kind of food a place like a market would be serving, and I was tired of arguing with him, and we were already in the place. We DID order Sundae, which I’d never had before, (sausage stuffed with noodles) and it wasn’t anything to write home about. There was a t.v. playing the whole time, and I TRIED MY DAMNDEST to engage him in conversation about travels, language, study, his military service, what he likes to do, etc. but he KEPT ON WATCHING T.V. And when I would talk to him, he would stare at the wall. I’ve talked with people who avoid eye contact before – hell, I’m guilty of that myself – but they usually look down and seem a little shy, which I can forgive. But this guy just stared past me like he was trying to erase my existence. And it wasn’t due to his English skills, as he actually did listen enough to respond and his speaking was actually very good. He was just a jerk is all.
After lunch, we walked through the market a little more and before I knew it he had lead me back to his car. Market done. See you. Bye.
I can see this gaining culture thing is not going to be easy. Almost everyone can spout off history. Almost no one can tell me anything about Korean culture that I haven’t already read on the internet. Anyone old enough to know or care about this living legacy can’t speak English. Anyone who can speak English well doesn’t give a crap about anything that isn’t commercial youth culture.