Asia | Korea, Republic of – More Birthday fun
Well, it’s been an interesting weekend. In the last few days I’ve taken delivery of a PC and a mountain bike, and have successfully managed to send money home through the wonders of electronic transfers. On saturday, the whole nation was in suspense, awaiting the rollover lottery draw, with an estimated jackpot of about 50 million pounds. I bought a ticket on Friday night, and I had a feeling the cash was mine. The time approached…….we tuned in expectantly…….not one bloody number! Mind you, James’ brother-in-law won five grand, so that’s not bad.
The other big event on Saturday was Yu-Kyoung’s birthday. Once again, the Director decided a party was mandatory. I was picked up at about 6pm, and after a brief stop off at school, the entire purpose of which appeared to be showing me the breakfast bar they’d spent all day building in the kitchen, we all (Me, Director, Director’s wife, Director’s sister, Director’s brother-in-law, James, James’ wife, Yu-kyoung, Yu-Kyoung’s bloke, new teacher Michell, and Bruce) headed off in a mini bus that was laughably inadequate for that number of people, into the seedy underbelly of Uijeongbu. We ended up in a place called ‘The Sky Restaurant’ so named I imagine because it was on the 19th floor. It commanded spectacular views of the city, and served delicious food in to the bargain. I wish I’d been able to get my hands on a menu, because there were all manner of amusing translation-related cock-ups on it, such as:
‘Type of Chalbi’ (?!)
‘Special dish Frang with Gangjang'(?!)
and, ‘Pork Fillet Cards with various’ (?!?)
We also had a huge ice-cream birthday cake, and the obligatory techno-remix of ‘Happy Birthday’ over the PA. The beer flowed generously, out of pitchers to begin with, and then out of an enormous plastic barrell (I like this place!). Once everyone was thoroughly lubricated, the evening moved on to it’s next destination – the song room. I’ll admit it, I was worried. I don’t share the Korean conviction that singing in public is a great way to relieve stress. Indeed quite the reverse. However, I was plastered already, so I think that took the edge off my fear. I was relieved to discover that the song room is rather less public than I’d anticipated. Each group gets their own private room, so you only have to embarrass yourself in front of people you know, rather than complete strangers. Within seconds, James was crooning like a good’n to some dire Korean pop ballad. I took advantage of the complimentary tambourines, and soon everyone was well in the spirit. Inhibition was clearly outlawed this evening, as people began dancing, singing, swaying, and cheering, and Bruce took off his tie and wore it round his head, Rambo style. The Director and I decided that we could do decent justice to ‘My Way’ by performing a duet. He didn’t seem to be in any hurry to perform, so that gave me precious minutes to drink more and numb the pain. Finally, the relentless tide of fun could not be avoided any longer. Mic in hand, I began…’And now, the end is near..’ etc etc
I have to say, we did a damn good job of it. The computer scored us 98/100. Oddly, if you get a good score, you have to put 2000 Won in the kitty for drinks. Surely singing badly would make more sense?! Anyhow, it was blindingly good fun, and I am converted completely – singing in public (at least while blind drunk) is remarkably effective at relieving stress (not that I had any to relieve, but I’m using my imagination). When everyone was sung-out, which believe me, took quite some time, we headed for a club. ‘Roma’ was our watering hole of choice, and welcomed us with scantily clad dancing girls and Britney-sodding-Spears (not in person obviously). At one point I was cheered at by a table of Koreans, who, once they learned I was from England, said the single most predictable thing any foreigner can say at that juncture…’AAhh, David Beckham!’
They were, you can imagine, ecstatic to discover that I was actually from Manchester…’Yes! Yes! Manchester UTD!’ ……Bloody football!
The party eventually wound up at about 3.30am, by which time everyone was respectably FUBAR’d. Korean socialising takes some beating.
It was a most enjoyable evening, which, thanks to the Director’s apparently boundless generosity, cost me nothing other than the 2000 Won, ‘you can sing’ penalty.
Roll on the next birthday!