Put the Bang in Norabang

“Drinking in Korea is not only well accepted, it’s encouraged and often necessary at certain social functions (such as business dinners and family gatherings). ”  – Robert Nilsen in the traveling handbook  South Korea

Avalon school (hakkyo) threw a work party for new teachers arriving to the school -like myself – and teachers who are on their way out. We went to a bbq place which the foreign teachers at my school call ‘Mountain’ because there is a picture which appears to be a mountain on the light up sign outside. We enjoyed dweji gogi (pork) on the grill with an array of spices and vegetables. I am beginning to like eating entire chunks of garlic, people conversing with me close range probably don’t.   It was at the restaurant where my first encounter with the soju occurred. Soju is extremely popular because it is dirt cheap and it gets you wrecked in no time. It is a clear liquor usually made from rice, similar to vodka. My boss made sure everyone had a drink in their hand at all times throughout dinner and if you didn’t than a shot of Soju mixed in a cup of maekju (beer) ensued. Apparently, when you are out socially  with co-workers there is not a level of professionalism that needs to be maintained in South Korean culture. The more you drink at a function of this sort the better. It’s safe to say I made a fine first impression.

Bulgogi (bbq) Dinner.

 

My awesome boss is on the top right ensuring that everyone is wetting their palete.

 

After dinner and drinks we all made our way to a karaoke establishment called a norabang. We drank more soju and maekju and sang into the early morning hours. There was a mixture of Korean songs and American classics and the highlight for me was Living on a Prayer and Hey Jude …

 

 

Na na na, na-na na na
Na-na na na, hey Jude
Na na na, na-na na na
Na-na na na, hey Jude


The norabang is much different from what karaoke bars are typically like in the States. We went inside this dark room with a giant screen in the middle and bench seats surrounding the area where you stand up and sing. It was a cool atmosphere and you really can’t help but to have a good time. The teachers I work with are a fun group. England, Ireland, the US, Ecuador, and  Scotland are all represented.  The English Dan told me that our boss asked him if he could speak more American-like when he started out at the school. In order to prevent any confusion I am Daniel at the school. I have never really been called Daniel throughout my life so it is taking some getting used to.  When people call me Daniel I feel the need to act in a more sophisticated manner. The Dan in me is itching to come out.

The Korean teachers at my school are somewhat reserved but always cheerful. I don’t know if I have improved my level of humor since I’ve been here but they are constantly laughing at things that have no intention whatsoever of being funny. This is how a conversation went with a young  Korean teacher that I said looks like Cameron Diaz after a wee (the Irish influence) bit to much soju (she looks nothing like Cameron Diaz).

Cameron: Hi.

Me: Hello, how are you?

Cameron: Good. You?

Me: Excellent.

Cameron: Ha ha ha ha ha

Tomorrow I am going to try ‘wonderful’ and see what I get.

 




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