Korean Mamma Drama

27 06 2010

Sitting out on the porch one Friday evening enjoying bamboo soju and guitar sing alongs after a week’s work, an older Korean woman stopped by for a chat with the occupants outside the other half of our duplex.  Her interest in the singing way-gookens soon brought her over our way.  After the usual greetings and clarification of “Me – Me-gook (America), and he – Canada”, I was escorted by the enthusiastic woman around the building and up some flights of stairs into a rather nice apartment on the 3rd floor.  A young Korean girl about my age was also in the apartment, and my confused expression reflected on her face made it clear that this would surely be one of those weird, random occurrences that are so characteristic of life in this country.  The older woman left me standing in the middle of the living room dumbly grasping my glass of soju with her daughter, presumably, as she ran off into the kitchen babbling a million miles an hour in Korean.  It was about this time I began hoping Pat was still behind me and about to walk through the door to meet me here in my stupor.  She came out of the kitchen with giant grapes and melon and sat me down on the couch.  It was then she remembered: “OH!  Chingu!! (translation – “oops, I forgot about your friend!”) and ran out to fetch him.  Pat soon met us in the apartment with the same dumbfounded expression that had not yet faded from my face.  He sat down with me on the couch and we started to nibble on the fruit, Ritz crackers, and smoothies that lay on the table.  On any other night, this would have been a a great situation to find ourselves in, except on this particular evening we were kidnapped immediately preceding our departure to a good friend’s birthday dinner, and we were now bound and shackled to oblige her as it is extremely rude to refuse hospitality from Koreans.  We sat around the table nibbling on the snacks whilst piecing together our limited knowledge of the others’ language to conjure up some understanding of one other.  Apparently this woman used to own a restaurant, looooooves soju, and is our new self-proclaimed “Korean mamma”.  We were instructed to come knock on her door anytime hunger pangs strike and she will cook for us.  She home-makes a medley of kimchi, 3 of which were dished up in tupperware for us to take home, and also home-makes a delicious drink concocted from flower petals soaking in soju mixed with fermented plum juice (that has been fermenting in a barrel in the the rear of her kitchen for 5 years) and green tea.

Although it took 45 minutes, we finally got the point across that although we would love to stay, we were late to meet our chingus for dinner and must go.  I was pretty bummed we had to leave – this woman was fantastic; so sweet, hospitable, and full of energy.  After all was said and done we ended up missing dinner with our chingus anyway.  Definitely worth it.