Wednesday, 8 April 2009

So, a French Man Walks Into a Korean City Hall...

...and says "I don't speak very good English"

Taebun (my 6th grade co-teacher/Mr. Kim. That's how I'm Romanizing his first name) and I went to Andong City Hall to apply for my Alien Registration Card yesterday. The ARC registration table travels throughout the week, and is only in Andong on Thursday. This will make me official here, so I can get a cell phone, Internet, and other useful things. The only problem, I learned later, is that we didn't see a "multiple entry" box to select on the application and we can't clear this up until next Wednesday. So technically if this isn't fixed, this means I lose my job and right to be here if I leave the country in the next year. Hmm.

Anyway, so I'm in line and an old man walks up to me and taps me on the shoulder. He keeps asking if this is a tourism information desk. He's French, and speaks with a very heavy accent in very slow and sometimes disjointed English. After a bit of confusing dialogue, I learn two things about why he's here: He was climbing a mountain and lost his guidebook (at first he kept saying "I lost my guide on the mountain" to which I felt horrified that some guy was stranded on a mountain somewhere), and he is in Andong because "there is something important to see here" and he didn't know what it was.

Andong is the capital of Korean tradition- it's on signs everywhere. There are many important things to see here.

Also, nobody in City Hall spoke English. I finally got Taebun involved, because I figured that he was the only person in about a 10 mile radius that could help this man because of his English fluency. However, the Frenchman and Taebun had a difficult time understanding each other because of their respective accents (not to mention the French man liked to interrupt Taebun with a new thought if he didn't understand), so I fit in somewhere in the middle of the fiasco.

After applying for my ARC, the three of us went to the information counter to get him a map. The French man spoke to me, I clarified for Taebun, and Taebun spoke to the women at the information counter in Korean- and then the chain reversed. He kept saying he thought he wanted to see a temple. After about 10 minutes of this, I figured out what he really wanted to see was Hahoe village (which he didn't recognize the name spoken, but he did in print), which is a traditional folk village (the source of the famous masks) and lies just outside of Andong.

We left when he asked us for the address and directions to his hotel. I'm not sure how he managed to get here at all.


  1. Are the French polite anywhere in the world? They weren't polite IN FRANCE, so I guess we can assume they're jerks everywhere.

  2. Must have been a very thorough guidebook.

  3. That is so going to be me one day!

    "I want to go here...but where am I now?"
    "No idea whats there but I want to go there, you know where THERE is?"
    Shakes head
    "Is it green? I like green."

    Something like that. Random <3