The theme of last Saturday’s episode was ‘Our Country’ and the members were tasked to interview foreign visitors to find out the kind of impression they have on South Korea as well as to share the culture with them.
I have always wondered how well Sang Hyun can communicate in English so it was nice to be able to hear him speak a little English in this episode. Not too well it seems but I am sure he can improve if he has more practice. Of all the members, Tae Hui seems the most conversant in English. For those who might wonder why Sang Hyun and Koreans in general seem to often ask for the person’s age on first meeting, it is due to the significance of heirachy in Korean culture and the regard for each other according to age.
A surprise guest who would be their guide is Sam Hammington, a well known Australian comedian, TV personality and radio presenter who has been a resident of South Korea for 13 years. He had first come to Korea as an exchange student and majored in Korean history.
The members would be split into 2 teams and Sam had the option to select which team he would like to join. I thought it was not very fair that Ji Won’s team had Sam to help should they require a translator. Perhaps it would have been better if Tae Hui was in Sang Hyun’s team since he is conversant in English. An uneven team division but it was also fun to watch Sang Hyun’s team struggle through the language on their own.
Sang Hyun’s attempt of asking in English ‘where are you from?’ resulted in his hilarious twang of ‘what are you from?’. Perhaps he had meant to ask ‘what country are you from?”
As Sang Hyun’s team makes their way to Hongdae, Ji Won’s team starts their survey in Myeongdong.
The mother-daughter pair above is from the US and mum recognizes Sam.
The younger Japanese lady above is married to a Korean so she could speak Korean well. To Tae Hui’s query on what could be improved upon, she mentioned the unpleasant habit of spitting in public. The team had earlier met a group of Chinese visitors and though Tae Hui knew a bit of Chinese, he was unable to follow when the visitor spoke fast.
Sang Hyun trying out his English “I am now very hungry” to which Tae Gyu agreed with “Me too, me too”
Sang Hyun’s team arrives in Hongdae and they decided to try speaking amongst themselves using their elementary English. Hyun Woo had earlier admitted his fear of speaking in English and had a wish that Korean could be made a public language internationally.
They came upon their first group of foreign visitors as they rounded the corner. After the usual question of where they were from (Russia and Malaysia), Tae Gyu got a bit stuck when he meant to ask what they think of Korea so reverted to speaking in Korean. Fortunately the visitors knew a bit of the Korean language and they managed to understand each other somehow. The man had studied in a Korean school in Moscow for about 2 years and Tae Gyu was surprised that the man had seen him on TV. He also knew that Sang Hyun is an actor but not his name.
While having some street snacks, they spotted 2 foreign visitors (Swedish) ahead. Tae Gyu and Hyun Woo’s sudden sprint to catch up with them took Sang Hyun by surprise and he had to run after them. With the help of the PD, they invited the ladies to join them for lunch. As the ladies seemed embarrassed with the sudden invitation, they decided to change it to dinner instead. The ladies gamely accepted and they would meet at 7 pm in front of the Hongik University subway station exit.
Their next destination was Ehwa Women’s University where they met a group of international students and had a chat about their reason for coming to Korea. As they introduced themselves, Sang Hyun realized that most of them had adopted a Korean name.
As Tibo had yet to find a nice Korean name, he asked them for a suggestion. After thinking hard for a moment, Tae Gyu asked ‘how about Heo Tae Hui?’. The members sudden burst of laughter in response must have puzzled the students and made Tibo wary of adopting the name. Sang Hyun pointed out that Tae Hui’s real name is Heo Seong Jae which Tibo must have found more appealing as he decided to use it instead.
Enjoying a meal together and sharing their views. A culture shock for ‘Su Jeong’ (on Sang Hyun’s left) who’s from Arizona is the public drinking and the many drunk people on the streets.
Tibo/Seong Jae (from France) agrees with Josh and he too likes the unique positive culture in Korea which gives him a warm feeling. He related how he had been a bit disappointed when he could not experience that kind of hospitality on his return to France a month ago. As Sang Hyun recounted later, he had found it touching to listen to these positive comments from the foreign visitors.
Meanwhile, Ji Won’s team drops by a language institute to have a chat with a group of international students and find out their views on the differences in culture.
For those who have never seen or tried this before, eating chicken’s feet might seem gross which is probably akin to our thought of people eating fried bugs in some countries.
Sang Hyun’s team approaches a couple (Loren & Mark) seated on the pavement and was surprised when told that they are actually Koreans from Chungju. They have lived in Korea for 5-6 years and were busking in Hongdae.
This area in Hongdae seems familiar, especially the playground. If I’m not mistaken, this is the area with the regular weekend bazaar which we had visited on a previous trip to Seoul.
Waiting for the Swedish ladies Josephine and Mathilda whom they have met earlier and agreed to a dinner date.
Much to their relief, they finally spotted the ladies across the street.
They decided on having Samgyeopsal (grillled pork belly meat) for dinner.
The ladies were curious about the metal cover and exhaust tube so Tae Gyu tries his best to explain with his limited vocab and the use of sound effects.
When the ladies wanted to know what is the best Korean dish, Sang Hyun struggles to describe ‘cheonggukjang’ which is a common dish using fermented soyabean paste. He points to his feet while saying ‘very very smell’ probably to indicate the strong smell of the paste.
Teaching the ladies how to eat ‘samgyeopsal’ …… grilled pork belly, layered with sliced onion and green chilli peppers, grilled garlic, kimchi and wrapped in fresh lettuce or another type of leaf. The wrap is supposed to be eaten in one mouthful so it would be better not to make the wrap too large. It’s my favorite Korean dish.
Ji Won’s team have completed their task for the day and arrives at the guest house where they would be staying. Though it’s not shown in this episode, this should be the lodging for both teams.
Such guest houses are great for budget travelers as they are quite self sufficient with a common kitchen and dining area, laundry facilities and free wifi. The rooms are clean and quite comfortable, and the friendly staff can usually speak English well. A subway station is also usually within walking distance. I have been quite happy with my stay in a few guest houses during my previous trips to Seoul.
Ji Won’s team works on their task for the next day …. making a promotional video of South Korea.
They watch an existing clip to get some ideas.
In this week’s episode on 2nd May which also happens to be the concluding episode of Human Condition 2 ……. we are going to miss all of you.