Long Nights

Well, it sure has been a while. Sorry about the absence. After replacing the computer cable, I was usually busy with something which kept me from posting. I already explained that whole mess in another post, so I won’t bore you with the redundancy. 

About a week and a half ago I went to an international party with a couple friends. I’m not hugely interested in parties, but it sounded like a pretty cool idea initially. The whole thing started out not terribly promising… A long bus ride into Seoul, a 20,000W entry fee, and we sat at a table that filled up with a loud guy’s loud friends. But after being there for a while, things warmed up. The guy and his friends kind of conquered one end of the table, while me and one of my friends had the other half of the table, which was pretty much just me, him and a lot of Korean girls. 

It was one of the times that my arduous study of the Korean language was paying off. When I learned French and Spanish, they were able to grow by leaps and bounds. Every study session I knew more things than the time before. But with Korean, which sounds so unfamiliar and is something I’m constantly surrounded by, the growth is almost impossible for me to perceive. I struggle to remember new words and I’m constantly exposed to the language, so there is a continuous reminder of how much I don’t know. 

I introduced myself to the girls in Korean, and they were shocked and pleased that I had put forth the effort to learn the language. One of the girls spoke very little English, so she was kind of ignored, but she could communicate with me some and I was putting forth effort to communicate to her. A week earlier than this, I spoke exclusively in Korean for about 10 minutes, which I didn’t think I’d be able to do, and now I was communicating well enough to be slightly impressive. These two times were the rare instances that I felt any pride in my fledgling Korean skill.

Anyway, eventually the party ended and we went to another bar with a few of the people we met. Eventually, we ended up walking to Hongdae which was pretty close. I looked after the girl who spoke only a little English because she had been drinking a lot and her shoes were pretty low quality or quite old, so they were falling off her feet. She also kept dropping her phone, which I held on to in order to keep it safe. 

We ended up dancing for a while in a club, but I got kind of tired of the atmosphere and everything, so I stepped outside for some fresh air. Essentially, four of us stepped out at the same time. Me, a loud guy, Dean, and the girl that spoke very little English. I felt kind of low at this point. I don’t drink excessively, but for a couple weeks I had been out at bars and clubs with friends, and I really couldn’t see the point at the time. Anyone I met at these clubs or bars would end up a passing acquaintance and not much more. I ended up calling a friend of mine. I wanted to leave this group of strangers and end the night with a close friend. 

About the time he arrived, the night descended into chaos. 

Dean had left for some air first. I came out after him. I didn’t see the girl come out. I watched the loud guy go to a different club. He said he wanted to go to a place more to his taste. Around the time my older friend got there, the rest of the group came out of the club and found me sitting on the curb. They asked about the girl first. I didn’t know she left. I had no idea where she was. So they asked about Dean. I said he exited alone before I did. I said the loud guy went to a different club. So now, Dean and this girl were missing. Dean wasn’t answering his phone and the girl couldn’t answer hers since it was in the hands of her neighbor who was with us.

So our group fractures. We search the club again. We talk to the bouncer. We look around the nearby streets. I’m worried, but I realize if they aren’t in the club there is almost nothing we can do. That block had about 20 other bars and clubs, and I was pretty confident that Dean wasn’t dead. I just had to wait for him to call. As for the girl, I was more worried about her, but I knew she couldn’t have gone far without shoes. It meant either Dean found her and she was safe with him, or someone else found her and all we could do is call the police. 

My older friend said we should just leave since Dean would be fine and we didn’t know the girl. The Korean soldier in our group put on this valiant “lets scour every inch of the block” act. The girls were worried but said there was nothing we could do. I didn’t want to leave, but there was nothing I could do. At the same time, giving up was overly callous. I was torn between the opinions of my older friend and the soldier. The neighbor and the soldier went back into the bar again, and I suggested a compromise for the rest of us. We’d go to a place near by and eat something. We were close enough to see the club and we had contact with the rest of the group. We didn’t have to be miserable and we didn’t need to feel like we abandoned some poor girl.

In the end, we found Dean and the girl. They were in a park nearby. He found her after she went to get fresh air and he bought her some coffee. She got excited and wanted to watch a street performance, so they went to the park. He followed her to keep an eye on her. When he finally looked at his phone he found the missed calls from us and called me. On his way to meet me, he found the soldier and the neighbor. The soldier cussed him out and tore into him for what he did and then stormed off. Our group was now completely united, at least who was left. We helped the other girls get a cab home, and then I went with the lost girl and her neighbor since they live relatively close to me. Dean and my older friend decided to wander around a bit. 

The girl was really happy we helped look after her and she got home fine. The next morning, I was predictably sick. I decided that I was done with nightlife for a while. Not in the same way that everyone says “I’m never drinking again” when they wake up sick. This past weekend I went out Friday night, but the rest of the weekend I wasn’t drinking or anything. On Sunday, I met with the Mannam Organization to do some volunteer work and to take some Korean lessons. I don’t want to waste my time here in Korea looking for people my group lost in clubs, nor do I really even want to spend that much time in clubs in the first place. 

Anyway, this post has dragged on long enough. I’ll be posting again later with something shorter and not as depressing. 

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~ by James on June 20, 2012.

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