Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Saying Goodbye

Saying goodbye in Korea is hard. And I'm not talking about some sentimental Will-I-ever-see-you-again? problem. I'm talking about how it is literally hard to say goodbye. Because the words change depending on the situation.

Everytime you enter or exit a shop, you are greeted. EVERYTIME. My politeness demands that I respond but responding in English seemed inadequate, like I wasn't getting my point across. So, I had to ask around and find out what you are supposed to say when leaving a shop.

Traditionally, if you are leaving a place, You are supposed to say anyang-he ke seyo, which basically means "stay in peace". If you are staying and someone else is leaving you are supposed to say anyang-he ka seyo which means "go in peace". This was difficult but not impossible to remember, except that I had to analize every situation to try and figure out how to respond. You find yourself considering your companion's intentions and what they are going to do after you leave them.

Put on top of that the fact that Koreans shorten their phrases just like Americans do ("Whatcha doin'?" being a prime example) and its hard to know what to say. And I refuse to go back to saying 'good bye'. That's just lame.

So, today, when Mr. and Mrs.Kim took me to the hospital to get my check up for my alien registration card (more on that later) and they were about to drop me off back at my house I had a moment of conundrum.

I was leaving their prescence, and the car, but then they would drive away and I would physically stay at my house. So who was leaving and who was staying? I actually pondered this the whole car ride back because I wanted to show off my mad Korean skillz. Finally, when I was about to leave I just decided that I would be the one staying and jumped out of the car with a calculated "anyang-he ka seyo!"

They just laughed.

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