Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years

Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years: Version 2.0!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Dinner Party!

Last night I made the mistake of going out to one of June's church things.  It was some kind of big dinner the details of which are still scant, but I decided in the interests of healthy familial relations and social currency to actually make a rare appearance.

Usually I can get out of these kinds of things because of work.  My excuses aren't really bullshit; I do indeed put in 70-80 hour work weeks.  I suppose if I really needed to I could go to more events, but I get invited to so many that it's best to simply express regret and not go to the majority of them.

We sat at a table with some 'professionals'.  I shouldn't condescend, but it does get tiresome to smile and thank them for noticing my amazing chopstick skills or my amazing proclivity for eating kimchi.  I also sometimes develop a twitch above my left eye when I talk about the relative strengths and weaknesses of Korea compared to my country for the hundred millionth time.  I've got it down to stock formulaic answers at this point which leave everybody feeling good; I can embellish or add details as whim dictates to alleviate boredom, but knowing that these are the kinds of things I'll be talking about over and over again is further impetus to just avoid going most of the time.

Last night's conversation was actually more terse than usual: one man was insistent that I explain in detail what I do.  He found it hard to believe that a waeg was actually head of a department at a Korean company.  How are your skills different from a Korean's?  I thought they only gave visas to waegs that do work Koreans can't?

I amazed myself at how calmly and evenly I responded to this prick.  Well actually, I'm an F5 Waeg, and as a resident I have the freedom to engage in pretty much any work I want, as well as vote in local elections.  As for how I got the job over a Korean, a lot of my work is technically in international affairs, as I deal with most of the overseas requests and do double time organizing meet and greets when waegs come to tour the company. This requires insight into customs and traditions that take years to understand.   Also, I'm one of the tokens you see.  The company believes that in a globalized world, having a more international workforce allows them to be more competitive than if your workforce all comes from Seoul or Kyungsando.

He seemed unconvinced, and even more surprised that I could vote. 

I thought it prudent to excuse myself.  I hit the john, had a smoke, and went to sit with some parents of former students.  It had been a while and it was nice to catch up and to find out how their kids are doing.  One of the moms asked me about teaching, if I knew anyone.  I gave her the number of a friend and moved on.

June was not pleased that I wanted to leave as it was only nine, but I'd had enough.  I apologized to her and the table, saying I had a Skype conference call first thing in the morning and needed to be fresh.  We rounded up the girls and went home.

At least now I won't have to do another one of those things for awhile.

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